We just received our wedding video from Mitch Vaughan Productions. Let me start by saying I wasn’t sure if I wanted (read: needed) a videographer at our wedding. But after some deliberation with some friends, I realized that video captures so much more emotion than photos. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED my photographer…but having someone record your voice, smiles, kisses…it’s magical.
Without further ado…
Thanks to Mitch Vaughan for an awesome video. I absolutely loved working with him!! If you’re in Virginia and looking for a wedding videographer, Mitch is your guy!
During our last few nights in Costa Rica, we stayed in a 3-bedroom condo in the Del Pacifico neighborhood of Esterillos. The condo overlooked the town center, and about a half mile away you could see the beach. It was fully equipped with a stove, microwave, dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer. It was our home away from home!
After our long drive from La Fortuna, we wanted to catch the sunset on the beach. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy so we drove back to the condo and sat outside looking for toucans and macaws. No such luck, but we enjoyed the sounds of the rain forest!
That next day, we stopped by our friend’s parent’s home. They have a vacation home in Del Pacifico which Bobby has visited a few times. It was a GORGEOUS villa style home overlooking the rain forest. You guys…words can’t describe the beauty!
Later that day we went to the beach. Being a Sunday, it was a pretty crowded. There were about 20 groupings of local families. We just laid out and read our books. It was a peaceful afternoon.
After the beach, we walked to the Town Center Market to do come grocery shopping. We didn’t recognize many labels, and of course we couldn’t interpret anything unless we put it in Google Translate. We purchased some mangoes, fried plantains, tomato sauce, pasta noodles, pizza crust, fresh mozzarella, and chorizo. The first night, we made ourselves mini pizzas. We topped the pizza with cooked chorizo.The pizza crust was pre-made, and wasn’t very good. The following night, Bobby cooked us spaghetti. This was not ordinary spaghetti. We could only find SUPER LARGE penne-style, round noodles. We both laughed about the noodles, but figured we could make it a tradition to have “big noodle” spaghetti.
On Monday, we drove about 30 mins to Jaco — a famous surfing beach in Costa Rica. The town reminded me of the typical beach boardwalk. Right off the beach was a strip of souvenir shops. We looked for souvenirs and even purchased a few items for ourselves. We stopped to have lunch at The Taco Bar. The bar was really cool and had hanging swings for seats! We both ordered Red Snapper tacos which were amazing!
After exploring Jaco, we went back to Esterillos. Bobby was determined to drink out of a fresh coconut so he asked around for a machete and chopped down a bundle of baby coconuts. He was able to cut one open and put the water/milk into a glass. I’m not a fan of coconut water/milk, but Bobby was happy!
Tuesday was our last full day in Esterillos.We started the day with horseback riding through the rain forest. At the entrance of Del Pacifico there was a ranch run by a man named Macho. We jumped on a few horses and took off through the jungle. As soon as we started on the trail we saw macaws! MACAWS! Finally! They were beautiful! They were vibrant red with long tails. We stopped for a few minutes and just watched them play with each other. We continued through muddy terrain and then rode to the top of the hill. Then we rode down to the beach. Once we got to the beach, the horses galloped alongside the waves. The ride took about an hour total. It was a really great way to experience the jungle!
After our morning ride, we drove about 10 minutes to Hermosa, the next town over, for lunch. We stopped at Bowie’s Point, a surfer bar on the beach. We both ordered casados (Bobby got chicken and I got the chicken fajita). The fajitas were WAY better than the plain chicken.
Since it was our last night in Esterillos, we decided that we wanted to go to Encantada for dinner — where it all started. We called ahead to let them know we were coming, and Adam (the manager) was surprised to hear from us. When we arrived at Encantada, Maria was really surprised to see us. We talked and hung out. We were happy to spend one final dinner with the Encantada crew.
We left Esterillos Wednesday morning and headed to San Jose. When we got there, we checked into the Courtyard Marriott right next to the airport. We grabbed lunch at Tacontento, a TGI Fridays-like Costa Rican restaurant. I ordered a chicken burrito and fresh pineapple juice. Bobby ordered a cuban sandwich. After eating fresh food for the past 10 days, our bodies were a little in shock from the restaurant oils. Nonetheless, the food was very good.
