When I finished 7th grade, my sister, Ashley, told me she wanted to take me to Costa Rica for my 14th birthday. She had just finished a study abroad program in San Jose. I was so happy because this would be my first time out of the country. And for my birthday! How cool!
On August 3, 2008, I boarded a plane with my sister to Costa Rica. The flight was very long and I was so antsy. I was excited to be visiting another country. It was 6AM when we landed, and we were exhausted. But we started our trip right away. First, we went to our hotel, Hotel Presidente, in the heart of San Jose. After we got a bite to eat at the hotel, we explored the city. We ate ice cream at Pops. I chose ‘galleta’, which is cookie flavor. It was the best! We sat in ‘la plaza de cultura’, or the Cultural Square, for a few hours and watched all the street performers. Then we toured el Teatro Nacional. Finally, we went to la Universidad de Costa Rica, which is where my sister attended college for a few semesters. She showed me where her classes were. It was a fun day, but we were pooped!!
The next day, we took a five-hour bus ride to Manuel Antonio. While on the bus, I got a chance to reflect on how cool it was to be a Midwestern girl in such an exotic country. The bus was packed with ‘ticos’, as the Costa Ricans say. Each person had an interesting story painted on their face. Some even stood the entire way to the beach. The views were amazing from my window. The mountains were steep and green and the wildlife was so unique and incredible. When we arrived to our hotel, Mono Verde, we unpacked our bags and looked out at our spectacular view of the ocean. From there, we went to the Manual Antonio National Park. We hiked to a few hidden waterfalls, met some monkeys, and caught some rays on the beach. It was the first time I had ever seen the ocean. It was just as magnificent as I thought it would be.
For my birthday, we wanted to go ziplining. We got to soar through the trees with the monkeys and the ‘perezosas’, or sloths. Then, we repelled down a 100 foot tree. Before this, I thought I was afraid of heights, but I loved the rush I got from the butterflies. While in the tree platforms, we met some girls from Dubai, and they all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me. I was so embarrassed. For dinner, we ate at a restaurant called, ‘el Avion’6. It is a plane that sits on the side of the mountain, with views of the ocean. After dinner, we met up with our Dubaian friends, and danced at a salsa club. Then, we were off to bed!
We took another local bus to a mountain city called, La Fortuna. La Fortuna is known for three things: the volcano that always erupts, Arenal, the hot springs from the volcano, and the waterfall called, La Fortuna waterfall. We spent several days exploring the famous sites. Before long, it was time to go home. I was a different person, but I had to say goodbye. Adios a la vida pura.
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