Arriving in Costa Rica

The weeks of waiting impatiently for my trip to Costa Rica had finally come to an end. I was really excited about the prospect of learning by doing after hearing so much about the country at the ESTC back in September 2011. After a long flight over I was glad to get some rest in San Jose, the capital city, before flying to Manuel Antonio early the next day. Yes, I know, taking an internal flight isn’t the most eco-friendly of activities, but the airline I was flying with – Nature Air – became the world’s first carbon neutral airline back in 2004.

When I arrived at the airport I immediately realised that this wasn’t going to be your average plane ride. The airport terminal was easily the smallest I’ve been at, and I’ve been to quite a few airports in my time. Check it out:

Tobias Bolanos airport in San Jose Costa Rica

And when I saw the plane we’d be flying in I have to admit that I swallowed hard.

Nature Air plane in Costa Rica

Once in the air though, it was a whole different story. The fact that I could see the pilot and co-pilot ahead of me, and also see out of the windscreen, made me feel strangely at ease. The incredible views that were unfolding underneath me were also a major distraction – I felt more excited than nervous.

View of San Jose from Nature Air plane

After leaving the multicoloured rooftops of San Jose behind us we started climbing up over the mountains before dropping back down towards Quepos, the closest town to Manuel Antonio.

Costa Rican mountains between San Jose and Quepos

When I stepped off the plane I was nearly knocked over by the rush of humid, hot air that greeted me. San Jose is actually over 3800 feet above sea level, which makes it at lot cooler than most other places in Costa Rica. I’d left the capital wearing trousers and a long-sleeved shirt. Silly me.

Fortunately there was a taxi waiting to take me to the hotel – never has air conditioning felt so good! A quick ride later and I had arrived at Arenas del Mar, the only five star hotel in Costa Rica to have received the highest sustainability rating from the country’s tourism board, and my home for the next few weeks. You’ll read much more on the hotel and its surroundings in my upcoming posts.

After a fantastic-tasting welcome drink my first task was to look after this little fellow, a baby possum who had fallen out of a tree and lost its mother.

Baby possum

I had to hold him while Piero, the Sustainability Coordinator at Arenas made arrangements for the little guy to be looked after by a local hospice. It was such a surreal feeling to be holding an animal I’d only ever seen on TV, but I had the feeling that that would be the first of many encounters with the weird & wonderful animals of Manuel Antonio.

After dropping my bags off at the staff quarters I headed down to the beach that backs on to the hotel’s property. The sun was just setting and I managed to snap this shot. As I headed back to meet my new colleagues, I thought – with a smile on my face – I think I’m going to like it here.

Sunset on Espadilla beach Manuel Antonio


  1. Hey Chris! jajajaja i am going to avoid verbal abuse, so common between us, out of respect of your lovely girl and blog, just want to say all of us enjoyed sharing with you at Arenas, maybe not the opossum, and wish you and Vicky the best of the very best, we miss you pendejo!

    • Hi Piero, Great to hear from you man – and I appreciate your lack of verbal abuse haha. Keep an eye on the blog – there are lots more Arenas posts to come yet. I’ll maybe even add a few more photos of your handsome self! Take it easy mae.

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