After lunch, we drove over to City Mall right down the street. It was a HUGE mall, 3 stories tall, with tons of stores! The mall was full of locals, but not the locals we were use to seeing. They were well-dressed in business clothing, most women hair their hair and makeup done. It was interesting how different the locals looked in the city compared to Esterillos and La Fortuna. When walking around the mall, we recognized some stores by their logo…but it wasn’t the store we knew in the US. For instance, we saw a store that looked like H&M, and their logo looked like H&M, but it was called A&T. We saw a clothing store with similar clothes to Pacific Sunware, but it was called “Cat” and used the logo from Caterpillar Construction. It was a really weird concept to grasp. I guess infringement and copyright laws don’t exist (or aren’t enforced) in Costa Rica.
After the mall, we dropped off the rental car and walked over to Walmart. Surprisingly, the Walmart looked exactly the same as Walmarts in the US. We walked around and picked up some Costa Rica coffee, then we headed back to the hotel. We had to get up early for our flight back home, so we called it early.
On Thanksgiving Day, the day we were suppose to leave Costa Rica, a Hurricane hit the coastline — the first recorded Hurricane to hit Costa Rica. Our flight was delayed an hour, which meant that our layover in Atlanta was shortened to 45 mins. We knew that we couldn’t get though customs that quickly so we changed our connecting flight to a later time.
Our flight to Atlanta was smooth. The pilot made up some time and we landed 45 minutes earlier than anticipated. We figured we could make our original flight home so we sprinted through Atlanta Airport. If you’ve ever been to Atlanta Airport, you know how MASSIVE it is! Unfortunately, we didn’t make the early connection so we hung out at the Samuel Adams bar and had chicken wings and beer for our Thanksgiving dinner.
After a long day of traveling, we FINALLY made it home around 10pm. Our honeymoon was such an amazing way to start our married life together.
Thank you all for reading about our travels, I can’t wait to share the wedding details with you all soon!
I loved our stay at Encantada, but I was really looking forward to Arenal. It was the one “must see” location that we had on our list.
The drive from Esterillos to La Fortuna was estimated at 3 hours. Because of the single-lane roads, elevation changes, and winding roads through the mountains, it ended up taking almost 5 hours!
The roads were really poor; full of pot holes. And, the drivers don’t obey traffic laws. Many times, a truck would pass us on a turn on a two-lane road. It was very dangerous, but it was widely accepted in Costa Rica. The vehicle being passed and the car in the oncoming lane would slow down and yield to the passing vehicle. Along the edge of the road people would walk with their children, pets, and livestock. Cars would pass by at 40-50 mph, and nobody was phased.
When we arrived at our resort, Hotel Arenal Manoa, it was interesting to see other tourists. We realized we were so secluded in Esterillos. The resort was beautiful, full of luscious flowers and greenery everywhere. The resort was made up of freestanding suites — all with a panoramic view of the volcano.
On Friday, after breakfast at the hotel, we headed to Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park. The 2 mile hike included 16 bridges — 6 hanging bridges and 10 fixed bridges. I was really excited to go hiking in the rain forest. We had yet to see any macaws, toucans, or monkeys, and Arenal was suppose to be one of the best places to view wildlife! We decided to save some money and do a self-guided tour.
Right as we entered the trail, 3 peccary crossed in front of us! They quickly ran away, but we were excited to see wildlife right off the bat. Shortly after, we passed through a butterfly and hummingbird garden. It was beautiful and full of hummingbirds! Unfortunately, aside from a few spiders, we didn’t see any more wildlife. I wondered if a guided tour would have been better, or if the large group behind us was too noisy and scared off the animals. Probably both!
Overall, the hike itself was really nice. We were able to see the rain forest at all levels, and even see a huge waterfall.
We spent the rest of the afternoon reading our books by the pool and hanging out with the bartender. It rained most of the afternoon, so we stayed under the gazebo. After sunset, but before dinner, we walked to the other pool on the property for happy hour. The other pool happened to be a natural hot spring. The water was really warm – like a Jacuzzi! We hung out there for about an hour then headed back to the room to get ready for dinner.
