I cannot believe this is my last day in paradise. Of course, we packed it with exciting adventure.
After breakfast, we drove to Jaco once again not to surf, but to rent ATVs. These are basically like mini jeeps for off-roading. It was very simple to rent them, and within a few minutes of filling out papers and petting the place’s dogs, we were on our way.
Luckily, Mr. and Mrs. Kopp have done this several times before, so we didn’t have to worry about getting lost. This was another first for me on this trip, and I was ecstatic to go explore the rain forest. It was extremely intriguing to see so many homes lower in the mountains. It was so fascinating because these people are living in the middle of the rain forest, yet have beautiful ranches, landscaping and pools to make gorgeous properties. There was a decent amount of homes for sale along the way, and I wondered how often a house sells back there.
Our first stop was at the peak of one of the mountains that overlooked the valley. I was surrounded by lush green trees and plants below me and it was a sight to see. It was a bit foggy, and there were clouds below and above us.
Our next location was through a private property we paid extra for to gain entry. The locals use our entrance fee to survive and upkeep the area. Being in the mountains, they need to be resourceful when it comes to making money. The roads here, as well as the rest of the roads on which we traveled, were dirt and simply carved and flattened into the mountain. The dirt is a rich red and very moist, so it is perfect for packing. The roads in this private area were lined with drainage along the side as well as small trenches dug into the road that fall off into the roadside runoff system.
After some long and twisting downhill riding, we reached our destination: a small waterfall coming down the mountain that lead into a creek. Although I realize there are waterfalls much more grand than this one, it was still a beautiful sight to see—and climb. How could I not climb up the waterfall and see more? It was basically calling my name. Climbing it was fun, although I was scared to touch something poisonous or run into an unfriendly critter. After exploring the area and taking in the soothing noise of fresh water flowing naturally through the mountain, we were off to our next stop.
After the waterfall, we drove through another town deep in the mountains. These homes were also impressive. There were stores as well as a school and a church lining the roads. What baffled us the most was the fact that people somehow moved all the materials necessary to build the town, or pueblo, in the middle of the rain forest.
We rode through the town and found our way back to dirt trails which eventually lead us to a few attractions. We passed a “Tarzan Swing,” which is basically a platform you jump from hundreds of feet in the air and once you feel like you’re about to fall to the ground, it starts swinging and you get a beautiful and adrenaline-filled view of the valley. My dad was freaking out about it, but I secretly wanted to give it a try.
We were headed to the Macaw Botanical Garden, which I thought was just another lookout point on the mountain where we could see some macaws. I was wrong. This is like a peaceful nature resort in the middle of the rain forest where people can travel to for relaxation, hiking and the enjoyment of nature. The main building was completely composed of wood and it was an open tetra decagon (I’m not quite sure about the shape) with an open lounge area and bathrooms on the bottom floor and a few rooms on the top floor. The getaway had minimal electricity, no Wi-Fi and no internal conditioning system. This is definitely a place to which I would escape to find a peace of mind away from the hustle and bustle of my own life. The gardens surrounding it were huge: there were cabins, yoga platforms, multiple ponds beautifully landscaped by lotus flowers, pineapples, black and red bamboo and hundreds of other types of beautiful plants. I only saw a small part of the grounds, but I was in awe. It sounded beautiful as well, with sounds coming from birds and reptiles alike. I would love to hear how it sounds at night.
Finally, we needed to head back, considering we were hours over the rental time for which we paid. We hauled back, occasionally stopping for pictures of the terraced farms, cows and horses. We also passed some more homes that were smaller and more shack-like, but still served their purpose and were just as easy to admire. To our surprise, we found a large log cabin that looked like it belonged in Vermont.
Our ride home was fast and fun—until we got a flat tire. Luckily we had cell phone service, so we dialed the ATV rental shop and they came to our rescue. It was an incredible experience I will never forget and the perfect way to end a great vacation. However, the day was not done yet!