Day 0 | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Tips
Well, I wasn’t sure if the universe was going to let this trip happen. Yesterday I got a flat while I was getting my hairs did (so I could be purdy for this trip). Then woke up to a good 6” of snow today.
But alas, our car service was able to make it up the mountain to fetch my “desperate to get to warmer weather” ass. Made it to the airport with plenty of time to grab a late lunch in the SkyClub.
For those of you that follow my traveling journeys, you will be pleased to know I bought some Apple AirTags (thanks Ashley for the recommendation!). And as of now, my luggage is with me. I’m purposefully having an overnight stay in Atlanta tonight, so I don’t have to rely on the airline getting my luggage to my next flight.
Never really paid attention to the de-icing process before. It’s like a red sludge they spray on the plane. It was a complete whiteout taking off. But once we were above the snowstorm, it felt quite peaceful.
Made to Atlanta and met up with one of my oldest (in time) friends, Kelly! Can’t wait to have some tropical fun with her and Hielle!
Today started with an early 5:30am alarm (so felt like 3:30am to me). We got ready and out the door by 6:30. After going through checkin and security (thank goodness I have TSA pre and breezed through) I looked like I had just gone swimming. My hair and back were soaking wet. I’m just not made for humidity anymore haha! And I’m heading to a tropical jungle
Once I boarded, I was addictively tracking my luggage. I think they stopped at Concourse B for a few drinks before the fight. I was starting to panic they weren’t going to make it The flight attendant came on letting us know our delay from pushing back from the gate was due to cargo still being loaded onto the plane. Yeah, because my drunk ass luggage was taking it’s sweet time boarding!
Finally Luggage 1 and Luggage 2 got their happy asses on the plane and we took off. Costa Rica here we come!!
Once we landed I did a quick check and…yep! Both pieces were in Costa Rica! Awesome mountains behind our plane that just brought us to this awesome place And then it was time to wait in a looooong customs line.
Once it was our turn, the agent asked were we were staying. Hielle said they didn’t really have an address and to share a specific description of where they are. I did so, and the agent was like “What’s the address?” I was frantically texting Hielle to find out what we should do. I showed him on a map the geolocation she sent us. Just when I thought he wouldn’t let us in, he stamped our passports and we were through! Woohoo! Next stop….Duty free booze shopping.
I got some rum and Kelly snagged some rum and wine. Then off to luggage claim. Because we got tied up with the customs agent and booze shopping, when we got to our luggage carousel, ours was waiting patiently all off the belt and grouped together. Then we walked out to find our ride. There are literally tens (if not hundreds) of drivers with names on 8×11 sheets of paper. At almost the end of the line we see a guy holding our names up. He was collecting folks for a shuttle company, so we had to wait a bit for our ride to get in.
Sadly what is typically a 3 hr drive to Uvita turned into an almost 5 hour drive But by golly, we are going to get to Hielle if it’s the last thing we do!!
My view of the beautiful Bali house on Hielle’s property before shutting my eye
Since we got in way after the sun had gone down last night, my first order of business was to take some pictures of the views from the Bali House. And boy it did NOT disappoint. This here my friends is paradise! (psst…be sure to check out the Tips section at the bottom if you too want to stay here!).
Hielle took us on a mini tour of the property. We saw where they will be breaking ground on the main house (next week). We checked out the gym & spa they have on the property. Everything is simply AMAZING!
Then we went down into town to tour Uvita and pick up my rental car. Nice little RAV4 that will get us up and down their gravel mountain road to their property. Breakfast was at a cute little bagel place, but I didn’t get any pictures. You could tell it totally catered to Americans. All the little decoration signs were in English. Then checked out a little roadside gift shop and hit up the grocery store to get mixers for all the booze we got at the airport
After some comments on naming my luggage yesterday (thanks Liz ) I have given my luggage the names Thelma and Louis. But I have no intention of driving them off a cliff!
This night we went down to a local bar to listen to live music. They played classic rock songs as well some grunge rock. My watch kept telling me I was being exposed to loud sounds that could damage my hearing. Oops
By about 9pm we were all toast and headed back up the mountain. Which was good because I had a personal trainer session at 8am. I know…I’m on vacation, why the hell would I workout?!?!
