Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pura Vida!

It was about four years ago that I first started to get the idea to plan our first trip to Costa Rica. For about a year before that I kept hearing about people here and there that had been there, or had known people who and went there and they just had such wonderful things to say about Costa Rica.  The people there were so kind and loved talking with the tourists.  The wildlife - like nothing you could imagine!  The diversity of the types of places you could visit - there's rainforests and beaches, mountains and even volcanos, cities and rural areas.  I heard about the roads - not so great.  I heard you should do a tour and then I heard you can plan a trip on your own.  I was so intrigued! Up until this point, the only foreign trips we had taken were pretty traditional Caribbean vacations - mainly staying at one resort and doing excursions, or staying at all-inclusive resorts in Mexico.  This sounded like a challenge I was ready to take on!

I began my truly obsessive research and initially thought about doing a package.  I began to look at the different options available, I bought some travel guides and started online shopping.  I sent out for several quotes.  While I was waiting for prices to come back, I was starting to become involved in an online travel board - Fodors - and realizing that people here were planning their trips themselves.  They weren't using agents or getting packages.  So, I started to look at the individual hotels that the packages were using and priced them out with what the combined deals were and the packages were so much more expensive!  I dove in and decided with a little help from who I would soon come to rely so much on - the on line community, and some internet research I could do this on my own!

Costa Rica is a very easy country to "trip plan" on your own.  Most of the hotels are online and will give you price quotes very quickly by email.  The hardest part is deciding which parts of the country to visit!  As I soon realized, the country is not one that you usually settle in one spot for the duration of your trip.  Travelling within the country takes a lot of time because of the mountains and the roads.  Many people pick two or three regions for their vacation.  That's what we did for our first trip. This will give you the chance to see a bit of the different parts of the country and how different it can be.

So, four years later, I'm planning our third trip back and we haven't come close to seeing and experiencing all there is in this amazing country.  Our first visit was just Keith and I and I can't wait to share that here!  It was so amazing that a year later we brought Alex and Megan back with us and went to some places again, but also to several new regions and saw some pretty wonderful things.  And then this summer, we're taking the kids again, and also my parents.  This is part of the lure of Costa Rica....some may attribute it to Pura Vida....simply translated as Pure Life, but it means so much more to the people of Costa Rica.  And when you visit you feel that meaning.  It's almost a feeling you get, some may feel it as spreading cheer or appreciating life and what you have in life.  It could be a philosphy of community or of enjoying life and celebrating good fortune, no matter how small or large, and when that is a philosphy of an entire country - how could you not want to keep returning?

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