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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Birthdays, Pool Crawls and Volcanoes in Nicaragua

For those of you who read my recent Costa Rica blog, this is a continuation of the same trip, spending a second week in Nicaragua.  I’d always been interested in Nicaragua since Anthony Bourdain’s episode of No Reservations years earlier.  It’s a country that’s been through so much, a stark contrast from the more “Americanized” areas of Costa Rica I’d visited the prior week.

We had exactly seven days to tour as much of the country as possible and find somewhere fun to celebrate my birthday.  We decided to hit up the beach town of San Juan Del Sur for their famous Sunday Funday pub crawl, then spend some time in the heritage city of Granada before ending the trip at a yoga center near the tiny beach town of Popoyo.  I wish we’d had more time to visit some of the other places I’d heard so much about, but we felt this gave us diversity without spending our whole trip in a car.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

My cousin and I were up and out the door of our Costa Rican villa in Nosara at 7:30am, aiming to return the rental car to the airport in San Jose by 9am.  There are four options for getting to Nicaragua from Costa Rica – taking a chicken bus (cheap, local transport), the Tica Bus (a bit nicer bus option), a taxi to the border (and then hopefully another one on the other side) or fly.  We were trying to get to San Juan Del Sur by 1pm to celebrate “Sunday Funday” for my birthday.  Even if we managed to get through each checkpoint of the trip on the time, we’d barely make it.

We made it to the car rental by 9am, but soon learned that we couldn’t buy a Tica Bus ticket, because the bus office is closed on Sundays.  We didn’t have a cell phone, a laptop or enough Spanish to sort out the chicken bus so we finally gave up and flagged down the only taxi we could find for a ride to the border.  From San Jose, we had the option of $80 flat fee or the meter. It’s an hour ride so we took a chance that $80 would be cheaper.

We arrived at the border at 10:30am to a bit of chaos.  It’s very unclear what line to get in and a man popped up eager to help us through the line (for a fee of course).  Leery of handing my passport to a stranger, we decided to go it alone, which we found cost us 1.5 hours of waiting in line as people who opted for a “helper” went straight through (as did anyone arriving on a bus).  It also meant haggling for a cab to San Juan Del Sur on the Nicaragua side, without much bargaining power.  We agreed on $30 for two people, which was FAR cheaper than anything in Costa Rica.

An hour later we pulled up to the famous, Naked Tiger Hostel, creators of the equally famous Sunday Funday pool party pub crawl. We paid the deposit for a towel and $15 for our pub crawl ticket and quickly changed into swimsuits in our co-ed, 8-person dorm room.  I know I’m probably too old for “party hostels” but man I sure do love them.  There is no easier, better way to make new friends. 

Turns out 1pm was a “loose” start time so we joined the growing crowd of people downstairs at the bar.  The payment policy is both easy, and dangerous – you simply hand over your passport which acts as your “tab” and then pay at the end.  Luckily drinks are Nicaragua-cheap.

Sunday Funday consists of three stops with free drink tickets at each stop and haphazard transportation in between - just jump in the first available truck.  The first stop was Anamar- a Vegas hotel pool vibe.  We arrived with the rest of our dorm roommates who turned out to be a bunch of unruly Australians.  A note to first time travelers – if you’re looking for a wild time, find Australians.

Photo Credit: Anamar / TripAdvisor

Anamar was pretty fun, but you could tell everyone was still kind of getting to know each other – the classic first stop sussing of any pub crawl.  The next stop was (hilariously) back at Naked Tiger - the perfect casual, cheap pool + bar with a view of the ocean.  The vibe and music were so good we were hesitant to leave for the third bar, since we’d need to find our own way back, but felt we had to “give it go” (Naked Tiger is not in the main town area; it’s quite a way up the hill overlooking town, but worth it.  There are shuttles every 30 mins to an hour).

If you’ve ever been to the main bar street of Cabo San Lucas, you can imagine exactly what Stop #3, Arribas, was like – a lot of very drunk people dancing.  The bar opened directly onto the beach so you could dance, then swim, then dance, then swim.  I’d been told by a friend that pickpockets are a serious problem, especially on Sunday Funday, because of the easy targets, so I was careful to keep an eye on my wallet and camera.  Sure enough, one of the girls in our group woke up to half the money in her purse gone. You don’t need an ID in Nicaragua so at least I didn’t have to worry about my passport.  Also be careful not to drink the tap water!

