Deb: We were met at the airport by two guys with the biggest smiles in the world: Andrey, manager El Silencio Resort and Spa (our first stop), and Jimmy, our trusty driver. Andrey greeted us by saying, “Welcome home,” and as the day progressed, we could see just how proud they are of their country. And rightly so.
Phil: The generosity and hospitality of the Costa Ricans is even more wonderful than I remember from our last trip.
Barbara: Andrey asked us right away if we preferred to go straight to the hotel and unwind (something I would normally prefer), or if we wanted a tour of a coffee plantation. We all decided that if we could have just a quick bite first, then we’d be good to go for the coffee plantation.
Deb: They took us to a great little joint where we all had chicken and rice Costa Rican style. (Note to self: might be better to be a little nauseous on the winding roads than stoned out of my gourd on ONE Gravol.) Did make the trip to the coffee plantation a “trip” though.
Colin: I picked coffee beans. The red ones are the best ones. The workers can pick up to 20 bushels in 10 hours. I picked 15…. Beans… Took me a half hour. My back is killing me.
Just a side-Barb here: The coffee plantation is called Espirtu Santo and is a fair-trade co-op, with sales around the world and 10% of the their product staying right here in Costa Rica. Our lovely and gracious hostess, Carrie, was so engaging, friendly and informative, we wanted to take her with us.
Phil: To get to seventh heaven you have to go through some serious cloud. They don’t call it a rain/cloud forest for nothing. Visibility on the road between the coffee plantation and the hotel was at times only a foot ahead of the headlights on roads best suited for all-terrain vehicles.
Deb: It was only the constant reassurance from Andrey that Jimmy could drive this road with his eyes closed that assuaged any panic.
Barbara: And then we arrived at El Silencio Lodge and Spa! Oh man. Gorgeous, peaceful, lovely sanctuary. A 5-Leaf hotel (which signifies the highest compliance with eco-friendly practices that a hotel can have). Phil kept saying that he never expected a hotel with such high environmental standards to feel so posh, comfortable, and decadent.
Deb and Barbara: So we will sign off tonight fire-side in the dining room, sipping a lovely glass of red wine and awaiting our first dinner in Costa Rica. Just so you guys know, we’re under no obligation from the Costa Rica tourism board to say any of this, so trust us when we tell you that anything we say will be a reflection of our true experience in this country. Thank you Gift of Happiness.