Pura Vida! A Tale of Irresponsible Adulting, a Costa Rica Luxury Adventure, and a Lesson Learned
That's me, in Costa Rica! Three thousand three hundred and twenty-two miles away from home pondering my 40th year's existence while staring into the soul of the Pacific Ocean.
How did I get there? Why exactly was I there? Well, if I am to be completely honest...a bit of irresponsible adulting. You see, recently, I had quit my corporate job, without a back up plan. I had been a bit burnt out and developed some anxiety issues and so it was time to make a change. What that change was, I hadn't quite figured out yet, but nonetheless, a change was needed.
I tossed around a few ideas: some good, some bad, some a little unconventional; I even tossed around the ol' "let's sell some feet pics" idea. That one is vetoed for now, but you never know; Life occasionally lands us in interesting scenarios, such as: how I took a brainstorming session to figure out how to make money and somehow turned into a way to spend money. Like... a lot of it.
You see, I had been wanting to go to Costa Rica since my husband and I got married and somehow I rationalized that there's no time like the present. We were having our 11th year anniversary and I was turning 40. Sure, I should probably wait until I find another source of income, but what fun would that be? Definitely, not my brightest shiniest moment as a person who claims to be a"responsible adult"...and yet, somehow, I wouldn't have changed a thing.
Once, I had resolved, that Costa Rica was the place to be; I needed to figure out where to go and what to do? I knew that I wanted to spend a portion of our trip in Manuel Antonio. Manuel Antonio, for those who may not know is known for its lush jungle and pristine white beaches. It also has, what is considered to be, one of the most beautiful national parks in the world. There is so much wildlife to view in the national park, such as: sloths, monkeys, bats, coatimundis, lizards and more. Being a person who loves most wildlife, I knew for certain this was a must have on our itinerary. Outside of Manuel Antonio, however, I had no clue on how to plan the rest of our trip. Then, it dawned on me that I should just have someone else plan this trip. (That's right! Spend that money!)
I reached out to Costa Rica Experts and we were paired with Andie Hidalgo, who was fabulous. She sent us a questionnaire to complete in order to research a bit more about us and the type of trip were wanting. Most of the questions were pretty standard such as: what activities we were interested, is this a family trip or a special occasion trip such as a honeymoon or anniversary or are there any restrictions, price range, etc. We let her know that we were celebrating our 11th year anniversary and my 40th birthday. I also let her know that Manuel Antonio was a must for me and that my husband requested adult only properties.
Once we returned the questionnaire, Andie, swiftly responded with an itinerary that was titled "Costa Rica Luxury Adventure" and it did not disappoint. The itinerary included 2 different areas of Costa Rica: Manuel Antonio & La Fortuna (Arenal Volcano Area). It also included transfers to and from the Airport, 4 planned excursions and transportation to and from each of the excursions along with a couple of free days.( If you are interested in just the itinerary only, you can find it in my last blog post or click the image to the right) Normally, I would have been in sticker shock over the price, but by then, all rational thinking had went out the window. I figured, we might as well go big. After all, I needed this; The whole world was going to fall in, if I do not go on this trip. I am sure you have probably gathered that I might be a tad on the dramatic side, at times. Anyway, we quickly agreed and finalized the itinerary and once we did, Andie sent us some helpful information that definitely made our trip less stressful.
Luxury Adventure Here We come
On March 26th, 2023 we arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica. We were terribly tired by the time we arrived, and yet so elated to be off of the plane that we barely knew what to do with ourselves. Luckily, we did not have to figure out transport as our travel agency arranged ground transport from San Jose Airport to Manuel Antonio. Our driver's name was Rudolpho or Rudy for short. Rudy was quite pleasant and entertaining as we had a 3 hour drive to our destination in Manuel Antonio. He helped us with pronunciations of Spanish words and made sure to explain any interesting facts or land markers along the way. Rudy was also sensitive to any bathroom stops that needed to be taken. There was even an overpass that many people enjoy taking photos of crocodiles that he suggested we stop, if we liked. While, we appreciated the notion...there is just something about crocodiles and alligators that I have no interest in seeing even a little bit close-up; Call me a coward, scaredy-cat or whatever; Overpass or no overpass, I wanted no parts. That said, we continued on our journey until we reach our destination of Manuel Antonio.
Manuel Antonio and Makanda by the Sea
After 3 long hours, at approximately 5pm CST, we finally arrived in Manuel Antonio to our luxury resort, Makanda by the Sea. 12 acres of wildlife sanctuary, 100 meters above the ocean and we were lodged in an Ocean Club Suite 7 with a beautiful view. Suddenly, we felt all exhaust leave us, as we were reinvigorated by the site of our Ocean Deluxe stay.
The suite was equipped with a beautiful King Size bed with canopy curtains, balcony with a swing lounger, bathroom with his/hers vanity sinks, a shower with a rain shower head, dyson hair dryer and complimentary shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion. Every detail of the suite was gorgeous. We quickly used the bathroom facilities as we were super excited to explore the property. During the check-in process it was mentioned that the property had a private beach and so that was going to be the first stop in our exploration of the property.
