It’s been quite a while since I’ve written a post featuring a life update. I’m sure you all are curious about what Jake and I have been up to the past two months! There has been a lot, and I am excited to share it all with you. I know my last post was a bit vague and maybe a bit worrisome for some of you, but once again I assure you that everything is FINE. I have found this blog to be a more formal way of expressing my thoughts throughout this journey, and deep down I knew that nothing else could be written until I got what I wanted to say out of my system. I appreciate all of the love and support I get from each of you who take the time to read my blog and I hope you enjoy the rest of my posts going forward! Now let’s move onto one of the best weeks Jake and I have had throughout our time abroad!
When Jake and I arrived in Costa Rica in September we headed straight into a Workaway experience. This work exchange was much different than all of the others we have had for many reasons. We split our time between two different work sites. One site was at a hostel (where we also lived) and the other was at a preschool across town. By the end of our stay we spent most of our time working at the hostel, but the preschool was consistently both of our favorite places to work. There’s just something about seeing 16 smiling faces every morning that are genuinely happy to see you that makes it feel like what you are doing is important. Maybe this is why I chose teaching as a career in the first place. We spent a month and a half at these work exchange sites, which is mostly why I haven’t written about our adventures recently. Our time at these Workaways had its ups and downs and left us itching to travel once again when our time was up.
On our last day of work one of Jake’s best friends, Mike, was on a flight to come visit us. We had been eagerly awaiting his arrival since he told us he bought his tickets a few months back. He planned to spend a week with us in Costa Rica and we had an exciting agenda planned for him. We couldn’t wait to begin traveling again after almost two months in one place, so his arrival came at the perfect time.
During Mike’s stay we covered a lot of ground. We started at the tropical beaches of Manuel Antonio, where the humidity was so intense that everything I owned constantly felt damp. Then we traveled to the mountain tops of the cloud forest in Monteverde where we had to dig out our jackets from the depths of our backpacks because the air was so cold (I don’t think I had worn my jacket in at least three months before that week). Both of these climates were amazing and it was incredible to me that only 5 hours on a bus could change so much about the environment around us. Being in these different environments also changed the diversity of the animals around. We saw SO MANY animals during our week with Mike. In Manuel Antonio we were within 10 feet of a coati, watched a capuchin monkey family (equipped with a baby hanging on the mother’s back) swing through the treetops, got in a fight with some fearless raccoons, watched a three-toed sloth hang from its hind legs, and beautiful parrots with awful voices awoke us every morning with their horrible songs. It was amazing to see all of these animals in their natural habitats.
I had been to Manuel Antonio before this trip when I studied abroad in Costa Rica, so I was already aware of its beauty and animal diversity. However, Monteverde was a first for all three of us. I fell in love with this region. The climate is cool and fresh, which reminded me a lot of Oregon and there was tons to do and see. Our welcome into the town was amazing as the drive up was absolutely stunning. It took our bus 2 hours to drive 20 km (about 13 miles) uphill on a gravel road to get us to this beautiful town, but every second was worth it because of the beautiful views that we got to see. Monteverde is very much a “tourist town.” Their economy is driven by their visitors, but regardless it was worth every second. That being said, anything we wanted to do had to be set up by a tour. However, these tours were worth every penny and much less expensive than I anticipated. We signed up for three tours during our short stay and I still can’t decide which one is my favorite. They were all amazing.
The first tour we went on was to the hanging bridges. There were 8 bridges constructed along a hiking trail in the depths of the cloud forest. These bridges were huge, the longest being 515 feet long and took us across the treetops of the forest. We were in awe of the nature around us and we even got to watch a pack of monkeys swing through the treetops for several minutes during our hike. Our next tour was to a coffee plantation. However, the tour was not just about coffee, but also included a chocolate tour AND sugarcane tour. After we returned to our hostel we felt physically ill from all of the caffeine and sugar that was rushing through our bodies, but it was all worth it. We learned about the process of making chocolate, how to extract sugar from the sugar cane plant, and watched the entire process of producing coffee beans. I was intrigued by all of these processes and wondered how man was able to go from the fruit of the cocoa bean or coffee bean and turn it into chocolate and coffee. They were both very long processes that I’m sure took many years to come to fruition. Nevertheless, I am very thankful that someone figured it out! Our final tour was a night hike through the forest. Equipped with a hilarious guide and a flashlight we wondered through the forest looking for animals. We saw a young two-toed sloth, a green viper snake, some sleeping birds, and even a tarantula. I was not too excited about the tarantula, but it was worth it to see everything else!
After these adventures it was time for Mike to return to the US. We were sad to see him go. The week was full of good times and countless memories that we will never forget. It was nice to finally see someone from home and spend time with them after being away from all of our loved ones for almost 5 months. We are thankful that Mike took the opportunity to come visit us! After Mike left, Jake and I headed to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, to study Spanish for a week before going on new adventures on the Caribbean side of the country. Now onto the remainder of our journey. No more workaways means lots of relaxation on the beach and more exploring this beautiful country. We are so excited!