Cool Hunting in Costa Rica… Pt. 1

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Costa Rica is my promised land, my Mecca, and the holy grail of beachy fun, adventure and general good times.  If there isn’t a Make Den in Costa Rica in the next few years it’s because I’ve been kidnapped by pirates.  So of course I decided to head there on vacation with my awesome bud, Niamh for a yoga retreat this March! But first, I wanted have a few adventures on my own.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

My first host, Erika runs her Airbnb like it’s a pop-up shop/art gallery which  gives her guests the chance to support local artists and designers while they’re staying with her in the capital city of San Jose.  Erika is a former gallery curator, and although San Jose gets a bad rap as ‘the city that you have to pass through to get to the beach’ in many travel guides, Erika’s apartment defies the trend.  There are obviously a few undiscovered gems in San Jose that make me wish I could stay for longer – if only to learn how to make one of these awesome seafoam plant holders!

IMG_6446Erika promises that she can show me next time, but alas I only have one night here before heading to visit the internationally recognized eco-lodge, Rancho Margot, on Lake Arenal.  It feels like Rancho Margot is nestled away at the end of the world, in the middle of nowhere.

IMG_6513But once you arrive, it’s a hub of activity.  Practical solutions for everyday sustainable living are everywhere.   Chickens are fed on Banana leaves which act as chemical free antibiotics.   Green Rooftops make the buildings indistinguishable from their surroundings on Google Earth. Soap is purified and recycled to make new bars after guests leave.   Volunteers run the organic gardens and farm, which provides enough food for guests, volunteers and staff.     IMG_6545

The ranch is powered by an on-site hydro-electric turbine without constructing reservoirs or dams.   The DIY mentality is incredibly inspiring and I’m still processing ways to incorporate it into my daily life.

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My fellow guests were as interesting as the ranch itself.  Martina and her husband Mads joined me for a successful Macrame session in the bar, where we traced the history of macrame back to 13th c. Arabic weavers who would use knotting to finish the edges of carpets and shawls.  Martina recalled seeing Italian fisherman making their nets using the same technique.   She wanted to make the plant hanger for her daughters bedroom in their beautiful apartment in Copenhagen.  Mads and Martina are photographers whose work has taken them all over the world.    As luck would have it, they were driving into town the next day, and gave me a lift.  On the ride, they happened to recount their experience during the Milan Furniture Fair in 2010, when hotels doubled their prices and people were taking 72 hour bus rides home to Denmark because of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupting in Iceland.  Their words turned out to be rather prescient and quite helpful later that day when the Turrialba Volcano erupted and left me stranded at the San Jose airport.   The sky was dark with ash and their was an exodus from the airport that made it nearly impossible to get to my hastily booked hostel that night.

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To be continued…