Playa Rocoso or "Rocky Shore" is the Makanda's private beach. It is aptly name as it is very rocky. There's not a lot of nice white sand like you will find at some of the other beaches in Manuel Antonio, nonetheless, it is a little slice of private heaven, if you don't do what we did our very first night. One of the things that was mentioned to us during check-in was that we could request a golf cart to take us wherever we wanted on the property. In fact, golf cart service to the beach was, specifically, mentioned a few times. Originally, we thought this a mere suggestion. However, it was mentioned enough times that it should have been evident that this was more than a mere suggestion. We sadly, did not pick up on it, at the time. Wiser minds would have also realized that it was more
than a suggestion when it was insisted upon, that we were taken to our room by golf cart. We had another opportunity to put 2 and 2 together, when we arrived at our suite and it had a seriously steep descent down stairs. But alas, we were not wiser minds...or at least not in that moment. So, being extremely excited and a bit impetuous, we decided to walk to the beach on foot. A little over a kilometer, we walked down the road to the beach. At the bottom of a lengthy, steep, winding road, we found ourselves having to cross over a rough trail and a line of trees before we reached the beach. Under normal circumstances, this would not be a big deal for me, but we were in a new place, the sun was beginning to set and albeit, a very short trail once the road ended, it was still a bit creepy. We hurried along the trail and when we arrived to the beach, we were greeted by a gently setting sky, full of feathery clouds and a very private, but rocky shoreline.
No one else was there, only us, which was more than we could have asked for at the time. We, however, didn't dare linger too long, as we knew night time would fall soon. We spent just enough time to behold the beauty of the pale pink, orange and grayish blues, the setting sun was leaving behind. We paused to listen to the timbre of the effervescent waves drumming against the shore; We dipped our feet in to gauge the warmth of the lively water and then we were off. On our way back to whence we had come. Or so we thought.
Off the Beaten Path & An Existential Questioning Incline
It was getting late and we also needed, desperately to get a bite of eat. In our heart
of hearts and being the "geniuses" that we are; We just knew that there was a pedestrian friendly route back to our suite. We spotted a set of stairs, and assumed the this had to be the easier route that we were meant to take. The steps took us to another road that we followed, full of hope and belief. Up we went, further and further, away from the rocky beach. Finally, we reached the top, only to realize we were no longer on our resort. In fact, we were on a completely different, private property. We quickly decided to the heck out of Dodge. Being foreigners, we were uncertain of what trespassing laws may exist. We hurriedly snapped a few pics and went along our not so merry way.
We started our path back down the winding road. It was hot, like... real hot. We're talking 3rd circle of hell hot and I had to take a break. I took off my shirt and wrapped it around my waist. At this point, we were both sweating profusely. (It was one of the few times that I regretted switching to a natural deodorant ) I took a breathe and peered out onto the ocean, just to realize, that not only, do we have to back track to the beach, we also, have to follow the original path that we came. This time, instead of descending the hill, we would have ascend a kilometer up that treacherous hill. I felt completely defeated. It was in this moment, that I questioned every decision I ever made, in my 40 years of existence. Full, existential crisis in the span of 5 minutes. How did I get here? Why am I here? What does it all mean Basil? We had foolishly and impetuously rushed out of our room without any way to call concierge for a golf cart and there was nothing left for us to do but walk.
We continued our journey back to the original path through the creepy tree line and up the incline we went. Nightfall was quickly descending upon us and if things weren't bad enough...we began to hear the beckoning calls of the surrounding nocturnal creatures. Frogs, insects, lizards, etc. At some point, we heard, very startling, low pitch growls, none like we had ever heard before. We would later come to find out that these were calls of howler monkeys, nevertheless, with heavy foot, we quickened our pace.
Almost 30 minutes later, we completed the arduous trek. Sweat, now, pouring from our bodies like a mountain spring; We were tired and famished and in desperate need of sustenance. We immediately, found ourselves at the resort's 1 and only restaurant. We were so worn that we didn't even bother to stop by our suite. Both of us, looked a hot mess from the journey. Normally, I would have at least refreshed myself, but we had completed our ascent into what felt like Mount Doom and I was going to treat myself to some food and a very cold tropical drink. So, there I was, at an expensive restaurant, with a very short pair of athletic shorts and a sports bra; sweating allover everything... and in that moment, I couldn't have given 2 damns.
As we waited on our dinner, my husband, began to overheat (It's an open air restaurant with no air conditioning) and had to return to the suite. I stayed and ate half of the salmon we ordered, but not without stares from onlooking guests. I didn't even care. I was hungry and tired and what little decorum I had, was gone with that kilometer incline. Eventually, my husband returned. He took a few sips of my Pina Colada and asked to take the rest of the Salmon to-go. We received our bill and then wearily headed back to our suite for a much needed respite. Day 1 had been an unwanted adventure. We did however, learn a very valuable lesson, which essentially was: "Don't be stupid, Stupid!". If concierge is offering free golf cart service, most likely it is for a reason. Take them up on it, at the very least, until you are familiar with your surroundings.
That said, this was the only mishap of our entire trip. The rest of our trip was amazing and so much fun! We learned that Costa Rica takes great pride in conservation of their wildlife. A lot of the resorts are made in ways, as not to disturb the wildlife, as much as possible. That said, steep hills or areas with unpaved trails aren't uncommon at some of the resorts. In other words, you won't see a lot of the clear cutting that happens in the U.S in order to erect buildings. On occasion, you will hear locals mention that the animals were there first and that the humans are just visitors. This, of course, is not said with any malicious intent. The locals just understand that what makes their country truly special and beautiful is the flora and fauna... so, they do their best to take care of it.
That's it for now. The next few post will be much shorter reviews of our trip. The posts will be broken down by excursion and property to make it easy to digest.
Come back and visit and Thanks for Reading!