New Examiner.com post: Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
Quepos, Costa Rica:
The town of Quepos.
Is there paradise on Earth? Yes, yes there is and its name is Costa Rica.
If I thought the rainforest and mountains were gorgeous, then new adjectives need to be created to describe the allure and beauty of the Pacific Coast. Perfect white sand beaches meet warm water as the rainforest extends to the coastline and jagged cliffs line the shore.
Our hotel, the Blue Banyan Inn, is just a few miles outside of Quepos, tucked away down a winding gravel road. This hidden gem reveals absolutely stunning views -- when I get home, I'll post the view from our balcony -- and a quiet, relaxing setting. Of the three cottages on the property, only ours is occupied so it's really like having a private family retreat.
After spending most of yesterday in transit and watching the sun set from Manuel Antonio Beach (Quepos borders the impressive Manuel Antonio National Park, which we're checking out tomorrow), today was a little more active.
The Blue Bayan has an animal sanctuary on its grounds sponsored by the nonprofit Kids Saving the Rainforest , and before breakfast we were holding three 2-week-old marmosets and talking with a vibrant and extremely talkative macaw.
Then it was on to the Rainmaker Conservation Project, a rainforest adventure involving numerous hanging bridges across the rainforest canopy -- definitely not for the faint of heart or those with an extreme fear of heights! A little falling rain couldn't deter us from the trail.
My love of local restaurants also continued this afternoon as we stopped in Parrita for a late lunch. There were no veggie options so I ended up with chicken but considering the number of chickens and roosters seen wandering around town, I feel pretty secure knowing that these animals were neither factory farmed nor mass slaughtered. Apologies.
Now, I don't want to brag too much about the incredible weather here as I know the weather back home is nothing short of freezing, and we'll be back there soon enough. For now, all I can say is that Costa Rica has firmly joined the ranks of places I'd highly recommend anyone visit and has some of the nicest locals I've ever encountered.