Pura Vida: My Costa Rican Adventure (Part 1)

I’m finally posting about my Costa Rica trip that I took in April! At least I only waited two months to post about it, rather than the year and a half it took for me to get around to posting about that time I went to Alaska. Better late than never, my friends!

I was chatting with a friend about my trip, and after my “what I did in 20 words or less” response, his reply was, “Wow, your trip sounded just like all of those travel brochures for a Costa Rican adventure!” Reflecting back, it totally was.

I first found out about this trip to Costa Rica last fall, when the Girls Gone WOD podcast posted about hosting a CrossFit retreat in their monthly newsletter. I’m a GGW superfan, and I instantly knew I wanted to go. It was around my birthday when I talked to Hulk about it, so he said, “How about this trip is my gift to you? Happy Birthday!” Total win-win! So I booked it for myself, not having a clue as to who I was going with or what exactly it would entail other than daily CrossFit workouts. But it was a guided trip with Under30 Experiences, they had good reviews, so what did I have to lose except to make some new CrossFit friends and do burpees on a beach followed by tacos?

My trip started with a drop off at the international terminal at SFO. I was a little nervous because for whatever reason, my airline didn’t offer online check-in. Or TSA Precheck. So I had to, you know, go to the counter like all of the common travel plebeians and obtain my boarding pass. But whatever, I got to the airport early enough to snap some pre-boarding selfies in the rush of OMGIMGOINGTOCOSTARICA excitement.

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My flight was a red-eye that connected through Panama City. So I got approximately 34 minutes of sleep, because I found after my last red-eye experience that I do not sleep on planes. But there were plenty of free in-flight movies, so I just watched “Arrival” a couple times (OMG so good!) and landed without issue in Panama City for my connection.

It was a quick flight from Panama City to San Jose, and I made it out of customs and wandered to the cafe where I was supposed to meet my group. I arrived around 8am, and my group wasn’t to leave until 1:00, so I was basically the first one there. I had tons of time to hang out … and drink LOTS of coffee. The coffee there is so good! Like angels roasted it. Then I noticed a couple of girls that appeared American and were wearing spandex a few tables over. One had an EmPack. So I figured they were on my trip and introduced myself. We joked that I introduced myself wrong. I should have walked up and asked, “Do you know ..?” If you’re a Girls Gone WOD podcast listener, you may get that inside joke. “Do you know the CrossFit?”

The rest of the group gradually trickled in, and we made introductions with each other as we loaded the bus to drive us to the beach for our first workout, then to our hotel which was a couple hours’ drive away. There were 20 people on our trip, and three guides. I knew nobody except for Joy and Claire, who would be joining us that evening, and even then I know them from the podcast, but they don’t know me. Not awkward at all! But many of us were traveling solo so we were all in the same boat.

We made a stop halfway through the drive to use bathrooms, grab some local snacks at the roadside shop, and see some crocodiles. Because why not? I picked up some sea salt and lime flavored plantain chips, and they were amazing. Then one of my new friends offered me some strange fruit I didn’t recognize – green mango. To me, mango is usually yellow and very sweet. These were green, firm, and lightly sweet. After my first bite I decided that I must have my own to devour, so I purchased a small container. The guy ringing me up asked if I wanted lime juice and salt on them. I asked, “Is that how you eat them?” when he said yes, I said to local me up! Realize it’s like 90 degrees and a jungle, so very humid climate. We were all engulfed in about seven layers of sweat at this point. Eating that citrus-y, salty, cool mango in the muggy heat was heavenly. It was a great introduction to the whole trip experience.

Then we took a short walk down the road onto a bridge over a river. A river swarming with large crocodiles.

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They were probably something like 8-10 feet long. And just up the river you see cattle grazing. Snack?

We got to the Playa Hermosa beach and suited up for a beach workout. We met Donny, our coach for the trip. After a warm-up we split up into teams of 3 for a team workout:

12-min AMRAP in teams of 3 cycle through the following movements:

  • Bear crawl 50m(ish?)
  • Air squat or squat jumps
  • Hollow rocks or situps

Start with two lines about 50m apart. Persons 1 and 2 start on one line and Person 3 starts on the other line. As Person 1 bear crawls between Persons 2 and 3, Person 2 air squats/jumps and Person 3 hollow rocks/sit-ups. Once Person 1 reaches Person 3, they switch and Person 3 bear crawls back to Person 2 and Person 1 takes over air squats/jumps. When Person 3 reaches Person 2, they switch. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I was so, so sandy after that. I mean, it’s sort of a “duh” thing, but really. Sand was everywhere. Everywhere. But then came the best part – I’m all sandy and sweat is dripping in my eyes and I’m roasting hot … so I jump into the ocean. The water is bathwater warm, but it feels amazing. We should always have an ocean dip after every workout. That is an experience.

After our swim, we cleaned up best we could in the nearby restaurant bathroom then had dinner. The restaurant was on the beach (I wish I remembered the name!) and was open-air. As the faint coastal breeze blew in, we were served on tables made of huge, raw slabs of lacquered wood. They were gorgeous. I had an amazing poke bowl, and after we ate we went around with ice breakers getting to know each other better.

