BY: Amanda Mudlaff
This summer I was provided with an experience of a lifetime. I was able to travel to Costa Rica with two of my best friends. I had always wanted to explore the world outside of the United States, and I finally was given an opportunity to do so. As it was my first time traveling out of the country, I was very nervous, but also extremely excited.
My friend that grew up there planned the entire trip. She talked to her parents in order to get discounts on tickets and was able to schedule an activity that everyone would love and enjoy. Her parents were the best hosts and tour guides we could’ve asked for. Her mom was very kind and was always up for adventuring with us kids, and her dad would quiz us on the culture of Costa Rica and was an amazing chef.
Throughout the trip, we got to experience some breathtaking and amazing feats that Costa Rica had to offer. We started our trip by spending the first two days in a hotel near a volcano. During that time, we were able to go white-water rafting down a river, as well as white-water tubing! The white-water rafting tour also provided us with lunch from an organic farm that offered the typical Costa Rican lunch. IT WAS AMAZING. Typical Costa Rican meals include rice and beans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as chicken, yuca, and a salad. Afterwards, we were taught how to make sugarcane juice, and then given a shot of moonshine the farmers make themselves. We finished off the night by going swimming in natural hot and cold springs.
The next day we traveled from the hotel by the volcano to my friend’s house. It was a long car ride, but the views we got to witness while driving down from the volcano were breathtaking. When we finally arrived at my friends house we were all blown away by the beauty of her house. It was all designed by her parents and had an enormous kitchen, a gorgeous pool, and had amazing views of the resort they lived on. It was the most beautiful place I’ve ever stayed in.
Early the next morning we left for an hour boat ride to a private island called Turtle Island where we were able to snorkel, go tubing, and go paddle boarding in the ocean. The views from this island were mesmerizing. On the island, I had the experience of kissing a wild boar, as well as eating some more home-cooked Costa Rican food. This was by far my favorite day of the entire trip.
The next two days we got to go on two of the strangest tours: a crocodile and wild monkey tour. The crocodile tour was insane. The tour guides were getting out of the boat and standing within feet of the crocodiles as they fed them raw chicken. We gave one of the guides our Go Pro and he shot a video up close and personal to a crocodile as he fed it. The monkey tour was also crazy because we got to hand feed wild monkeys. The monkeys were very timid and shy, so much so that when you were feeding them you couldn’t stare at them or move your hand. If you did, they would scurry back up the tree by all the other monkeys. Both of these tours were on boats and allowed for us to see other native wildlife. We got to see snakes, crabs, iguanas, lizards, and so many different types of birds.
After the monkey tour, we hiked into a nearby town called Jaco. During this hike we explored an abandoned restaurant on the side of a hill. The views were spectacular and the graffiti that was painted all throughout the abandoned building was crazy to look at. I was in heaven during this time because I have an addiction to adrenaline and I’ve always been obsessed with abandoned places. They have this haunting beauty that draws me in.
On the third to last day, we went to our busiest tour. It started with zip-lining through the rainforest and ended with horse-riding to a waterfall that we were able to jump into. It started to downpour on us when we were ziplining and it was so hard to see anything, but it was worth every second of it. I got to zip-line upside down as well, and that was an experience I will certainly never forget. The horseback riding was definitely my least favorite adventure we went on, but it was worth the trip to the waterfall. The waterfall was absolutely mesmerizing. We were able to slide down a natural slide eroded away by the waterfall and jumped off the rocks into the water below. I never wanted to leave, but sadly we had to ride the horses back to the buildings. It was during this time that I discovered I’m VERY allergic to horses. So much so that I spent the entire ride sneezing and scratching at my face only to find out I had broken out in a rash all along my neck, but like I said earlier, the trip was worth it.
On the remaining two days we had left, we all decided to drive into Jaco and shop at all of the little markets and souvenir shops. We got to try different restaurants and eat cultural fruits and juices. My favorite fruit I was able to try there is called a “mamon chino”. It looks like a spikier version of a strawberry on the outside, but once you pop the shell off it tastes like a giant grape. Everything we were able to witness in Costa Rica was amazing. The people in Costa Rica were so friendly, the food was amazing a flavorful, and the nature and buildings were colorful. It was definitely an experience I will treasure forever, and I can’t wait to take my husband and children there one day.