A weekend that started off being a complete nightmare to plan, has ended with so many fabulous memories.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. – Robert Frost
There comes a point in life where you must accept all the snowballs thrown at you or you they will bury you. I, thankfully, was taught to be resilient, to get myself up when I have fallen, to be happy-go-lucky and make the most out of every situation…and that, my friend, has made all the difference.
Plan 1: Two weeks ago one of my roommates and I signed up to volunteer in an indigenous village through a program sponsored by our University. Although hesitant, due to all the hassle with signing up, seeing an indigenous culture was on both of our bucket lists. Yet, on Tuesday of this week, we received an email letting us know that due to weather issues our trip was being pushed back to July 26 (remember its original date was June 27th). Not only did my roommate and I already have plans for that weekend, we now had to scrabble to figure out plans for this weekend (most of our friends were going to Uvita and since we had already been, didn’t feel the need to go back) and get our money back from volunteering. While I understand that the change was for my safety, the weather has been bad for a while and the company should have told us way earlier. Lesson learned: you can’t trust planned trips. This is not the first time something’s been cancelled on us and it won’t be the last.
Plan 2: There were limestone caves in the Nicoyan Peninsula that we had heard about and really wanted to see. So Tuesday night we started to plan a trip to see them. My guidebook had a lot of great resources and made the trip sound pretty simple. Only problem was we needed to figure out what else we could do in that area since the beaches were all on the coast and we were at least an hour (maybe more) from any of them. After finding a few friends to come with us, we decided that we would ask one of our directors tomorrow what else we could do there. When we asked our director, he said that he would love to come with us and he’d plan the trip and everything and then come back to us with a quote. I was a little worried that it was going to end up being a little more expensive (especially after finding out he had a tour company on the side), but we would take it one stride at a time.
Plan 3: He got back to us Thursday with a quote and after running numbers on my own I knew it was a little pricy. He went back to the drawing board and gave us a new quote that night. Although still a bit more than we would have liked, having him as a guide and driving us everywhere would save a lot of hassle and frustration in the long run. By Friday, we were all set to go. Just needed to pay and confirm the exact departure time. Long story short, at 1:30 pm Friday afternoon from him saying that he was just give a contract by our program that restricts him from planning trips for students (something that I had been wondering the entire time) and that he couldn’t take us this weekend.
Plan 4: This entire weekend has been a big pile of terrible communication and so my roommate and I immediately trying to plan our own trip to the caves. Pretty early on in that process, we realized that all the information in my handy-dandy guidebook seemed to be wrong… We great, now we are pretty much out of luck because there doesn’t seem to be a way for us to get up there and travel around once there. Our director, obviously feeling terribly, said he could help us figure out plans but there would be no middle man charges (something that should never have happened at all-seeing as we never asked him to plan the trip in the first place, but nonetheless I digress).
Plan 5: His plan – My 3 friends and I would rent a car with GPS, leave early in the morning, drive straight to the caves, then drive to our hotel and beach. Although the driving here is insane and my roommate and I were a little concerned about our safety – if our guy friends felt comfortable for the road trip, we’d be down. So we tell our guy friends and wait for a response. An hour passes and we still haven’t heard from them. We call their house and their mama Tica says that they went to the gym, so we wait. 2 hours pass, then 3 and we decided to call the trip and make other plans (see below). 5 hours later our guys friend finally message us back saying, ” what’s the plan, we’d love to road trip.” We had to tell them that we had made other plans since they never responded. Wake up call: if you are planning last-minute trips with friends, DON’T BE OUT OF CONTACT.
Plan 6: My roommate had read about La Paz Waterfall Garden that was supposed to be really pretty and is close to where we live and two of our friends were down to go. We called to get directions to it from our house. They were incredibly helpful and told us the following: 7 am bus outside of the National University. Take that until you pass through La Paz around 8:15 am. Then there is a 1 pm or 5:30 pm bus back to Heredia. Thankfully, simple directions.
Plan 7: What really happened. We woke up at 5:30 to make it to the bus station by 6:50. At this point, we really had no clue what the bus looked like and started asking every bus that passed if they went to La Paz. After several people saying no, we called La Paz to get further details on the bus. The man kept telling me he didn’t know bus details, its red and white, and passed between 9 and 10, but we could get on the La Paz tour bus. Welp, so much for an easy trip. At around 7:20 we decided that this bus wasn’t coming and got on a bus that went to Alajuela, from where we could take a bus to Poas Volcano (which was 20 minutes from La Paz), and figure out the last step when we got there. We arrived Alajuela around 8 and the bus didn’t leave until 9, so we went to grab coffee and a little snack. Around 45 minutes into the drive, the bus stopped because there was a huge semi that fell off the road. It didn’t look like it would be moving anytime soon meaning the bus wouldn’t be able to go anywhere. However, this was a gift sent from god for us at least. I checked my GPS and we were around 15 minutes from La Paz so we had one of our friends go ask the store we were by if we could get a taxi from there. After a few minutes, our friend comes back to tell us that this random man, William, is going to take us. None of us question the safety and feel so blessed by this random act of kindness. The drive was gorgeous and William was a sweet heart. He didn’t even ask us for money when we got to La Paz, but obviously we paid him.
By the time we got there and bought our tickets it was around 10:30. However, after taking a trip to the bathroom we knew this p
lace was going to be a wonderful way to spend our day. (The bathroom had waterfall sinks and the coolest decorations). The day was absolutely marvelous, we saw (and got to hold) Tucans – one pooped on my friend -, hummingbirds, frogs, snakes, monkeys, monkeys, jungle cats – and we saw them being fed -, birds, butterflies, and went on a hike that led us to 5 different waterfalls. We were basically at an upscale Zoo. While none of these animals had been taken from the wild, meaning they were all rescue
animals, I still struggled with them being caged in. For lunch, we ate at Trout Lake, where you could go fishing for your fish for lunch/dinner. I actually felt like I was in a country club. After lunch, we took advantage of the garden’s trails, but ended up getting lost and not making it very far. However, we did come across something spectacular: a river. And me being me, I naturally started to explore. Thankfully, I was with others who felt the same and we ended up staying (playing and sitting) in the river for over 1 hour. It was incredibly relaxing and an amazing way to end the day.
Side bar: Before we began our exploration, we made sure we knew how to get home since this mornings directions didn’t go so well. A lot of the front desk kept saying that there was only a 1 pm bus, but then some others said there was a 5 or 5:30 bus. We just decided to go about our day and finalize the bus deal when we were done. After we saw the Jungle Cat feeding, we went to figure out how to get home. After getting 2 more different bus times (6 and 6:30), we were told we could take a bus back to Barva (which we were familiar with and knew we could taxi home from). Although our driver was crazy, we miraculously made it home safely after being gone for 12 hours.
* We later found out that the La Paz bus doesn’t stop at the University, it just passes by. This means you have to flag it down when it drives past…because we were totally supposed to know that…
Other thoughts from the day:
1. We ran into a lot of very nice people at La Paz and talked extensively with 3 different groups. It was really amazing talking to them, because I was able to give tips and advice for things in Costa Rica. It really made me feel like a Tico and not a tourist.
2. This was an incredible place to explore, feel free to ask me more – I just didn’t want to make this post any longer 🙂