When Chelsea and I decided to spend a night in Liberia, we thought of it as a short pit-stop. We would sleep, see the Llanos de Cortes, then book it to Tamarindo.
That's still basically what we did, but our entire time in Liberia ended up being way more interesting then we ever expected.
It is all about the people you meet along the way
Something I continue to learn when I travel is that experience has less to do with the places you go and more to do with the people you meet. The day we left Monteverde for Liberia was a perfect example of that.
First we were on a shuttle with a fairly chatty guy from SF that in on a plane just about every week and is only in Costa Rica for 4 days. About halfway through our drive we changed shuttles and on the new shuttle I befriended a brother and sister from Germany who were vacationing in Costa Rica for 4 weeks. Somehow we ended up discussing global politics, religion, ISIS, and, of course, travel.
I thought I had reached the day's quota of interesting people, but then we met our host, Jorge. The minute we arrived at the AirBnb, we dove into a discussion about global development, identity, and the gentrification of Costa Rica, which somehow became a discussion about the occult and psychedelic drugs.
After all this, Chelsea and I shared a pretty quiet lunch in town and were in no rush to put ourselves out there. We meandered a little, but quickly agreed we were ready to rest at the house, and came back to Plumeria B&B.
That's when we met Nance and our planned down time became an unexpected (and absolutely delightful) discussion with a new friend. Nance is a pilot for Southwest and has been all over the world. We talked about travel and shared stories from the places we'd been. Then she asked Chelsea what she was studying and that led to an extensive discussion about psychology and human nature.
By the time we were sitting alone in our room that night, Chelsea and I were both grinning in disbelief. Chelsea put it best when she said, "It's like NYC where there are so many different and unique characters, only here you actually interact with them".
Feels Like Home
There have been quite a few times in Costa Rica when I've thought to myself, "this feels like California". The pristine beaches covered with surfers, the hot sunshine all day long, the friendly people who aren't afraid to say hello... not to mention that everyone I have met is either from California, moved to California, or has been there and loves it.
That being said, Plumeria B&B really did stand out as being the most homey place we stayed. Jorge was a generous host who made us feel right at home the minute we arrived, but it was the home itself that was so inviting.
The place was gorgeous, impeccably clean, and perfectly decorated. Our room had a sliding door into the garden and a main door into the living room. We had full range of the house, so we were able to cook dinner for ourselves, play with the pet cat and bunny, and climb to the roof to stargaze.
It was the best wifi we have had in Costa Rica and there were two luxurious couches, so neither of us felt much motivation to leave.
The next morning we woke up (sans alarm for once) to the smell of something delicious cooking. Upon closer inspection, we discovered that Jorge was busy in the kitchen cooking up an incredible breakfast.
It was without a doubt the best breakfast, and one of the best meals, we have had in Costa Rica. The fresh fruit and hot coffee would have been enough to make me happy, but it was quickly followed by a traditional Costa Rican meal: gallo pinto (beans and rice) with eggs, fried plantains, a tortilla, chimichurri (tomato salad), avocado, and grilled cuajada (local smoked cheese).
It was an amazing and filling breakfast, which was perfect, because we had a long day ahead...
Our private tour of the Llanos de Cortes
Jorge was good enough to bring us to the Llanos de Cortes, a powerful and gorgeous waterfall less than an hour from Liberia. I imagine there are hundreds of ways to book a tour to the waterfall, but Chelsea and I were both glad we decided to go with Jorge.
We didn't just see the waterfall. After we parked, Jorge led us on a rocky trail to the top of the Llanos de Cortes were we could watch the water crash on the people below.
We then crossed the waterfall and continued on a less groomed trail. Less groomed is putting it nicely... we climbed over fallen trees as tall as Chelsea and navigated slowly down hills of rocks. It was no easy trek, especially not since we were both wearing sandals. Plus, we were walking the opposite way of the waterfall!
I was questioning our route and I could only imagine that Chelsea was full of doubt. Then we turned a corner and discovered the most magical place: a private swimming hole surrounded by massive rocks tucked under towering trees. Birds sang, a gentle waterfall trickled down the rocks, the sun felt less aggressively hot... basically the heavens opened.
We swam, we climbed rocks, we laughed, and we felt particularly blessed to have the lives we have. And that was all before we even reached the Llanos de Cortes. When we did reach the main attraction, we were once again amazed by the power and beauty of nature.
At the main waterfall we were far from alone. But that also has its benefits as we had the opportunity to make friends with some random Canadians who gave us free popcorn. And trust me when I say life feels pretty close to perfect when you are snacking on free popcorn at a waterfall in Costa Rica.
Neither of us expected much from Liberia, but the whole experience delivered and we left for Tamarindo that afternoon feeling as though we couldn't have made a better decision. For anyone else planning a trip to Costa Rica, I highly recommend making a short pit stop in Liberia, staying where we stayed, and touring the Llanos de Cortes.