¡Pura Vida! Costa Rica: First Stop – Atenas

In early spring a friend and I were talking in general about places to retire and that led to a decision to visit Costa Rica, which is often listed as one of the top 10 places to retire! Who knew? We started our journey in late June and finished in early July – the 7th to be exact. The two weeks went by quickly, as is usual with vacations. There is much to see and experience in this small, beautiful country.

I write this post in retrospect, and rarely are the explanations and descriptions of the events – people, places, sights, and sounds – as enjoyable as the actual moments. I’ll give it my best shot. First and foremost, we met some wonderful, kind, and generous people in Costa Rica – from the airbnb hosts to taxi drivers to people walking along the road. I am honored to call friends – Belle, Babs, Dennis, Jorge, Danny, and Patricia – people that I met on this trip.

During the two weeks we traveled to 4 destinations in Costa Rica: Atenas, La Fortuna, Tamarindo, and Alajuela. Most of what I’ll “tell” you about these places is captured in my photos. First stop, Atenas and Belle’s Cute French Cottage! We spent our first full day relaxing and enjoying the beautiful surroundings at Belle’s place, including visits from Maya, a black and white miniature Schnauzer.

While in Atenas and the surrounding area we found and ate some amazing food! From left to right, top to bottom: a mixed plate with green banana, yucca, picante, black bean sauce, fish, chicken, pork, BBQ; empanada margarita; quesadilla con queso; and The. Best. Ceviche. Ever!
Food Atenas collage

On Monday, June 25th we took a bus from Atenas to San Jose and opted for a free walking tour to explore the city. From architecture to street art to the central market, San Jose is a large city with lots to see, hear, and do!
San Jose collage

On Tuesday, we toured a small family-owned and operated organic farm, El Toledo, which primarily grows coffee, but several years ago, the family began experimenting with crop diversity. And now, they grow other crops, too: ginger, stevia, corn, bananas, and more. Our host Gabriele explained the process of growing and roasting coffee. El Toledo Farm collage

Wednesday was our last full day in Atenas and we enjoyed the day to the fullest. We hired a young man we met through Gabriele to drive us (approximately 2 hours one-way) to Manuel Antonio National Park. Jorge was the perfect guide! He made the trip special by stopping along the way so that we could see different sites and views – a crocodile natural habitat and the beach towns of Jaco and Quepos – before arriving at the park. We walked through the park and along the beach before having a late lunch (where we tasted the best ceviche)! What a spectacular day it was!
Manuel Antonio collage

We remain grateful to Belle, our airbnb host who welcomed us to Costa Rica and made us feel right at home in Atenas. I look forward to our continued friendship.

On to La Fortuna…driving!