A dear former co-worker of mine retired a couple of years ago for the third time. This time instead of searching for a new job, he and his wife began searching for a different type of adventure. This led to spending the long winter months in Costa Rica. Costa Rica turned out to be a pretty nice place to escape to and they went back a second year.

Upon their arrival to the tropical paradise this year, they discovered the place they were renting had an extra bedroom. This turned into an invitation to Michal and I to come visit. If you ever move someplace that’s warm and tropical, any invitation you extend to us better be sincere. We eagerly accepted their invitation and booked a flight to visit Costa Rica during February break.

It had been 13 months since I boarded a plane. My passport expired this past Election Day (my birthday) and my crisp new passport was devoid of stamps. It was time to jump back into traveling. My passport is my most prized possession and passport stamps are my badges of honor. Furthermore, I had never been to Central America so this was even more of an adventure.

Michal and I arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica late at night on February 16th. We spent the night at a nearby B&B and the next day traveled by bus to reach Jalil and Arianna. Getting to Jalil and Arianna involved going over Cerro de la Muerta, translation The Mountain of Death.

Musoc Bus

While my friends back home were hoping this bus ride would consist of an outdated bus with chickens aboard, it was actually much more modern. The only thing missing was air conditioning. During this bus ride I was content to be seated by the window in the middle of the bus. Thankfully I did not have a view out the windshield. The roads leading up and over the Mountain of Death were narrow and full of sharp curves. The ride over the mountain also took 3.5 hours. On the way down the mountain, it felt like we were on a roller coaster. I began feeling nauseous from all the sharp twists and turns.

Finally we arrived safely in the city of San Isidro where we were warmly greeted by Jalil. Jalil took us to a place to have a cold drink and a meal while looking out over the city center. He encouraged us to take notice of the men’s fashionable haircuts. Every man looked like they had just stepped out of the barbershop. Furthermore, despite the heat, everyone was so well dressed. I felt pretty out of place in my gym shorts, messy hair and a large backpack. It was clear as day that I was a Gringo.

Jalil & Arianna

Driveway leading to Paradise

From San Isidro, we hopped on a local bus, paid the equivalent of 35 cents and ventured up a smaller mountain to where Jalil and Arianna were staying. Upon arrival, Jalil opened a gate that literally led to Paradise. Lush jungle vegetation surrounded the driveway. Jalil led us to what looked like a tree house and one of the nicest places we have ever seen. The house they were renting was equipped with a million dollar view from the kitchen window along with an outdoor living room. The sounds of a roaring river and tropical birds provided the soundtrack to this piece of Paradise. One morning we even found a four foot iguana hanging out in the garden.

Kitchen with a view

Outdoor living room

Just when I thought things couldn’t get better, Jalil and Arianna introduced us to fresh mangoes. I have always liked mangoes but mangoes in the US do not taste like mangoes in Costa Rica. My taste buds exploded. I found that this reoccurred with every fruit we ate. I have never tasted anything so fresh and bursting with flavor.

The iguana

We spent two and a half days with Jalil and Arianna in their little slice of Paradise. It was one of the most beautiful and relaxing places we have ever been. I still dream of sitting in the outdoor living room, doing dishes at the kitchen sink and eating an endless supply of fresh mangoes.

Tall bamboo. As a reference, I’m 5’4″.

Pineapple growing in the yard

We had many adventures during our short time in Costa Rica. I’ll be sure to blog about them soon. For my loyal followers, I appreciate your patience. This was the first trip where I did not take my computer and therefore these posts are a bit late.