Around Cahuita, Costa Rica

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Exploring Cahuita National Park

Happy Thursday! Today I am going to share the second half of my trip to Costa Rica. You can read about how I spent my time in San Jose here. After leaving San Jose, I took the bus through the mountains to the town of Cahuita on the Caribbean coast. The pacific coast of Costa Rica is more popular with tourists, but the Caribbean coast has a lot of great natural and cultural experiences as well. The bus ride itself was much longer than expected because of construction, but it was still enjoyable to see the countryside along the way. Cahuita is a small, quiet town with a wonderful national park. I stayed at the Hakuna Matata Hostel where I rented a private room with a shared bath. I was very pleased with the service and amenities (including a pool) and overall vibe.

Day 1-Cahuita National Park

My first day in Cahuita, I explored Cahuita National Park. It is situated on a spit of land just south of the town. If you are staying in Cahuita, it is a quick walk to the park entrance. There is an easy trail that runs around the edge of the park and offers a mix of gorgeous beach scenery, quiet jungle paths and a variety of wildlife. There are two beaches along the way, Playa Blanca and Playa Vargas and you can stop and swim at just about any point. The palm trees form little coves and it is like having your own private beach! Just be careful with your belongings while swimming.

This was one of my favorite experiences of the whole trip, and I would highly recommend a visit if you are in the area.

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An ornery whiteface capuchin monkey along the trail
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Rainforest pathway

Day 2-Waterfall Dos Aguas

On the second day, I took a tour organized by my hostel to Waterfall Dos Aguas, which has this name because of there are two waterfalls, one big one flowing into one smaller one. There is a small entry fee to get into the waterfalls and then a quick hike down a steep slope. Along the slope, my guide, David (who also manages the hostel) pointed out a tree where tiny poisonous red frogs hang out. Swimming in a waterfall was on my Costa Rica bucket list and these did not disappoint. If you are very adventurous you can climb up the rocks on the side of the waterfall and jump in, but I stuck with swimming in the waterfall pools. After swimming, we hiked back up to the entry area where we bought fresh coconut milk and talked to the woman who was collecting the entry fees. There was even a kitten who ate coconut meat!

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Waterfall Dos Aguas
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Building a fire to roast hot dogs
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Fresh coconut milk and plantain chips with chili
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Cerveza, casado and colones back in Cahuita

Day 3-Jaguar Rescue Center and Puerto Viejo

On day three, on the recommendation of the hostel, I visited the Jaguar Rescue Center in Puerto Viejo. The center rehabilitates wild animals for eventual release back into the wild when possible. It is a great opportunity to see monkeys (and baby monkeys!), sloths (and baby sloths!), crocodiles and some small cats up close. The staff is funny and informative and all entry fees go to fund the center which runs on donations.

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Up close and personal with a two-toed sloth
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A margay at the Jaguar Rescue Center

After visiting the center, I ate lunch in Puerto Viejo. It was very busy and I was relieved to return to comparatively quiet Cahuita. There was a street fair going on each night I was in Cahuita and it was fun to get drinks and people watch.

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The beach at Puerto Viejo
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Spotted along Cahuita’s main road
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Carnival rides were part of the street festival

The next day I caught the bus back to San Jose and flew home. It was a long journey, but went relatively smoothly. I loved my time in Costa Rica. I can’t wait to go back and explore more. There were so many things to do and places to see it was hard to know what to choose. I will say that I did get a little lonely, especially in Cahuita. It can be part of traveling alone, but I’m thinking my next trip will be with friends just to mix things up a bit 🙂

How about you? Have you traveled to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica? What was your experience?

xoxo Anna

 

3 days in San Jose

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Trip to the Sarapaqui River

Hello! I’m back and happy to share the highlights of my recent trip to Costa Rica. I’m going to break the trip up into two posts. Today, I’m sharing what I did during my three days in and around San Jose.

San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, is a busy, noisy, interesting city. It’s a little overwhelming at first, but I found a lot of beauty and hidden gems during my explorations.

Day 1-Arrival, concert at El Cuartel

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A busy street scene in Central San Jose

After arriving in San Jose and settling into my Airbnb, I walked around the center of the city for a while. I stopped at a couple of shops and bought some brightly-colored fabric and lace. I ended up at the Mercado Central, which is an enclosed market with all sorts of different food and craft stalls. It was fun to wander around and see everything being sold. I bought a variety of food to go including empanadas, fruit and chicken.

