Out of all hotels, Hotel Villa Verde had been my favorite so far. It had a gorgeous view with no bugs in the room, and natural air conditioning. Its only flaw was the drainage system in the shower, which was perpetually clogged. The food was natural, always hot and freshly made from the Cocina (kitchen) and they took in everyone's food restrictions immediately. Sorry, this sounds like a TripAdvisor review, but I was feeling nostalgic. We came in to the dining hall for the last time for a breakfast of pancakes and eggs. We then bid adieu to the quaint hotel in the picturesque mountains and start driving towards Playa Hermosa, one of Costa Rica's most famous beach towns.
Our first stop on the way was at a local school in Puntarenas, which is the south most county in Costa Rica. There we all contributed money and gifts to the eight students that ranged from grades one to six. After they danced for us and chanted their national anthem, local Puntarenas anthem and song for the Annexation of Guanacaste, we danced the Cupid Shuffle for them. After this, the parent volunteers gave us homemade chicken empanadas and guava juice, which were delicious (to say the least). We gave them the Girl Scout buttons we had made for them and waved goodbye to the children, parents and the remarkable Head teacher, who was the janitor, teacher, caretaker and administrator all at the same time!
We then headed to the Crocodile Tour on River Tarcolés, which run through the town Tarcolés. On the tour, we saw many birds, including various types of herons and egrets. We also saw about 3 big crocodiles while we viewed 5-6 crocodiles outside on the banks. Since it was overcast, there were not many crocodiles outside the water. Crocodiles swim to the shore, open their mouth and dry off to regulate their temperature, and are mostly seen out of water when it is sunny. The large crocodiles we saw were called Mike Tyson (because of his aggressiveness), Gloria (for no apparent reason) and Captain Hook (because of his one hand).
After the tour, we ate lunch and then went on a Rainforest Tour. We first took the aerial trams, which lifted us up through the different levels of the rainforest. We learned several interesting facts about rainforests—we learned that lichen is a sign of a healthy forest, and that Costa Rica made most of its income from the industry of ecotourism, which meant making money by using the forests (but instead of destroying the forests, preserving and upholding their value). After spotting a toucan, howler monkeys, spiders and a few orchids, we left the aerial trams and explored the undergrowth level. We spotted small bats sleeping and shaking (as it was very cold for them), learned that heliconias were plants looked like birds of paradise but belonged to the banana family—this family’s key characteristics include having leaves that look like flowers. We also smelled oregano and rosemary leaves, which were some of the herbs used in gallo pinto (Costa Rican staple—a mix of rice and beans). We also saw (and smelled) citronella, a natural bug repelling plant that damages insect skin. Our group also walked through the park serpentarium, which held snakes such as vipers and anacondas , frogs such as poisonous dart frogs, members of the crocodile family called caimans, and snapping turtles. Finally, we visited the butterfly garden, where we saw butterflies of all shapes, sizes and hues. After this memorable trip, we bid farewell to our guide, and headed out.
Finally, we drove to our new hotel, called Terrazzo del Pacifico, a beach-front resort that lay 20 minutes outside the beach town Playa del Hermosa. After getting keys for our room and receiving a complimentary blackberry drink as a welcoming gift, we went back to our room with the luggage. and then went to dinner, which was in the hotel restaurant, right in front of the ocean! We could hear the waves, and see the faint outline of white foam in the fading light of dusk, as we cracked jokes, ate delicious dinner and felt at peace with our surroundings.