So today started way too early. I had set my alarm for 7:15. It went off, and I really started to question my life choices. Popped some ibuprofen, scarfed down an apple, water and pistachio nuts then hopped in the rental and drove up to the gym.
Sadly (as can be par for the course), the power blew to the gym & spa. So poor Hielle and her hubby, Ken, couldn’t join in on the workout and had to work on getting the power going. I was game to still workout (which I did), but this Colorado gal did it in sweltering heat, high humidity, no AC, and wet as a dog after swimming in a lake. My hands were slipping all over everything. If you’ve done hot yoga, this was like 900% hotter AND humid But I persevered like a champ and did it.
Then it was rush back down to the Bali House for a quick shower and then…..an hour and a half massage in the fucking Costa Rican jungle! The massage therapist set up on the Bali House porch. Nature singing its song while all my worries were rubbed away.
Then Kelly and I had lunch at an amazing place out on a peninsula called. La Parcela. The food was delish and the scenery was perfect. She saw the backend of a monkey as it scampered into the tree tops with a banana. Not enough time to grab a phone. I only saw it’s tail
Then we drove out to Dominical for some light shopping and walking around. It’s a big surf town, so definitely caters to a younger crowd.
Finally back up into the jungle for a chill evening. A Toucan (or some other similar bird) graced us with his presence. Love seeing animals I don’t see back home! This was also our first time just chillin’ at the house at dusk and the symphony being played all around us by birds and insects was AMAZING! Next time I’ll record the sound, but this time I just stayed present and experienced it.
Later on, as we were checking into the life of others on our phones, a huge ass moth dive bombed into my leg . Dinner was down at Hielle’s casita (pork sliders, which were delish ) with some hilarious hang out time! Let’s just say the cameras on their property caught someone face diving, which at the time was tragic, but a gut buster watching the replay at dinner.
Today was truly an adventure. Most of the expats that we’ve met here all have side-by-sides. Off-road sport vehicles that can get you up into the jungle.
I can’t tell you all the places we traveled, but we were all up in the jungle all freaking day. We did stop at a coffee farm (Cafe Don Emilio) and drank their homemade “moonshine” and some of the most delicious cream liquor you’ve ever tasted. Got Bill a bag of their coffee to give a try.
And yes, we did jam out to Welcome to the Jungle on our adventure We left about 10am and got home about 3:30pm (with an hour stop at the coffee farm). And when I say we drove around the jungle, we were on single track dirt roads up and down mountain ranges for miles and miles and miles. Kelly and I were were very amazed that all these dirt roads are actually on Google Maps too! Cray-cray!
Before dinner we had a bottle of Rosé while watching the sunset over the Pacific. Stunning….pictureskly stunning. Then off to dinner at Seba. I had the 24hr marinated short ribs. They were delish!
Today was a day Kelly and I did some adventuring on our own. We are staying just up the hill (about 2km) from the heart of the town Uvita. One natural phenomenon of the nature reserve beach here is what’s call the Whale’s Tail. At low tide there is this peninsula-like sand bar that becomes exposed in the shape of a whale’s tail. And you can hike out onto it.
So we went to a parking lot just outside of the reserve and paid $2 to park. Then another $6.75 to enter the reserve. As we started walking through a bit of jungle to the beach, we see a sign about watching out for crocodiles? Now, we had the conversation with Ken about these poisonous snakes up at the house, but now crocodiles?!?! This city girl may not be cut out for jungle life Who am I kidding, this shit is wonderful!
Once we get out of the short jungle trek we are greeted with one of the largest beaches I’ve ever seen. But like no one is one it. Even though it’s been hours and hours since high tide, it’s still really wet. So not really a dry sand beach. As we are walking on the beach, we noticed these weird designs in the sand. It really does look like art work. And we have no idea what causes it, at least not until our trek back.
It takes a good 20 minutes to a half hour to get all the way out to the whales tail end. Once you get out there, it’s really rocky, so you don’t really go to the left and right ends of the whale’s tail. I think if we had made it out there closer to the peak of low tide, it might’ve been easier. I was just in flip-flops (because I could never find my Teva‘s since the cruise) so trekking through the rocks would’ve been annoying.