Photo Credit: Arribas Facebook Page

It was a very fun night and a wonderful birthday and we made a ton of new friends.

Monday, March 5, 2018

We woke up early the next day for some pool time, only to find out that the rowdy Australians had pulled an all-nighter.  One still hadn’t returned from town and the other lamented his “favorite shirt” (purchased a few days earlier) now in tatters.  Unfortunately, the one that hadn’t returned had my camera.  To be honest, I was more worried about him than the camera which had seen its share of good times.  

We spent the rest of our “Monday Funday” watching Jackmatazz and TimmyT perform terrible magic tricks while sipping frozen drinks by the pool.  Turns out the hostel food is really good – I recommend the Nica Lunch, the Chicken Parm Sandwich and the Mixed Bowl.  We learned that it took a collective 106 hours for Jack to get all the tattoos covering his body.

Fairly late in the day, our missing member finally appeared at the hostel.  He’d had quite the adventure… and my camera!  It’s was a scene from The Hangover going through the pictures- he continued to take photos documenting his night.  We all had a good laugh.
The whole hostel was pretty tired, so everyone ordered chicken parm sandwiches from the kitchen and watched a group movie before going to bed.  

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

We’d planned to play our departure by ear, either staying one more night or continuing on, but our friends were leaving so we decided to book a $15 group shuttle to Granada at 3pm.  Since we’d spent very little time in town, we took the 8am shuttle to see what we’d missed.  We soon learned nothing was open until 9:30am except a tiny taco shop with astoundingly tacos for a couple bucks.  We stopped in a few shops before taking the next shuttle back up the hill – there are a couple cute surf shops, but not much else.

We packed up our things before 12pm so we didn’t have to pay for another night and spent our remaining time by the pool.  I was in shock when I found out my total food and bar tab was only $100 for two full days and nights! The shuttle arrived 30 mins late and was over-packed with people and luggage.  It was a miserable, hot ride.  Sounds snobby, but I wish we’d paid the extra $25 for a private one.

Luckily Nicaragua is a small country (especially to someone living in massive Australia at the time).  It took less than 2 hours to get to Granada and our accommodation, the Granada Casa San Francisco, was so romantic!  It had old world Spanish architecture (like much of the city) with a homey feel.  Our room was small and the bed was not very comfortable, but it was a clean and had character.  We immediately booked the double tour to Lagana Apoyo and Masaya Volcano (an active volcano) at the front desk before they closed down for the day.  It was $32 USD per person – this country is so conveniently cheap after overpriced Costa Rica.

My cousin had lived in Costa Rica and had visited Granada accidentally so she knew of this amazing restaurant called the Garden Café.  We didn’t have a reservation and the restaurant was fully booked, but the hostess took pity on us after my cousin told her how much she loved the place and said if we waited around and had a drink she’d try and sneak us a table.  We lucked out and snagged a small table in the garden area.  The food was delicious and tasted “homemade” which was really comforting after two days of naughty food and drink. We loved the pesto goat cheese appetizer and the salpicon entrée.  And I was introduced to the best pina colada I’ve ever had – it was thick like a milkshake and so flavorful!  It was such a nice night to spend eating great food with my best friend.

Photo Credit: Garden Cafe Instagram

We wanted to go out for a beer, but after walking a few blocks, we both felt a little uncomfortable as two young female blondes.  There were very few people on the poorly lit streets and not much was open, so we returned home for the night.

Wed, March 7, 2018

Breakfast is included at hotel and, my god, get the cinnamon pancakes, they are outstanding.  The coffee in Central America, however, is way too intense for my stomach.

The tour shuttle picked us up at 10am and it was an easy ride to Laguna Apoyo.  The shuttle dropped us off at Paradiso Hostel, which looks out over the lake and is AMAZING.  It’s a multi-level complex that is mostly outdoors and they provide lockers, locks, towels and cards that you use to pay for things and then close out at the end.  You just need to bring a change of clothes to shower, sunscreen, etc.  They have free kayaking and inner tubes on the lake, a paddle boat, massages, mani pedis, smoothies and a huge patio on the lake.  I am 100% staying here next time I visit.

There were quite a few people on the shuttle so make a mad dash to the lakeside to grab a sun chair – they are few and far between.  The next few hours were my favorite part of the whole trip – we tanned and swam and drank frozen drinks on the patio.  I even got a cheap massage with the sun flickering in through the drapes.

