Hola, Pura Vida!
I’m back from our nine day stay in Costa Rica, but it feels like a giant piece of me is still there. I remember feeling similarly last time we went. There was almost this state of mourning we went through for a few days upon returning, and I find myself going through those same emotions now. We considered having our kids flown out to us and just staying there forever because, well, I’ll show you!
We decided to spend two days in Jaco before heading to the exact home we rented for our honeymoon five years ago, in Manuel Antonio. Derek found this incredible mansion tucked away in a residential that had been turned into a hotel boutique. I was a little apprehensive when he first booked it because the idea of sharing house space with random people was a bit of a turn off, but it was actually really cool. There were only two other families staying there with us and the only time we really saw anyone else was at breakfast when they had fresh fruit and coffee out for the guests.
See that dome on top of the house? That was part of our master suite, which was on the opposite end of the house from the other rooms. It was amazing.
Our first day consisted of 9:00 am cocktails, crocodiles, and lots of walking. We ended up falling asleep at 7:30 pm and sleeping for twelve hours— and it was glorious.
It didn’t take us long to realize that Jaco was not like the Manuel Antonio/Quepos area we had fallen in love with. The people just weren’t as friendly, and everyone— even restaurant/retail employees, seemed bothered by the presence of forgeiners.
Still, we had a nice time. The food was delicious and we went on a day trip to Tortuga island, which was beautiful. The guides totally ripped us off— again, something that just doesn’t happen in Manuel Antonio— but it was still worth it. Derek caught a fish, ate the freshest ceviche I’ve ever seen, and we sipped on “Coco Locos” (rum in fresh coconut water).
Once we got to Tulemar, my heart was in its happy place. It felt like coming home— with everything different, yet still exactly as we had left it.
We walked, and ate, and walked some more. We reminisced and marveled at all of the new sights to see. We laughed, and connected, and played crazy eights during thunderstorms. We drank fruity drinks and espressos and local beer and wine. We did whatever we wanted, even if that was to do nothing at all— and my heart (and belly) were constantly full of joy.
Yes, that is a drink collage.
And here is some dessert porn to go with those draaaanks.
You’re welcome. Moving on.
When we came for our honeymoon back in 2011, we saw almost every kind of wildlife Costa Rica has to offer on our ride in. They told us it was newlywed luck, and they were right because this time we didn’t see anything other than sloths until our third day. But once the animals finally showed up, it was unreal how up close and personal we were able to get with them.
One morning, we decided to walk to the national park (about 3 miles away). It’s an extremely steep hill but we were going down, so it wasn’t too gruesome. As we were trekking along, Derek noticed a sloth on the ground less than 10 ft away from us.
“Oh no— a dead sloth!”
I was furious with him for pointing it out to me because it made me so sad.
Then he added, “ohhhhh nooooo. It was a mama sloth. She has a baby on her chest.”
That’s when I basically lost it. I was at the point of tears telling Derek he had just ruined my entire day when he said:
“Well, it could be alive. We didn’t check.”
I told him to go check and that I would stay there because my mama heart couldn’t take it. But I ended up walking back up to him shortly anyway, and low and behold, her and her baby were alive! She was responsive, but clearly hurt so we knew we needed to do something. We went into hyper hero mode after that and frantically climbed back up that hill to try and find someone who could help. As chance would have it, a police car appeared and we flagged them down, explained the situation, and guided them to the mama and her babe. They picked her up, put her in the back of their car, and took her to the nearby sloth sanctuary to get her the help she needed.
We felt on top of the world, and were met with our first glorious rain of the trip just minutes after— which stamped in the feeling of winning. Then when we finally got to the national park, we saw a full blown monkey brawl pan out right in front of us. Our guide said he had literally never seen anything like it in all of his years working there.
Speaking of our guide— we almost didn’t get one because Derek has a pretty great eye for wildlife and we had already done the tour before, but we got suckered into it and I’m so glad we did, because our guide was the sweetest.
It was literally just Derek and I on his tour, and we laughed and joked like old friends would. He even flagged us down when he saw us walking around town a few days later, which just sums up how incredible the people in Manuel Antonio are.
The one tour we didn’t do on our honeymoon was ATVs (because we were way too hungover) so that was something I really wanted to do this time. We went with one other couple and our guide’s mom cooked us lunch afterwards. I’d like to note that Kevin’s mom’s food was our favorite meal of the entire trip. On the drive back, he played SNL clips and Drake on his phone for us— because literally everyone treats you like a long lost friend.
Another day, we got stuck on an island at 10:00 am in the rain after we had kayaked there, and a local made us drinks, sat down next to us on a log, and told us his life story.
The people, you guys— I cannot say enough good things about the people.
And the animals— those crazy animals!
We had a Capuchin (white faced monkey) one day, who demanded bananas from us and was very distraught when they were all gone.
A squirrel monkey brought all of his friends for snacks, then came back later by himself to eat more of our fruit that we had sitting out. Watch the video below, guys. It literally came right up to our table and just started hanging out with us.
And on our very last day— literally just an hour before we were being picked up to go to the airport, we had 17 squirrel monkeys on our balcony with us at one time. It was unreal.
And to top it off, two macaws (which are rare to this specific area) flew right in front of us WHILE the monkeys were there, and one landed in the tree directly next to us.
Seeing macaws so up close in the wild like that, was absolutely mesmerizing and the perfect send off for us. Our house manager Kimberly, who we’ve now known for five years, told us that we felt like family and to call her if we ever needed anything or just wanted to chat. We gave long hugs and promised to come back soon.
It was the absolute best trip I’ve ever been on, and I got to share the entire experience with my favorite person on the planet.
Five years have been both good and bad to us. They have given us immeasurable amounts of pain and joy. We have lost and gained loved ones. We have laughed, cried, danced— we’ve eaten too much food, drank too much wine. We’ve fallen and we’ve soared. But we’ve done it all together and I could not imagine doing this life with anyone else.
So, cheers to five years!
It’s been a grand adventure, and I know we’re just beginning.