There was also this cool pirate, sailboat looking ship in the harbor. There is also a man-made pyre in the center of the whales tail at the end, I guess to let ships know there was a sand and rock bar out there? It really was so cool to see the jungle end at the beach and blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. Oh yeah, Uvita is on the Pacific side of the country in the southern part (closer to Panama).
As we were walking back towards the beach, we finally discovered what was making the cool artwork in the sand: it was little crabs!! so after capturing a short little video of one of these artists at work in the blistering sun, we continued our trek back to the crocodile alley.
Once we exited the nature preserve, we thought we would hit up some of the little shops that were down here by the beach. And all of a sudden Kelly looks up and sees a horse running down the street free as a bird! I was able to get my phone out quick enough just to snag him at the end of the road on his free ride!
The first shop that we went into had blessed air conditioning! I had never had so much sweat dripping off of my body as I did walking out to the end of the whales tale. I was able to snag some souvenirs for the boys and another baseball cap for me. I think my collection of baseball caps is getting out of control.
Next stop on today’s agenda was supposed to be going to see the Nauyaca Waterfalls. After driving, what seemed to be hours and hours on treacherous steep dirt roads, we never did find the falls. Come to find out Google maps had done us wrong and had us going god knows where. So we ended up turning around and heading back to Uvita.
Kelly wanted to hit up a local microbrewery, and they ended up serving food as well. So we decided to stop there and grab a small lunch because we didn’t want to get too full today, since dinner was a private chef coming to make dinner up at Hielle‘s.
We didn’t get a lot of pictures at dinner, but it was absolutely delicious and such a treat to have a private chef come and fix us dinner.
This morning was definitely a lazy morning for me. Kelly left at 4am, so I vowed to stay in bed as long as I could. Which was like 7:30 The same time I’d pretty much been getting up since I got here.
I did some laundry and then drove around checking out the area and peeking in at places that had for sale signs. Always curious to see what’s out there in places I visit. You can always find me scrolling around on Zillow most Saturday mornings. Daydreaming about places I could live. Even in Boulder! Where I already own a home!!
I grabbed some lunch at a place called Five Maes. But I’ll just say it’s basically a Five Guys. Decent burgers. Red and white decor. I mean, you can’t get more obvious who you are replicating But it was all fine with me! Grabbed some to-go for Hielle and Ken and brought it back up to them.
Then I rode with Hielle to take her cleaner to a friends home to see the work they would need her for. I tagged along to just see someone else’s home. These expats are certainly living the dream! I need to get Bill down here. I could see us snowbirding in Costa Rica for sure!
The end to another amazing day watching the sun dip below the horizon. Yeah, I could get used to this.
Another slow moving morning today. However, at about 10am me, Hielle and Ken took a drive north to see Quepos. A cute little marina area. Then we drove up to Manuel Antonio and oh my! That’s definitely a place I want to come back to and visit! Way more crowded than Uvita, but that sort of had some appeal to it too. Had a really nice beach too
Then we stopped at a roadside tiko restaurant. Tiko and tika are the terms for “local”. So authentic Costa Rican lunch.
Got back to their place and I actually felt like napping in the middle of the day. But that was short lived by these little birds that come to the window pecking on them like a woodpecker. They see their reflection and think it’s another bird.
So after being woke up I hung out on the porch and saw my first live Pizote (actual first one was squashed in the road ). They are like our raccoons I suppose. They have opposable thumbs and get into all sorts of human things. I learned males are solitary (so that’s probably what this one was) and females & juveniles live in packs of 20 or so and avoid humans as much as they can.
Then a little lizard scampered by. The Dusk Symphony started up right on time as well. In the jungle, there is never a moment of total silence. Never. 24-7 there are always sounds. And I love it. However, it comes at a price.
