Brisa and I traveled to Costa Rica for two reasons: 1) photograph Melania and Louis’ awesome wedding and 2) a much needed vacation for us. Ever since I participated in a Spanish Immersion Program at the Costa Rican Language Academy in 2002, I have always wanted Brisa to experience the awesomeness of Costa Rica! Prior to our trip, I read that a GPS with your rental car is a must, but just in case I ordered a map and guide book from Amazon. Unfortunately, the map and guidebook did not arrive in time AND the rental car agency was out of GPS units. This didn’t make Brisa very excited, but to her credit, she was a trooper and became our de facto GPS as we started our adventure!
We drove from the San Jose airport to our hotel in Cachi. The rental car agent gave us some general directions and basically told us, once you get passed this point (Cartago), you just need to follow the signs. Well, the signs in Costa Rica aren’t displayed very well nor are they in abundance, so we ended up a little lost and decided to eat and get some help at Don Jose Restaurant in between Cachi and Orosi. With my terrible Spanish, I was able to get some help on where to go, but at least I was happy to be drinking Imperial again!
In order to find the Hotel Qualitales, you need to spot these signs on the side of the road. When we saw it for the first time, we were elated because we were starting to get worried…
The trip from Cachi to Manuel Antonio was incredibly eventful. I had looked up directions via waze and google maps and saved them to my phone, but as we started driving, the roads that they instructed us to take…weren’t really roads at all. So our 3 hour road trip, turned out to be a little over 4.5 hours…
We eventually found Hotel Villabosque which was conveniently 300 meters to Manuel Antonio National Park and maybe 300 meters in the other direction to Playa Espadilla, so it was perfect. The hotel staff was phenomenal. Our hotel room was basic: TV did not receive clear reception, walls were paper thin and there was a loud mechanical noise every few minutes from 9am-8pm which was annoying, but it was comfortable and clean. Breakfast was included which is awesome and there was a nice selection of fruits, bread, gallospintos and eggs to order.
Playa Espadilla is one of the most beautiful beaches that I have ever experienced. Warm waters, clean sightlines, fantastic waves and really fine sand. Careful where you set up your stuff because the rising tide required us to move three times, but the beach is incredibly long so there are plenty of places to set up for the day!
The next day we went on a sailboat cruise with Trimaran Sunset Sails and it was perfect. We were on a small sailboat with about 20 people for 4 hours. During that time we snorkeled, saw dolphins, ate dinner and watched the sun set into the water. The tour guide and crew were fantastic. Catering to everyone and were very quick to laugh and enjoy their time with us. We appreciated that they picked us up from our hotel and dropped us off, so we didn’t need to worry about driving/taking a taxi. If you are looking for something on the water, I’d highly recommend this company and definitely select their smaller boats because the larger catamarans didn’t seem nearly as much fun.
In Manuel Antonio, we hired Yanan Andres Rojas Barboza (8924 firstname.lastname@example.org) to give us a private walking tour into the national park. For $20/person, he spent 2 hours with us, pointing out various insects, animals, plants as well as sharing the history of the park. He was absolutely fantastic. With Brisa’s cell phone, he would photograph everything we saw through his telescope. We would be walking down the trail, he would suddenly stop, set up his telescope and see microscopic insects on faraway plants. Brisa and I were both ridiculously impressed with his knowledge and his fun personality. Contact him for a tour if you are in the area. You won’t regret it!
On the way from Orosi to Manuel Antonio, we drove by huge African Palm fields. Neither Brisa or I had seen anything like it and so on the way back to San Jose, we made a little detour for some photography. =)
One of the coolest things that I have ever seen was in the midst of the tree farm, there was this pristine futbol field. I absolutely loved it. Brisa wasn’t nearly excited about it as I was…shocker, I know.
On the drive from Manuel Antonio to San Jose, I was driving along at approximately 80 kph and the car in front of me starts to slow down and put on their hazard lights, so I decided to pass him…well the reason he was slowing down was because there was a herd of cattle crossing the national highway. I quickly slammed the brakes and we came skidding to a halt before plowing through the herd. We were a bit frazzled and then Brisa asked me to take a photo…(she does put the Brisa in La Brisa)!
A huge thanks to Melania and Louis for giving us the opportunity to travel and explore Costa Rica! We had an amazing vacation and created memories for a lifetime! I already miss the pura vida culture, Imperial and gallospintos…