If you’ve watched Moana once, then you know the iconic scene in which Moana is singing “How Far I’ll Go” while staring at the horizon with shiny eyes, fully aware that the unknown awaits beyond the comfort of her home.
If you haven’t, then you should look up the scene on the internet so you understand what I’m talking about.
The point is, every time I plan a new trip, I feel that same emotion, that same hunger to know what lies beyond the horizon, to discover what’s awaiting me in the unknown.
You know, traveling is underrated.
You probably think traveling is all about getting away. While there is nothing wrong with traveling to take a rest from your daily routine, the truth is there is much more to traveling than escaping the routine.
In fact, traveling is the perfect activity for self-discovery. There is nothing like being in a place where nobody knows you, facing new challenges to know what you are capable of doing!
Let me show you how a simple week in a foreign can show you a whole different side of yourself.
Let me show you how the unknown awaits.
The Unknown Awaits: Costa Rica’s Travel Diary Log
Planning a Trip to Costa Rica
In 2019, I decided to book an airplane ticket to Costa Rica. It was only a five-day trip and it was my second time visiting Central America.
But, this time I was not going on a group trip nor did I use an agency to plan my trip.
In fact, I planned the trip myself. Because, honestly speaking, most of the time, you don’t need an agency to plan your trip. The internet has thousands of resources to help with that. You can save yourself time, money, and a lot of hassle.
When it comes to a destination like Costa Rica, you’ve got options to choose when it comes to which type of trip you would like to do. Is it a gastronomic trip? Or maybe a relaxing-in-nature trip? Or an adventure trip?
In my case, it was the last one: a trip full of dares and adventures.
My friend and I picked La Fortuna as our travel destination and booked a stay in the Tifakara Hotel through Airbnb.
Also, since we only had a few days to make the most of the trip, and public transportation can be time-consuming, we decided to rent an SUV to move around. For doing so, we used Vamos Rent-a-Car
You can make the reservation through their website and you can make the payment later when you arrive at the place.
Also, I was able to book some of the activities we wanted to do through the internet too.
Since we wanted it to be an adventure trip, we chose our activities accordingly. We booked ziplining and rappelling activities through Sky Adventures in La Fortuna.
However, we only booked two activities to leave some room for mistakes and spontaneity. Going into the unknown mostly implies accepting you can’t have control over everything.
With only those plans and feeling as anxious as I could, I adventured to discover a new side of me.
Arriving in Costa Rica
We arrived at the Juan Santamaria International Airport around 2:00 pm. It took around an hour to get out of the airport. Outside, we met someone from Vamos Rent-a-Car who took us to the car rental store.
After we finished the paperwork, the real adventure began.
Have you ever drove in a foreign country? It can be really intimidating!
We had to drive three hours from San José to La Fortuna. As a result, we arrived at night at the Tifakara Hotel.
To my surprise, the place was like a hidden oasis in the middle of the mountain. A light fog covered the surroundings. Still, you could see nature and green wherever you looked. We were received in the reception with a natural watermelon juice.
The main road connected the reception and dinner lounge with rooms that were like cabins. Between them, there were trees and plants that were home to different species. The following days I could see many animals in the place.
One of them, a sloth in the tree in front of our cabin.
The unknown awaits: The adventure
First day in La Fortuna
On the first day in La Fortuna, we booked a tour with ziplining and river rafting. Our guides were welcoming and took care of us throughout the day.
They even took us to a waterfall.
We decided to eat our lunch in the restaurant inside Sky Adventures Park. We had black soup since it was cold and the day had turned gray. In August, it is the rainy season in Costa Rica.
From the restaurant’s balcony, you had a great view of Arenal Lake and the Arenal Volcano.
In the afternoon, we took a hiking tour and had the opportunity to learn about the native plants and animals. We saw different vipers, a tarantula, and monkeys too.
The evening tour took us through the mountains. As we walked, we also crossed long hanging bridges that hanged hundreds of feet above the floor. We visited a waterfall inside the mountain too.
The second tour ended around 5:00 p.m. When we were heading back to the hotel, we had the opportunity to see the Arenal Volcano.
During the rainy season, the top of the volcano is hard to see since it is often surrounded by fog. It was a view worth waiting for. If you ever visit La Fortuna, you need a picture of this breath-taking landscape.
We arrived at the hotel late, exhausted, but strangely excited for what was left of the trip.
The second day in La Fortuna
The second day we booked a tour for ziplining, rappelling, and canyoning. This was my first time doing this type of circuit.
I was afraid and nervous as you might be feeling whenever you are experimenting with something new.
Soon, I discovered, I was able to do everything.
We had left open that afternoon. As I said before, leaving room for spontaneity is important.
You should remember this when you are about to travel. You must stop trying to control everything. Otherwise, you won’t be able to know what you are capable of doing.
You won’t be able to learn something new about yourself.
So, after we arrived at the hotel, we asked for recommendations at the reception and opted for something I never imagined I would do, not even as a passenger: running an ATV.
Finally, after a long day, we decided to visit the Eco Termales Hot Springs to Relax. There are different locations you could visit enjoy the hot springs in La Fortuna. There is even a place where the river runs and you can enjoy them for free.
However, since it was already 7:00 p.m. we decided to go to this facility. The entrance fee for this place is not only significantly cheaper than other famous hot springs, but the place itself was wonderful.
You can visit their page to get a 360 view of the hot springs.
Leaving La Fortuna: Getting back to the unknown
We left Tifakara early in the morning and started driving back to San José.
We had no plans, just an Airbnb waiting in San José. But I was still thinking: the unknown awaits.
However, I read on the internet about a place where you could do bungee jumping on the way. If we happened to come across it and it was in our route… Would we try it?
We did reach the place and I made the craziest thing I ever did in my life. Something a bookworm like me would have never believed she had the courage to do.
I did the unimaginable: I jumped from a hanging bridge tied to a bungee cord.
Back to San José
We arrived at San José almost in the evening, still shaking from the adrenaline rush.
After we found our Airbnb, we googled a place to eat. We found this place called La Calle Street Food with a relaxed and casual environment.
The next day we visited the Poas Volcano. Sadly, we could not see the crater. It was covered in a dense fog caused by the altitude of the top and the heat.
However, we did felt like we were walking on the clouds.
After that, we went to a local market to buy souvenirs and to eat some pupusas. We walked around with the locals and moved around their streets without fear.
I was, like them, one more living being in this world. The unknown was not as scary anymore.
Returning back home
As the airplane took off on or last day, I remembered everything I feared when I stepped on Costa Rica’s soil. Yet, kindness found me wherever I went.
The unknown awaits, yes, and but also does kindness, friends, experiences, and a new side of you.
The warmth from the people who welcomed us, guided us, and took care of us, melted each insecurity away. They truly taught me their meaning of “Pura vida”.
Whenever you travel and you are heading to someplace new, remember, traveling is not only a vacation. It is a journey full of knowledge.
I discovered that the same girl that could read the entire day can also jump from a bridge tied to a bungee cord.
Can you imagine what you could discover about yourself?
You could learn that people from another country laugh at the same things that you do and that rice can be a side dish in breakfast.
You could be reminded that strangers are just people you haven’t met yet, with stories to tell and experiences to share.
So, the next time you go into the unknown, do not only aim for going away, but for going somewhere and learning something new about yourself.
Don’t be afraid. Be Moana looking at the horizon with passion in your eyes…
Out in the world, the unknown awaits you.