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  • Niki Harry

Costa Rica - Our 25th Anniversary Trip

Updated: Apr 23, 2019

This tradition started on our 5th wedding anniversaries. Mike and Lidia share the same anniversary year with us and it started off with the group going to Aruba way back when. So every 5 years the group goes together and the rule is we have to choose someplace that no one has been to before.

This year that place was Costa Rica. And we all absolutely loved it. We stayed at the WESTIN GOLF RESORT AND SPA and we can’t talk highly enough about it. The resort was massive. It was clean. The pool area was beautiful. The food was great. It is also a gaited community with houses and condos that you can either buy or rent and live there full time. I ended up taking morning walks by myself and felt very safe. I would walk about 6 kilometres within the complex, taking in the sights and sounds of the howler monkeys and various wildlife. I also fell in love with the people. Costa Ricans are one of the nicest and friendliest people I have met.

There is such an abundance and variety of plants, birds, flowers and wildlife everywhere you look.

There were massive iguanas everywhere but this one in particular hung out near the pool area daily and we discovered that they love to eat hibiscus flowers.

Part of the group was there for 1 week and part were there for 2 weeks. We did some touring around the countryside. We got to see how the locals live. We got to see a bit of wildlife. We relaxed. We had some good laughs. And we had a great reunion with our friend Karen.

Karen and Ged, our friends from England, join us on these anniversary trips. Sadly we lost Ged last year to a horrible illness but we convinced Karen to come on her own. These trips would not be the same without them. But this one was a bit more subdued & somber and a few tears were shed as we toasted to dear Ged – missing him and his heavy British accent that I could never understand. All the crazy laughter we had. Rest in Peace dear friend. You will be forever missed. But we are so glad to have Karen in our lives and to have her continue on with the tradition.

A member of the raccoon family, they are called “white-nosed coatimundi, or coati” – they would steal whatever they could and would go as far as opening bags, dragging your items away. We even saw one attempting to drag a camera away. They are very friendly & quite harmless.

One day the entire group did a party boat excursion... it was just our crew. Fantastic day as they took us out and around the coast line and we drank, swam, danced and even got to do some fishing as well.

Came back at sunset with the full moon on one side and gorgeous sunset on the other.

A MUST in Costa Rica – Zipling! We drove 4 hours across the country to get to Arenal volcano and the rain forest. This is Arenal Lake.. the biggest lake in Costa Rica and one which provides electricity to the country. Arenal volcano is still active.

And I finally got to see a sloth. Such bizarre creatures but I love them.

A bunch of construction workers caught me stealing a photo of them from the car we were in!

The trees in Costa Rica are phenomenal – so massive and beautiful.

​Tamarindo – the top surf and party destination. We were going for some shopping and sightseeing and loved it so much we decided to stay for the evening. We wandered around, had drinks and waited for the gorgeous sunset before having dinner at one of the local restaurants.

All around our resort were howler monkeys. You could hear them every morning and every evening but they were hard to spot. They moved around the jungle very quickly. But Donna and I were bound and determined to find them and get some photos. One of the locals gave us a tip: every day around 10:30 they were at the front gate of the resort in the jungle, lounging around in the tree tops. They mainly eat top canopy leaves in the early morning. They have to be careful not to eat too many leaves of certain species in one sitting, as some contain toxins that can poison them. The digestion process makes them feel drunk & tired so this is when the monkeys chill out and lay around. So we thought it was a good idea to tromp through the jungle and try to find them and WE DID! We were so excited even though we were getting eaten alive by mosquitos (later I’m thinking to myself “hmmm…mosquitos that feed on monkeys first, then on us.. malaria maybe!?”)

The monkeys were too lazy to howl at us so I tried everything to get them p*ssed off so that I could record them. I started shaking the trees as hard as I could, and sure enough they got really p*ssed off at me and started to go crazy. I did capture a short video, trying not to fall down a steep ravine! The mother with the baby was not impressed with me at all and they all started to come down from the trees, at which point Donna and I did a quick exit out of the jungle!! Later I found out that if you really irritate them, they will get aggressive and possibly attack. yeah, yeah, I know. Not the smartest thing in the world! But we got to see & hear our howler monkeys!

While we were checking out the monkeys, Frank & John went zip lining.

The second week, John and I did a hiking tour at one of the volcanos. We got to see bubbling mud pots and steam coming out from the ground, just like in Iceland. We hiked through thick jungle and REALLY lucked in by seeing the elusive spider monkeys within 5 minutes of our hike!

The jungle was dark and the monkeys are super fast, so it was almost impossible to get a photo but these monkeys really freaked me out because they were so big and very human like! Their arms and legs are long and exactly the same length. I got very creeped out by them but was so happy we got to get a quick glimpse.

Frank, Donna, John and I went on a river boat excursion one day. Along the way from the tour van we saw this guy go by us. At first I didn't notice anything odd, just loved the photo opportunity, until Frank said " Love the t-shit!" HA! Honestly.. in the middle of Costa Rica a local farmer guy is wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs shirt!

We got to the river and spent a couple of hours going up and down to look for wildlife. We lucked in and saw the 3rd type of monkey found in Costa Rica: the white faced monkey. They were really far off in the trees and we could not get off the boat, but luckily we were able to get some shots with our zoom lenses.

Most rivers in Costa Rica have crocodiles and this river was full of them.

​The consensus? All of us agreed that we would definitely go back and spend more time there. I would love to explore more of the remote areas of the country for the photographic & wildlife opportunities. Someday maybe… but can’t wait to see where we will all end up on our 30th wedding anniversaries!

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