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La Vida es Pura, no es Dura

Posted by Jason del Sur in Photo Albums, Spring Break - Costa Rica
March 30th, 2010

Today marks exactly one year since I departed on my month-long adventure around Europe. And it’s been quite a year: an excellent summer in Chicago, adventures in Colorado, Atlanta, and Las Vegas (when you turn 30, you’ve got to do it in style–which may or may not be what happened in Vegas). And finally, sneaking in just before a full year stuck in America, I made my triumphant return to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica - 2010

While my previous stay in Costa Rica was near Tamarindo on the west coast, this year led me to Puerto Viejo in the province of Limón on the Caribbean coast. A land of Rastafarians and Reggae, I’ve never been asked more often if I want some ganja. Sadly, the weather wasn’t too wonderful. It was overcast most of the time and rained almost every day, but that didn’t prevent sunburn and shenanigans.

I went with my friend Sarah from Alaska. There were supposed to be two more of us on the trip, but that is a tell better left off the intertubes.

After flying into San Jose, early the next morning we hopped on a bus to take us white water rafting on the Río Pacuare. I highly recommend this trip through Exploradores Outdoors, especially if you are heading out to the Carribean coast. As part of the cost they pick you up from your hotel in the morning and will drop you off at another hotel in another town.

The river has some class III rapids and a couple class IV. It starts off with mostly IIs, leading me to worry it wasn’t going to be all that exciting. But after we started hitting the IVs, getting stuck in a rapid, and having another boat land on top of us, the excitement definitely increased.

Pacuare River Rafting

That night, after dinner and a few Imperials, we returned to our hotel to hang out and drink a couple more Imperials. As we sat around on a patio by the jacuzzi debating whether the frog hanging out on one of the chairs (see below) was still alive, suddenly everything went dark. We sat wondering if maybe the hotel turned the power off at night and just forgot to mention it to us. I have not experience such darkness since spelunking in high school and all of us turning off our flashlights to experience true pitch black. No lights in the entire town and the clouds obscured all the light from the stars and moon. It was the next night while we were at the bar and the bartenders didn’t skip a beat and started setting out candles when we realized this was a common occurrence. Fortunately, that first night I had my camera with me and was able to use the LCD screen to the light the way, otherwise there is no way we would have made it back to the room. Then, over the course of the night, we were awoken several times by the phone ringing, which apparently happens every time the power comes back on. Combine that with the frogs, howler monkeys, and other odd jungle sounds, sleeping soundly was quite difficult.

Rana y Cerveza

 

We spent the next couple days sleeping in, swimming, and exploring. Our hotel was directly across the street from Playa Cocles. A great surfing beach, but sometimes a little rough for swimming. One day we rented bikes and biked the 12km to the small town of Manzanillo. Of course, a storm started shortly after we began our ride, but we didn’t let that deter us. There’s a great swimming beach at Punta Uva, and more great swimming in Manzanillo.

Costa Rica - 2010

Costa Rica - 2010

Sarah’s travel buddy Chanchito hanging out with his Imperial in Manzanillo.

With the 90 degree heat and the rain (resulting in 90-100% humidity) our clothes never quite dried. Taking everything out of our suitcases back in San Jose was a stench I still haven’t forgotten (and had to re-live upon opening my suitcase back in the states).

A couple recommendations for places to eat in Puerto Viejo:

Tenderloin in Curry Sauce. Delicious. El Loco Natural: Sarah had an amazing tuna steak, and I had a tenderloin in red curry sauce. Wonderful piece of meat that melted in my mouth and the curry only accentuated the taste of the beef without being overpowering. If you go to Puerto Viejo, you absolutely must eat here.

Delicious Burrito at Flip Flop Flip Flop: A small local place recommended to us by one of the river guides. After eating there we found out he works there three days a week because he loves the burgers. I highly recommend this place for lunch.

Costa Rica - 2010

And what trip to Costa Rica could be complete without a Canopy Tour. I can’t recommend the company Terraventuras. I’ve never been on a more disorganized tour. They left people behind at the pick-up point, left us sitting in a van for 30 minutes without telling us what was happening while they got those other people to us. But once we arrived at the tour, all of the guides were fantastic. You can’t live la pura vida without a little zip-lining.

Stay tuned for the next adventure: Mount Kilimanjaro, coming this July!

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¡Pura Vida!

