Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.
Every teenage girl holds a countdown to her 16th birthday. It’s on her mind from the day she turns fifteen. Mine was no different.
After being fifteen for a month or so I had already told my dad that I wanted a big celebration for my birthday. So he made me an offer that was surprisingly easy for me. He said for my birthday I could either have a big sweet sixteen party or go anywhere I wanted out of the country.
Of course I chose out of the country, that decision was easy but choosing the country was not. After a lot of research and many arguments with my family I decided on Costa Rica. I planned the entire trip, it was my first trip out of the country and I wanted it perfect.
We stayed in Costa Rica for two weeks. I wanted to see as much of the country as possible so I chose four incredibly different places to explore. The first place, San Jose was where the airport was located. It was a crowded, bustling, risky city. We received many warnings of the city at night from store, hotel, and restaurant owners. We did not take this as a good sign and feared that this would be how the whole country was. Luckily we were shortly proved wrong.
Our next location was the small island of Tortuguero. Tortuguero was the opposite of San Jose; it was very small and unique. On the island cars do not exist. If something was needed that was not in the town a boat would be taken to the next town. Tortuguero was full of character, the first thing you see when you enter the island are five hand painted benches all in different colors: purple, yellow, green, blue, and pink. In front of the benches were two tall poles that led to two colorful statues of two different vibrant birds. Even the store and houses were brightly painted. Even the people were full of happiness even though after speaking to the tour guide it was puzzling why they expressed so much joy. The tour guide told us that the only way the islanders could make a living was by being a tour guide or selling homemade items outside their doors to tourists, and this does not give them enough to buy shoes or enough food for themselves or their children. Many of the children even begin to work at very young ages. One child even directed my family and me to a home that sold homemade jewelry, hoping to earn some extra money as reward to guiding us. The homes were very small and held many people and outside of the homes you can see the inhabitant laughing, smiling, and playing games with each other.
After Tortuguero we enjoyed the serenity of Manuel Antonio, a stunning beach in the heart of the forest. The habitants live their life in peace, which shows by their favorite saying, Pura Vida which means the good life. When we stepped outside our door we received greetings from active monkeys, who enjoy strolling around the pools, homes, and beaches of Manuel Antonio.
Arenal was our last stop, a tourist commonplace due to the Arenal Volcano. Here we enjoyed entering in danger as we glided past the volcano, solely attached to wire on the canopy tour. We then dared to walk through the hanging bridges, which were literally hanging from the sturdy trees.
Costa Rica was a vacation and a birthday present I will never forget. It has made me more open to new things and more appreciate of what I have and it made me persistent in keeping a positive attitude about life, seeing how the people of Costa Rica don’t let their stress get them down.