My Joyful Costa Rica List

Lately, I’ve been reflecting on what the last two years of my life have looked like. It’s been filled with heartbreak, worry and the uncertainty of a pandemic – and at the same time, more love and growth than I have ever experienced. Time has felt like it has moved so slowly and as fast as lightning at the same time.

One of my common journal prompts and practices has been to make lists. Lists of things that I’ve faced and overcame in the past two years. Lists of things I wanted to do after the pandemic was over. Lists of things I’m grateful for. Lists of things I’d rather do than work. Lists of places I want to go and things I want to see. Many of my lists I haven’t talked about beyond the walls of my home or even beyond the pages of my journal.

My recent vacation to Costa Rica was one of those experiences that I had to make a list about. And not in a “wow this was a relaxing vacation” kind of experience, but more in a way that makes you really love and appreciate the beauty of travel. Costa Rica’s economy revolves around tourism, so although some people might find visiting gimmicky and tourist-trap ridden, I found it to be a sweet reminder that tourism can do amazing things and build incredible community.

One of our guides said it best: Tourism has actually helped Costa Rica because it prohibited hunters from killing the wildlife and others from destroying the rain forest to turn into farmland or industrial buildings. It has helped restore its natural, beautiful state. How cool is that?

So, here’s my list of my favorite, joyful, happy things I found in Costa Rica:

  1. Our very first driver from the airport, who didn’t speak a lick of English but made every effort to Google Translate a few things to us and stop along our 3 hour drive to point out animals and cool sights.
  2. Every bridge in Costa Rica. You never know what you will find.
  3. Sloths.
  4. Pablo of Pablo Surf School, and his willingness to take a bunch of pale Americans out in the water for a few hours.
  5. The super accommodating Miranda Private Shuttles who gave me peace of mind traveling through a country where I don’t think we would have been aggressive enough drivers in (pro tip: read up on the road conditions before you decide if you are renting a car!).
  6. Our guide through the Hanging Bridges park, who knew every animal, where to find them and how to get the best photo.
  7. The insane greenery and the urge to stop every few seconds and say “what kind of plant is this?” or “we don’t have this at home!”
  8. The wonderful staff at Northfields Coffee and Chocolate tour.
  9. Pristine beaches stretching for miles – some filled with tourists and children, others quiet and serene.
  10. Every single person that said “Pura Vida” to us as a greeting or goodbye.

If you ever get a chance to visit Costa Rica, I hope you can make a joyful list of your own.

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