Posted by Jason del Sur in Spring Break - Costa Rica
April 9th, 2008

¡Pura Vida! is the unofficial motto of Costa Rica (one might call it a meme). Literally translated as “Pure Life,” it is used much like the Australian “no worries.” That is, it can be used to mean almost anything. It can mean “thank you,” “you’re welcome,” “hello,” “life is good,” or “I slept with your sister. Sorry, bro.” To which the only acceptable response is, of course: “Pura Vida!” It’s on their billboards, their minds, their soap, and even their ketchup. Actually, it’s much more likely that it’s just a tourism marketing ploy. But I still appreciate the concept. But when it looks like this, no me preocupe.

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As we left for the trip, the pura vida attitude had yet to ingrain itself in our consciousnesses. An outlook which would have made the journey a little more pleasant. To begin, American Airlines called us all at midnight on Tuesday night, six hours before our flight was to depart. Due to bad weather in Dallas, our flight had been canceled. This meant we had the pleasure of dealing with rescheduling until two in the morning. Luckily, Michelle and I are Gold members in AA’s frequent flier program (all jokes intentional), and while a pain, they were able to help out out.

Jae and I ended up flying out at 6am for Miami via La Guardia. Michelle and Mike were to meet us that night in Miami and the next morning we all would fly to Liberia (the new airport in Costa Rica) together. While it meant that we lost a day in Costa Rica, there are many worse places to have an overnight layover. And unlike Chicago, or even New York, where they were about to stick me for a midnight to 6am layover, Miami has a beach. Jae had some friends who were in Miami, so we even had people to party with.

Oh yeah: our flight from Chicago to New York got delayed, making for a rushed connection. While we managed to make the flight, my luggage didn’t. So I was without clean clothes and my camera for the first day.

But I was able to get my bag the next morning, and we were off to Costa Rica!

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By 2:00 we were relaxing on the beach. I’d like to say we were relaxing on the beach with beer in hand, however that was not in the cards. And I blame American Airlines.

Costa Rica is a very Catholic country and takes Semana Sancta (Holy Week) very seriously. On Holy Thursday and Good Friday, there is nowhere in the entire country of Costa Rica that will sell you booze. No restaurants, no bodegas, no bars. We had anticipated this, so we stocked up on Duty Free in Miami. When you’re sitting on a beach, however, hard liquor doesn’t really do it for you. When Saturday at 11am rolled around and the restaurants could finally serve again, it was one of the tastiest beers ever.

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Imperial is the best beer in Costa Rica.

The trip was mostly relaxing and hanging out on the beach in Playa Grande, near Tamarindo. (Don’t try walking to Tamarindo on the beach after 4pm. They may claim it’s at 30 minute walk, but without the water taxi to ferry you across the estuary, you are pretty much literally up a creek without a paddle.)

The only real “activity” we did was a zipline tour in the jungle. Basically, you climb up a bunch of stairs to the top of a tree and then zipline from platform to platform.

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The video sums it up nicely:

Overall, an amazing and relaxing trip. I highly recommend Tamarindo and where we stayed, Hotel Las Tortugas.

Some other photos:

Mike’s Mar y Tierra (Surf n Turf): 100_0993.JPG
Lizard: 100_1035.JPG
Our own private pool for the apartment: 100_1030.JPG

The sunset over the water in Costa Rica is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. The way the water becomes reflective on the sand as the sun dips into the water is absolutely stunning. I recommend it.

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And the two images that sum up the trip best:

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Costa Rica Photos

Posted by Jason del Sur in Photo Albums, Spring Break - Costa Rica
April 9th, 2008

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A New Passport, A New Adventure

Posted by Jason del Sur in Spring Break - Costa Rica
February 23rd, 2008

I just received my new passport in the mail. As you might recall, it was time to renew my passport. After two big trips over the past couple months, I assumed it would probably be awhile before I would need my passport again. So I sent it off at the beginning of February, standard processing.

Ah, but standard processing might not be enough because of my susceptibility to spontaneous travel plans. Within two weeks of dropping my expiring passport into the mail, the phone call came.

“Want to go to Costa Rica for spring break in March?”

I work. I know you and your law school friends get two weeks off, but I don’t get spring break. I’m already taking off three days in early April to go out to San Diego with BTG. And a day a two weeks before to go to Vegas for a bachelor party. And I don’t have a passport. But Michelle already knew she could convince me. Had already convinced me; had me at “Costa Rica.” When it comes to traveling, everyone knows I’m a pushover. The cheap ticket price. The promise of getting out of this hellish Chicago winter. Margaritas, daiquiris on the beach. Costa Rica.

Two days later, I had expedited my passport application and booked my ticket. I believe it was this reason that convinced me: Because you’re NEVER too old for Spring Break.

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