Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Pura Vida with the Daytons

I wrote in my last post how hard this past winter was for me.  But in the midst of that long, hard winter, we had a really bright spot: We got to go to Costa Rica with our best friends from the dental school years, the Daytons!  We had been talking about going on a trip with them forever, but I had been hoping to do IVF again in the fall or winter. Once we found out that IVF was off the table for a while due to my health issues, we decided to just go ahead and take the trip.

It was paradise and just what my sad little heart needed. We laughed so much. That's what I will always remember most from the trip--all of the laughing. Adrian is a natural comedian and cracks jokes about everything, and it just makes everyone else comfortable making witty comments constantly. I love people who love to laugh, and that's definitely the Daytons. They make life fun.

They are also great conversationalists and deep thinkers, and we had lots of good talks about life over delicious dinners and during our long car rides around that beautiful country. That was another highlight of the trip--just the long, beautiful drives. We rented a car and were so glad we had the freedom to explore.  It was actually easy to get around with the help of the Waze app, and we were able to spend some time inland in the beautiful Arenal Volcano region and then head to the coast to see Manuel Antonio for a few days.

Some of my favorite memories from the trip:

-Pulling into our resort in rain forest of the Arenal Volcano region, blasting Shakira's "Try Everything" and singing our lungs out.  This became our theme song for the trip.  We were greeted at the Concierge with fresh fruit smoothies, and we were ready for the fun to begin!

-Adrian serenading us with his ukulele.  Our first hotel room had a great jungle view, and we sat out on the porch overlooking Arenal Volcano and sang the Lava Song, of course.

-Going for sloth hunts.  I became slightly obsessed with these slow-moving, lazy, likeable creatures on this trip (I decided they are my spirit animal), and we were on the look out everywhere we went!

-Mountain biking around Arenal Volcano.  This was so beautiful and such a unique experience!  We could've paid for an expensive tour company to take us to do this, but instead we rented mountain bikes in town and somehow got them into our tiny car, then we drove to the volcano and paid the $10 fee to ride the path ourselves.

The area is called Arenal 1968, and it's beautiful to bike or hike.  You can do long trails or short trails, and I will say that I could've been done after the initial loop--it turned into a really long, hilly, and muddy ride.  But it was still totally worth it for the views!   I'm just grateful that the Daytons and Ryan were willing to wait for me because I was definitely the sloth that was slowing the group down by the end!

-Pina coladas.  Need I say more?

-A day with Ryan hiking to the insanely, amazingly, stunningly beautiful Nauyaca Falls.  I've seen some gorgeous waterfalls in my life, but none of them compared to this.  Two levels of waterfalls cascading down sheer cliffs in the heart of the jungle.  It was a hot hike to get there, but oh boy was it worth it!  There was a big, deep swimming hole at the bottom, and we spent the afternoon swimming and relaxing in the sun.

Of course Ryan had to devise a way to jump off the waterfalls. No one else was doing it, but there was obviously a safe ledge to jump from--the trouble was how to get to it because there was no easy path up the rocks right beside it.  So Ry scaled up the opposite side, walked across the waterfall itself, and got to the ledge.  And just because he's a maniac, he did a gainer into the water and nearly gave me a heart attack.  (One day he will realize that just because he still looks like he's 20 doesn't mean he actually is! Ha!) 

We ended the day by hiking back to the car and talking all about the dental practice we are buying and discussing dreams for the future.  This was such a nice day with just him.  The Daytons had gone on a ziplining excursion for the day, and we missed all the laughs and adventures that inevitably would've happened if they would've been with us, but it was also fun to just have a chill day of talking with Ryan.

-Beach days!  Is there anything better?  The boys got to surf, and the girls got to parasail.  We literally stayed from about 8 a.m. until sunset and every moment was pure perfection. We watched the sun go down and Adrian even did a few of his old gymnastics moves so I could get some fun photos (he was the BYU mascot, Cosmo, while he was in college.)

-Tobacan Hot Springs, especially sneaking into Shang-ri-La.  One night we went to some really posh hot springs near Arenal.   A river that is a natural hot spring runs through the property of a fancy hotel, and they've created all these different pools and waterfalls and secluded spots, and it was absolutely lovely and romantic to snuggle with Ryan is the warm water under the stars.

But the real fun began when we saw a sign for an area that was "Hotel Guests Only" called Shang-ri-la.  A sign like that might as well have Adrian's name written on it--because there is absolutely no way he is staying away after he sees an area where he is forbidden to go.  "Let's go check out Shang-Ri-La!" he kept saying. "What's the worst they can do--tell us to leave?  I bet they won't even notice!  We'll just walk in there like we own the place!"

I am a total rule follower by nature, but it's either Adrian's persuasive abilities or the fact that getting older has made me stop giving a damn about getting in trouble for things--but we walked right into that Shang-ri-la and hopped into the exclusive  pools and aint nobody was gonna stop us.

I'm pretty sure the rich people knew we didn't belong, but we didn't care. We are rebels.

-Amazing scenery, sunsets, and animals everywhere we went.  We woke up to the sound of howler monkeys in the trees around our hotel, we walked through lush rain forest on hanging bridges, and we found all sorts of fun waterfalls and adventures.


In Costa Rica they have a saying that is used everywhere, all the time: "Pura vida," they will say instead of thank you or when they are acknowledging something good happening in their day. Directly translated it means "pure life," and I love that.  Going on a trip with our best friends, seeing God's amazing creations, definitely felt like Pure Life to me.

So, Adrian and Natalie, where are we going next??