Can’t stop the Pura Vida

Can’t stop the Pura Vida

San Jose was a refreshing break for us up at 3,850ft with a cold night of sleep after many warm days on the beach.  Mid-day came and Chris, Sarah’s brother, was due to arrive to spend a quick four days living pura vida with us. His flights were successful, so we swooped him up and made our way back down to the beaches.Along the way, we stopped and bought a bunch of fresh fruit from the roadside vendors. The fruit was delicious and there was so much to choose from.Chris immediately took advantage of the van life within a few minutes on the road. The early morning and long layovers definitely left him running on fumes. In Jaco, we reunited with our van traveling companions for a few lovely days outside of the van in an affordable house we all pitched in on. The following morning, Chris tried surfing for the first time and immediately took to it despite how difficult the sport is. During his time with us we picked mangoes, hung around in the hammock, surfed, and cooked many delicious meals.  One day, we took a day trip to hike a waterfall near Dominical and see some of the Costa Rican countryside. On the hike in, we saw beautiful views, ate mangoes and saw a pair of scarlet macaws! Chris took full advantage and jumped into the cold mountain water whenever he could.The time came for Chris to head home and get back to work, so we said our goodbyes which made us pretty homesick. We really cherished the time together and looked forward to seeing him and his son someday again.After Chris left, we had planned to move on, but the house was just too comfortable and we needed a few nights to work on our vans. Our rear CV joints were showing some wear, so we swapped their locations and gave them a good re-greasing.Tim and Andrea needed to re-paint some areas developing rust, so we undertook our work days in stride and both managed to get the jobs done.Between turns of the wrench, we managed to explore some cool areas in Jaco. One was an old mansion that was never finished overlooking the beach and town. Some impressive graffiti had overtaken the walls, and the hike to and from was full of wildlife. Sarah also turned 31 during our time in Jaco. We managed to find a nice little burger place with live music where we had a great meal. The live musicians even sang her happy birthday for everyone in the restaurant to enjoy.After what seemed like a long week of adventures with Chris and necessary van maintenance and cleaning, we intended to head into the high country of Costa Rica to sample the fresh air and try our luck with some trout fishing. Our goal was San Gerardo de Dota, a deep river valley sitting at 7000ft above the hot sea. But first we encountered a dirt road leading to Cerro de la Muerte, where we camped at an impressive 12,000ft.  We thoroughly enjoyed the views, cold air, and even found a small outcropping of rock to climb on for part of a day.  The plants and wildlife took on new forms up high, displaying the ruggedness needed to survive in the mountains. Needless to say, we were happy as could be waltzing around the high country in our cold weather clothes. The following day, we descended from Cerro de la Muerte into the incised river valley where the small community of Gerardo de Dota resides, not to mention the abundance of Costa Rican trucha (trout). The road in was extremely steep (from 10,000ft to 7,000ft in 5 mi!), so we figured it would be a good test of our CV repair on the way out a few days later.  The area is in Parque Nacional Los Quetzales, which is one of the only free parks in Costa Rica. Our first impression of the area came from its fragrance, with aromatic flowers growing everywhere.  The landscaping and gardens of the hotels and residents were immaculate and the people living there were very friendly.  Our first order of business was to bike down to the popular hiking trail and then make our way to the waterfall, fly-rods in tow followed by fishing our way back up to the van.The hike down to the waterfall proved rigorous and slippery but was a good reason why we had the whole place to ourselves. And as always, the views are worth the extra effort in Costa Rica.With smiles on our faces from the fun waterfall hike, we tried our luck with the fish and had a hay-day. Almost every first cast into a nice hole yielded a fish, and some holes provided up to 6 or 7 rainbow trout. Though they we little, we decided to keep a few for a new twist on our dinner routine.The cool air and crystal clear river along with the sights and smells kept us here for 3 days, but alas the time came to an end. We had plans to meet back up with Tim and Andrea on the Osa Peninsula for some more beach time and wildlife viewing around Corcovado National Park, famous for being the considered “the most biologically intense place on earth in terms of biodiversity”. So off we went back up the nerve-wrackingly steep road, no wider than one lane at most times. We are happy to report our CV’s are quiet and smooth now thanks to the repair!After a longer than normal 4 hour drive, we pulled into the Matapalo area of the Osa Penisula right at sunset to witness almost perfect waves right in front of the camp spot. We slept easy knowing we’d have epic waves ahead of us, and a new area to explore.We happily reunited with our intrepid Swiss friends, and we proceeded to enjoy some of the best days of our Costan Rican experience. This remote location provided some incredible sunrises, the best waves of our lives so far, and wildlife everywhere we looked. In general, life in Costa Rica is really good. Paradise found!Our time in Costa Rica was nearing it’s end, but we had plans for one last night in the jungle before crossing into Panama. Sarah discovered a hike-to hostel that borders Corcovado National Park. This was very exciting because in order to hike into Corcovado, an expensive guide is needed. This hostel gave us the independence we love while being able to see an abundance of wildlife. After checking in at the little office, we found out that we were going to be the lone guests in the hostel that evening. The owner wanted a break from the hike in as well, so we had a private rain forest house for the night!We had time to reflect on our 2 months in the land of Pura Vida while going on some awesome hikes and seeing some amazing wildlife again, poison dart frogs included. Our time in Costa Rica will be cherished for our entire lives. More came from this country than we ever expected, and we vow to come back someday. But now, we must keep on truckin’ and continue this ramblin’ journey to South America. Panama, we’re coming for you!

7 thoughts on “Can’t stop the Pura Vida

  1. Happy belated birthday, Sarah! I hope your next trip is also enjoyable and exciting but,as always, I wish you were closer. Love you

  2. Really enjoyed all the info & pictures, Chris sure looked happy, he probably would have liked to stay longer. Sarah you are becoming more beautiful as I look at your photos. You look healthy & happy. I love you lots. It will be our 4th of July celebration in 4 more days. Miss you, grandma

  3. Love the photos of the quetzals, poison dart frogs, and the incredible waterfall by Dominical. You have done a great job of maximizing your experiences in a great little country that seems to have its priorities in order.

  4. Happy belated birthday, Sarah. Headed to your mom’s tonight for your party (JK) We ARE going, but for a little BBQ. Miss ya!

  5. Hi Sarah! This is Kim Martin, Lindsay Martin’s mom. Randy and I “stumbled” across this blog via FB. We have enjoyed reading about your adventure! Wow, so exciting you are able to do this! Thanks for the blog and sharing this trip of a life time with others.

    1. Hi Kim!!! So good to hear from you and thank you guys for reading! I love following Lindsay’s adventure as well!

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