Venturing to the lesser known areas of Costa Rica

One of the things that I did often in college was take off for a few days to really focus on my studies (especially when I was living at the sorority house…god help me, it’s not easy to admit I was part of a sorority!).  I normally didn’t go very far, just to a local Marriott usually for one or two nights.  I’d hole up in the room, have all my books laid out in front of me and order room service.  It was my way of decompressing AND focusing on what I needed to get done.

And recently, I needed that again.  I needed to focus and take some time, just for myself.  Plus, I have wanderlust running through my blood (seriously, I think it’s in my DNA) and I often feel so trapped in Quepos.  Not having a car, I often have an underlying sense of disconnection and feeling stuck. In California, I’d take off on road trips and day trips, all over the place.  That was my outlet.  And while I live in the jungle and have a view of the ocean, it’s just not the same.  As much as I love living in Quepos, I need to experience more than just my little town.

Since I’ve been to almost all the well known places, I decided to venture out to one of the lesser known areas of Costa Rica.  I went to the little tiny town (well, not even really a town – more like a village) of La Alfombra.  I know, you’re asking me: Where?  It’s actually only about 90 minutes from my house, halfway to San Isidro, and is considered one of the lower lying cloud forests at about 800 meters.  Not high enough for the quetzal (that I wrote about here) but far enough up the mountain to have a few different plant and animal species than what I’m used to in the rainforest of Manuel Antonio.

As we entered the property (on a very dirt road), I knew I was in not only a cloud forest but also a primary forest.  Such immense beauty, like the tall redwoods in California.  Rio Magnolia Nature Lodge is a stunning property that was at one time a farm.  The owners, from Canada, purchased the property and have since begun to reforest it as well as planting many types of fruit trees (including cacao!) and coffee.

Rio Magnolia, Costa Rica

It’s a B&B style home that the owners designed themselves, with luxurious accommodations, thoughtful details and views of the cascading green mountains that eventually lead out to the Pacific Ocean.  And the owners, Maureen and John, are just beautiful people (along with their four sweet dogs).  While I was there to work on personal projects, they also always invited me to join them for vegetarian meals and it was so much fun to talk with them and share our experiences of living in Costa Rica.

It’s also a sustainable hotel and for ease (because I can’t explain it better), this next part is from their website: “…electrical power is produced by a renewable energy source, the river Magnolia, which runs through our property. A 12 kW hydro-electric system provides all of the electricity to the Lodge and is distributed to the various buildings by buried cable, thus protecting the wildlife from harm.”

Don’t you just love that?  They also hire from the local community, started a recycling program in the town, compost their food waste, and so much more.  Another thing that I loved (and that I’m again extracting from their website) is how humble they are and open to new ideas and new ways of doing things:

“Most of the Costa Ricans in the area are farmers with modest income. They are extremely good at re-purposing food and beverage packaging and have taught us many things about reducing our garbage.”

While I was there, I sat outside on my terrace, listening to the birds sing in the nearby trees.  I watched the sunrise and the sunset.  I walked around the property, going down to the little river that runs alongside it and just meditated there as the sunshine filtered through the towering trees.  I saw so many birds, caterpillars and butterflies and took moments of time to just simply watch the fog roll in and out, over the dense green forest surrounding me.

cloud forest

The only downside (for me) is that it was cold.  And if you’ve been reading my blog for awhile now, you know that I’m seriously allergic to the cold.  So my eyes were watering and my nose was running most of the weekend.  But I made the best of it and enjoyed the brief moments when the sun did shine and warmed up the earth (and my body).  Knowing that I would be back in the warmth of Manuel Antonio in just a few short days makes the cold (and the ensuing illness) much more tolerable  for me. **I should note here that it was really only 70 degrees at its coolest during the day which yes, I know, is not technically cold…but it is for me!**

Chrissy Gruninger

It was exactly the break that I needed.  I got much deserved rest and was able to not only work on my projects but meet new friends as well.  I so hope that if you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, you will visit Rio Magnolia and feel the warmth and love that is found there, from the owners, staff, delicious food and tranquil surroundings.

Enjoy the slideshow…

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Pura vida…Chrissy