I think we may have found true paradise. I’ve seen versions of paradise in a number of places, each location with it’s own unique sparkle. But only a few times before have I been so awe inspired, so moved by natural beauty and simplicity that I was literally speechless. I’m in one of those places right now and it’s called Finca Bellavista.
For the last three days, I have not used electricity, or checked my email. I haven’t driven a car, gone to a restaurant or turned on a radio or TV. Instead, our family has been living in the Costa Rican rain forest, going on long hikes through the jungle, sleeping in nature, waking up every morning to the sound of a 20 foot waterfall. To top it all off, we’ve been living in a tree house. Amazing!
Visiting Finca Bella Vista has been at the top of our dream list since before we left for Costa Rica the very first time. We didn’t make it down here the first time around and it became the only thing we HAD to do in Costa Rica this time around. I’m so grateful we made it down here. Our three days at “The Finca” have gone way too fast, and we all wish we could stay for another week.
We arrived at FBV from Golfito after an hour long 4WD cab ride along some rough roads. We were greeted by Josh, one of the volunteers here at Finca and he made us feel immediately at home. We filled out our paperwork, and went on a quick tour of Basecamp. It was lunch time so we decided to have our lunch before hiking to the tree house we’d be living in for the next few days. They serve three meals a day at FBV (each optional) and our first meal was homemade mac n cheese, gallo pinto, a farm fresh salad and fresh squeezed juice. Meals are served family style so we met other visitors as well as Matt and Erica, (founder of FBV) and the rest of the staff and volunteers.
After lunch, we put on our backpacks and were escorted to our tree house, Mis Ojos. The walk to our tree house was about 20 – 25 minutes from base camp through the jungle. After crossing the river on an Indiana Jones style bridge, we walked on a wide uphill path for a little while and then we turned off onto a narrow hiking trail surrounded by jungle on all sides. The trails are built well, but that doesn’t mean they are for the timid. The first half of the hike is fairly mellow, just some ups and downs, but the second half of the trail consists of stairs heading straight down to the river below. They are steep, slippery and surrounded by jungle. The first time out to the tree house, I kept thinking about how all five of us would need to hike this trail back and forth at least three times a day (for meals). As we descended the trail, we could start to hear the river and the waterfall below us and we knew we were close. All of a sudden, there it was. Our tree house.
There is a wooden stair case leading us upward to the main floor of the tree house. There is no electricity, yet we do have running water and a stove. The wood in the tree house is polished to perfection and the construction and craftsmanship are stellar. Our tree house consists of two floors. The first floor is the main area with a small kitchen, couch and sitting bar. It also features a wrap around deck. There is a long and very steep ladder to the second floor which is a bedroom with a queen bed, sink, toilet and an outdoor shower on a second wrap around deck. The decks look out onto the river valley with a beautiful waterfall and swimming hole below. Jungle surrounds us on all sides and across the river is a beautiful cliff covered in green. There is not another soul anywhere in sight, we are out here on our own.
The view is absolutely spectacular. Everywhere you look you see butterflies, trees of a million varieties, plants, bugs and birds. We’re in the canopy, so you can barely make out the ground or any dirt below us, just the waterfall in the distance.
The afternoon we arrived, it rained. And I mean it RAINED. It was a full on down pour and it was beautiful. The kids broke out some cards and played games, I read for a while and Erin took a quick nap.
About an hour into the rain storm, I heard something that sounded like a huge jet engine on a plane flying over head. I got up from my chair and realized the sound was coming from the waterfall below us. Prior to the rain, the waterfall was dumping crystal clear water down the rocks, but now a flash flood was roaring down the valley. It went on for over an hour and was an amazing sight to see. I had the kids come up to the top deck so they could see it and it became a point of discussion each time we went down and played in the river. Now they know that a flash flood is not an idle threat.
Once the rain stopped, and the trails started to dry out a little bit, we made the trek back to base camp for happy hour and dinner.We got to meet and talk with a few more folks, including the owners of FBV, Matt and Erica. They were wonderful people. They are from Colorado as well, so we had an instant connection, including the fact that some of their best friends are neighbors of ours back in Arvada.
Dinner was another wonderful, fresh, home grown and organic meal prepared by Chef Rob. Post dinner, around 7:30 pm, we decided it was time to make the trek back to the house. It was pitch black by this point. We each grabbed a flash light and headed out as a family into the jungle. I must admit that the first journey in the dark (and it was REAL dark) was an adventure. We didn’t know the terrain very well, so we had a surprise around almost every corner. The trail was still wet from the earlier rain, so it was slippery, and slow going. I was the leader which put me in the role “cobweb plow” for the rest of the family.
We made it back to the tree house just fine, got the kids dressed and ready for bed quickly They slept together on the main level of the tree house. We tucked their mosquito net around them, and kissed them all goodnight. Up the ladder Erin and I went to get ready for bed as well. We also slept under a mosquito net, but noticed that there were not very many bugs in our tree house. We think that may be partially due to the fact that there are two bats living on the walls of the shower. There was a large roach in the pocket of my swimsuit the next morning, but besides that, those bats were welcome friends of ours.
The sounds of the river and waterfall lulled us to sleep quickly.
The next morning we woke up to the most beautiful view, with the perfect temperatures, and it was nearly impossible to not smile, do a quick happy dance, and be so grateful for the experience of a lifetime.