03 March 2012

Costa Rica Birthday Vacation

I am a lucky girl.
Not only did I have one of the most beautiful vacations, but I got to celebrate my birthday in a place I have always dreamed of going and with several of my favourite people.

Costa Rica has been on my bucket list for the past several years. Shamelessly after watching one of the episodes of ABC's "The Bachelor" I have always wanted to visit the place where you can- Zip-line across the rainforest, climb a volcano and learn to surf!

So, me + 6 of my Minnesota friends + Boyfriends and some new friends met up in a little Costan Rican town of Jaco for an entire week.

Jaco, a place of amazing surfing + some of the most beautiful rainforest was where we were able to rent a quaint little villa. Although it was far away from most of the activity, it was perfect as a place to decompress and relax.

Our group lucked out that one of the members was a professional Chef. The entire vacation was culinarily satiated.

Peacefully hammock reading 
Welcome to Costa Rica- Chandra reading in the hammock at the Villa.

The best part about Jaco was how easy it was go to go the beach and sit and watch the Sunset.
Nothing is more peaceful to me than to sit on the beach listening to the waves crash and watching the sun turn from yellow to red… then slip down the horizon. There were a couple of days that I grabbed my journal and just sat on the beach absorbing the experience.

My Friend Corinna, enjoying the sun with me.

While on the beach many characters came about. This guy was by far my favourite. A cross between surfer man- and resident… party guy… he was laden with Cigars and for some reason could sell them at 60% less than what the stores could. I had a feeling that these were cigars that "Fell off the Truck".
The Man selling bootlegged Cigars

A few days later our character was upset and didn't come near the beach bar we usually met up at… to find out that there was a Cigar Rolling demonstration. I found it fascinating. I suppose I had always assumed Cigars were like Cigarettes that had paper and stuffed with tobacco. Instead it was interesting to see the entire tobacco leaf being rolled in. Per everyone at the bar's opinion Costan Rican Cigars are just as good if not better than Cubans with less grief associated.

Rolling his own Cigars for sale at Clarita's Gringo Bar.

The materials to roll the Cigars!

I just loved being near the ocean-- there was a man that offered horseriding every time he saw me.
Horse Riding on the Beach Offered

The Smalls 
Friends on the beach.

Of my contemplations on the beach… was watching the rocks roll around and seeing how Sand was created. The beach at Jaco isn't the white sandy beaches you imagine of Hawai'i or the ones that I saw in Australia. It's a combination of volcanic material (the sooty black) and mashed up rocks.

Come to Costa Rica
Welcome to the rocks … how Sand is formed.

Rocking the V's
The Rocks, leaving V's Behind.

Casio EX-G1 Waterproof, Shockproof Camera…
This is a good little Camera and helped me keep the love of my life, (my D700) safe back at the Villa. I took the Casio everywhere that required a little adventuring or … was perhaps not the safest for tempting fate (e.g. PickPockets).

The entire group wanted to do the ziplining, which was fun considering we were traveling with well over 11. I was amazed at the variety of flora and fauna just up in the canopy, it was as if we were in a different world from just 100 feet below at the base of the trees!
A Tour of the Rainforest Canopies via ZipLine

Kim Coming in for a landing

A few of us with White Water Rafting.
We had heard before coming to Costa Rica that this was a perfect place to Raft.
Right now it's the dry season, which makes the runs that we made Class IV and Class V. I've never rafted before, but figured… Go Big or go Home :-)… so I went.
The group, www.h2ocr.com was wonderful. They not only train you on how to deal with Rapids, should you have the misfortune to fall out, but had a professional photographer/kayaker traveling with us! If that isn't a dream job… I'm not sure what is. He would kayak ahead of us, pull his Canon out of the pelican case climb rocks and shoot away. I've posted one of his photos after the Casio ones. I liked having both perspectives, IN the boat and out of the boat. With the exception of water spots, the Casio did an amazing job keeping up with all of the water, banging around and rough handling! I can't recommend any camera highly enough for adventuring that it!

Gorgeous… the water was so clear and blue!

A little Fuzzy, but we were just going down a rapid when I turned around and took this snapshot.

The rocks were Amazing! Apparently during the rainy season ALL of this is under water.

Our Team Mates behind us in the last Raft.

NOT MY PHOTO, but rights given to me by H2ocr.com
This was borrowed by H2o Adventures, but an amazing photo of us White Water Rafting

This was a perfect way for me to spend my birthday… with friends, in a beautiful place… and just really soaking in and loving life.
I am a lucky woman.

Steph, Contemplating the beautiful Costan Rican Sunset (iPhone 4).