The true magic of Costa Rica
Story by Jeff Bear
When the whales began breaching the surface of the water at Costa Rica’s Marino Ballena National Park less than 100 feet from our tour boat, we, along with the other 17 “tourists” on board, gasped in unison.
The sight of 50-foot-long, 30-ton giants hurling themselves skyward, then splashing down in a massive belly-flop left us shaking like Ahab on the Pequod.
But to say that was the highlight of our two-week, self-guided adventure in Costa Rica would be to diminish the unspoiled beauty of the beaches in Guanacaste, the lofty grandeur of the volcanoes in the Central Valley, and the charm of the Costa Rican people who greeted us with smiles and helping hands on our travels up and down the Pacific coast.
At Playa Hermosa we watched the liquid sun seem to melt into the ocean while lighting our whole world with hues of orange and red.
At Arenal Volcano we ziplined above and through the rain forest canopy, walked across wobbly hanging bridges 200 feet above the forest floor, and swam both in the cool river flowing from 230-foot-high La Fortuna Waterfall, and the hot river downstream from Tabacon Hot Springs.
Then there was Playa Conchal, a beach literally made of millions of tiny, crushed shells that stretches over a mile long, where we bathed in the sun and the warm, crystal clear waters.
Costa Rica is the kind of place where howler monkeys and three-toed sloths hang out in neighborhood trees, and rural roads display “Iguana Crossing” signs.
The insects we worried would infest us never did. They were too busy being eaten by the reptiles, amphibians, birds and bats.
The rainforests of Costa Rica are in balance, and that is the magic of a country where an ecologically conscious government has preserved a quarter of its land in national parks and reserves, and 98.5% of its energy comes from renewable sources.
If it’s not the garden of Eden, it does a pretty good imitation.
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