4 Reasons Why I Have to Go Back to Costa Rica

Four years ago my husband and I reluctantly stepped back on US soil, with the echo of howler monkeys still ringing in our ears, the heavy dew of the rain forest still kissing our sun-soaked skin and our hearts full of every single happy, soulful person we met on our 2 week road trip across Costa Rica. The initial concept of a Costa Rican trip sprung from my brother, as a picture perfect locale to propose to his then girlfriend. When we were invited to go along and be a part of his surprise, life-changing moment, we simply asked, “When do we leave?!” 
Every second of our whirlwind 15 day trip was planned with an adventurous spirit. Having rented a four-wheel drive vehicle, we made a conscious decision to tackle the rugged interior jungle roads and washed out coastal passages head on with the confidence that the villages and the people and the eco-systems we would discover off the beaten track would be a thousand times better than any walled-off, all-inclusive resort. We were right.
I will warn you that the title of this blog is a bit misleading. As you scroll down, you might notice that three out of the four reasons appear to be the same: Adventure. But, I will tell you that the adventure that exists on the west coast surf town of Playa Negra is completely different from the adventure that awaits in the northern rainforests of Monteverde which is a complete one hundred and eighty degrees away from the adventure that we found on the more laid-back Caribbean coastal town of Puerto Viejo and the Panamanian border-town of Manzanillo.
Every single inch of the more than one thousand kilometers we traversed, was brimming with Pura Vida. I’m here to tell you that once you visit Costa Rica, it will live in your bones, your blood, your heart forever. We are dreaming of the day we will go back with our daughter, to introduce her to its wild jungles, watch her eyes widen at the sight of its majestic coasts, revel in its beautiful family-oriented culture and most of all inject her with a little of its happiness. Pura Vida! 

1 | Adventure

This is an awesome video my, now sister-in-law took as she and my brother zip-lined through the cloud rain forests of Monteverde, Costa Rica! My husband and I were right in front of them! It was a magical and exhilarating once-in-a-lifetime experience!

2 | Adventure

The surfing in Playa Negra is world class, the beaches are stunning and the villagers are warm and inviting!

Surfing in Costa Rica

3 | Adventure

The chances of walking 5 feet without a wildlife sighting is pretty low, in Costa Rica. One of my absolute favorite things while we were exploring the west coast was being woken up in the middle of the night by the howler monkeys. It was like a deep, melodic reminder that I was in the middle of the jungle. It’s also a nice added bonus to have a professional photographer for a husband to capture all of the beauty we witnessed, so we can remember it for ever!

Wildlife in Costa Rica

4 | Pura Vida

This totally out of focus and not-so-flattering picture of me and my hubby biking through the Gandoca Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge on the southeastern most tip of Costa Rica pretty much sums up the pure joy and happiness we felt.

Biking in Costa Rica

[Guest Blogger Series] The Metamorphosis of The Great "Outdoors" by Kerem Hanci

Hello Mommy Hiker readers!
My name is Kerem Hanci, I am Jennifer’s husband and a blogger myself (if you would like to follow my Friday Photography Blog, you can do so here).
When Jennifer asked me to do a guest blog spot, I was honored and proud to do so.
I have always loved the outdoors, but, as to be expected, my definition of the “outdoors” has changed dramatically over the years.
When I was growing up, in Istanbul, we used to play soccer all the time.  That was outdoors.
I also have fond memories of family road trips up north to the Black Sea, where my twin brother and I played in the notoriously wild waves under the watchful eyes of my parents.  That was outdoors.
In our teenage years, my father would take us on hunting trips where we spent hours scouring the wet, snowy ground for a few pieces of dry wood to make a campfire big enough to cook our “sucuk-ekmek”, a delicious dry, spiced, cured beef sausage sandwich.  That was outdoors.
Almost every summer, we would end up in Palamutbükü, Datça in the south of Turkey where my parents have a summer house.  We would spend entire days and nights on the beach.  That was outdoors.

Palamutbükü datca turkey
Jen, Vivienne & Me in Palamutbükü this summer
When I lived in France, we used to take day trips with my best friend, almost every Sunday, to the beautiful mountains and plains surrounding Montpellier. That was outdoors.
Then I came to US, and the term “outdoors” took a whole different meaning when my wife and I started camping.  Even while travelling around the globe yearly, we still make it a priority to take advantage of the vast and wonderful State and National Park system of United States.

sunset in playa negra costa rica
Playa Negra, Costa Rica
These camping trips make me appreciate the outdoors more than ever. Even on a cold fall evening, Jennifer and I usually opt for the chilly beach, instead of the warm restaurant steps behind us, counting the stars and listening to the roar of the pacific ocean…

couple on a beach in malibu
Malibu, California
Being a photographer, gives me tremendous opportunities to observe and document nature at its best. Photo shoots take me to outdoor locals far and wide and whether it is cold or hot, it doesn’t matter… I love being there.  Away from the city. Somewhat unplugged.  Any and all opportunity to be out under a blue sky or under a blanket of stars are welcome!

shopping cart on a barren desert floor
Bombay Beach, The Salton Sea
I never pass up an opportunity to get down on the floor for the pure pleasure of seeing and documenting the world from a different angle….

mushroom in a field in iowa
Bettendorf, Iowa
The thing is, since Vivienne arrived and brought an endless joy to our lives, our camping trips, our outdoor activities, even going to the park, has gotten way more interesting and fun.  This does not mean they are not challenging.  For instance, I would never again set our tent on the edge of a cliff looking down to Pacific Ocean from the high coast of Big Sur, at least for a little while! What you see in the following photograph, is the view from the door of our tent around 3am.

camping in big sur
Big Sur, California
I am extremely happy and grateful that I will be able to share all these experiences with my daughter.  I know Jennifer will present a glimpse of all our upcoming adventures with you.
Let me finish by saying this:  I am very proud of Jennifer for first providing a vehicle for our daughter to be active, to learn to connect to nature.  I am proud of her for creating the Mommy Hiker community and starting this blog.  I know the work she puts into it along with her writing, producing and acting career and I am always impressed how she is so patient, educative and loving towards Vivienne while she is handling everything else.  And finally, I am so proud of all the moms and kids (and dads of course) who are part of this Mommy Hiker community.  I look forward to the photography updates of the weekly hikes you all are enjoying on Fridays.  I will make an effort to catch another one of those soon.  Until than, stay well!

hiking in big sur california with an infant
Jen, Vivienne & Me in Big Sur, California