As I sat waiting at the airport, checking the time on my phone every two minutes, and starting to worry that they weren’t coming a mere five minutes after there flight was supposed to have landed, I had butterflies in my stomach. When I saw a man walk by me with a sign with my mom name on, I nearly ran over to him to share my excitement. I restrained myself then; however, I was unsuccessful at holding back a few tears when I finally saw my mom, my aunt, and my cousin walk out the doors of the airport and into the beautiful Costa Rican sun. After quickly hugging everyone, and whipping away my tears, my mom looked up at me and remarked, “I forgot how tall you were.” I just gave her another hug.
We were quickly shuffled into our van and headed for Arenal volcano, where we would spend our first three days. Our resort was directly below the steaming mountain, and the sight of it looming above greeted us each morning. Midway through breakfast, it would become blanketed by a swirl of clouds, condensing around its warm peak. (Meanwhile, a waitress was spilling coffee on us…several mornings in a row).
Our first full day was spent lounging in the warm swimming pool, a surprise to us when we first stuck our toes in. The swimming pool is filled with water that flows directly from the river that comes from the volcano. Naturally heated and full of minerals, the water was about 100 degrees when it reached our swimming pool.
That night we did a walk along the foot of the volcano. the hike ended at a view point of the peak where we waited, hoping to see lava gush from its top… but after waiting for a little while, and hearing hungry growls from our stomachs, we gave up and headed to the hot springs.
Fourteen pools, filled with steaming water, wound their way through Tabacon resort to create a magical scene. As I sat, a waterfall massaging my back, the steam rose and clouded the perfect starry night sky. I dug my toes into the volcanic rock and sand that covered the floor of the pools and tried to clear my mind. The darkness created a romantic seclusion for my mind to wander and for my body to relax and take in my surrounding. The beautiful sound of many waterfalls, the sweet smell of the tropical flowers, the heat of the steam rising to cushion my face and the hot water I was sitting in, perfectly warm, not scalding, at 120 degrees. Completely natural and pure, a truly healing experience.
At peace with our body’s and mind’s we returned to our resort and were asleep my ten o’clock, a trend we didn’t realize we were setting until several days later when we were teasing Maggie when she was still awake at nine. The next day was not exactly a purifying experience, nonetheless, it was a blast. We swung through the trees like the monkeys we encountered at our next destination on a canopy zip line tour.
The first three days of our trip were fantastic (besides the coffee always being spilled on us…). I had forgotten how much I loved spending time with my family. Actually, I had never forgotten it. I was just reminded of how great they truly are. I was also reminded that traveling with girls is a little different from what I’m used to. They made me shower every day! How ridiculous! My weekends spent with my guy friends and hostels have put showering and beauty a little lower on the totem pole than most people would expect of a nineteen-year-old girl, but with a little prodding, my family was able to convince me to shower regularly and do my hair (pictures were being taken and I didn’t want to be the ugly duckling!)
Spending time with my mom, Gail, and Maggie was wonderful. The first three days of our adventure were fun, relaxing, and a perfect time to catch up. I knew the second half of our week promised to be just as great.