We had dinner in tonight, but I had to walk down to Hielle & Ken’s casita (which is down past the pool). Without my trusted sidekick, Kelly, to run for help should I get mauled by a jungle creature, I was left to travel alone. Well, all those noise making critters were in rare form and dive bombing at me as I walked down! I was screaming and dropping f-bombs and running and I’m sure looking like quite the fool So after dinner they had their guard, Oscar, walk me back. I only screamed once on the way back to the Bali House. He must think I’m the wimpiest gringa he’s ever seen
This day started out pretty nice. I had a 60 min Swedish massage scheduled for 9am followed with a 45 min reflexology. All on-site, so I didn’t have to drive anywhere
Massage was really nice and relaxing. As I was gearing up to really get my relax on with the reflexology, I was terrorized into mortal pain. Mind you I’m laying on my back with my eyes covered, so I have no idea what torture device she was yielding, but it felt like a Phillips head screwdriver She was jamming this thing in all over the bottom of my feet! You may be asking “Why didn’t you tell her to stop?” Well, for starters, there is a language barrier. She probably wouldn’t know what I was saying. Secondly, I’m in another country. Maybe this IS their methodology for reflexology. I don’t freaking know. And lastly, I thought this may be a short prelude to the more traditional relaxing style.
So she spends 5-7 min on my left foot (that has plantar fasciitis). And 20 min on my right foot. Ugh. There was some massaging after the screwdriver torture device. But not enough to put me in any state of relaxation. At least the first 60min was relaxing.
After that it was hop in the shower, then go down to return my rental car. Of course I had some cable dangling out the back bumper (don’t think it was there when I got it, at least I didn’t notice it). Ken saved the day and had everything presentable for when I returned it. Doesn’t look like I was dinged on the charges.
Grabbed a sandwich for lunch and brought it back up to their estate (I learned today that 20 or more acres can be called an estate, they have 50 acres, so there ya go). Then I went up to the gym/spa with Hielle to do the sauna and cold plunge pool. And I admit, I’m a wimp. I could only tolerate like 2-3 min intervals in the sauna. It hurt to breathe that hot air! And once I got in the plunge pool, I didn’t get out Now in my defense, it hadn’t been on long enough to get down to 60 degrees. It was about 78, so my hot ass stayed in it while Hielle did another round in the sauna.
We ended the night with a lovely dinner at Scala. FINALLY got a yummy Mai Tai!! When I got back to the Bali house, I had to finish packing. While I definitely can’t wait to hug all my boys, I am sad to be leaving.
Well, the time has come to start my trek back home. Remember the poisonous snakes I was warned about? While I never say any, there was a snake skin in the driveway when I was pulling my luggage out!
My ride picked me up in town at 8:30am (thanks Hielle for the ride into town!!!). My driver asked what kind of music I wanted to listen to. So it was rap the whole way Took about 3.5hrs to get there (with one potty break about an hour before the airport). Jack Sparrow greeted us in the parking lot
Going through customs and security at first was backed up and I feared I may miss my flight. As much as I travel, I’m pretty relaxed being away from home and the actual act of flying. But the process of getting TO the airport has me having heart attacks every 30 seconds. My husband, cool as a cucumber if he misses a flight. Me….chicken with its head cut off.
Needless to say I got through with about 40min to spare before they started boarding. Even found my token tshirt gifts for the boys (the quality of shirts I saw in places we went the whole trip were not good at all), so token Airport shirts it was!
Then Hielle shares that the monkeys finally came out to play after I left I must’ve stunk more than the skunks and kept them away. I had her send me videos anyway so I could share. They are too stinking adorable!!!
Made it on USA soil with all my luggage! Yay! However, lost a luggage tag on one So I’ll have to remember to put a paper one on tomorrow when I fly to CO. Made the decision to stay overnight in ATL (again) so I didn’t have such a long travel day. Getting old definitely has some drawbacks sometimes. I mean if I had to do it I would. But I don’t, so I won’t. Also gives another day for things to warm up in CO. Haha!
It was really cold when I got off the plane, so I grabbed the jeans and cardigan (for my flight tomorrow) out of my carryon to have a quick wardrobe change before the long ass walk to the custom agents.
Coming into ATL on international flights, they spit you out at a terminal that is NOT connected to the domestic terminal. Well, I guess it is from the gates when you are leaving, but not on arrival. And the train to my hotel is attached to the domestic terminal. So that means I had to wait in a long ass line for a shuttle bus to take me over there (waited through 4 busses and then we hit traffic ). Not a happy camper with that situation. But at least I had many folks joining me.
