Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Try-Umph Travels: Costa Rica

I arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica after dark and as I traveled to my hotel, I knew the scenery was gorgeous. I couldn’t see it, but I could sense it. Varying shades of darkness revealed when I was riding alongside a mountain or near the ocean. Bursts of scents signified when we passed wild flowers or were getting closer to the water. Even in darkness Costa Rica is an intriguingly beautiful place.

When I woke up the next morning I could see the gorgeous mountains, the emerald trees, and the sun’s reflection swaying on the ocean. A simple car ride provided postcard perfect views. Costa Rica was a visual breath of fresh air and that’s exactly what I needed.

The group I traveled with decided to venture to Jaco Beach. We took a forty-five minute ride through the luscious mountains. When we arrived on the main road near Jaco Beach I was immediately pleased with our decision. Quaint shops and restaurants lined the laid-back road. It didn’t take us long to explore shops and have lunch at Taco Bar Restaurant. This adorable restaurant specializes in gourmet fish tacos. I had a shrimp taco and a red snapper taco. Both were flavorful and did not disappoint. In addition to the tasty food, I loved that the restaurant had swings at the tables. They were a nice touch and made me smile.

Following lunch we headed to the beach. The dark sand on Jaco Beach on a sunny day is blazing! The sand feels as if it’s been sprinkled on top of an electric blanket. My sandals remained on my feet nearly the entire time. We left the beach in search of shade and refreshments. Within one block we located the perfect place—a sports bar that was showing NFL games. After rehydrating we decided to do a little shopping and head back to the Caldera port.

Prior to the end of the night our cab driver recommended a wonderful restaurant to us. We asked if he would join us, but he declined. He told us his wife made him dinner. Knowing he couldn’t take us back to the ship he led us into the restaurant and spoke to the owner. We thought he was arranging another cab for us. After experiencing food euphoria, we were told that our ride was ready. The restaurant’s owner’s daughter drove us home.

The next day I headed to the city of Puntarenas. The first thing on the agenda was lunch so based on a recommendation from a faculty member, we ventured to a restaurant that was a little further than the main strip. I was extremely pleased with my garlic lobster tails and fresh vegetables. It was delicious!

We walked through a street market and picked up a few gifts before stopping at a vendor cart for a shaved ice treat. I opted for orange flavoring, but it was the condensed milk topping that was brilliant. My shaved ice resembled the same flavor as an orange creamsicle. I happen to love creamsicles so I was pleased.

As quickly as I arrived in Costa Rica it was time to say goodbye. Thinking back to my time on Jaco Beach and in Puntarenas will conjure up images of beautiful landscapes where ocean and mountains create breathtaking views. I will remember the scents that flooded the cab during my night ride. I will remember all of the fantastic flavors that sent smiles to my taste buds. I will remember the kindness we were shown by so many. I will remember and always be grateful that Costa Rica was everything I needed. Next stop, Honduras!

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