Horses are my greatest passion, but another, though admittedly lesser passion of mine is traveling. I didn't travel much when I was young - couple being poor and having a mom terrified of flying and see how far you get ;) But since I've been a "grown-up" and able to pay my way for at least one trip a year, I've tried to take it. It started off with girl trips to different states, and after meeting and moving in with Shawn, it turned into going on one southern trip out of the country every December. Our first year we went to the Riviera Maya, the year after it was Jamaica, and this year we chose Costa Rica. We're slowly just going farther and farther south. I'm assuming at some point we'll wind up in Antarctica.
We flew into Liberia, which was the smallest airport I've ever been to. Customs took all of 5 minutes and we were out and headed to Arenal. Arenal is an area in the interior of Costa Rica. We were directly outside of the small, but active town of La Fortuna. We were also in the shadow of a HUGE, but dormant volcano (pictured above). It's only been dormant since 2010, which seems freaky to me, but it doesn't seem to bother the locals at all.
We tend to be lazy travelers, preferring coffee and slow meanderings as opposed to tours and educational excursions, but seeing as we didn't have an ocean to stare at, we decided to book two tours.
One of the tours was a horseback ride through pastures (think a mix of Kentucky and rainforest. Sounds weird, but it's stunning), rainforest, and up to the opening of a trail to a rather large waterfall. Of course they asked who didn't have experience riding horses. When Shawn and I stayed quiet, they laughed and called us cowboys and gave us their boss mares. Chiquita and Corena. The moment I got on Chiquita she peed. I took that as a good sign and off we went. It was great. Being on boss mare meant I was always in the lead. She was a hardworking little mare, and I made sure to give her plenty of pats and some ear rubs. The waterfall was incredible. I've never been to what I can only call "tropical paradise", but we were there. It was like no picture or video could capture it. It was truly shockingly beautiful in all of it's cool, mossy, jungle-ness.
The next day we went on a nature hike through a protected area where you can see monkeys, sloths, toucans, parrots, etc. We didn't see ANY of those things. But that's okay. It was beautiful and our guide was very informative about the plants, the rainforest, the birds, the snakes, and the lizards (all of which we did see). We got to walk over multiple suspended bridges. They weren't quite made of wood and rope, but they still swung and bounced around.
We spent the rest of our time in Costa Rica making fools of ourselves in the pool, drinking coffee, eating Ceviche (not something I've tried before as I'm not a huge fish lover, but YUM!), and napping. It was a great trip. I'd say the most awesome thing I saw was how close and happy the residents were. Everyone hung out in the park - playing with their dogs, kids playing kick the ball, couples kissing, people talking. Not a phone in sight. It was a beautiful thing and something I hope to bring back with me to my life.