We successfully made it to Costa Rica and back, and overall it was a good trip, even if it was entirely less than ideal.
Ever since we started planning this trip out (for Mars’ wedding), we’ve both just been entirely unenthused about going. It lined up terribly with work obligations for both of us, flight times were horrific, and Costa Rica has never been a place that came up on our radars as a place we wanted to go. Also mosquitos and bugs generally love me, and I was not looking forward to dealing with that. So we spent a lot of time trying to figure out how we could make the trip work, and generally being unhappy about even going.
The first two nights were worse than expected: Our flight left at 6 AM, so we went to a hotel by the airport the night before (Tuesday night) to spend the night. But because of the way their airport shuttle worked, we had to catch it at 3:30 AM, which meant we got less than 4 hours of sleep. Then we flew most of Friday, got there, checked in to our room, and were miserable the rest of the day… an attempt at dinner nearly resulted in vomiting in the restaurant (I guess from exhaustion and such), and we probably collapsed into bed around 8 and just slept.
(4 AM airport = sadness.)
The first real day at the resort (Thursday, by this point) was spent not really doing anything, and it was actually perfect that way. The place is situated in the “cloud forest”, which means it’s in the middle of plants and greenery and general naturey awesomeness. We walked the nature trails they had, watched (and photographed) hummingbirds, milked their cows, explored their church and greenhouse, and sat with books on benches overlooking the beautiful views around. It kind of forced us to disconnect from technology and just enjoy where we were, and that’s something I should do more often. Also the forced break from work, with the lack of laptops and cell phone service, was exactly what we needed.
The second day we booked a tour to actually get to see *some* of the country before we left. They took us to a coffee plantation in Naranjo, Sarchi to see them build and maintain the iconic oxcarts, and a farmer’s market in San Ramon. Most of the almost 6 hours was spent driving, and it’s interesting to see how long it takes to get anywhere, even if stuff isn’t really all that far. (For example, from the main road to the resort is 9km, but it takes 30-40 minutes to drive that because of the quality of the road.) But it was a really good tour (particularly the coffee tour), and makes me wish I’d stayed for the longer tour this week. That evening, Keith, Ian, and Al-Tim got in and we met up for dinner.
Saturday was the wedding. We met up with Keith, Ian, and Al-Tim for breakfast and did all the resort stuff again: milked the cows, walked the trails, watched the hummingbirds, and played some pool in the game room.
The wedding itself was in the afternoon, and was beautiful. (Also led by our friend Jason from undergrad, who is now a Catholic priest.) It was the first mass I’ve been to (I guess this was specifically a wedding mass), and it was nice. The reception had tasty food and good company, and the evening generally had fireworks everywhere (some smaller stuff when Mars and Dan exited the chapel and during their first dance, and a full fireworks display at the end of the evening). I guess that’s a Costa Rican thing? The first dance fireworks were probably the most unexpected, but the full display at the end was really long and pretty.
So yeah. In the end, I think I’m really glad I made it out for the wedding, although I still think I would have skipped the trip had it been anything less important. The country is beautiful, but the travel involved around it is hellish. So I’m really wishing I could have made the tour work, because that travel for a week and a half would have been much more worthwhile.
Other random awesome things from the trip:
The sun is almost directly overhead a little before noon, resulting in the smallest shadows we’ve ever experienced.
There are beetles that look like they’re made of solid gold. The front desk guys showed us one and we thought they were trying to sell us some jewelry or something at first.
There are bugs everywhere. During the wedding, a cicada flew into the floating candle at our table, snuffed it out, and got trapped in the hardened wax. It was actually rather beautiful (and complimented the table decorations well), but kind of sad. (Keith commented that he kicked a beetle at one point, which is not a comment you’d normally expect to hear until you realize how big they can get here.)
The road to the resort was, as mentioned, almost a dirt road. Also there are remarkably few traffic lights in the cities (although they do seem to like speed bumps, and the drivers take those very seriously). Makes me glad we had chartered vans everywhere. Never try to drive in Costa Rica, I guess?