Brian woke me up early the next morning. “You have to look out the window, right now!” he said to me excitedly.
I groaned. I had fallen asleep, curled up in a ball on the mini couch, clenching my stomach. The night had been great until we got back to our cabin and I had suddenly become very sick. I was puking until I couldn’t puke anymore, and then Mike started puking as well. It turned out that the quesadillas that we had both eaten for lunch that day had given both of us food poisoning. Fortunately, Mike gave me an antiemetic which quelled my nausea and allowed me to finally go to sleep. But it had been a short and fitful sleep. And so when Brian first woke me up early that morning, the last thing I wanted to do was move. I was scared even the slightest physical exertion would make me sick again.
But he sounded really excited, and so I let him lead me out of our little cabin and outside to the porch. I was amazed at what I saw. Right in front of us, directly in the valley before us, was one of the brightest and most intense rainbows I had ever seen in my life. It looked close enough to touch. I felt like we could just walk down that valley and find the base of the rainbow.
After a rough night of central american food poisoning, this morning rainbow was a sign to me that everything was going to be fine. And just like that, I was in love with Costa Rica again.
Some rainbows fade rapidly. This one lasted forever, continuously growing brighter as time passed. Omnia and Mike were awake as well, and we were all marveling at this perfect way to start the last day of the year.
That’s right! It was the last day of the year! As I stood on the porch in the warm air, watching the brilliant rainbow shining before me, it was almost hard to believe that it was December 31st. But indeed, today was the last day of 2015. We had planned to pack up our stuff and leave Monteverde early. Our next destination was a beach town called Jacó. The New Years celebration there was supposed to be fantastic.
The drive down the mountain to the town of Jacó was fairly uneventful. This is one of the only drives on our vacation that I can say was uneventful. We got to Jacó early in the day and found the Israeli Air BnB that we had booked. Our first surprise of the day came as soon as we got to the Air BnB. The lady working there told us that the town had run out of money.
At first, we didn’t understand what she was talking about. So she repeated and then elaborated on her statement. There was no money in the town. If we wanted money, which we would definitely need, we should go to a neighboring town immediately and hope some of the banks or ATMs still had money.
This was one of the biggest culture shocks I had in Costa Rica. In the US, a town running out of money was unheard of. I still didn’t even understand how this was possible. We drove out of Jacó and into a nearby town, where we were lucky to find an ATM and stock up on some cash. But it still didn’t make any sense. How does a town run out of money???
After that unusual detour, we returned to town, got some amazing food, and went back to the hotel. This ended up being a really wonderful place to stay. There was a hammock outside our room. There was an outdoor bar and restaurant. There was a swimming pool. And there were a ton of people everywhere just partying, having a great time, and listening to music. The atmosphere was really great.
Around 9:00 PM, we decided to go explore the town. It was New Years Eve, so surely this town would be overrun with wild and excited people celebrating the new year! However, this was not the case. We wandered around but the town was mostly dead. It was New Years Eve! We had heard that Jacó was supposed to have a great celebration, but the streets were mostly empty and the beach was totally deserted as well. The more we walked around though, the more we found that although this town did indeed live up to it’s reputation of being “seedy”, it didn’t seem to be a very exciting party town.
We spent a long time exploring Jacó and looking for excitement. But eventually we decided to find a spot on the beach and just relax. Nothing else was happening in this town, so we might as well just enjoy the wonderful night on the playa de Costa Rica.
And indeed, it was a beautiful night. The temperature was perfect. The air was crisp. The sound of the ocean waves were relaxing. And I was just having a great time hanging out with my friends on a beach in Costa Rica. We took turns going into the ocean. The water was warm and amazing. I can still remember the feel of those waves washing against me and the sand dissolving under my feet. It was really starting to hit me. I was walking in the ocean in Central America. I was in a totally new and wonderful part of the world. My old life was far away, and this fantastic journey was transforming me into a new person. Everything felt wonderful. We were enjoying ourselves so much, that we didn’t even notice that the beach was gradually getting more and more crowded as midnight approached.
Suddenly it was a few minutes until midnight, and the beach was CROWDED. It happened so gradually that we didn’t even realize it. But now, the entire town was out here! The beach was buzzing with energy and excitement. It was New Years Eve!!!
And then it began.
The fireworks. Colorful rockets started to fill the sky. Hundreds and hundreds of fireworks were being launched off from end to end of the beach. I don’t think I have ever seen this many fireworks at once. The more rockets that were launched, the louder the crowds on the beach roared. The fireworks completely consumed the sky. They were shaking the world around us. Their explosions were tearing a hole in the atmosphere. The screams from the crowd on the beach were intense. The energy of the town was incredible. The fireworks increased, faster and louder, until they reached a frenzied colorful finale that left us all screaming, cheering, and finally gasping for breath.
And to think, we were scared this town’s new years celebration was going to disappoint us.
We were feeling awesome. After the show, we went back to our hotel room for a few minutes to regroup. We left all of our important things in the room, changed into our swimming suits, and headed back to the beach. By the time we returned, the beach was more or less empty and the ocean was ours to explore. It was the middle of the night and the air was so warm, the water was so warm. I felt free and happy. Freedom was becoming a recurring theme on this trip.
We stayed on the beach swimming in the ocean until late in the night. Afterwards, we went back to the hotel and watched the sun rise. Most everybody eventually got some sleep…
January 1st was a relax and recover day. We had no real plans to go anywhere. Which was a good thing, because Mike was starting to get really sick. He definitely needed to take the day and just rest and recover.
The hostel we were staying at was really amazing. There were all these Israelis who were just partying around the pool all day. They were blasting loud music, hanging out by the pool, in the sun, on the swings by the bar. There was always this fun and energetic vibe at the hostel and I was really glad we ended up in such an great place.
We took advantage of the day and set out to explore the town in the sunlight. Jacó was seedy even in the day, but not unbearably so. We wandered around all the shops finding fun gifts for our friends. We returned to the beach in the day time and it was still amazing and beautiful.
It had been a long day for me, and slowly evening melted into night time. Everyone went to sleep, but I had a lot on my mind. It was the perfect temperature, and so I relaxed in the hammock outside our room, thinking about everything that had happened on the vacation so far, until I slowly drifted to sleep.
Everything was perfect.