May 23, 2013

Into the Jungle

My favorite day in Costa Rica involved a jungle right next to the beach, pitchers of sangria and monkeys! The four of us set out on an adventure. We walked beyond the beaches of Puerto Viejo and into the jungle. The beach came right up to the edge of the trees and the seaspray lingered above the waves. Thirty minutes into our trek, we spotted a sign 'Pitcher of Sangria - 4500 colones'--only $9!--one pitcher turned into two and two pitchers turned into three. Somewhere during the 2nd pitcher, we spotted movement in the trees above and a band of monkeys were on the move! They swung from branch to branch and before we knew it, they were gone--but our giddiness remained. Then more monkeys came! It was amazing. In the jungle, sipping on sangria with my BFFs with a view of ocean.

We enjoyed this little jungle hut, their sangria and the sweet lady behind the bar so much, that we returned later that evening for dinner and feasted on grilled lobster and sea bass. Our previous nights' of street food meals freed up our budgets a bit and we splurged! Even with homemade guacamole, grilled lobster, dessert, sangria and pina coladas, we still didn't pay more then $30 per person. Oh I love that mysterious little jungle hut. 

The next morning we took the same route through the jungle and paid a visit to the rescued animals at the Jaguar Rescue Center. Highly recommend it! And sloths and baby monkeys are just so damn cute...

May 17, 2013

Playa Negra

Deciding to stay at Kaya's Place in Puerto Viejo was an easy decision--it was right across the street from Playa Negra, a black sand beach with lush, green jungle clinging to the edge of the sand. Kaya's is a typical backpacker accommodation--while not the cleanest place, Kaya's is a super affordable and rustic hammock heaven perfect for relaxing. Actually, this place was probably the most laid back place I'd ever been--the staff were friendly with a 'no worries' mentality, the bar served up fresh fruit juices, breakfasts and cheap Costa Rican beer and chilled out tunes played on repeat throughout the day.

If you ever find yourself in Puerto Viejo, be sure to check out Playa Negra, its a bit cleaner and more isolated than beaches in town but literally right down the beach from the main bus station. And if you find yourself in front of Kaya's Place, step up to the bar for a fresh watermelon-pineapple juice--my new fave ;).
 One night, we decided to bike across town and explore Puerto Viejo by night and grab some street food for dinner. 

It was ridiculously magical, picture this:
the sun is set,
tiki torches illuminate street corners,
street vendors sell freshly made empanadas, taquitos and brochettes,
Bob Marley tunes fill the air,
a warm, tropical mist falls from the sky,
and we're cruising up and down the streets of PV with the sound of crashing waves in the distance.

These are the travel moments I live for...

May 14, 2013

Pura Vida in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

After my post last week, I got plenty of kind messages and emails. THANK YOU! 

While losing Julia means great sadness, there is also much to be grateful for: 

that I got to say goodbye, 
that I got to spend so much time with her over the last year and in her last few weeks,
and that we had one last adventure together to a little slice of heaven in Costa Rica.

Five days after we left Costa Rica in February, Julia checked herself into the hospital. I had no idea then that that week in Costa Rica would be our last beach day together, last beer together and last trip together.

Oh how lucky I feel that we got to make these memories. Staying in a bungalow sandwiched between the jungle and the Caribbean, we had no recollection of what time it was or even what day it was--for one week we were all together without the stresses of daily life.

I can't quite remember how I found this rasta-infused town on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, but once I started reading more about Puerto Viejo (Mina's posts sealed the deal), I knew that was the chilled out place we were looking for. 

Beach, jungle, monkeys, hammocks, fresh watermelon juice every morning and just my best friends and I lounging around in bathing suits all day.

Perfection. Pura Vida.

I'll just let the pictures do the talking. 
{Lounging on hammocks at Kaya's Place, the bungalow we stayed at right across from Playa Negra}