Costa Rica: An Amalgamation of Paradises - My Family Travels

       When you think of paradise, what comes to mind? A sandy beach with clear water? A tropical rainforest teeming with wildlife? Quaint and peaceful mountains? Whatever your perception of paradise may be, Costa Rica holds it all within a few hours of one another.

       During Christmas break in 2008, my family flew into the San Jose international airport, whereupon we proceeded to our hotel for the night, called Hotel Bougainvillea. The winter proved to be an exceptional time to visit, as the weather was cool with respect to Costa Rica's normal weather, yet still remained warm at 75-90 degrees daily. Early the next morning, we met our guide, Federico, and loaded onto a miniature bus. Federico would be our tour guide for the entire trip–this was helpful not only in planning our itenerary, but also to communicate in Spanish and to provide a trained eye in spotting exquisite wildlife.

Our first stop was at the Arenal Manoa Resort, which has a breathtaking view of the Arenal Volcano. With the resort as our "base," we used the next two and a half days to take wildlife and nature walks. The resort had various walks on its grounds to see hundreds of tropical birds: Social Flycatchers, Fire-Billed and Emerald Toucans, Tropical Kingbirds, Scarlet Rumped Tanagers, and Scarlet Macaws, just to name a few. La Fortuna Hanging Bridges yielded miles of trails and various suspended bridges, varying in height from 20 feet to 200 feet. Not only did we see various birds, but we also witnessed snakes, sloths, Howler Monkeys, and the infamous leaf-cutter ants.

From there, we traveled to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, where we stayed at the Monteverde Lodge. The various cloud

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