Spring semester in college is my favorite one. Many juniors that left DC for semester abroad come back from all around the world and the group of friends is finally complete. The weather changes from the cold and snowy days in January to the warm and sunny days in April. But most importantly, Hoyas get to plan their Spring Break.
This year we struggled to find a destination. The organization and planning of our 10 day vacation was nearly as complicated as the planning of Obama’s visit to the Pope: group emails, lunches and dinners to discuss where to go to, as well as the amount of airlines and hotels webpages open on my computer for weeks. After arguing about a long list of possible places to visit we got to the three Cs: California, Cuba and Costa Rica. For passport, flight and price issues we eventually picked COSTA RICA. We lost some of our participants along the decision and organizational process and we ended up six girls on our way to San José.
We sounded like the beginning of a joke: an American, a Venezuelan, a Turkish, an Emirati and two Italians went to Costa Rica… The plan of the trip was to start from the capital, move to the province of Alajuela, right in the middle of the cloud forest, to visit the surroundings of the Arenal Volcano to then end the trip relaxing in Santa Teresa, in the southeast region of CR facing the Pacific Ocean. Basically we crossed the northern region of the country in just a week’s time.
Our first Costa Rican adventure was a visit to a rescue center for wild animals to help their rehabilitation and to feed them. It was the first time for the majority of us to be able to get so close to wild animals such as monkeys, boa constictors, macaws, quaties, raccoons, parrots of mali, wild boars. Lesson of the day: spider monkeys do not make eye contact with humans and have the softest hands. 6am wakeup call the second day of the trip. Destination: sky tram and zip line in the middle of the jungle. Ready with very uncomfortable and heavy gear we slipped across Big Mama, Big Papa (fastest and longest) Mini Me and four others lines. Needless to say, the view was incredible and it felt like being in the Tarzan movie.
Left the jungle, we spent 5 hours in the car passing from the biodiversity of the jungle to the aridity and dustiness of the countryside, jumping and swinging on bumpy roads to finally reach Santa Teresa. The little town we stayed in was basically formed by one main road, about 2/3 km long where all the restaurants, bars and surf stores were located. Santa Teresa is indeed known for great surfing. The majority of the people we met there were from other countries around the world: they first came to Santa Teresa for its beaches and great waves, they fell in love with the place and vibes and decided to spend the rest of their lives there.
Unfortunately, our parents were not excited about our idea to drop out of college, drink coconut water and play the guitar around a fire on the beach for a couple of months longer. However, after our experience in Santa Tere we were very tempted to do so. The infinite beaches are incredible, unscarred by the typical touristic entertainment and just the view of the acrobatics of the surfers in the sea is worth visiting. People are so chilled and friendly, we bonded with our surf instructors, who would always invite us to join them for sunset drinks and reggae parties. Almost everyone speaks English as the majority of the population comes from foreign countries: Canada, USA, Australia, Israel, and Portugal to mention a few.
Life in Santa Tere is happy, easy and healthy. A typical day would start with an early wakeup call to go to the beach before sunrise and catch the high tide, big breakfast based on fresh tropical fruit juices and a croissant from the French Bakery, chill while there is a low tide and back in the water in the late afternoon. Beers and guitar-playing while watching the sun set to then end the day either with a BBQ on the beach or an amazing dinner in one of the many restaurants to choose from. We only had four days there but we did everything we could have done in such a short time. We all loved surfing and we tried to dedicate two hours every day to it. For the rest of the afternoons we would rent ATVs and explore the area around Santa Teresa. One day we went to Manzanillo, to watch the sun set from the top of a hill; the second one we drove all the way to Montezuma and hiked to the waterfalls. Before leaving we could not miss a yoga class on the beach; doing a down dog and seeing the ocean make the lesson way more relaxing than the usual DC studio.
In the Costa Rican slang, the locals always say “tuanis”, which originated from the immigrating Jamaicans who would repeat “too nice”, and was eventually lost in translation with time. Ticos always say “pura vida”. The words are used interchangeably to greet, thank and say okay. They signify living for the moment, enjoying each day and not worrying—in essence, appreciating our simple lives.
Yampu Trip Amazing planning of our trip and essential suggestions for every place we visited.