I recently returned from the Costa Rica Caribbean Experience trip. I hadn’t been out of the country since college, so I thought this would be a fun break before working this summer and an opportunity to work on my Spanglish. The group was a total of eight people, a mix of DC (Courtney, Jenn, and Faina), NYC (me, Julie, Steph, and Josh), and LA (Isobel). The group was all female except for our one pimp, Josh. We immediately decided that our trip would be a real-life Bachelor, and we’d all fight to the death for the final rose. Pulling a “Brad Womack,” Josh ended up giving the final rose to no one.
San Jose: Most of us arrived in San Jose on Friday and spent Shabbat with the Reform Jewish community of San Jose. The service that night was led by the sisterhood. The interesting part was that most of the men were American and their wives were Costa Rican women who had converted to Judaism. On Saturday morning, a few people opted to take a day-trip to the crater of the active Poas volcano. I kinda did the whole volcano thing when I was 15 in Costa Rica, so I decided to walk around San Jose looking for tchochkes for my niece and nephew.
On Sunday morning we left for a day of white-water rafting on the Pacuare river. We were lucky enough to have a very-attractive river-guide, Berto, who had no faith that a boat of six women and one guy would make it down the rapids without anyone falling out. Our boat was appropriately named “Berto’s Bitches.” Despite Josh’s large size, Berto demoted Josh from lead paddler to the back of the raft because “he’s a bad listener.” Ouch!
Puerto Viejo: Our tour next took us to Puerto Viejo, a Rastafarian surfer town on the Caribbean coast (the locals’ ancestors came over from Jamaica in the 19th century to work in the banana plantations). This portion of the tour was lead by Junior, a chef whose mother supposedly runs the most famous restaurant in Puerto Viejo. I’m pretty sure Ami and Junior were gay lovers at some point, because every-other word out of Ami’s mouth was “Junior-this” and “Junior-that…” During our stay, we went to the beach, walked around town, ziplined through the jungle, visited a native village and made chocolate, took a kosher-style Caribbean cooking class, and went on a nature walk to the Gandoca Manzanillo wildlife refuge. A few dogs began following our group on the nature walk. Since there were no guys on the trip, I decided the cutest of the dogs, Pinto, would be my new boyfriend. He was very loyal, kept quiet, and followed our group the whole way on the trail.
Tortuguerro: After Puerto Viejo, we loaded our suitcases on a tiny boat to get to Tortaguerro. (Ami told us to pack light, but of course he forgot he was talking to a group of Jewish girls.) To get there, we took a three-hour boat-ride though a crocodile-infested canal and got about as close as 10 feet away. Unfortunately I was on the shore-side of the boat and cuddled with Courtney so she would keep me safe from the massive crocs. The next morning, I opted out of the 6am boat ride to the Tortuguero National Park and met up with the group for the nature walk after breakfast. The girls and I soon learned that the neighboring resort offered couples massages for $40 for 1 hr including boat transportation! So Courtney, Jenn, Julie and I took advantage of this. Not gonna lie, it was a little unsettling to be naked next to another girl during the couples massage, but anything for a $40 massage! At night, Willis, a local guide, took us on a night walk along the beach to try and spot the massive sea turtles coming in to lay their eggs. To our surprise, after 5 minutes we came upon a Hawksbill turtle, one of the most endangered of the sea turtles – truly an amazing sight!
The Farm (Finca Rio Perla): The final stop on our trip was a Jewish-owned farm, and these were by far the most rustic of the accommodations. There were a number of cute dogs on the farm, one who even resembled Pinto. So I decided to replace my boyfriend, Pinto, with another dog, Toby. On the farm some of us milked cows (Isobel was fearless!), rode on horses, made cheese, made ice cream, swam in some amazing waterfalls, caught our own red-snapper dinner, and watched Superbad. It was a great 9 days away from the craziness of NYC with a fascinating and outgoing group of people. Ami always had every aspect of the trip well-organized, and we always felt like we were in good hands. To see more pictures from our adventure, check out the trip’s fan-page.
The next Costa Rica Caribbean Experience for Young Jewish Professionals will take place from August 11 – 19, 2012!
There is a special deal for GTJ fans: Use the code ‘GTJCosta8’ while registering to take $180 off the cost of the trip if you register for the August trip by July 5!
For more info as well as the full itinerary, check out the trip’s website here.
About the trip: This trip offers a diverse adventure that combines the Caribbean Highlands of Costa Rica – with its breathtaking tropical beaches. It begins with a whitewater rafting run down to the Caribbean Lowlands, with their beaches, unique flora and fauna, active nightlife, and indigenous culture – where we will also participate in a day of service benefiting one of the communities; it continues with a visit to Tortuguero National Park, with its majestic jungle canals and the late-night ritual of endangered turtle nesting on its beach; and it ends in the highlands, with their lush mountainous rainforest, waterfalls, freshwater pools and serenity – spending Shabbat while based at a cool Jewish owned eco-farm on the slopes of Volcan Turrialba. You can also add on an optional Shabbat experience with the San Jose Jewish Community before the trip begins.