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I’ll begin with our first night at the Finca Rosa Blanca, near San Jose. We loved it and were sorry that we
could only spend the night. It’s a real gem, and got our trip off to a good start.

Another marvelous memory was our stay at the Bosque de Paz, in the cloud forest. It is a special
place, close to nature, secluded and peaceful. The owners were there, and treated us like family.
We never would have known about it on our own. I’m so glad we got to stay there. There was
a young man, native to the place, who is a naturalist and gave us a wonderful nature hike, and let
us see a microscopic orchid he collected that is extremely rare.

From there, we headed toward Arenal, stopping on the way for what turned out to be an
absolutely delightful afternoon with Dona Mara and her family (daughters, grandchildren), with a
home-made delicious lunch in her covered, open-air patio (with kitchen!). Dona Mara is a
gracious and kind lady who made us feel like part of her family. She helped us make our own
tortillas (a first for me, I buy them in packages at home!) and gave us a bountiful lunch of local
cuisine. Then she gave my daughter and I earrings she had made in the colors of the Cost Rican
flag as souvenirs. This experience was certainly unique and not one we would have had on an
ordinary tour, or on one we had planned ourselves. It was unforgettable and it still makes me
smile to remember it.
A few words abut our guide, Julio Madriz. A more knowledgeable and congenial travel
companion cannot be found. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the flora and fauna,
geography and history of Costa Rica and shared it in a casual and interesting way, helping us
sample a forest-found fruit and see tiny creatures hidden to the untrained eye. He had boundless
energy and patience and made us feel like new-found friends. I hope you are lucky enough to
have Julio as your guide. He added so much to our trip.

The grand finale was a few nights at Punta Islita resort, where we had arranged to stay in an
individual villa, complete with a plunge pool with a gorgeous view of the forest and beach, and
hand-hewn beds of native woods, in air-conditioned comfort. It was low-key and charming, with
a resident troop of monkeys in a mango grove on the property.. The lovely beach ( very warm
and calm water) and amenities of the resort made it the perfect place to unwind and relax before
heading home.

All in all, it was perfect, just what we hoped for, and more. A wonderful time and now,
wonderful memories.