At night, I decided to go to The Public House, which was described as an Irish Pub. Uber now works in San Jose, so I gave it a try and was able to get a car right away. Unfortunately, since there are no real addresses in San Jose, we couldn’t find the pub. I ended up going to El Cuartel de la Boca del Monte, which is a bar, restaurant and music venue in Barrio la California. I stumbled into a band rehearsal for Easy Rider, a classic-rock cover band. I was welcomed warmly and even got a shout out from the band during their concert, which was extra special. I also tried a traditional Costa Rican dish called Chifrijo. It is a mixture of rice, tomatoes, beans and fried pork pieces and it is insanely delicious. I loved this bar so much that I returned on Monday evening for their famous music night.

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A booth at Mercado Central
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Spices at Mercado Central
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Chifrijo at El Cuartel

 

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Tropical flowers

Day 2-River cruise and horseback ride, movie

For Day 2, I booked a river cruise and horseback ride in the jungle. It was an easy, relaxing day. We were transported by boat along the Sarapaqui River, where we saw monkeys, iguanas and crocodiles. We ended up at a lovely house in the jungle where we ate lunch and could choose between horseback riding or zip lining. I chose horseback riding, which was pretty comical as my horse, Paloma, clearly did not want to be doing the tour and keep trying to run me into low-hanging branches. It was still enjoyable, though. After that, we took the boat back to our original location and headed back to San Jose.

There are so many tours you can book out of San Jose including zip lining, hikes through the cloud forest, hot springs, volcano tours and so much more. I had originally booked two tours, the river cruise and a combo tour of the Arenal Hanging Bridges, Volcano and Hot Springs. When the second got cancelled, I decided not to book another tour, which I think made for a more relaxing trip, but I was a little sad not to see the bridges and hot springs. And, while I enjoyed bumming around San Jose on Day 3, I feel like I missed some of the more exciting adventures that Costa Rica has to offer. I guess I will just have to go back 🙂

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Paloma going off trail
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Our boat on the Sarapaqui River
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Cine Magaly in Barrio la California

At night, I went back to Barrio La California and saw Lady Bird at Cine Magaly. It was a beautiful theater and a great movie (conveniently in English with Spanish subtitles). I ended up liking the feel of this neighborhood quite a bit and would recommend a visit to anyone spending time to San Jose.

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Museo del Jade

Day 3-Museo del Jade, walking around and craft shopping

On the third day, I went to the Museo del Jade. It had some interesting exhibits featuring pre-columbian life in Costa Rica. I especially liked the top floor which had shelves and shelves of fantastic pottery. I enjoyed the museum but I’m not sure it is worth the entry fee of $20.

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Pottery at Museo del Jade

After the museum I walked to the Museo National de Costa Rica. It was closed, but it has a beautiful park (Plaza de la Democracia y de la Abolición del Ejército) on one side and on the other side is Calle 17, a pedestrian street with fantastic murals (see the featured photo for this post). From there, I made my way to Chieton Moren, which is a fair-trade craft store I had read about. Each piece in the store is labeled with the name of town and craftsperson who created it. They had a great selection of interesting hand crafts in a range of prices. After shopping, I had a late lunch/early dinner at a small restaurant across the street. Casados are offered by most restaurants and are a typical Costa Rican dish. A casado is a large plate with meat, rice, beans, salad and a vegetable stew (not really sure what this was but it was delicious). At around 3500 colones ($6.00), they are a good and filling budget option.

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Chieton Moren: A great fair-trade craft store
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A delicious casado de pollo
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A fountain near the Teatro National
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Afternoon sunlight over San Jose

After eating, I walked past the Teatro National and through Plaza de la Cultura and made my way back to my apartment. In the evening, I went to Stiefel Pub, which was cute and has a large selection of craft beers. On my way to the pub, I walked past groups of political demonstrators who were voicing their opinions on the hotly contested and polarizing Costa Rican presidential election, which was to be held on April 1. It was fun and interesting to get a glimpse into local politics.

In the evening, I went back to El Caurtel de la Boca del Monte and enjoyed the music and had a shot of chiliguaro, which is a local liquor called guaro mixed with tomato juice, hot sauce and lime.

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Political demonstrators

San Jose may not be the most picturesque city, but I enjoyed it immensely. Everyone was friendly and welcoming and very patient with my very basic Spanish language skills. The food was fresh and delicious and the nightlife was interesting. It is not recommended to walk around alone at night, but I had a very positive experience using Uber to get around. It was cheap and reliable and made me feel safe going out at night alone.

How about you? Have you been to Costa Rica or San Jose? What was your experience?

And stay tuned for my next post on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.

xoxo Anna

100 followers!