The shuttle to Masaya Volcano arrived at 4:30pm.  This would be the least favorite part of my trip – the people in the shuttle were loud, playing terrible music and once you arrive at the volcano you sit for hours in a massive line of cars waiting to be let up the hill.  It’s an active volcano that could erupt at any moment, so they only let a few vehicles up at a time.  I wish I’d known so I could’ve packed some snacks. We were miserable and starving by the time it was our turn to go up the volcano.

Each “round” of cars has 15 minutes at the top to look around before you have to go back down.  I was in the worst mood when I got out of the car, but “wow” looking down into a live volcano, filled with red hot lava, is pretty damn cool.  I definitely had a mild “Frotto” moment.  I recommend walking as far to the right as the fence allows, because that’s where there are the least amount of people and the best view down into the center.

I was pretty satisfied and slept the rest of the shuttle to Granada.  We were too tired from the day to deal with people, and our hotel was so homey, we ate dinner at the bar of the hotel restaurant, Bocadillos.  It was one of the best enchiladas I’ve ever had and oddly the best Sazerac cocktail too (I’m an aficionado of both).  We were lulled into a relaxed stupor by the excellent music and friendly bar staff.  Neither of us wanted to go to bed, but eventually said our goodbyes as our eyelids started to droop.

Photo Credit: Hotel Website

Thursday, March 8, 2018

After packing up and eating another delicious breakfast, we walked through Granada towards the lake for a quick self-guided city tour before our shuttle at 11am to Popoyo.  Granada is such a beautiful, romantic town.  I would totally come back here with a boyfriend.  

This time we had a private shuttle ($80) with AC, which was heavenly.  You might notice that we decided not to rent a car in Nicaragua – we’d heard the roads aren’t well-maintained and people do steal things out of your car when stopped at lights. 

We’d be staying at Magnific Rock, a hostel-meets-yoga center that had been recommended to me by a friend who used to live in Nicaragua.  It’s quite an arresting view on arrival.  The hostel is built into the side of a cliff with the restaurant fully open to the sea.  It’s beautiful!!!  We’d only be staying for one night because we had to get back to Costa Rica the next day for our flight out, but I could’ve spent a week there.  

That is, until we got to our room.  We’d booked The Loft, but there was a yoga retreat so they’d moved us into the Chalet, which is allegedly an upgrade but it was awful – basically a wooden box with no deck and sparse decoration and bedding.  Nothing like the picture on the website. I was pretty pissed, and there were only really nice, very $$$ apartments left, which we decided wasn’t worth it for one night.

We walked down to the restaurant for quesadillas, which were pretty good, and then spent the rest of the day at the pool making friends and drinking beers.  

The hostel is completely isolated from anything else, so you have to luck out with the other people staying there if you want company.  We found a few nice people to chill with for the rest of the night.  One of them was staying in one of the nice apartments so we ended up getting the view we wanted for most of the night anyway… before retiring early to our room.  The sunset was out of this world.

Friday, March 9, 2018

We woke up early to join one of the yoga sessions.  It was on a platform jutting out over the ocean.  The class was relaxing, yet challenging, just how I like it.  We quickly scarfed down another plate of quesadillas, before our shuttle to the border arrived.  I wish we could’ve spent the day wandering the ocean or relaxing by the pool, but the hotel staff said it wasn’t a good idea to get stuck at the border at night, especially without a guaranteed ride on the other side in Costa Rica.

The border ended up being so much easier this time around (yes, we threw some guy a few bucks to slip us through the short line).  Originally, we’d planned to stay right near the airport since we had an early flight, but we weren’t quite done “vacationing” so instead we splurged on a car for $140 (we’re nuts, I know) to drive to a beach for the night instead.  I wanted to go to Tamarindo, but it was too far, so we decided on Playa Hermosa.  We spent the late afternoon at Roberto’s on the beach before eventually hopping in the car to Playa de Coco – we couldn’t afford Hermosa! Turns out Playa de Coco is like Florida – we went to dinner and were the only people under 80 years old!  Luckily, we need to tuck in early anyway.

