WHERE WE STAYED: Resort Allegro Papagayo by Occidental. I thought we’d be getting a slightly more eco-friendly experience since it was located in a nature reserve. Not so. I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s been shut-down several time by conservationists for various violations. Saving grace? Wildlife! Iguanas, birds, capuchin and howler monkeys. (Warning: don’t feed them, even though many do, you can wipe out entire populations by spreading human diseases to animals).
BEST MEAL? Amazing queso fresco from a farm near Las Juntas.
NATURAL HIGH: Monteverde Cloud Forest: absolutely beautiful and absolutely wet. Our incredible guide Sergio did his best to teach us about the wonders of the greenery and assure us that our tourist dollars were best spent here, supporting environmentalists and helping them buy back acres of land in order to grow the national park.
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS: Friendly Cappuccinos; Terrifying sounding howlers (they have the lungs of a tiger); Upcose with humming birds; Stopping our bus to pick-up a bloated bull-frog which, as it turns out, passes out when you flip it upside down.
BIZARRO SIGHTING: A huuuge tarantula hanging out in front of our room caused some panic. But an older Costa Rican lady with a broom came to our rescue!
HOW COULD THERE POSSIBLY BE SO MANY: Costa Rican medium, brown-haired dogs. It's a thing.
FIRST TIME: Zip-lining! One of the most exhilarating moments of my life, whipping through the air, hundreds of feet above the Monteverde rainforest canopy with only a string ahead that disappears into the white mist. Some likened it to the opening scene from Avatar. I think it was way cooler (but then again, I'm not an Avatar fan).
HIGHLIGHT: Simo, Ken's brother riding cowboy-style on a huge ox while the rest of us watched.
• Sipping rich Costa Rican coffee, on a small plantation.
• Finding colourful, carved masks at a roadside gift shop in Cañas, along the Pan American Highway.
BEST WAY TO PASS THE TIME: Drunken ping-pong tournaments, followed by sobering dips in the pool, followed by more drinks and ping-pong.