1 Year of Whitmanythoughts

A few days ago, a sweet little memory popped up on Facebook: my first blog post on Whitmanythoughts. I cannot believe it has been a year since I started writing about my travels. I feel like I have written so much, yet have so much more to share.

I have expressed over and over again how amazing of a year it has been and how thankful I am for all I have gotten to experience. From traveling around Europe for two weeks with my grandfather to skiing in Park City, Utah with my dad, it has been a thrilling ride.

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I often wonder what will happen to my blog after I finish my time here in Australia. I know I won’t actually be traveling for quite some time, so I won’t have so many new and exciting things to write about. I can definitely see my content changing a bit to adapt to my (not as cool) lifestyle back at home. I do want to focus on my feelings a bit more and incorporate them into my writing so it is not so cut and dry. In the end, I realize I control my blog and as long as I like it, everything is dandy. In reality, every day is a new adventure, and I know I will have things to talk about.

Plus, this is WhitmanyTHOUGHTS for a reason: I have oodles of thoughts and I want to share them. I have so many things constantly swirling through my mind that I would love to turn into “thought” posts. I am not looking for fame with this site, and I am so happy with the 100 followers that I have. Although it would be nice to turn this blog into something larger in the future, I am so contented writing for the sake of my own memory and for my family.

I do have so much to still share. I have posts from my weekend getaways in Italy last summer as well as my extended trips in Australia this semester saved in my computer, yearning to see the light. Although I won’t be “traveling,” I have so many exciting things coming up in the second half of the year, from summer at the shore to a Fall Concert Series 2.0 to hopefully spending some time with international visitors…but I will just keep it at that.

My global travels may soon be over, but the adventures continue. Life is beautiful.  It is not always perfect, but one thing I have been reminding myself is that life does not give me obstacles that I cannot handle. Here’s to the last year of travel, here’s to my time left in Australia and here is to the next year of Whitmanythoughts.

Whitmanythought1: This has been the most epic year of my life and I am so thankful.

Whitmanythought2: How do I still have friends on Facebook with all the posts I share?

Whitmanythought3: Can I just keep travelling for another year?

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Costa Rica 2016

I never thought I would visit Costa Rica. I never thought it would have the impact on me that it did. I am so thankful I got to experience the people, the food and the sights this country has to offer. Hopefully I will be back one day to see more.

Until then, I can play this video of memories over and over.

Costa Rica Day 5: Relax and Rejoice

We got back from our ATV adventure around 2:30 in the afternoon and we were not exactly sure what to do. My dad was set on surfing, but also wanted to go to the shops and take the golf cart for a spin, my sister wanted to relax and I just wanted to do something. After a little bit of debate, we decided to have a more relaxing afternoon and explore the campus of the Marriot and then hit the beach.

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I had never driven a golf cart prior to this trip, so driving it was quite exciting. We took it up, down and around the pavement stone streets of the resort before heading to the local beach. The beaches here are not as much for taking a towel and laying on like the ones at home. People do hang out there, but it is not quite like I am used to. We decided to walk up the shore a bit and we noticed a lot of debris. Apparently that is because there are several rivers that feed into the bay around the corner from this beach that pick up garbage and carry it through into the ocean. As we were leaving the beach, we spotted some macaws, which was the first time I saw them in the wilderness. The birds are so elegant when they soar through the air and their feathers are so vivid in color.

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We drove back to the hotel where we did our own thing until dinner time. I took this as a chance to get one more dip in the pool, which I did earlier in the morning prior to breakfast. How many times will I be in an infinity pool overlooking the ocean in Costa Rica? Unless I am marrying a celebrity, I needed to take advantage of this opportunity. My dad also joined me, as I suspected, so that was nice as well.

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Finally, it was time for dinner and we all piled in the truck and ventured off to a stunning boutique hotel on the edge of a cliff that has a huge amphitheater that overlooks the water. It was dark once we got there, but if you look here, you can see what I am talking about. The grounds were gorgeous and the food was absolutely delicious. The coolest thing we discovered was the noise of large frogs. It is hard to explain it, but it sounded like the motor of a tiny motorcycle off in the distance. Once we had enough of the bugs trying to eat us, we headed home to pack.

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Tuesday night was the perfect ending to a remarkable vacation. I never thought I would visit Costa Rica, let alone zip line, ATV and boat through the rainforest, interact with the monkeys, catch 40-50 pound tuna or swim in an infinity pool overlooking a beautiful coastline. I was sure lucky to do this and I hope one day I can live like this again. Until then, Pura Vida!

 

 

Day 5: Off-roading Adventure

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A school in the mountains

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.

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The Macaw Lodge

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.

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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.

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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!