We got dressed in our fancy clothes and walked to the hotel restaurant, La Saca, for dinner. The dining room was open with no walls and looked out to the volcano. Hummingbirds would fly around the flowers near your table. It was really beautiful! Bobby ordered Red Snapper and I ordered grilled chicken. Both were delicious! Then, we ordered the “Volcano” for dessert. It was a mound of vanilla ice cream, cookies and chocolate, which then the waiter took a cup full of brandy, lit it on fire, and poured it on top of the dessert. The dessert stayed on fire until Bobby and I blew out the flames! The brandy didn’t fully burn off, so I didn’t have much of the dessert. Bobby said it was good though 🙂
We left Saturday morning to head back to Esterillos. The drive back wasn’t as long as the ride there — only 3.5 hrs versus 5. Thank God!
Over the next few days, we just relaxed! We walked the beach, lounged in the pool, read books, and napped. Actually, we there was a lot of napping. After a few days, the property manager asked, “You guys like to read, huh?” We were just happy to relax. It had been a long time since we took a vacation
The resort was beautiful and quaint. There are 6 individual cottages on the property, each with a kitchenette. Our cottage, called “Sala de Clases” or “Classroom” in English, was the closest to the beach. We would lie in bed with the double doors open and watch the waves crash on the beach.
The property was full of florals and vegetation. They had a garden with a variety of fruit including pina (pineapple), coco (coconut), limon (lemon), mango (mango), and platano (plantain). All of these were served with breakfast or dinner. Flowers were picked from bushes or vines on the property and placed in our room and on the tables for breakfast.
The food at Encantada was AMAZING! Elena, who worked as the chef and housekeeper, cooked everything fresh and with minimal seasoning. It was TO DIE for! The food wasn’t much different than what we eat at home (rice, beans, fruit, coffee, toast, flour tortillas, chicken, etc).
The resort was pretty quiet Tuesday and Wednesday. It was just us and the staff. Maria worked as the yoga instructor and waitress. She was a graphic designer from Sweden, and traveled to Costa Rica for a yoga certification. She loved it so much that she decided to quit her job and move to Costa Rica permanently. Adam was the property manager. He grew up in California, but headed to Guatemala to work at a 70-person hostel before coming to Encantada. Both Maria and Adam has infectious smiles and awesome personalities. We really enjoyed getting to know them during our stay!
Osyrus was a black cat that lived on the property. He was about 2 years old and was very playful. He LOVED Bobby. Every time we sat down for dinner, Osyrus would pop his head under Bobby’s arm and try to sneak a bite off his plate. One day, when Bobby and I were reading peacefully in our cottage, Osyrus came walking into our cabina. He ended up sneaking into Bobby’s duffle bag!
Surprisingly, Osyrus was the only cat we saw during our trip to Costa Rica. I’m sure predators are a big issue, but I figured I would have seen more. We saw a lot of stray dogs. The pet culture in Costa Rica was very different from the US. Most dogs were unleashed, had no collar, and not spayed or neutered. They just walked the beach or along the side of the road. It was difficult for me to not touch any of the dogs…you just aren’t sure what they might carry.
We spent a lot of time walking along the beach. We were at the tail end of wet season (meaning it rained every afternoon), so the beaches were bare. We enjoyed spotting crab “artwork”. The sand crabs would dig holes and create “beads” of sand in really intricate squiggly lines. There were THOUSANDS of these on the beach. Bobby found a coconut and tried to open it with a machete, only to find that it was sour.
The sunsets in Costa Rica are beautiful! I’ve seen some beautiful sunsets (Hawaii & California), but there was something special about the seclusion on the beach. We were lucky to see 2 sunsets during our trip — pretty good odds during rainy season. The first sunset was on our first full day.
Next, we’re driving 4 hours north to Arenal Volcano.
When planning for our honeymoon, we knew we wanted to get out of the US. Aside from a short weekend stay in Vancouver, Canada when I was 12 (before Passports were required), I’ve never traveled internationally and never used my Passport. We tossed around Europe, but it was too expensive. We thought about Iceland, but we decided we wanted warm weather. Then, we started thinking about Costa Rica. Bobby had been there a few times with friends, so he was familiar with the culture. We looked at plan tickets and they averaged $300/person round-trip! SOLD! And just like that, our honeymoon plans were made.
