The Adventure Begins
With my passport ready, my ticket bought and my bags packed I was all set to head off to Costa Rica.
This was a trip of firsts for me, first time flying, first time visiting a foreign country (unless you count a cruise my husband & I took to the Jamaica, pics here) and the first time traveling alone. I was a little nervous, but mostly excited. I was heading to a friend of mine’s farm, of whom, I had only met online. I found it listed in an “Eco Villiage” directory while doing some research. After online stalking the farm for quite some time, I decided to send Ginnee an email. We chatted via email for a while, then became Facebook friends. After a couple years of correspondence I got up the nerve to take a trip out to visit her, her family and the farm. Ginnee and Phil had been living there for ten years, Erika (their daughter) soon followed, fell in love and married a local (Tiko) man named, William, together, they live on 1,270 acres in the Costa Rican mountains.
I left out of the Orlando, Florida airport at 11:17am on Thursday, September 29, 2016 for the over 3 hour flight, arriving at the San Jose airport around 2:30pm (12:30 Costa Rica time). The flight was so beautiful, there was some turbulence, but nothing too bad, I was never afraid!! 😀
Making it through customs, the first thing I had to do was exchange my money. I had done some research and found out that I could skip all the expensive money exchange options the airport offers, so when I got off the plane, I headed upstairs to an actual bank that gave me a better exchange for my money.
Once that was taken care of, it was time to find a taxi. I was a little overwhelmed at first because there were plenty of anxious drivers trying to get me to take their service. But, again, I had done my research and knew what to look for, so I found a reputable company with a very nice driver who took me to the bus station about a half an hour away.
Once at the bus station I paid the equivalent of $2.50 for a 2 hour bus ride to the nearest town to the farm, Turrialba. I only had to wait at the bus station a short time before the bus showed up, the bus driver put my big bag in the storage compartment under the bus and I held my backpack in my lap. The bus was pretty crowded, but the scenery was so beautiful. I had a window seat and stared out the window in awe the whole trip. It took about an hour to make our way through the city, then, the road wound around the beautiful mountainous terrain, with it’s lush green trees and pastures, as we made our way up the mountain. The closer we got to Turrialba, the volcano became the star of the show for me, the image was breathtaking, as it spewed it’s smoke into the clouds. The bus got into town around 4:00 in the afternoon, I gathered my bags, walked across the lot to the where the taxi’s were and got a ride to the farm about another half an hour away.
The ride to the farm was smooth, but the road leading into it was not so smooth. The first part of the road, leading up to the little B&B run by Ginnee’s daughter, Erika and her husband, William, was bumpy, but, not too bad. William was waiting for us on his 4 wheeler and lead the way up the mountain to Ginnee and Phil’s house, that’s when the road got pretty bad. At one point we had to cross over the Brava river that literally flows over the road, I found out later it actually washes out the road on a regular basis. The taxi driver was mumbling something in Spanish under his breath as we climbed further up the mountain, I secretly wondered if he was putting a curse on me…lol 😀
We made it to the top with no major issues, I gave the driver a little extra for his trouble, unloaded my stuff and finally got to meet Ginnee who was waiting for me out in front of the house I would be staying at for the next 3 weeks. I guess this would be a good time to mention that the farm, at least where Ginnee and Phil live, is totally off grid, no electric, no hot water But I was up for the challenge because the experience and the view were well worth it!
I was given a short tour of the house. When I walked in the front door, I was in a small living room that had a couch and a chair. Behind that is an unfinished kitchen area with a back door that led to, what used to be, a covered outside kitchen area, it didn’t look like it had been used in quite a while. Ginnee told me that she used to have “WWOOFer’s” (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) stay there and they used it, until it, eventually it got trashed, now it’s mainly used for storage 😦 Then, off the living room, there’s a hallway leading back to three bedrooms, 2 set up for guests and one empty. The one I stayed in was small, with a bunk bed, a window that faced the front yard and some shelves to put my stuff on. It wasn’t fancy, but it was nice, clean and comfortable. I was in bed by 8:30 and slept well.
