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The Perfect Weekend in Costa Rica; Turtles & Tulemar

Costa Rica Travel – I had visited the Manuel Antonio area of Costa Rica before but this time it was different. I was with someone that was truly taking their inaugural trip to this beautiful area of the country.  The quote kept repeating in my head by Christopher Moore, “Children see magic because they look for it.”

Although my friend was in her 30’s, her behavior was intoxicating and brought me into a state where I was seeing things through her eyes. For this weekend I was living life as it should be, seeing the joys and wonders of life presented by our surroundings and experiences as if they were being discovered for the first time. I had taken off the jaded glasses that most adults wear and reverted back into a childlike state of mind.

We drove through Quepos and started the ascent up the hill towards Manuel Antonio as the beginning of the afternoon rains started.  It was the end of rainy season so this was expected.  Instead of being down about the precipitation, I watched as my friend’s eyes took in everything.  The rain forest that lined each side of the road, the brief glimpses of the incredible Pacific Ocean view, and the quaint hotels and houses set back in the tropical surroundings.  Periodically she would turn towards me with a gleam in her eyes and smile…..nothing more needed to be said.

Quickly we had arrived at the entrance to the Tulemar Resort in the heart of Manuel Antonio.  We were expected and quickly guided to the reception area.  After a brief discussion with the friendly concierges, we were personally shown to our private villa, Casa MiradorThis was not a traditional resort as most people picture in their minds.  It had the feeling of a high-end gated community surrounded by the Costa Rican jungle and wildlife in which each vacation villa and bungalow has its own private space.

Upon arriving at Casa Mirador, my friend was immediately taking pictures of the flora around the villa. All of this beauty made me think to myself, “this is what Costa Rica is all about”.  As I watched my friend stop and take in all of our surroundings I was so thankful to her showing me what I had been missing in my previous excursions to this area of Costa Rica. She had no idea that she was opening my eyes for the first time in a long time.

Casa Mirador was perfection. Downstairs there are two incredible bedrooms with a balcony that includes a Jacuzzi overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  As Diego showed us through our accommodations, the words “This is paradise”, kept being repeated by my friend.  Diego too seemed to become more excited taking on the feelings of showing something beautiful to someone for the first time….”Wait until you go upstairs, that is the best view” He was not lying. As we walked up into the living area, you had to stop and just take it all in.  The kitchen is something I want to mimic in my own house one day, the living room was spacious and comfortable, and the view from the balcony…..I will let you decide the words you want to use to describe it.

view from Casa Mirador

Unfortunately, after settling in for only a short time it was time to head out. We were to go Matapalo located about 35 minutes away to experience the Annual Turtle Festival which was being put together by the Association of Volunteers for Services in Protected Areas (ASVO).  I had lived inCosta Rica for over 8 years and had never seen the Sea Turtles that grace the shores of the land of Pura Vida each and every year. Both my friend and I would be experiencing something for the first time together.  I matapalo sea turtle releasetoo was approaching this adventure with childlike curiosity. 

Matapalo is a small Costa Rica beach down located on a rustic dirt road.  Like many quaint Costa Rican towns it does not consist of much other than a soccer field, a church and centrally located bar/restaurant at which we stopped for lunch.  The friendly people were the added ingredient that made this place feel warm and homey.

Upon arrival, there was a group of employees of Banco Nacional that were part of the Costa Rica’s businesses community involvement program listening to a a presentation about sea turtle conservation.  My friend sat down to listen to the presentation while I took pictures and video of AVSO’s Matapalo facilities. Even when listening to the seminar about the turtles you could feel the excitement of her curiosity being satiated. I just sat and watched from outside of her vision, wanting to regain that in my life. 

As the rain began to come down a little more heavily, it was time to release the baby sea turtles at the beach.  Both of us had of course forgotten any sort of rain protection.  We trekked through the puddles and headed towards the beach.    

Recently hatched sea turtles were in a carton on the beach.  Children from the area were each given one to release into the ocean.  The smiles of the kids were from ear to ear as they placed their turtle on the beach and they began to walk slowly towards the waves.  For 30 to 40 minutes we watched as these creatures began their new lives, hopefully one day returning to they themselves lay eggs on this beach in paradise.

Both my friend and I were quiet as we headed back soaking wet to the car.  I think we were both absorbing everything that we had taken in that afternoon.  This WAS Costa Rica.  There truly was nothing like it that I had ever experienced.  As we drove back my friend closed her eyes and went to sleep, like a child running out of energy after a long day at an amusement park. 

We returned to Tulemar, dried off and then enjoyed an hour in the Jacuzzi under the stars.  After dinner we both headed to sleep worn out but happy.  As the sun arose the next morning over the Pacific in Manuel Antonio, I knew…….The last 24 hours had been the perfect day.

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