Day 1: Traveling to Costa Rica
We had to wake up at 3am to get to the airport for our 6:30am flight. Bobby stayed awake overnight so he could finish packing. I didn’t go to bed until 11pm because I was STILL putting away stuff from the wedding. Needless to say, it was going to be a long day!
When we first arrived in Costa Rica, we had to find our shuttle to the rental car company. As we exited the airport, I noticed A LOT of people along the fence yelling. Mary! Daniel! Lorena! Stephen! The men were looking for the people who arranges taxis/shuttles. It was a bit overwhelming because in the US, the drivers just hold a sign with the person’s last name. In that moment, I almost felt like a celebrity. It was like I was Kim Kardashian and everyone wanted my photo. There were so many people yelling and I just kept my head down as Bobby led me to the shuttles.
A man greeted us from the rental car company. He was very friendly and spoke good English. He told us about his recent trip to Washington, D.C. where he experienced a real American BBQ. He smiled, “It was just like the movies! On a deck with a grill!”
When the shuttle arrived, a porter offered to load my bag onto the shuttle, which I allowed. Later, Bobby told me to never let someone take my bag. It hit me. I was in a 3rd world country. And there’s a possibility that someone could just take your bag.
When we got to the rental car company, the men at the front desk were friendly and spoke good English. At this point, I realized that all of our interactions had been with men. In a 3rd world country, men need jobs to support their families. Even desk jobs like receptionist were taken by men.
After we got our rental car (a Daihatsu Terios),we jumped on the highway and headed towards Esterillos Este. There were no street signs or addresses. Only main highways had route numbers, but there are only 4 major highways in Costa Rica. We were advised to use Waze (a navigation app) to get to location. NO ONE obeys traffic laws — people were driving in the opposite lane towards incoming traffic. The roads were poorly maintained with pot holes everywhere, causing drivers to swerve. Locals walked along the side of the road in what we call a “bike lane”. Young children and animals would also walk in this narrow lane, getting passed by cars going 80km/h (about 50mph). It didn’t seem to bother them and we never saw or heard of any accidents.
It took us about 2 hours to get to Esterillos Este. Just before entering Esterillos, we stopped at the Tarcoles bridge. This bridge is a famous hangout location for American Crocodile. We walked across the bridge (in the “bike lane”) to catch a glimpse. Sure enough, there were over 20 HUGE crocs hanging out about 15-20 feet under the bridge. Some of the crocs were 8-9feet long!
The sun had just set as we arrived to Encantada Ocean Cottages. We made it just in time for dinner — we were starving! As an appetizer, we had malanga (served like chips) with medium homemade salsa. It was probably my favorite dish in Costa Rica! We bother ordered casados – a traditional Costa Rican meal using rice, beans, plantains, salad and meat. Bobby got the Red Snapper and I ordered chicken. It was very good!
Bobby and I were both exhausted from a full day of travel. We had been awake for almost 20 hours, so we headed straight to bed after dinner.
At a previous job, I planned corporate events. I’ve done everything from a 50 person luncheon to a 1,500 person awards gala. On the side, I’ve helped a few friends plan their own weddings. So naturally, when we got engaged I thought it would be easy to plan my own wedding.
Boy, was I wrong! Even though I helped my friends, there were so many decisions beyond what I was involved with. A wedding is personal. It reflects your style. Every decision, from the location to colors to music to food, is a reflection of your personality.
I needed to keep myself organized. I found some checklists and timelines on Pinterest, so I printed them and created a binder. Unfortunately, the binder was big and bulky, and it wasn’t easy to carry it around. I ventured to Barnes & Noble to see if there were any books that could help.
It has everything you can possibly think of. From choosing a theme to questions to ask your caterer, this was GOLD! Not only did it give you a month-to-month checklist and a list things to consider, but it also educated you on how to pick vendors. I could check off items as I completed them and could take notes on the side of each page.
Plus, it’s a small paperback (5.5 x 7.5), so I was able to fit it in my purse or take it to work. This book was an all-encompassing know-how. My mom even bought a copy! I now gift this book to all my newly engaged friends. It’s a MUST have for all future brides.