We have been to Costa Rica before and stayed up in the mountains near Arenal and also spent a week on the Pacific coast. This time around, we wanted to check out the central and Caribbean side to see what it had to offer. We decided on Turrialba as our central hub for our stay due to its proximity to several volcanoes, historical sites, and canyoneering (our fave thing to do)!
There were several rental options, primarily owned by Americans which were all large and beautiful, and one owned by locals. After reading the reviews, several of surrounding rentals guests said the most memorable part of their trip was spending time with the local family who owned the rental place down the street. SOLD. For us traveling is about the experience, being immersed in a new culture, and making new friends abroad. We are always trying to seek out authentic restaurants and hangouts that the locals go to and try to pass over the more touristy trap places. What better way to do that than stay with locals?
This is the house we rented is called Natural Paradise, and is owned by the Rivera family, and their son Jose, is your personal guide for your stay. Natural paradise sits on the family's farm where they grow coffee, sugar cane and a variety of fruits and vegetables. The view from the deck is absolutely breathtaking, a sea of green trees, with birds everywhere. I mean everywhere, from hummingbirds whizzing by your head to toucans flying in the distance, this place is a bird lovers dream.
There was an option to pay a tiny bit extra and have all of our meals prepared for us by the matriarch of the family which we jumped on...home cooked meals by mom? Yes, please!! Every meal was amazing, and used fruits and veggies fresh from the farm. Every morning and evening Jose and his family would bring over fresh and delicious meal. We enjoyed sharing stories with Jose and his wife Darlene over the course of the week while we ate. We very much enjoyed the time spent with Jose and his family, and the guys event went and played soccer with Jose and several other locals in the community field (a highlight of the guys trip, btw).
We had several excursions planned for the week, including hikes on the volcanoes, visiting a historical site, canyoneering, and a special side trip to the sloth sanctuary. Jose not only helped us plan out our days, but he was also our personal tour guide for the week. He drove us to all the locations and was a wealth of information. I feel like we truly got a richer experience staying with the Rivera family than we would have otherwise. It felt like home away from home, even down to getting to hang out and play with the family dogs, Kussie, and Pinto!
I will post more about the trip in the upcoming weeks as I get more photos processed!