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We got to our hotel later in the evening. As the bus parked and we started gather our stuff, a guy jumped on our bus and said, “Hey everyone, there’s a sloth on the power line above the road!” Turns out this was Matt, co-owner of Under30 Experiences and one of our guides for the week. Not some random guy that likes to alert tourists of interesting local animal activities. I had never been that close to a sloth before, it was hanging maybe 20 feet above the road from a power line, just chilling.

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So that was a pretty cool greeting.

At the hotel we were assigned our rooms and roommates, and settled in. Our rooms were so cute and spacious, with a hammock outside!

After getting settled in and showered up, we congregated by the pool for drinks and waited for Joy and Claire to arrive! YAYYY! When they got there, I was trying so hard not to be a goobery fangirl. It was hard. They were so sweet and gracious, and Claire kept remarking how awkward it is to introduce yourself to people who already know who you are, #sofamous. But they seemed exactly like I had imagined them from listening to the podcast for the past couple years – friendly, approachable, and fun. We all chatted with Joy and Claire for a bit, and then hit the hammocks. I was exhausted from the long day and the red-eye, and had no issues dropping off like a rock.

The next morning I woke up early-ish after a solid night of sleep and had breakfast. The breakfast was awesome. We had an option of an American-style of bacon, eggs, fruit, and toast, or the traditional Gallo Pinto that consists of eggs, rice and beans, a fresh tortilla, and plantians. I mean, COME ON that’s no contest. Give me all the plantains!

We then loaded up on the local bus to head to Manuel Antonio National Park for a nature hike, a beach workout, and some beach time. The nature walk did not disappoint. We saw all sorts of birds, some sloths, and TONS of monkeys! They were everywhere on the beach, and when we were workout out they kept trying to get in our stuff. I didn’t realize that they were so aggressive when it comes to food, and I had brought in some snacks to the park because, you know, you bring snacks on a hike and beach day, right? Anyway, I was nervous that my hidden snacks would attract the monkeys, but we were close enough to our bags and our stuff was safe.

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After the nature hike we gathered on the beach for another beach partner WOD

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Trade off with a partner on 5 Rounds of:

  • 36 jumping lunges (regular lunges for me)
  • 12 v-ups (situps for me)

MEANWHILE, every EMOM stop and do 12 burpees

Again, we all got super sandy. It was hard keeping my footing in the deep sand! After a few minutes Donny changed the EMOM movement from burpees to mountain climbers. I think my partner and I finished at around 9 or 10 minutes, because we lost count of how many burpees and mountain climbers we did! We cheered the rest of the groups on (at this point the EMOM changed to tuck jumps, SO glad I had finished already!) and then we all hit the water to de-sand and cool off.

After chilling in the water a bit, Donny organized a trail run for whoever wanted to go. I was pretty hot, but I really wanted to go on the run. The run was a short loop around the peninsula the beach was on, and we did 2 loops, so maybe 30 minutes, complete with lots of ups & downs (I love the downs!) and some gorgeous views of the ocean. I was totally the caboose and at one point Donny came back to make sure I was okay. I was starting to feel a bit dehydrated; my legs were super heavy and I felt sooo hot. We made it back to the group and he gave me some of his ice water, since my bottle was empty. WOW that ice water made a difference, and I was starting to feel a bit better. Pro tip: when you think you have enough water, bring some more anyway.

After the runners had jumped back in the ocean and cleaned up, we packed it in for lunch in a nearby restaurant. As we were walking out of the park, we passed by vendors selling coconut water … from real coconuts.

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There seriously is no better way to get your coconut water.

I had a beer with my lunch, which was delicious at the time but later maybe not the best move when I was already feeling dehydrated. We headed back to the hotel on the local bus, and on the way had the option to stop at a local coffee shop for some afternoon coffee. Um, YES. I had an iced coffee and the most amazing chocolate avocado mousse. Then we went back to the hotel where I promptly jumped into the pool.

After floating in the warm water and hanging out with everyone,  I got changed for dinner and hit up happy hour.

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Because why have one pina colada when you can have two? Dinner was a traditional casados with rice, beans, a green salad, fresh tortilla, veggies, and I chose pork as my meat. So, so good.

After dinner we hung out by the pool and recorded a podcast with Joy and Claire! It was crazy awesome to watch as well as listen. You could see their gestures and expressions where you can only guess what’s happening when you’re listening. It added another element to the show for sure! The podcast is Episode 197 of Girls Gone WOD Podcast if you want to listen! The best part was listening to the episode after it was released when I got home, and getting to live a little slice of this amazing week again!

Okay, I’ve bored you enough with Part One of my adventures. Go make it a great day, and I’ll see you again with Part Two!

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4 thoughts on “Pura Vida: My Costa Rican Adventure (Part 1)

  1. Yay I’ve been waiting for this. I always suck at posting trip recaps. I am only 1.5 years late on a few of the last Italy recaps and I didn’t post any of our Hawaii trip. Crap!

    I WANT all that food, especially the pina coladas & the poke bowl! Glad you had fun.

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