Costa Rica: Sleeping by a Waterfall
By Devinne Zadravec
It’s endless. Loud. Mind numbing. You stand, exerting no energy other than the forces required to stay upright, while sweat drips off every limb and runs in salty rivers down your forehead. Your eyes struggle to adjust to the exceedingly bright sunshine, and to take in your foreign surroundings: mountains covered in lush green jungle, the few derelict buildings lining the only thoroughfare.
And that loud, incessant noise, the frenzied drone of insects in the relentless summer heat. It nearly drowns out all other senses, the sights and the heat and sweat, until it almost seems the cause of these discomforts and disorientations, as if only the noise were to stop, so too would the heat relent and the landscape look a little less alien.
These were my thoughts as I stood waiting in the hot sun at a bus stop in Uvita, Costa Rica. I noticed with dismay that my skin had already started to color, a faint pink creeping across my shoulder where it had rested on the window during the five-hour bus ride.
Though it was not my first time in this tropical Central American country, it was my first time in this particular region, and my first visit to take place during the brutal heat of summer. I had traveled all the way from Boston to volunteer at a new and exciting even, a sustainable yoga and music festival called Envision.
Listening to the insects drone on for a few moments more, I finally turned to my friend and suggested we start making progress towards our hostel: a very funky looking tree house abode where we were to spend the night, before making our way to the festival site the following day.
The hostel also happened to be just a few minutes’ walk from one of the area’s most popular attractions, a cool green river with waterfalls for jumping and pools for swimming. Just the thought of being near fresh water gave me a renewed sense of energy, and so we hoisted up our packs and turned towards the signs that directed us down a dusty road towards Hostel Cascada Verde.
It was a trek we quickly realized we had misjudged—not in distance, but in grade. The half-mile walk to the hostel was almost entirely uphill, and we were in sandals, with 40 lbs. of gear on our backs. But when we finally arrived at our residence, not a single dry piece of clothing left on us, it was like stepping into an oasis.
A Gurgling Water Garden
Thick tropical plants lined an entrance stairwell, and all but hit the building from view until we crossed the threshold. A small water garden gurgled in greeting, and I watched as one of the biggest bullfrogs I’d ever seen croaked and then splashed away at our footsteps. Hammocks were hidden away beneath the shade of bamboo and palm trees, and the first floor was entirely open with cushions, benches, and swinging chairs facing outwards towards the canopy.
With a perfect sized break in the trees creating a wide vista, it was easy to see just how high we had climbed, and if we looked hard enough we could see the sparkling of the ocean in the distance.
We were greeted at the reception by a very friendly woman, Julie, the owner of the hostel. A private room cost only $20.00 a night, and we were given fresh towels for the shower as she led us on a tour.
Kitchen, centrally located on the first floor patio. Fridge, freezer, ice cubes included. Shoes were not allowed upstairs, Julie explained, and we kicked off our sandals as we followed her up the polished wooden stairs to see our accommodations.
Bamboo formed the supports for the walls and floors, and a smooth, richly colored wood made up the floors.
The walls themselves were entirely bamboo and the doors to the rooms practically invisible to the naked eye as they followed the same pattern as the walls.
An open-ledged patio opened up to the same vista as before, and we were informed that a yoga class would be held here at 9:00 a.m. More hammocks were strung between the corners of the open spaces.
With a small smile, Julie left us at our rooms to unpack and get settle. I practically threw my backpack on the bed and raced to the showers.
We spent a relaxing evening at the hostel, clean and cooled by the breeze that blew down from the mountains. Our plan was to hit the waterfalls first thing in the morning, and then make our way to the festival grounds to begin our work.
A good night’s sleep did wonders for our energy, and we started our day early and in high spirits. A quick jaunt down the road and we arrived at the entrance to the waterfalls, paid our $2.00 entrance fee, and raced down to the pools.
We could hear the largest drop before we saw it, a fifty foot plummet into a deep clear pool of water. There were a few people already swimming around when we arrived, but we wasted no time joining them.
After a few hours spent cooling off and splashing around, and one particularly comical incident where a daring young man went to jump from the ledge (a safe but intimidating leap) and lost his courage (to the great amusement of his friends), and we decided to towel off and begin the trek to the festival.
Luckily, the traffic in and out of Uvita had greatly increased from the day before, and we had no trouble bumming a ride to the gate from a very pleasant elderly couple visiting the country on holiday.
As we drove down the winding highway to the festival entrance, I watched the palm trees flash by and smiled as the breeze from the open windows cooled my skin. I had no idea what the week would hold, but I was certain I was ready for the surprise.
Hostel Cascada Verde, Uvita Costa Rica.
Phone: (+506) 2743 8191
Fond of big dogs, stargazing, and foods covered in hummus, Devinne Zadravec is a writer/photographer/explorer from New England. Her favorite hobbies include hiking, yoga and writing. Currently, you can find Devinne hanging with her sisters in her Massachusetts home, or off adventuring, writing, and loving life in some new corner of the globe.