Warning: If you hate looking at other people's vacation photos, you're not going to like this post.
With winter storms in the recent news, it seems like a good time to take a look back (longingly) at our honeymoon in Costa Rica.
Corey and I have sacrificed holidays over the past few years in favour of our home reno budget, but at six months in to a rough pregnancy, I knew we needed to get away. We booked a whopping twelve days in CR (I got homesick after nine) and, with the exception of not scuba diving, we planned to do pretty much everything I would have done, had I not been pregnant.
We left the day after our wedding, and (armed with my compression socks) we excitedly boarded the plane. The flight was rough on me and my feet got so swollen at one point, that we thought I may need medical attention. Luckily, it wasn't long before we landed in Costa Rica. Here's our view in tilt shift.
We rented a car (four wheel drive, which turned out to be very necessary) and set off for our first destination. We were staying our first week at a very remote eco-lodge called Chachagua Rainforest Hotel.
The drive there was treacherous... Seriously, you need to be VERY adventurous to drive to remote areas of Costa Rica. Our GPS constantly warned us of dangerous bridges and falling rocks and I often looked out my window only to see a few inches between us and the side of a cliff.
But the scenery was spectacular.
Sometimes we would stop the car just to take in the view. There were so many "We'll never get to see this exact view again" moments.
At Chachagua, we had our own private bungalow and a shower with wrap-around windows so that you felt as if you were showering alone in the middle of the rainforest. It was quiet and rustic and perfect for us. There were so few people there that all of our tours were private.
One of the highlights there was horseback riding (I was careful to take it slow and listen to my body.) through the rainforest and a nearby village.
Our guide (who became our friend over the course of the week) had studied biology in university and had been hired to take care of the animals at the lodge. He loved the horses and they were well cared for.
We picked and ate guava and starfruit right from the trees! All the fruit there tasted so good!
There was a serene pond on the property and you could catch tilapia and have the chef prepare it for dinner.
And we really enjoyed all the wildlife on site. Corey became quite the birdwatcher on our trip and kept track of all the bird species we identified. We saw several toucans and dozens and dozens of hummingbirds.
Unfortunately, this wasn't the scariest bug we saw...
We took a guided night walk through the rainforest one night. We spotted several frogs and insects as well as the odd nocturnal mammal.
One thing that surprised us was the lack of mosquitoes. Our guide had warned us to wear bug spray because they were supposed to be bad at night and yet we hardly saw any. We told him that he'd have to bathe in insect repellent if he ever visited Ontario cottage country in the summer.
I know it's super nerdy of me, but I got really excited about the leafcutter ants.
One day, we hiked through Arenal National Park and climbed over boulders of lava at the base of the volcano for a view of Arenal Lake.
Here's the volcano.
We ended the day with a trip to the hot springs. Unfortunately, the spa we ended up at was morel like a club. There was loud music and it really wasn't our scene. We made the best of it though and I enjoyed the warm water on my aching joints.
Another day, our guide asked us if we wanted to meet friends of his who ran a dairy farm in the village. We spent the morning milking cows with them and chatting (in broken Spanish) about my baby.
Corey had a knack for milking the cows. He must have been a country boy in another life. I kept thinking about the breast pump that was waiting for me in a few months and cringed.
Then she made breakfast for us before her husband (who is a policeman) drove us to the edge of his property (while the dogs chased beside the car) so that we could hike down to their waterfall. I had to force myself not to feel alarmed when he threw four machetes in the back of the car. I hoped we wouldn't encounter poisonous snakes. We didn't.
Again, we ate fruit and berries that grew on his property.
It was a lovely morning.
Another day, we visited a wildlife rehabilitation centre which rescues animals which had been illegally domesticated. The fines for keeping many native wild animals and birds as pets had been recently increased and so many people had surrendered them. Some of these animals will be able to be released into the wild one day but many will never be able to survive outside the centre.
While there, we made a donation and so they gave us a tour and allowed us to help feed the animals. It was an incredible experience.
On one of our last days at Chachagua, we visited a wildlife sanctuary and booked a tour. We were lucky enough to see several frogs, caimans, Jesus Christ lizards and a couple of sloths.
It was bittersweet to leave Chachagua and the rainforest, but we had booked four nights at a luxury spa in the cloudforest. The drive there was even more perilous, but it was also more beautiful. We felt as though we were on the set of Jurassic Park.
El Silencio was known for having a fabulous spa and an excellent chef. Between the two, we were in heaven. Our bungalow was one of the highest, which meant we had to walk uphill the equivalent of about eight floors to get there. It wasn't easy at that altitude but the view was worth it.
We only took two day trips during our stay in the cloudforest because the drive down the mountain honestly made me cry and we decided not to risk it again. One morning we got up early to head to Poas National Park to see another active volcano. We were rewarded with the sight of a sloth by the side of the road.
... And a spectacular view of the crater.
Our other trip was to see Del Toro Waterfall. It was one of the most spectacular views I have ever seen.
The resort chef really was excellent. We took a private cooking class with him. And collected the ingredients from the organic garden and farm on site.
Corey managed to convince me that rappelling would not be a good idea while pregnant. So I read a novel while he enjoyed the ropes course one morning.
On one of our last nights, we arranged to have a private dinner cooked and served by a stream. The path there was lit with tiki torches. It was so lovely to have a romantic dinner in such an exotic place.
It was really such an unforgettable honeymoon. We vowed on that trip that we would start going away (even for a short trip) every year. We're planning on holding ourselves to that promise... This summer we hope to take Rudy to see more of Canada.