I was so excited to reach 100 followers this week. Thank you to all of you who have followed, read and commented on my posts over the last 10 months. It means the world to me! I feel like I have learned so much by being part of the blogosphere. I’m looking forward to continuing to grow and refine my style and vision for the blog. If you have any feedback on the blog so far, I would love to hear it 🙂

In other news, I am off to Costa Rica in a little over a week. I always find the last week before a trip to be anxiety provoking. So many little details to figure out. I am trying to remember to be grateful that I have the opportunity to travel and not get overwhelmed by annoyances. This weekend I plan to lay low and get ready for my trip. I think this will definitely help with the pre-trip anxiety. I’m hoping to finally share an outfit post with you next week (hint: “travel”). Then I will be off from posting the week I am on vacation. If you don’t already follow me on Instagram, definitely do, as I will be posting all sorts of vacation photos during my travels.

How about you? Any successes you are celebrating right now? How do you deal with pre-trip anxiety?

xoxo

Anna

 

 

 

 

Six snaps

This is the career edition of six snaps 🙂 I took all of these photos in the neighborhood that I work in, between Madison Square Park and Union Square. I love working in this area. Not only do you have the two parks, but there are great shops and decent places to eat. And of course the Union Square Farmers Market is fantastic. I rarely buy anything there because it makes more sense to go to the farmers market around the corner from my house, but I enjoy seeing all the beautiful produce, flowers and baked goods being sold when I walk to and from the subway. I always do a lot of shopping at the holiday craft market though, and it has been convenient to have it so close to work.

I’ve been so focused on Union Square that I literally forgot that Madison Square Park is only a few blocks away. I headed there recently to see what it looks like in winter. Fewer leaves for sure, but still a line at Shake Shack (which you can see in the photo above). I can’t wait to eat lunch in both parks this coming spring and summer. I also plan to explore what is happening to the east. Irving seem like it might have some hidden gems.

So far this week has been pretty calm. I am keeping up with my fitness routine, though I can’t say I have seen much in the way of visible results yet. I tend to like things to happen immediately and when they don’t I get frustrated. This means that the beginning of any plan, the time before you see results, is often very hard for me. But I am focusing on setting my weekly goals and following through with them so I can get used to keeping my promises to myself and establish habits. I am also focusing on the less obvious benefits of exercise such as decreased anxiety, improved mood and increased strength. I even decided to take a surf lesson when I go to Costa Rica which is definitely motivating me to stick with my fitness plan. I also just started using the Lose It app. I thought I should at least be tracking what I’m eating if I am going to put so much effort into exercising. So far I really like the interface.

In other news, I will be returning with a new outfit post next week. Stay tuned 🙂

Till then,

xoxo Anna

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Some suspicious Valentine’s Day teddy bears
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The original NYC food truck
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Pretty pastries at Maison Kaiser
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This mirrored cat catches my eye every time I walk past it. Tacky, yes! But I still want it.
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A rainbow of candles and party supplies at Flying Tiger.

 

Hello again! and 2018 fitness routine

Hi everyone! After a couple months, I will be blogging regularly again. I think I was getting away from the things that I enjoyed about blogging (connecting with others, creating unique content) and focusing on things like metrics, likes and traffic. It began to feel like a chore. Moving forward, I will be taking a more relaxed approach. I will be posting once a week, on Thursdays. You can expect the same type of content including ethical fashion, travel, food, fitness and more, just slightly less frequently. I hope I will be able to spend more time on each post and boost the enjoyment factor for everyone.

To kick off this new blogging plan, I decided to share my current fitness plan, which is something I am currently focusing on.

As I suspect is the case with many of you, my relationship with fitness is complicated and spotty at best. When I was a child my parents made a point to encourage exercise in the form of hiking, biking and swimming. Every week my mother would take us to a local pool and we would swim laps. We earned stars for every week that we went and when we had enough stars we bought a VCR 🙂 I spent hours riding my bike and walking around with friends. I went to nature camp and we hiked almost every day. In high school, I played tennis and joined the winter track team. In college, I continued working out with my roommates, which helped me to maintain my weight. It seemed so much easier then to find the time and energy to exercise. Somehow it was a natural part of my everyday life. Unfortunately, during my senior year of college, I experienced pretty severe depression and anxiety. I stopped working out and began to eat things like pizza with blue cheese dressing on the regular. This, combined with the fact that I was now taking anti-depressants, many of which are known to promote weight gain, resulted in a significant increase in weight beginning in college and continuing after graduation. I have battled my weight ever since, losing and gaining significant amounts over the past 20 years. It all seemed to go in cycles. I would exercise and diet for a period of time and often have success, only to lose confidence because of a difficult life event and turn back to eating for comfort. I have to say, just writing this makes me feel tired thinking about the emotional and physical ups and downs.

