Pura Vida is My Favorite Cliché [Tamarindo & Monteverde, Costa Rica]

After settling up with Rocket Frog, it was time to head to the Tamarindo area to catch up on sleep and fitness. Chris was an absolute bandit when it came to lodging, booking two nights at the JW Marriott Guanacaste for a whopping $60 out of pocket. The room we were upgraded to cost $660/night or 75,000 points. Chris maximized his annual free night perk from the Marriott Bonvoy credit card for the first night (35k points of the 35k max that it can be redeemed for), and then used 40,000 points for the second night. At a point valuation of 0.8 cents per point and an annual card fee of $95, it was a veteran money move getting about 2x the point value estimation (we don’t dance shawty, we make money moves).

Jimmy Fallon says EW!

The resort was quite empty and we got upgraded to an oceanview room for free after they declined his attempt to redeem the nearly-impossible-to-use suite night benefit. Seriously… if you have Marriott status and can choose a benefit, the suite night rewards are almost useless. On top of that Chris’s status got us free breakfast at their deliciously large buffet. They also had pretty sizable gym which we put to great use each day; all aboard the #gainztrain! We were straight up livin’ the suite life (of Zack & Cody, for you millenial Disney kids).

Trying to fit in with the rich folk (or maybe get my feet some visibility to compete with Chris.. who knows). Perhaps you are old enough to remember the hot dogs or legs comparison.

We’re anything but bougie resort dwellers though, so we went offsite for dinner to Cactus, which was an incredibly pleasant surprise. For like a third of what one meal at the resort cost, we had our palates blessed with a lost Costa Rican dish that the chef/owner himself described to us – think of a cross between a tortilla and a stuffed pita – plus tasty casados and ceviche. Food worth chilling on a dirt road for!

It wouldn’t be a relaxing resort vacation in a foreign country without sampling the local booze, but in our own way. Rather than pay the astronomically high resort prices, we took a quick little jaunt over to a local market to pick up a bottle of rum to drink poolside. Lucky for Chris, this pirate adventure went much smoother than the last time him and Jeiny drank a bottle(s) of rum together. Chris and I enjoyed what (we think) was a delicious burger and peesha, while the Jeinosaur played like he had gone extinct.

Due to some unforeseen circumstance (as in literally, we couldn’t see straight), we took no pictures of this meal.. but the pool was big enough to catch the eye.

Monteverde was the next stop on our itinerary to experience the beauty of the cloud forests. I precautioned that the drive would almost certainly take 25% longer than the GPS quoted, based on past experience, but it was actually accurate. I wouldn’t have been mad about some extra car time enjoying the views, but it meant we were able to check into our hostel, Selina, an hour earlier than expected!

This place had me at hello, and that’s saying something after leaving a 5 star resort. The common area vibe was on point with cool murals, artsy light fixtures, a fireplace, and a bar (with free welcome drinks!) The real star was their food though – I think we tried nearly everything on the menu (the first night mind you, because we hadn’t eaten since like 9am and were ravaged). Hunger level aside, it was all scrum-dittly-umptious, proven when we ate a lot of it again the next day.

This is what you call ambiance!

Now for the real reason we came – the cloud forest! The next morning Justin and I made the short drive over to the Monteverde Reserve, where we would hike most of the trails over the course of a couple hours. Chris was unable to attend due to his borked toe 😔 We opted not to get a guide because it was already $25/person to enter the reserve and I just wanted to enjoy the nature without having to pretend I cared about random small birds or names of plants I’d forget immediately anyway. I don’t think we missed out on much, as the quiet and the views were beautiful in their own right, plus there were plaques to point stuff out along the way (like the continental divide). Unfortunately the suspension bridge was not made with strong wood and was out of commission so we weren’t able to test it’s durability.

Visual inspection failed. OSHA would have a field day here.
Visual inspection passed with flying colors.. mostly green.

Oddly enough the thing that I’ll remember the most vividly was something we’d made fun of on the way in – the hummingbird gallery. Cynicism got the best of me, and I would have bet money that there were no actual hummingbirds there, but rather a tourist trap for souvenirs. I wasn’t completely wrong, but the cafe and surrounding area had hummingbird feeders attracting a bunch of the tiny little calorie mongers – yeah they burn like 10,000 calories/day powering those wings! We petered around for at least 20 minutes trying to catch pics of them darting around while also dodging the constant flitting and dive-bombing.

Don’t ask me how I managed to catch two of these guys in one shot, let alone in focus..

We probably would have opted for another hike to El Tigre Falls, but we weren’t going to leave Chris to his own devices all day at the hostel.. someone has to keep him out of trouble (certainly not us, but somebody) 😉. That’s not to say the day was wasted because Selina was kicking off a weekend-long cultural festival that included a variety of live musicians and artists, as well as a pop up tattoo shop! It’s truly a shock that none of us sprung for a steal of an inking (most designs under $80!) after happy hour, but we certainly came close. Sadly, none of the designs got our jingles jangling quite enough to yeet it.

Art impersonating life impersonating art.. or whatever.

Instead, we hung out in the hot tub while the music rotated from a chill electronic DJ, to Flower Thief layering live guitar over looped beats. Our dinner was accompanied by two different solo acoustic singers, first hyping us up with Spanish sing-a-longs we could only clap to and then lulling us to bed.

The four days were truly *pura vida*

Really getting the people going. Too bad none of us have rhythm..

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