Making my very own “sand” castle on the beach.

If you asked me two years ago how many countries I had traveled to the answer would have been pretty short…Canada, the US… uh….that’s it.

A year ago I was enjoying my much anticipated 3-week whirlwind trip around Ireland, Scotland and England (read about it here >>). I finally felt like I had some international travel under my belt!

Six months ago if you asked me where else I was planning on traveling to I would have said nowhere. I’m just happy thinking up future trips years down the road.

Then along came the LOAS (link).

What is LOAS, you ask? It’s short for the “League of Adventurous Singles!

I had found an awesome, no-holds-barred, tell-it-like-it-is singles podcast, “Seven Minutes in Heaven (link)” by Kira Sabin an awesome singles/life coach, sometime last year and quickly devoured all the episodes that applied to me. I explored further and found her website and something caught my eye…Kira organized and led amazing adventure travel for groups of single women!

Skip to 4 months later and I was prepping for my first tropical destination trip!

In January I packed my suitcase and headed off on a crazy adventure to Costa Rica with a bunch of single ladies that I’d never met in person! Yes, it does sound a little wild and dangerous, and I had jumped in as sort of a last-minute addition to the group after
someone else had to cancel. I was one of three Canadian gals and the rest ranged from all over the US. It was amazing to get to know every single one of them!

Day 1 – Seeing our villa’s pool in daylight, so refreshing in the heat!

We stayed in a rented villa (yes, a VILLA!) on the top of a jungle mountain range over looking the distant Pacific Ocean. We were treated with a mix of local catered meals and awesome restaurants where I learned to love new dishes like ceviche, plantains and black bean soup. I endured the hottest day of my life hiking through a jungle park but was
rewarded with glimpses of beautiful wildlife like sloths, monkeys and huge hand-sized spiders (yuck)! We zip-lined, we swam in the ocean, we talked and laughed and I chased geckos, leaf & stick bugs all over our villa. Despite the heat and the humidity I wish we could have had a few more days on the gorgeous Costa Rica beaches. The people were so
friendly and easy to talk to and I’m sure I will go back someday.The retreat portion of our stay was also satisfying and rewarding. On day one, Kira met with each of us and asked us our goals and what we want to get out of the week. We also had plenty of group discussions covering topics from being single, dating, communication, setting goals, confrontation, to how to have those hard conversations.

Day 1 in CR – traveling from San Jose over the mountains to our villa. Truck full of melons on the side of the highway. Stops for lunch along the way. A glimpse of the Pacific over the mountains (the pink hazy glow reflecting the sunset), and finally, our fantastic villa!!

Since we were staying way up in the mountains we were met each day by our local driver, Eduardo,  and his sturdy van. We packed in and prayed the air conditioning would hold out as we ventured over the rough 2 kilometer rocky driveway and onward to whatever amazing destination Kira had planned for us that day. Eduardo tried to play the strong silent type, only to have us break him out of his shell with music or some good-natured teasing or bonding over photos of our dogs back home. He turned out to be a gem of a guy and we loved hear tidbits of his life’s story.

A few afternoons were spent in the small town of Quepos and the larger bustling Manuel Antonio. We poked around the small shops and I found the people to be so very friendly and hospitable. I even had a jewelry maker whip me up a free gift of a wire flower while I paid for a cute sloth necklace I had found.

Day 3 – Zip line adventures at Midworld with Josue, walk to a local waterfall…or trickle, and a frog hopped inside during a fabulous locally catered sunset dinner at the villa.

We were also blessed with wonderful guides on all of our adventures. We even had the same guide, Josue, twice during two different excursions by random coincidence! He was our first guide on our jungle hike through the Manuel Antonio park reserve and two days later we showed up for zip-lining at Midworld and who was our guide for the day, but Josue!

The entire trip, from the humid heat, spectacular scenery, and new friendships will be something I will never forget. That week among total strangers helped me catalyze some big changes in my life. Changes that maybe were a long time coming. I loved Costa Rica and someday I’d love to go back and explore more!

Some of my fondest moments from the week can be summed up in a few more snapshots.

PS – And hey, if this looks super amazing to you, Kira has a few more Costa Rica retreats or just singles travel weeks planned for 2017. Check out her website for details!! >> 

Day 1 – Leaf bug inside the villa. The villa’s main floor was totally open!
Day 1 – Hottest Day of my LIFE! Hike through the Manuel Antonio jungle with Jose showing us wild animals.
So many interesting types of palm and palm-looking trees!
Day 3 – Zip lining ladies at Midworld. Some of us conquered our fears and some just had a blast whipping through the jungle canopy! Midworld was an excellent company and provided us with an awesome local lunch and great guides!
Day 4 – Amazing local food, boat trip to a secluded beach.
Day 5 – Meet Chewbacca – cutest baby sloth being hand fed at the Kids Saving the Rainforest animal sanctuary.
Day 5 – Morning at “Kids Saving the Rain forest” sanctuary, lunch and gelato at trendy eateries in Manuel Antonio, then an afternoon at an amazing beach! Stunning scenery, warm waves that I could’ve stayed in for hours! And of course our trusty can rides home with good conversations and lots of laughter.
Day 5 – Amazing afternoon at a gorgeous beach! “Is this even real?!”
Day 5 – Beach for miles! Unreal! The postcards and screensavers are real! Eduardo climbed a palm tree, cut open some coconuts with his under-the-front-seat machete and served us right there! He also pointed out a sleeping sloth in a tree nearby!
Day 6 – Our villa from the top of the driveway, finally saw a toucan, fresh fruits, stick bug on our wall, traveling back to San Jose with new friends and Eduardo!
The amazing and colourful flowers and plants of the tropics!
Travel day home – I touched down in FOUR countries! (Costa Rica, Mazatlan, Mexico to refuel, Dallas TX US, Vancouver & Victoria BC Canada)

What travel plans do you have for the future? 

– I’d love to go back to Scotland & England, maybe Cornwall, Liverpool, Outer Hebrides and see more of Edinburgh.

Or where was your favourite destination so far?

– I also recently visited Mexico with some close friends and I’ll have to write about that soon, too!
You can find more of my adventures on Instagram @keblackstock.