The next day was an early, easy departure from Liberia airport, ending our trip on a nice high note.  I wish I’d had more time to spend in Nicaragua… it feels like one of the few places left in the Americas that is still a bit wild and entirely foreign for visitors.  The food was delicious, the hospitality outstanding and the natural habitats (and architecture in Granada) were break-taking.  I’d had an amazing birthday, stared a live volcano in the mouth, and practiced yoga on a precipice over an ocean.  I’d say it was a very successful trip and certainly a place I’d like to visit again.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Celebrating Brides in Costa Rica

Back in February 2018, I finally got the opportunity to visit a part of the world made famous to me by Tony Bourdain - Central America.  I’d been invited by one of my oldest, closest friends to attend her bachelorette party at a yoga center in Costa Rica.  Another close friend in the same group was also getting married around the same time, so we decided to celebrate her nuptials by traveling around Costa Rica for the week leading up to the other bachelorette.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

At the time I was still living in Sydney, Australia, so it was quite the trek to San Jose airport, but I was welcomed by a mischievous smile and equally mischievous sign.  I arrived in the late afternoon, so we immediately grabbed our rental car and hit the road as La Fortuna, our first stop, was close to 3 hours away.

This trip required a lot of research and compromise, because we both had little time off work and knew we’d have to end our excursion in Nosara for the bachelorette.  This meant most of the west and southern areas of Costa Rica weren’t convenient, which have some of the best beaches.  We wanted a bit of both adventure and beach relaxation so we decided to spend a few nights in La Fortuna to hike near the Mt Arenal Volcanic National Park and go white-water rafting.

I’d heard the roads would be a bit scary, but we didn't have any problems,with the exception of a “shortcut” we tried to take off the 141 as we approached La Fortuna; it was all big rocks of gravel and holes; I recommend sticking to the highway and a 4-wheel drive SUV and you’ll be just fine.  

We checked in to the Tifakara Hotel quite late (TiFaKara not TiKaFara – I made this mistake a lot and almost thought I’d lost our hotel reservation when I was searching Gmail!)  The place was SO cute; perfect for a reasonably priced honeymoon.  You stay in your own little “villa-like” studio surrounded by jungle with the most heavenly bed.  The only downside was the shower water didn’t want to warm up quite fast enough.  There were also open-air slates in the shower roof which were fun when it rained but not at night when the mosquitoes arrived. 

We were starving so we asked the front desk guy for a local recommendation that would still be open.  He seemed pretty stoned, which meant it took awhile to get a straight answer, but also meant the restaurant he suggested was LEGIT.  Sure enough we walked into Soda Viquez (on Calle 468 between highway 142 and Av 325) to a restaurant filled with locals.  The food is SO cheap and SO good.  I ordered casado, a local favorite - a plate of rice, black beans, plaintains, salad, a tortilla and an optional “topping” of chicken, pork, fish, beef, etc.  Sounds simplistic, but the flavors were complex!  With a Costa Rican Imperial beer to wash it down, I was hooked.

The beer also signaled bedtime after a long day of flying and driving so we headed back to our adorable villa-studio to sleep.

Sunday February 25, 2018

We woke up at 8:30am feeling strangely refreshed.  A homemade breakfast burrito and orange juice were both outstanding and included with our room.  We are notorious for not booking things in advance, so today would be our hiking day, because we woke up too late for the white-water rafting.  I was a little nervous, because the sky couldn’t decide if it was smiling or crying.

We hopped in the car and headed for Arenal Observatory Lodge, the only access to Mr Arenal National Park, which is about 30 minutes from our hotel on the other side of the volcano.  We’d purposely decided to stay near town in case we wanted to hit up the bars and drink, but if you are just coming to hike or spa, it’s more convenient to stay on the other side.

La Fortuna reminds me a little bit of Ubud in Bali, minus the rice paddies – something about the unnatural electric green of the grass and blue of the water.  You feel a bit like you’ve stepped back in time.

There wasn’t a ton of parking, so I recommend getting there early!  It cost $10 each for entry into the parking area, but at least you get a free map!  The map is a bit confusing, so don’t feel bad if you get a little lost (not in a scary way).  Growing up in Oregon, national parks usually involve sky-high trees and narrow dirt paths winding into the grass and shrubs.  This park felt a bit more like walking through someone’s farm – there were even livestock and a barn!

Being a mischievous pair, we headed for the outskirts of the park, because we’d heard there was a trail where you could hike to the top of Cerro Chato, an inactive volcano next to Arenal.  It’d blown along time ago creating a lake in the center of the crater where you can hike down to swim.

