Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Costa Rica: Day 8 {Departure: Home}


Our time in Costa Rica has come to an end.  It felt like in one aspect the week went by really fast, yet also really slow.  I think we were all ready to return home to our families.  I can't speak for everyone but I know while I couldn't wait to get home, I also knew I would miss Costa Rica.

In a mere seven days, my life was completely changed.  My heart and mind opened in ways I never thought possible.  My perspective changed.

Saturday morning, we got up and had one last meal cooked by Muraja.  We ate, cleaned up, and then got the rest of our stuff packed.  Most had packed the night before, but there were still last minute things to pack.  We said goodbye to where we had called "home" for the last 7 days.

Javier arrived a little before 8 to load up our bags and take us to the airport.  We were loaded and ready to go by 8:15.

Our flight was set to leave at 11:10AM.  We safely made it to the airport and it was time to say goodbye to our lovely driver, Javier.  We thanked him, gave him a gift, and gave hugs all around.  We had grown fond of Javier.  He made us laughed, was a great singer, told us so much about things we saw, and happily answered any and all our questions.  

We were very thankful for him to be our driver.

Once we said our goodbyes, we all filed into the airport.  Costa Rica requires an exit tax so we took care of that first.  Each person paid their $29, filled out some paperwork, then got in line to check in with United Airlines.

For whatever reason, this took particularly a long time.  I think we were relieved to finally get all checked in.  We then made our way to security, which moved rather quickly but behind us was a line of people - not sure where all the people came from.  Security was a breeze & we had about 10 minutes to spare once we made it to our gate.

A few bought last minute souvenirs, while I made sure to get ONE last cup of Costa Rican cafe!  That I happened to spill all over my backpack and then had to throw away before boarding the plane.

Not a happy camper!  They searched our bags before getting on the plane for any and all liquids.  It was crazy & the ladies searching were relentless.  Becky was NOT happy they made her throw away her brand new $3.50 bottle of water.

One lady insisted I drink ALL the coffee before getting on the plane.  Clearly, that was not going to happen but she wouldn't let me throw it away.  Which made NO sense to me!  Thankfully, one of the other security guards agreed to let me just throw it away. 

The plane coming home was full.  Not a single empty seat.  Everyone except Michele sat at the very back of the plane.  Like the very last row.  I heard every single time the toilet flushed.  Yay! ;)  I was just happy our seats reclined unlike the way to CR.

I was even happier I was able to sneak in a hour long nap.

We arrived in Houston right on schedule...a few minutes before 4pm.  We cleared security and customs with no problems at all.  Our rides were waiting for us as we walked out of the airport.

We were thankful to be home, but I think a piece of all of us was still in Costa Rica.  We could go back to our "normal lives" (whatever that is), but I don't think we'd go back the same people.

Costa Rica was a trip of a lifetime.  It was incredible.  It was humbling.  

I am so thankful myself and the 6 others I went with, all said yes to something so much greater than ourselves.  I can't wait to go back!

Until then...Pura Vida, los amigos!!!

I know one little person who sure was happy to have mommy home!  My heart has never been so full!!!!  And I can't thank his daddy enough for encouraging me to go on this trip for myself.  I probably never would have considered it had he not insisted I go and promised me him and the boy would be just fine.  And just fine they were :)


Monday, April 20, 2015

Costa Rica: Day 7 {Part II: La Paz Waterfall}

So I'm currently in the comfort of my home, obviously not in Costa Rica any longer.  I wasn't able to finish day 6 since I had a bad WiFi connection and well was exhausted.  I am still tired, but before I forget I want to finish up blogging about our last full day in amazing CR!

I left off on the previous post with us heading up to mountain to the waterfalls...
There were lots of dairy cows or farms on the way up.

As we got closer to the falls, we started seeing natural springs just coming out.

The way up to waterfalls was a lot of curves and bumps.  The temperature started to drop and the views overlooking the cities down below were just breath-taking.  It took probably an hour & half to get to La Paz Waterfall gardens.

As soon as we got there, we headed to a lunch buffet.  The food once again was really good.  There was bbq short ribs, roasted chicken, fresh salad & pasta, rice & beans of course, chips & dips, pizza, fruit, and fresh fruit juices.  

We ended our meal with delicious Cafe Britt coffee with warm rice pudding!!  Soo good!!  I could have just stayed here for the rest of the afternoon ;)  I think I have a slight addiction to the Costa Rican coffee, haha!

We had about 2 and half hours left to explore the gardens and waterfalls.  There are trails and you go at your own pace.  There were also lots of other areas to see other than the waterfalls.

There was a jungle cat exhibit, butterfly garden (that was amazing!), monkeys, frog area, snakes, walk-through bird exhibit, and trout pond.  Plus a ton of beautiful flowers to take in.  The monkeys really liked Elias or really he liked them.  It was so funny!!

We all kind of did our own thing based on what each of us wanted to do.  All of us, except Becky did the walk down through the waterfalls.  We took a selfie on the way down...trying to capture our "we are really in the rain forest" moment.

It was incredible!
The pictures just don't do this place justice!  There are a total of 4 waterfalls, and the biggest one starts up at the top.

The water was so cold and felt soooo clean!
There were ferns that were HUGE!  And these other plant that had the biggest leaves I had ever seen.  They called it "poor man's umbrella" but I'm not sure of the real name.  These were growing up above the walkway through the waterfalls.  I mean such beauty!!!

The flowers were so colorful and vibrant!  Sadly, I only had my camera phone with me so my pictures don't do a great job of showing their beauty.  Even the "small" leaves were huge.  They had these trees that looked like something out of a Dr. Seuss book or movie.

This one was called "White Magic" because when you stared at the middle of the fall, the cliff looked like it was moving back and forth with the water.  Was freaky!!  The picture below is looking down over the top of the waterfall.

The jungle cat exhibit...Daddy jaguar and mommy.  She had the first cubs ever born in captivity in CR.  Three little cubs that were so dang cute, only 49 days old.

Baby cub climbing and biting a tree.
Michele and I as we were walking through just kept saying, "wow we are really here!  In the rain forest!!"  It was surreal.  We really enjoyed seeing the falls but the walk back up was no joke!  I thought we might not make it...I blame the altitude, and not the fact that we are totally in shape for such hiking.  This was our we might not make it moment...haha!  

Towards the end of our hike, this little guy just popped out of no where.  Beverly, Melissa, Michele, and myself were so excited to see him!  He was not bothered by us at all.  I'm sure he saw us barely able to make it up that he knew we were harmless ;) we took a short bus ride back up the top and then we watched them feed the jungle cats before heading home.  My phone died right before we went into the butterfly house so sadly I didn't get any pictures of them.  But it was amazing!  We all had a great day & it was a good way to end our amazing trip!  We had a long trip home since it was "rush hour" once we made it back down the mountain.  We ate dinner and then packed our bags for the trip home.  Day 7 and our trip home...I'll post tomorrow!