Sunday, January 8, 2012

Costa Rica Vacation

Dear EatRunRead-ers, 
I apologize for suddenly dropping off the face of the earth. I really did plan to tell you about my impending trip to Costa Rica, but despite the fact that I am responsible and “serious” and punctual in almost all aspects of my life, I am completely unable to read a flight itinerary…thus I found myself leaving CA rather suddenly a day earlier than expected. 

But all that was quickly forgotten as I met up with 10 of my college friends for The Best Vacation Ever, again. (Rumor has it that 20-somethings having fun are incredibly boring to everyone other than themselves. This may be true, but I can’t not share with you the insane awesomeness of this vacation.)

We arrived the first night to a house full of family – Sigal’s parents build the house with a friend and all were there. (Below is our favorite hosts, + the two missing family-members Photoshopped in.)

Eighteen people sounds like a lot (myself, +9 friends, Sigal and her parents and brother, the other couple and their two daughters), but in the sprawling expanse of Villa Mayana it didn’t feel crowded at all.

We awoke the next morning to a gorgeous Costa Rican day. This is the view from my bedroom. 

Tropical vacations = minimal activity for this group. We got up early with the sun and birds – long before 7:30 for most of us – and went to bed on the earlier side too.  We did approximately one activity per day. 

Mine included an epic sun-burning beach walk to the end of the Whale’s Tale, hiking to the waterfall on their property (take a moment to let that concept sink in), a day trip to the beach at Dominical, and a few real runs plus a lot of pooling.

As you may be able to deduce from this blog, I usually do too many things, think too many things, and worry about too many things. But when on a vacation such as this, my mind slowed to match the pace of my days. My usually elaborate daydreams were barely coherent, and I spent a solid amount of time just sitting around chatting or staring into space (or the beautiful sunset). 

And reading, of course. Our most gracious hostess, Jo-Mama, immediately engaged me in book conversations – over the course of the week I read The Paris WifeA Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and Cutting for Stone. On Facebook there are probably 5 pictures of me reading in different postures/locations around the house and pool. (I'm in the background of this picture.)

We had two particularly ambitious days/activities. Months ago, when Sigal first invited us all on this trip, she suggested a horseback ride to a waterfall – Yes! I am in

We were each assigned a horse (/pony? They were pretty small, and the guide said they’re from Panama). 

Mine was the Karen of the group – every time someone tried to pass us she would give them a look and cut them off. It was great. We rode to a café-ish thing where they gave us fruit and coffee and some sort of corn pancakes for breakfast. Surrounding the tables was some tourist-amusing wildlife: parrots and monkeys and a peacock. (The bug was actually on the screen door of my room...bugs in the rainforest are insane!)

Then we re-mounted like the cowboys we are and rode to the waterfall. It was epic. We looked at the “for looking at” waterfall upstream and got soaked by the spray and water-generated wind. (Who isn't jealous of Scott's Tico-tastic tan?)

Then jumped in the pool at the “for swimming at” waterfall a bit lower down. 

One of the guides swam to the waterfall, climbed up, and fastened a rope to the top. With that the Costa Rican Water Park was open for business. I watched a few people climb up the slippery rock face to jump into the pool below, telling myself that it was dangerous and I didn’t actually want to do it. 

But of course I found myself swimming through the choppy water and scrambling up the waterfall face, eyes barely open and water pounding on my head. We posed for a picture at the top, and then I jumped! 

The other ambitious activity was on my last day full day. Four of us decided to hike to the waterfall on their property (is Costa Rica full of waterfalls? Yes.), and then to explore further. 

We made our way upstream via paths and creeks and some impromptu bush-whacking. We discovered another waterfall, plus a field (full of spiders – I should never lead on expeditions), and ended up hiking down someone else’s road to the beach then back to the house. 

The whole venture took about three hours -- it's no secret that I love exploring/scrambling over rocks. Maybe the hiking exercise made up for all the guacamole we'd been eating...but probably not.

In conclusion – cheesey alert – the trip was awesome and I love my friends. I’ll blog about our amazing Tico food adventures tomorrow!