But looking back is also helping me to move forward. I have learned a great deal about what works for me in the long-term and what doesn’t. For example, I have learned that setting oversized goals at the outset of a fitness program leads to burn out or disappointment, which, not surprisingly, leads to quitting entirely. For example, I have run two half-marathons but immediately after 3 months of tough training I would give up running entirely for months. I have learned that exercising consistently is very hard for me, but that it is important for my emotional and physical well-being. I have learned that eating to manage my emotions benefits no one, least of all me. Much better to be honest about my feelings and eat to sustain my energy.

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So this is my plan moving forward:

Set realistic weekly fitness goals and slowly build up intensity and frequency of workouts

I have found I prefer a simple workout routine. It cannot include a lot of equipment or complicated moves or be annoying in any way. I recently found this great mini workout on one of my favorite blogs, Cupcakes & Cashmere. It is simple to follow and all you need is one dumbbell. I can do it at home or at the gym without too much thought. I still like running, so I am using a mix of running and walking as my cardio. As I gain confidence, I may try some fitness classes (thinking kickboxing or trampoline!), but for now I am keeping it super simple and focusing on just making it to each workout.

I think, for me, the hardest thing about exercising consistently is the negative self-talk I engage in surrounding working out. It ranges from “What you think you’re so great now because you work out!? Who do you think you are!?” (super nice and productive, I know) to “You are never going to keep doing this!” (also very reassuring). It helps just to share these thoughts because they seem so mean and counterproductive when you say them out loud. I think there is power in voicing these things and then letting them go. Also, I feel like some of you might relate.

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Follow a modified interpretation of the Weekday/Weekend plan created by Emma and Elsie at A Beautiful Mess

The basic idea behind this program is that you don’t consume dairy, white rice or flour, alcohol or added sugar during the week, but you’re free to indulge on weekends. You also must eat a variety of wholesome foods. I have done it for a little over a week now and I like the way I feel. I bought the cookbook and am looking forward trying some of the recipes. This eating plan is primarily plant-based, but I enjoy meat, so I am including some lean protein, like chicken, as well. Still, I am excited to try a lot of new plant-based dishes as well. I’m not militant about the weekday guidelines in that I will occasionally have a drink with a friend after work or eat something with a small amount of sugar in it, which I think is reasonable if I am eating on plan 90% of the time.

To jump start the healthy eating portion of my fitness plan, I signed up for Hungry Root food deliveries once a week. They deliver vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free ingredients and side dishes which can be combined into healthy dishes. My first week was last week and I enjoyed the food. There is minimal prep time and everything was tasty and satisfying. I ordered the 3-meal plan and I found I was able to make and finish everything within a week.

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So that’s my plan. As you can see, I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from the blogosphere! I think that’s one way to add a social element to working out and eating well that feels positive. I will be keeping myself honest by posting updates here regularly.

In general, I am also thinking about ways to deal with stress and emotions differently. I’m already taking a ceramics class at this studio in Williamsburg and I am enjoying it a lot. I didn’t know I would like wheel throwing so much! I’m thinking some form of journaling might be nice, as well as working on being present and focused for all of my daily activities.

How about you? How are you approaching fitness/health in 2018? If you have any tips for maintaining a consistent exercise/eating routine I would love to hear them.

xoxo Anna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six snaps

Yesterday, I took a trip to a magic shop in the East Village to buy a deck of Tarot cards. It was a lovely adventure. It was also a photo walk of sorts which is something that I have missed doing. It felt very meaningful to spend some time by myself and relax, which is funny because the first card I pulled out of my new deck was the 4 of Swords, which signifies taking time to relax, rest and regroup. As an admitted activity junky, I find relaxing to be very hard, but I am working on embracing doing nothing from time to time. I am very new to reading my own Tarot cards, but already hooked and looking forward to learning more. How about you, have you started any new hobbies lately?

In other news, it is day 8 of the elimination diet and I’m still doing okay. I haven’t exactly been craving things, but the restrictions are sometimes difficult to navigate when I am dining out. I am determined to see it through for at least the recommended three weeks as I am interested to see how changing my eating habits changes my perspective on food, and other things perhaps.

xoxo

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Learning about the cards
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Beautiful hot peppers
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Ditmas Avenue after a sun shower
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Urban sunflowers
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Sparkling restaurant in the East Village