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Costa Rica plate

accommodationsThe Art: 14 inch hand-painted ceramic plate from Costa Rica

The Story: When a 5-star destination comes with a 3-star price, what results is one of the most affordable ‘luxury’ trips you could ever take. That’s Costa Rica. This country offers EVERYTHING you could ever want (beautiful geography, active or soft adventure, eco-diversity, unique accommodations, friendly people) and a price that is nowhere near what you would expect to pay elsewhere.

It was a no brainer destination so I began planning a trip there, and starting by looking for accommodation. There are so many options when it comes to this, so you really have to think of the kind of vibe you want your trip to have. At first, I was aiming to find a nice beach hotel in Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast, which is supposed to be the place to go. I just fancied somewhere nice and relaxing but also a bit luxurious. Then, Henk (my fianc? at the time) suggested we join some type of eco-tour, since he had taken one in Costa Rica many years before. Seemed like a good idea too, so hoping to access some of the local knowledge and expertise, I began my search online for a local tour operator and found Costa Rican Trails.

Lapa Rios eco-lodge in Corcovado. Luxurious bungalow/huts.

Lapa Rios eco-lodge in Corcovado. Luxurious bungalow/huts.

Luxury, Tarzan-style at Lapa Rios Eco-Lodge bungalows

accommodations ranged from jungle eco-lodges that felt like a Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, to front-row views of an active volcano you could see from your bed. We zip-lined, horseback rode, swam under waterfalls and hiked through nature reserves, tasting local fruit at farms by the road, and dipping our hands into hot spring runoff streams. Mornings we woke to brilliant macaws and toucans perched in the treetops outside our room.

We couldn’t bring home Costa Rica’s exotic flora or fauna, so I brought home this Fruit Loopy plate instead, having spotted it at a nondescript ceramics shop in a small town off the usual tourist routes where we stopped for gas.

Today it hangs in my kitchen not far from the cereal bowls. And every time I look at its painted toucan, I’m reminded of the natural beauty of Costa Rica and the incredible experience that was 2 blissful weeks of “Pura Vida” (pure life).

The Fact: Criss-crossing Costa Rica in only 2 weeks meant taking a couple of flights on small planes that only hold about 10 passengers. Be aware there is a strict limit to the amount of luggage you can bring with you (30lbs each – including carryon!) So plan what to bring carefully, pack sparingly and do what we did – always fly wearing your hiking boots since they weigh down your bag and take up a lot of room.

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