On our last visit to Costa Rica, we spent our time in the province of Guanacaste. At the beach. We rented a house at the top of a very big hill in Potrero that offered us spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Here, we spent lazy days by the pool, sipped bottles of Costa Rican beer at beachside eateries, and did our best to explore as many of beaches we could in just six days.

We fell in love with Costa Rica.

We fell in love with the climate. Hot, yes, but not that sticky-sweaty kind of heat that takes you down for the count by 11 am. Oh, and if you’re looking for that body-draining, dripping climate, just book yourself a visit to Atlanta in August. You’ll be all set.

We fell in love with the people and their easy way of living. The laid back just-set-up-some-lawn-chairs-and-a-beach-canopy-and-you-have-yourself-a-bar-on-the-beach was just what we were looking for. Pura vida all the way.

We knew–even before we packed our bags to head back to the promise of a hot and humid Atlanta summer — that it was not the last time our passports would be stamped by Costa Rican customs agents.

On this trip to Costa Rica, we decided to spend the first few days where everything was said to be greener – in the rainforest. We booked ourselves a cabana at the Chachagua Rainforest Hotel and Haciendo, an eco-conscious lodge located deep in the middle of the rainforest. And with that, the promise of a rainforest experience — aka, living in the jungle — was delivered.

We were welcomed to our new home by a chorus of cicadas that were so loud, they sounded electric.

And then there was the green. A blanket of lush green that tucked in around us.

Costa Rica rainforest

The property, with its waterfalls, bright pink bushes, and 100-foot trees where toucans perched in the early morning hours, offered up plenty of photo ops.

Toucans in Costa Rica

Not for sandaled feet, the hiking trails on the property provided early-risers an opportunity to explore nature up-close-and-personal before the open-air restaurant set up for breakfast.


One of the couples we met, that we’re calling “the hippie couple,” arrived every morning to breakfast, binoculars slung around their necks, giddy with details of a an exotic plant or bird or other natural wonder that caught their eye on their morning jungle trek.

Costa Rica flora redflower

Our own personal jungle experience occurred at 2:13 am, the second night in cabin 114 (which, as it happens, backs right up to the dense part of the rainforest.) The accommodations are rustic, and meant to give you the experience of being one with nature. Think glamping — a cabin in the woods with a jetted tub and a rainfall shower. A personal safe, mini fridge, cable – but no Internet. (Yes, roughing it.)

cabin at Chachagua Rainforest Hotel

But let me tell you this: mini fridge or no mini fridge, we were reminded, via a literal wake up call, that we were living in their world. The birds, the bees, the monkeys, the three-toed sloths–the rainforest is their home, not ours. We are just the lookie-loos.

The windows on the cabins have screens, and you can pull the shutters closed for privacy, but every single sound – and I do mean every single chirp or squeak or cacaw — floats through the gaps in the beamed walls and slatted floorboards. And at 2:13 am, something inhuman, something much larger than a bat but maybe not quite as large as a jaguar, slammed into the shuttered window of our cabin. Or the side of the cabin. Some part of the cabin.

We lay there, wide-eyed now, shining our flashlight from one side of the cabin to the other and back again. On the third pass, feeling certain that the “whatever-it-was” had not burst through the window screen, we relinquished ourselves to the hypnotic (quieter) sounds of the night and slept.

The message was received. “You are guests. Yea, it’s beautiful, right? All tropical and green. And our white-faced monkeys and toucans are adorable. Famous even. You’ve heard of Sam? But they own this place. We own this place. Take good care, now.”

Oh, and just one more thing: The night hike we were scheduled to take that next day — the 90 minute tour after dark when “the jungle wakes up” — um… we skipped that tour.