Hung some drapes, ate some tuna on crackers, cleaned up the kitchen and great had great conversations.
To tell the truth, I never needed to use the living room or kitchen. Every morning I walked next door to Ginnee and Phil’s house for my morning coffee. Their house is very nice. When you first walk in, your in the kitchen/dining room area. Phil was kind enough to serve me my coffee for the first few days until I got the hang of making it myself. They make their coffee a little different than most people. There’s a strainer made of cloth that you put the coffee in, then after the water boils on the stove, you pour it over the top of the coffee grounds, then take the strainer and dunk it into the cup a couple times until it’s the strength you like. Without refrigeration, I had to use powdered milk, but, it wasn’t bad and the coffee was awesome!
On my first morning, while drinking my coffee and eating a piece of coffee cake that Ginnee had prepared the night before, I saw two toucans!! 😀 Then, Phil and I drove around the farm in the quad, while he told me all the things he wanted to do on the farm. We then, drove down to Erika’s to get a huge breakfast burrito, pick up some frozen water bottles for their cooler and to pickup/drop off laundry. I was completely stuffed, so I decided that from then on I would save the coffee cake for a snack later in the afternoons…lol 😀 My first day was just about getting acquainted with my surroundings and getting to know the family. At some point it started raining so Phil gave me a good book to read and I went back to my house, read and took a nap.
We went down to Erika’s for dinner around 6:30 and it was already dark out 😮 The three of us piled into the quad and off we went to eat. I can honestly say that night time drive down to Erika’s every night was so beautiful. That night she served chicken with rice and gravy with a delicious antipasto salad. Erika is an awesome cook and a great hostess. The freshly prepared food always looked and smelled amazing and she was very accommodating. Dinner felt like sitting around the table with family.
Erika and William own a long building that stretches back from the front road. In the first section is a house that was being built for Ginnee’s son. Then there’s a woodworking shop, then a small walk through to get to the parking area and then a dinning room for guests staying on the property. That’s where we ate, and next door is a small three room apartment where Erika and Williams live with a bedroom, office, kitchen and dining room. Off the kitchen/dining room is a bathroom and the laundry room where, I dare say, Erika spends most of her time. She only washes, though, no drier is used, because on the other side of the laundry room is a covered drying area. Past that are three or four rooms for guests, then a couple of bathroom/shower rooms. You can click here for photos and more information on the B&B.
I was in bed by 8:30 and slept well.
The time change was a little difficult, I was awake by 4am which would have been 6am my time. But it was a great time to clearly see the stars and it was very beautiful. I usually headed over to Ginnee’s around 6am, then went on a my own little adventures before breakfast. On my third day there, after visiting with Ginnee for a while, Phil took me for a walk down to the river. They had four dogs at the time (they have five now), Baby, Eros, Spot & Chica Marie, who all went with us on our adventure.
The Attiro river is just a short walk from their house. On the way he showed me all the different kinds of trees he had planted through the years, the areas where they grow grass for the cows and even an old hydro-electric plant they used to use. Interestingly, we had to walk through a dry river bed to get to the river. Over time it had moved, and to look at it, it didn’t look like it had been that long ago.
I could hear the rushing water before I ever set eyes on it, it was like music to my ears. The first thing I noticed when we got there was how clean and clear the water was. I felt so excited, my heart pounding as I stood there feeling the power of the water as it sped violently past us, as we stood on the calm river bank. But, even with all that chaos going on, there was a quiet little pool area, where I could have taken a dip, if I dared to get into that freezing cold water..lol 😀 The water from the river is what supplies the farm with all it’s water needs, including, but not limited to, the bathrooms and kitchen, no hot water unless it’s boiled on the gas stove. 😮 I was able to take a couple of hot showers though when we went down to Erika’s for dinner.
All in all I’d say I had a pretty memorable experience. Everyday was a new adventure, William was the best guide I could have ever hoped for, being a Tico, he took me on some pretty awesome hikes. You can see the pictures here. You can see my video here.
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