Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Costa Rica: Pura Vida

Between Kristen Bell's recent sloth meltdown, and the plethora of articles that keep falling in my lap about Costa Rica's incredible commitment to sustainability, I've been missing the sweet sloth and monkey infested country where Tim and I spend our honeymoon.
View from our hotel














Costa Rica is only about the size of West Virginia- tiny!  We spent two weeks near Manual Antonio National Park, soaking up the rays and enjoying some nature.  This area is located on the Pacific Ocean, right in the middle of their coastline. 

The original plan was to spend three weeks in the small country- we saved up every last vacation day we earned at our new-ish jobs in order to take off for almost a month after our wedding.  I spent four weeks living in a small community of Aberystwyth, Wales after high school and loved every minute of it that wasn't spent crying because I missed Tim (we had started dating just two months before I left).  So, I figured three weeks in Costa Rica would give us a great insight to the country and allow ourselves to immerse in the local culture.
However, two weeks into our trip, our underwater camera was washed out to the ocean with half our vacation pictures- and if you know me, you know what a huge deal photos are to me!  I broke down sobbing like a three year old and we flew home a week early instead of spending the last week of our vacation at Costa Rica's famous Arenal Volcano.  In hindsight, I probably over reacted and we should have stayed...but when I get upset, I get upset!  In the end, it was all great.  We saved ourselves a bunch of money because our last hotel graciously refunded our pre-paid stay, and we spend a few days at a resort in Lake Chelan, then a few more days to decompress before returning to work.  Perfect!
But back to the main story here- Costa Rica is a wonderful country that leads the world in sustainability.  They've invested wisely in renewable energy (hydroelectric power, wind power, and geothermal), unlike most countries who can't seem to lessen their dependence on coal and oil even a little bit.  Costa Rica has even discovered oil in their own country, but still chose to make strides towards sustainability.  Carbon and water taxes that go towards maintaining forests, along with economic incentives for farmers and eco tourism companies to keep the country clean, have greatly influenced everyone.

What's really interesting about Costa Rica is that there are more bird species in any one of their parks than all of North America.  They have around 500 species and plants and animals- biodiversity that is very important!
25% of their land is protected as nature reserves, more than any other country in the world!  They use a practice of mixing national parks with "buffer zones"- land that local people protect while using to their economical advantage.  This helps reduce human impact on those most delicate lands that need protecting from our pollution and degradation.
Because of their smart conservation efforts, they now bring in more Eco-tourism commerce than any other country in the world, which is also their number one source of income!
They also had a great bus system!  I've mentioned before how Tim and I always try out the public transportation no matter where we go- we are huge believers in downgrading the importance of cars.  I know some people may think this sounds like a crazy way to spend your honeymoon, but we loved taking the bus from the small community at the beach up into town and then back to our hotel! 
We always pack light- we both only brought a duffel bag for our three weeks in Costa Rica- so that maneuvering around buses and trains isn't difficult.

Bikes were a popular mode of transportation as well.  It wasn't uncommon to see lots of people pedaling around each day.
They were big on reuse as well.  Our favorite place to hang out was actually the interior of a retired plane, and check out this common way to reuse glass bottles:
Isn't that just wonderful?

All these practices were things we noticed while there, but never really comprehended how much importance they really have!




During our trip, we spent most of the time laying on the beach, having margaritas and buckets of Imperial brought to us like lazy Americans, but we also got to get out and do some activities.  Most of our photos- all I can really remember are the jet skiing and beach lounging one- are on the bottom of the ocean, but we did manage to purchase some photos of us zip lining:






Costa Rica has almost every sport imaginable, from surfing to canyoning to visiting coffee plantations.  It's a great place to have an adventure and to watch some breathtaking sunsets.
Bottom line, I can't wait to go back to Costa Rica one day!  Tim and I are just dying to see the turtles hatching and to visit the cloud rainforests, as well as the hot springs at the base of the active Arenal Volcano.  Maybe in the next 5-10 years we'll make a return visit!




What has been your most interesting travel journey?

Check out more of our travel tales here!

P.S. Kristen Bell- here are some of the sloths we saw:
This guy was hanging out in the tree next to a restaurant we went to every night to watch the sunset.  He was there every.single.night. in almost the same spot.   I named him Jerry.
This guy was in the national park.  He was either one of the annoyingly super fit guys, or had just seen a spider because he was crawling through the trees!  I shall call him Larry.

3 comments:

  1. Very interesting! I need to go take pictures of the birds over there!

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  2. Wahoo!
    Looks so fun.
    I've never been, but would seriously love to... especially after looking at you guys all cute :)

    Thanks for linkin up!

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  3. So cool that we were in the same general area for our honeymoon. I recognized a couple of the places you were at :) Cannot wait to go back either!

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