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Costa Rican Sodas

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, and avoid the people, you might better stay home.” —James Michener

When you visit Costa Rica and want a taste of good local food, you have to eat at a soda. Sodas are what Costa Ricans call restaurants that are usually small, family owned places that serve typical Costa Rican food at a very good price. Every town has a soda; you can find them everywhere, even on roads that seem to be in the middle of nowhere. Most of them hang a Pepsi or Imperial sign outside and are called something like “Soda Tipica”. It’s where the locals eat.


Feb. 2 – Pura Vida

“No one but ourselves can free our minds.”―Bob Marley

“Pura Vida” (pronounces poo-rah vee-dah) simply translated, it means “simple life” or “pure life”, but in Costa Rica, it’s more than just a saying—it is a way of life. Costa Ricans (Ticos) use this term to say hello, to say goodbye, to say everything’s great, to say everything’s cool. However, it’s not the words that reflect the true meaning of ¡Pura Vida!, it’s the way Ticos live. Not surprisingly, Costa Rica has been named one of the happiest countries in the world, mostly because its inhabitants don’t stress about things the way most foreigners do. Ticos have a very relaxed, simple way of looking at life. No worries, no fuss, no stress—pura vida to them means being thankful for what they have and not dwelling on the negative.

Jan. 1 – Costa Rican Food

“Step through new doors. The majority of the time there’s something fantastic on the other side.” — Oprah Winfrey

A big part of breaking out of your routine and experiencing someplace new is exploring the local cuisine. Every meal we had in Costa Rica was amazing…the foods was mostly simple but very favorable and extremely good. Here are some of the local favorites in Costa Rica. We didn’t try all of them, but we did enjoy quite a few, plus a few other delicious dishes.

Jan. 31 – Puntarenas & Atenas, Costa Rica

“People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.” ―Dagobert D. Runes

Our time at the Finca La Amistad Lodge came to an end…we really enjoyed practicing our Spanish with Janet and Isabelle. Maybe next year we’ll be able to carry on a real conversation in Spanish. We drove down the west side of the volcanos and over to the coast to Puntarenas to check out the water. It’s located on the Gulf of Nicoya…as close to the ocean as we’re going to get on this trip. We enjoyed seeing the boats, adding another lighthouse to our list of lighthouses and eating lunch over looking the harbor. The weather was nice, the roads were great and it was nice to see a little bit more of the Costa Rican countryside.

Jan. 30 – Rio Celeste Waterfall

“If you tiptoe into cold water, you’re missing out on the rush of plunging in headfirst.” —Simone Elkeles

As I said before the road from the lodge to the national park is more like a river bottom. We wound up the mountain very slowly, awarded with some amazing views of the country side…not that Stan had a chance to take his eyes off the road to look around. The 3 1/2 miles took us over 30 minutes. You definitely need a four wheel drive vehicle in this area. 
Rio Celeste is located inside the Tenorio Volcano National Park, legend has it that it got its exceptional color after God finished painting the sky and dipped his paintbrush in the river. The more scientific explanation is that volcanic minerals produce the striking color. The river is born at a place called Los Teñideros, where two streams merge, causing a chemical reaction that is visible to visitors as the water changes from clear to an intense shade of blue. 


Jan. 29 – Our Horseback Adventure

“If you wait for perfect conditions, you’ll never get anything done.” —Ecclesiastes 11:4

We enjoyed the Finca Amstad Lodge, breakfast and dinner were included and we sat in their outdoor kitchen with the other guests. We’ve met couples from Spain, France, Germany and Belgium, it’s been fun trying to communicate and finding out where and what everyone was doing. 

It rained all night, so we decided to wait a day before hiking the Rio Celeste. Instead we decided to ride horses. Just getting to where the horses were was an adventure. The main roads in Costa Rica are pretty good, but the back roads in some areas are just a little better than driving in a river bottom. It took us 35 minutes to travel the 3 ½ miles to the entrance of Tenorio Volcano National Park (where we’ll come tomorrow to hike), Wilson’s house, where we were meeting for the horse riding, was another mile or two down the road. Luckily the road improved somewhat.


Day 6 – Bijagua, Costa Rica

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” ―Maya Angelou

We move on today to a new location, but we decided to check out the free hot springs just out of town first. We’ve really enjoyed the springs while we’ve been here, but these were a little different…we were actually in the creek. The first time either of us have been in a creek with crystal clear, warm water. It was very nice. 

Our second stop in Costa Rica is the small village of Bijagua, nestled in a lush valley between two dormant volcanoes, the Miravalles Volcano and the Tenorio Volcano. It’s most famous for being the gateway to the Rio Celeste Waterfall, located in the Tenorio Volcano National Park. The area is home to ecolodges and bed & breakfasts…no large resorts. This keeps the town peaceful, undeveloped and a great spot to connect with the local culture.


Day 5 – Arenal Volcano

“Collect moments, not things.” —Author Unknown

Arenal Volcano makes a beautiful backdrop to the little village La Fortuna. It looms large and ominous over the pastured green hillsides that surround its base. At the moment it’s in a resting phase, but it still remains the country’s most active volcano as it has for the past 43 years.

Day 4 – Relaxing at the Hot Springs

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” — Michael Altshuler

We spent our fourth day in Costa Rica relaxing in the hot springs of Eco Temales Hot Springs Resort. After two days of hiking, walking around town, zip lining and exploring, we thought we could use a down day, taking in the therapeutic benefits of soaking in the hot springs. 


Day 3 – Sky Trek Zipline Adventure

“The ones who go higher are those who live more intensively, influenced by the surrounding beauty.” -Guru Sloth

Our Sky Trek adventure started with an aerial tram ride up the mountain. There were amazing view of the volcano and Lake Arenal…unfortunately it began to rain as we left the platform, so the views were a little hindered. We haven’t seen the top of the volcano yet, but we’re in the rain forest, so the rain comes and goes frequently. This zip line adventure started with a practice run at the top…a short line to make sure we knew what we were supposed to do. The second line is the highest in Costa Rica at 656 feet above the ground. We zipped along from one mountain top to the other…in the rain. A little scary, but even in the rain the views were incredible. 

By the time we got to the longest run, that is about 1/2 mile, the sun was shinning and the views were even more spectacular. Friends have asked me if I’d do it again…most definitely! 

Sky Trek Facts:
Sky Tram: 4100 ft. 
Zip Lines: 7
The longest cable is 2493 ft. 
The highest cable is 656 ft. 
Duration: 2.5 Hour Tour 
Wind Speeds: Up to 10 mph