To find the “secret” entrance to the trail, go to the far end of the map (Cerro Chato is on the map) and look for a Prohibito sign (yes they made it easy for us).  No, we aren’t super crazy, we’d just been told by locals that “everybody does it.”  It’s about 6 kms to the top and is a hectic hike.  Better make sure you’ve got very good hiking shoes; we slipped and slid our way uphill for over an hour.  We were exhausted and freezing by the time we reached the top thanks to an early afternoon downpour the trees couldn’t fully shield us from.

At the top is a lookout, but unless it’s a completely clear day, you won’t see the lake.  Left takes you down to the lake, right takes you down to La Fortuna.  Turns out that trail takes 2-2.5 hours and is even more intense than our way.  No thanks.  Feeling a bit cheated, we made our way back down the hill, only to run into some very funny looking possums.  We spent 30 minutes stalking them for Instagram ops until our stomachs started to rumble.

The Observatory Lodge, while wildly overpriced, is perfect for those looking for amazing views, food, beers and somewhere to finally sit down.  The place is like a beautiful resort meets high-class summer camp.  The pork sandwich was pretty incredible though.  We’d been hiking for about 4 hours, including our slip n slid up Chato, so we headed to the park entrance (the park closes at 4pm so give yourself time to enjoy it!). 

On the way back to La Fortuna, we passed under an overpass across from Tabacon Spa, to find a bunch of locals parking their cars and wandering down the embankment to the river.  We obviously pulled over for a closer look, only to find a bunch of young people hanging out in natural hot springs, laughing and shouting, beers in hand.  Felt a little sketchy, but just our style.  Unfortunately, as darkness started to fall, we realized we were lacking towels, water shoes (very rocky and slick), headlamps and beers.

After showers, we wandered down to a steak restaurant called La Garrapata.  We were hoping for another great local spot, but instead if felt like a wild west BBQ joint at Disneyland.  The meat was alright, but we left underwhelmed.

Monday Feb 26, 2018

Up early again to be picked up at 8:30am for our rafting trip.  Our guide, Dionis, was hilarious.  There are a number of rivers you can float, but we wanted a more challenging course with some solid white-water so we opted for the Rio Sarapiqua.  It was an hour drive to the put-in and then a two-hour float - about 70-80% of the stretch were quality rapids where you could sit on the front of the raft and “ride the bull.”

What an incredible day.  The weather was warm, the sky was clear and our lunch of chicken, rice, salsa and plantains was fresh and mouth-watering.  We got to try some local moonshine and sugar cane juice which was strong.

After two days of “roughing it,” we were keen to land a massage at Tabacon, which is arguably the nicest spa in the area, but we couldn’t get a reservation so we chilled for a bit before dressing up for our final dinner in La Fortuna at Nene's.  Weirdly enough, we ordered wine and hamburgers, which seems so American, yet they were SO good.  The ceviche appetizer was delicious as well.  We stopped by Nanku, a fun bar with outdoor seating and live music for a few beers before heading home to bed.  It’d be a jam-packed day!

Tuesday Feb 27, 2018

We’d debated back and forth about spending another night in La Fortuna, because we’d had such a lovely time, but the call of unknown adventure beckoned us to packed up our things and head beach-ward.  

We set our sights on Tamarindo Beach as our next destination mostly because the place we found on was too good to pass up.  It took us about 4 hrs thanks to a lot of pit stops for pictures and coffee.  Cafe e Macadamia was the favorite with beautiful views of the lake and delicious coffees and baked goods!

La Ramona was one of the most charming hotels - clean, quiet and high quality, but with personality and an intimacy due to its small size.  It also wasn’t too close to the main town area so it felt remote and relaxing while not being a long walk into town.  There are only a few cabins surrounding a pool inside a walled courtyard so you felt like you own the place!  If you ever decide to stay there #5 is the one with the outdoor bathtub!

Marianna is the owner of the place and was so cute to help me sneakily create a bachelorette crown for my friend.  Little did my friend know tonight would be her 2-woman bachelorette party.  Luckily, I have enough energy in me to equal a whole flock of ladies.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon soaking up rays and watching this crazy woman in one of the other cabins yell at what appeared to be her young Costa Rican lover. Continuing my random Balinese comparisons, I’d say Tamarindo is a bit like the Gili Islands.

After dressing up in the first dresses and makeup of the trip, I gave my bestie her crown and we headed to Seasons for dinner – what a lovely meal of spicy tuna tartar, black miso fish, Mahi Mahi, and cauliflower.  Oh, and a rousing round of applause from the other diners sitting out on the patio for the bachelorette!

