I’m on Jetblue flight in at John Fitzgerald Kennedy Airport, NYC buckled in my seat headed to Liberia, Costa Rica. Random thoughts of what adventures await me are constantly running through my head as I strategize, which free snacks I would over indulge and which movies will I watch on the five-hour direct flight. After five Linden’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, three Quaker fiber crisps, one King Nut Fancy Nut Mix and four Arizona Iced Tea’s, we’re close to landing. Prior to our final descent we’re flying over a Nicaraguan volcano and the pilot was gracious enough to tilt the plane a few degrees for us to get a better view of the volcano. How many times in life do you get the chance to peak into a volcano, kudos to Jetblue! It’s always the little things that count and the red carpet was officially rolled out for Pura Vida, translation “pure life”!
Leaving Liberia’s airport is a breeze as I dealt with immigration and customs. Now, I’m headed to Rincon del Viejo National Park on 45-minute drive to check into Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin.
Hacienda Guachipelin is a serene ranch style lodge with an unassuming entrance. The staff greets me with a musical xylophone ballet and fresh Guaro Sour (Guaro liquor, raw sugar, lime wedges). The 55-acre property can look deceiving with its tall shrubbery that prevents a panoramic view of the property, but it does leave me excited to see what is in store during my stay.
I just have to take their word for it when told that its 55-acres of land your standing on. After getting settle into the modest, Wi-Fi-equipped room I threw on my swim trunks to start the first adventure to the Rio Negro Hot Springs.
The bumpy ride on the gravel roads across the property gave perspective on how spread out the grounds really is. Later, I was greeted by more friendly staff and handed a towel followed by “pura vida”, after a 10 minute stroll down a dirt path you arrive to the bar and bathroom area.
I’m not a huge beer drinker, but I do delight in tasting local beers and option number one was an Imperial Beer. Shortly after the beer run, I descended down rock steps to a bridge equipped to handle only two people at a time.
The bridge reminded me of an Indian Jones movie except all the wooden planks were present. Once the short walk was complete, I arrived to the hot springs. My plan was to jump into the hot springs to relax but before that happens you pick up a paint brush to dip in a bowl full of mud to paint all over my body.
The mud is hot and it’s extremely fun to be a kid and use your body as a canvas for random body art or your neighbor can use you for fun.
The mud exfoliates the skin and makes it feel butter soft or at least I hope it has that affect on me. The process is to paint your entire body from head to toe, let the mud dry until it hardens, during that time lay out on the reclining chairs or drink some Imperial beer, then rise off the mud in an ice cold shower and finally hop into the hot spring pools to relax, chat with your friends or finish off your Imperial Beer.
The pools are extremely hot reaching over 100 F. But after the initial heat settles in your body begins to unwind. If the hot springs are too much, cool off in Rio Negro but be careful this part of the experience is at your own risk. If you look carefully, you can find a safe dip in the river to park your bum. A massage therapist is also on location to work out any stress you might have; adding to your Pura Vida experience!