Hola Costa Rica
December 25, 2019
After a lot of research, planning and excitement and a quick flight (2.5 hours) from the states, we reached San Jose. The airport was easy to navigate and border patrol was very friendly. Our agent was particularly smitten with my daughter’s conversational Spanish during her verification process and was reprimanded by his manager for being friendly. We immediately felt the warmth and friendliness of Costa Rica.
We retrieved our luggage and headed out to the curb where a long line of Tican’s (how local Costa Rican’s refer to themselves) with signs were awaiting their arriving guests. Our driver Masa was waiting for us and escorted us to his awaiting van with cold waters and wifi for our 3 hour drive to the Arenal Valley. Our 3 hour drive was pleasant and full of conversation Masa was particularly interested in American politics. Our drive took us through a few of the ecosystems that Costa Rica is known for. From San Jose, the largest city in Costa Rica we transcended into a cloud forest, then a mangrove forest until we reached the rainforest of the Arenal Valley and our home for 3 nights.
Heliconia’s Nature Lodge was everything we expected and more. Set in the middle of the rainforest in the Arenal Valley, their accommodations consist of bungalows and treehouses among natural flora and fauna and our own hammocks on the porch for a quiet afternoon snooze. We were warmly welcomed to the family run property and to the central lodge, restaurant and bar with what they called Costa Rican Moonshine, locally known as guaro. The lodge reminded me of a visit to the Disneyland Tiki room, but without the long lines and animatronic birds.
After an enjoyable early dinner of Costa Rican staples Casado (a Costa Rican meal using rice, black beans, plantains, salad, homemade corn tortilla, and a choice of chicken, beef, pork or fish), and sopa negra we headed off to our bungalows for the night to prepare for our first day in Arenal.