Having finished the “polite” portion of the evening, we ended up at Sharky’s for drinks.  I was intrigued by the name, as a loyal patron of Sharkie’s Hermosa and Manhattan from my days living in Los Angeles, and sure enough it was as fratty as I had hoped.  I might as well have died and gone to heaven when I found out there’s a Costa Rican version of a pickleback called “pepi guaro.”  A couple of those and we were eagerly joining the late-night karaoke sesh with a couple of dads out on a boy’s night during their family trip.  We ended up leaving before the dads at 1am.

Wednesday, Feb 28, 2018

Another debate about whether we should stay another night in Tamarindo, which we loved, test out another beach, or arrive in Nosara a day early (the bachelorette festivities officially started on Thurs). We had a pretty long drive and we’d heard that the roads closer to Nosara do get pretty intense so we decided to hit the road.  The last 1.5 hours of the road was really awful… we basically had to ford a small river at one point, because the bridge was under construction.  A bunch of the girls were already at the center when we arrived because they’d done the week-long retreat earlier in the week. 

Nalu is everything for someone looking to relax in nature.  It’s quite the compound; when you arrive you come in through a high-walled gate to park.  From there, it’s a maze of beautifully-groomed pathways leading to little villas among the ferns.  The villas were so lush.  I was staying in a two bedroom with the bride, her sister and her cousin and we had our own pool and a huge open floor plan kitchen and living room.  Relaxation started seeping into my bones the minute I arrived and continued to massage my brain as we walked down to the beach for sunset.  A homemade dinner of sausage and rice was served and we sat getting to know each other.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Like any good yoga center, we greeted the day with a relaxing yoga practice and then walked down the street to La Casa for lunch.  This place is a must-eat.  The BBQ sandwich was unreal.  Yes, I ordered meat in yoga-ville; may the vegans flay me alive.

I digested by the pool before we dressed ourselves up for dinner and walked the beach to El Chivo – it may have been the ribs, the wet burrito, the fun music or the countless margaritas, but we were quickly interrogating the staff about the after-party location.  Sure enough, a full moon party was in the works and a van was called to carry us to deep into the jungle.

We debated the likelihood of kidnap, but the size of our group and our sense of adventure overruled; we found ourselves being dropped at less of a “bush doof” and more of a “beach club party.” I instantly felt safe, minus the future scar on my shin from some stupid beach fern that night.

The ride back to Nalu was much crazier as we had to pack into four-person human-pedaled tuk tuks.  Pretty sure one crashed and another broken down but we eventually all made it back safely.

Friday, March 2, 2018

The next day was spent lazing around the pool like fancy mermaids, drinking delicious drinks and painting sunhats (one of our bachelorette activities).  A local chef arrived to cook us dinner and we did the traditional “giving of the lingerie” before returning to bed early.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The bride is all about fitness so we woke to another exciting morning workout – this time boxing at Enchanted Forest with Brenda.  Gotta call out the name of this place because it IS an enchanted forest!  You wander into the jungle and weave through a bunch of brightly colored bungalows before arriving at the gym and boxing arena.

We stretched our tired limbs walking along the beach to look into the tide pools – a couple small crabs and starfish but nothing compared to the Oregon Tide Pools (yes, I’m a little biased).

I couldn’t say “no” to La Casa for lunch again, this time trying the chicken bacon sandwich which was almost as good as the BBQ one, but pretty heavy!  I trudged back to the villa because I knew I had to work on my resume for a job back in Australia for the rest of the afternoon while everyone else continued their vacation.   I stopped in time to shower and dress for our final dinner together at La Luna.  It was a beautiful dinner, right off the beach, watching the sunset as we devoured fish tacos and margaritas.  It was such a fitting end to a relaxing time with great people.

Sadly, I’d spend the remainder of the night finishing my resume so I wasn’t able to partake in the late night drunken pool swim, but I’d had an incredible time in Costa Rica.  While I probably don't need to go back (there's other places I'm more interested in visiting) I was impressed by that feel of relaxation that echoes throughout the country.  The only thing I dock it on a little is that it feels like it's been settled by a lot of Californian yogis.  Granted most of the places I went were not off the beaten path so it might be an unfair assessment.  Anyways, a wonderful trip and a highly recommended, easy place to visit.