When Team WestEnders was making crucial travel decision for the Costa Rica vacation, one of the things we had to nail down was “where to stay”. It really wasn’t much of a debate, since we’re all agreed that the BEACH is our happy place. Thus we figured that we’d sleep at the shore, and arrange to venture inland for the other not-to-be-missed sites. Today was one of those excursions: a visit to the rainforest.
We were all very excited about it, too…just maybe not so much at 6:30, when the alarm woke us up…or 7:30, when the van left the hotel. Nope, I think it’s safe to say that the prevailing mood was “zzzzz” when we started out. But that changed in a big old hurry, thanks to our driver, Sergio. Now, I don’t know Sergio personally, of course, but my first impression would have to be that the man has a foot made of pure lead…and an unquenchable death wish…that he feels compelled to extend to the rest of us as well. Add to this the fact that we quickly ascertained the condition of Costa Rican roadways, which would best be described as…hmmm…”abysmal” just about sums it up. As we bounced up and down steep, narrow roads (peering unwisely out the window, to notice how close we were clinging to the un-guardrailed edge, overlooking a deep gully), careened around hairpin turns, and flew past cyclists and pedestrians…yeah, we (okay, at least I) became awake and terrified in short order.
Fortunately our guide for the day, Sebastian, kept us entertained and distracted with a running monologue about the scenery, the region, and whatever else he felt like throwing in there. We learned the correct pronunciation of Guanacaste’s capital city, for example. (It’s Lee-BEAR-ee-ah, not Lie-BEER-ee-ah, like the one in Africa, if you’re wondering.) He also told us that we would be able to recognize when we came to a town because—no matter how small it may be--each one would have 3 things: a soccer field, a school, and a church. At this point we were getting out into the countryside…the first clue might have been when we had to stop and wait for a group of bulls…and their herd dogs….to move to the side so we could pass them.
Around this time I began to see a curious phenomenon—the scattered houses were all small, wooden structures with tin roofs, only some of which had glass in the window openings. Most of them had laundry strung across the front to dry in the fresh air, and many had chickens, cows, and/or horses wandering around the premises. However, ALL of them had a satellite dish on the roof. Every. Single. One. Also, a few times we saw a child in the front yard, or an older person sitting on a porch, holding a shiny cell phone. It was difficult to reconcile the evidence of such a simple life with the obvious use of advanced technology at the same time. (Especially at that hour of the morning, you know?)
Anyway, next we came to the portion of the excursion that Sebastian had slyly referred to as the “car massage”. We left any semblance of “pavement” behind to begin traversing the gravel path that would lead us into the private nature preserve in which we’d be spending our day. Let’s see, how can I best make you understand the experience…the first word that springs to mind is “bone-rattling”. But it maybe even more vivid to tell you that my Fitbit, which I was wearing clipped to my shorts, as usual, registered 9,000 steps on this delightful part of the trip…all while my butt was firmly planted on the bus (well, except for those moments when I went airborne from a particularly violent pothole and was almost flung from my seat, that is…)
When THAT little bit of festivity was over and done with (thank all of the saints) we arrived at our destination for the hiking portion of our day. For about an hour, we tromped through the lush green landscape, enjoying the surroundings in dry comfort. Just when I was thinking, “Huh….the RAINforest really seems to deliver more of a DRIZZLE,”…the downpour commenced. And from that point forward, the weather delivered pretty much did 1 of 2 things: misty sprinkles…or downright drenching cloudbursts. Along the way we encountered several springs and waterfalls which Sebastian invited us to enjoy. However, he warned that they might not be, shall we say, “the warmest”. So of course the Male Posse went in each and every one, but I stayed out—where I honestly wasn’t much drier, but at least I wasn’t purposely dipping myself into colder water—and continued to admire the ambiance of the woods.
The final pool, though--that was the one I was holding out for: an actual hot spring. Feels like bath water? Yep, sign me up! It was indeed lovely (and therapeutic? Who knows, it felt awesome..) and as I paddled around with my family and the other adventurers in our little tour group it suddenly occurred to me that this was, by far, the most remote and wild place I’ve ever been in my entire life. The thought also popped into my head that, while some people seek out these kinds of places, fall in love with them, and declare that they’re turning their backs on civilization, NEVER to return…that’s sooooo very much NOT me. We finished our short walk back to the Main House, where we were served a delicious lunch, then re-boarded the shuttle to endure the expedition back to our 21st-century hotel, I marveled again at all I had seen, vowed to remember it forever…and felt grateful once more for dry clothes, steaming coffee, and hot (indoor) showers! Ahhhhh……