After finally catching the train, I get off and have to walk through the kidnap/torture/murder zone. The train stop was behind the building with lights. Now mind you, I had 3 rolling suitcases I need to learn how to pack. My arms were jello after that hike. But at least I made it. I wasn’t kidnapped or tortured or murdered, so that’s a plus.
Then it was head to pillow to do it all again tomorrow.
After a relaxing night with awesome AC, I got to have a slow start to the day. Flight isn’t until 4:30pm and checkout was noon. So I took my sweet time getting ready.
Learned when I woke up that the hotel picks up at the sky train stop. So I didn’t have to walk through the kill zone last night Oh well, live and learn. I did however take them up on the lift going back (since it’s uphill to the train and dragging all my luggage up there didn’t sound like any fun).
I also agreed to do the Digital ID thing for flying. Was asked if I wanted to participate when I checked in for my first flight when I was leaving Colorado at the beginning of the trip. Not sure if it’s specific to Delta or TSAPre or international travel or anyone at anytime can use it. And I don’t recall using it leaving Denver. But when I went through the TSAPre line in Atlanta to catch my flight home, I just stood in front of a camera. Didn’t show my ID or boarding pass. They just scanned my face. I know a lot of people are all about their privacy and all that stuff, but this was downright the easiest thing I’ve done to fly since 9/11. You should try it if you can.
Since I was 4 hrs early for my flight (and Delta Sky Club changed their rules that you can’t come in more than 3 hrs before your flight), I decided to walk from the terminal to concourse B. On my way to A they had some lovely African art (I think from Zimbabwe). And from A to B a jungle effect on the ceiling. Made it less boring for sure.
Got to Sky Club on B and asked if it was 3 hrs from boarding time or takeoff time, because that’s a 40min difference. They said boarding, and I was about 10min too soon for that, but they let me in anyway. So I camped for the next 3 hours in there.
Got seated on my plane and did a quick check for Thelma and Louise. Looks like they are with me. Woohoo! I may have broken the international luggage curse! Although in full disclosure, the mid sized luggage was NOT the one I used in Italy. However, that midsized piece WAS Charlie’s luggage that was misplaced for 3-ish days in Italy. So still a naughty little buggar.
Made it all the way home without any issues. And I have to say it felt good to lay down in my own bed
So here are a few tips should you find yourself in Costa Rica. I’m listing them in no particular order.
1 – Pretty much all waste water is utilizing septic tanks. Therefore, you throw toilet paper in the trash. There aren’t signs on public bathrooms, it’s just common knowledge.
2 – All the public restrooms I used were quite clean (even at gas stations). They are not disgusting like the ones you see in the States or at parks in the States. So don’t think because the whole “throw away used toilet paper in the trashcan” will make them unpleasant.
3 – If you rent a car, make sure it has 4 wheel drive. A majority of the roads are unpaved (outside any major cities). And they are RUGGED dirt roads. Not maintained to the standards we may have in rural areas in the States. However, a plus side is that most roads are mapped on Google Maps. You may feel like you are in the middle of nowhere in the jungle, but your Google Maps will be working just fine.
4 – The US dollar is accepted in most places. So don’t feel like you need to get Colones before you come. Having said that, make sure larger bills are new and crisp. The banks won’t accept torn or dirty US dollars (which is where the person you give it to will be taking it at some point).
5 – You will need bug spray. The whole country is a jungle and mosquitos are no joke. So be sure you either pack bug spray or grab some at the airport before you leave.
6 – Download the WhatsApp app. This is how most businesses communicate down there. And every business I interacted with spoke English just fine.
The Bali House Casita that I stayed in is on my friends’ property. And they rent it! So you too can enjoy this beautiful place just as I did. Here is the listing on Airbnb. Not that I experienced any crime whatsoever, but their property is gated w/ a guard from 6pm-6am. You have 24/7 access to a lovely pool as well. You will need to rent a 4×4 in town (unless you plan to hike up and down their road), but that’s quite easy to do through the Uvita Information Center. The information center can communicate with you through WhatsApp. That’s how I made my rental arrangements.