Traveling and Wildlife

Alyssa and I love to travel to more remote locations, especially when we can combine traveling and wildlife. Our favorites are places where we can truly connect with the local culture and experience the nature and wildlife in an authentic way.

Our Favorite Vacation (so far)

We have had some great opportunities to travel throughout our college and married years so far. Some of our favorite (and not-so-favorite, but still memorable) wildlife encounters happened on our honeymoon trip to Costa Rica back in 2014.

At our first location, we stayed in a remote villa on a hillside near the ocean. Each morning, we would wake up, make coffee (of course) and sit outside on the patio to just watch and listen. The sounds of the ocean, birds and lizards all around, and even a family of monkeys swinging around in the trees right outside! Being surrounded by nature can be so restful and relaxing.

But, it can also be a bit more, how do I put this, unnerving?

At our second location, we stayed in a cabin in the rainforest, almost completely off the grid. At dusk each night, the staff would light candles and torches around the property and cabin, as there was limited electricity. They even had hot tubs that were drained and filled every day from the river, and heated by completely by wood fire. Our cabin was great, the food and service was phenomenal, and we were so relaxed. And then we went to bed.

That’s when traveling and wildlife collided.

Alyssa was concerned with the mosquito net that was covering our bed, because the opening hadn’t closed completely when I climbed in after her. I assured her nothing would get in, but hopped over and tucked the net under the mattress to ease her mind. And then, we heard a noise. “It’s just something out in the rainforest, nothing to be worried about!” I said, like I’m an expert on the noises in a tropical rainforest or something.

Then another noise. “Okay that was inside, but I’m sure it’s just one of the lizards we’ve been seeing all over the place, they’re harmless!”

And then it happened. Something jumped off the ground at the foot of the bed, climbed all the way up the net, and ran over our heads. It jumped off the net and into the rafters overhead.

I (Cody) knew that until we knew what it was, and that it was gone, Alyssa would NEVER sleep again. I climbed out of the bed, QUICKLY tucking the net in all the way around the bed behind me. Grabbing a flashlight, I starting looking and tracked the critter to the bathroom. Sitting overhead on the rafter beams, staring back with big bulging eyes was a mouse. Not like a common midwest mouse either, but a furry brown mouse that was more like a large hamster.

Needless to say, we slept the rest of our stay with the bug net tucked in all around the mattress. But even so, we plan to return to the exact same lodge and stay again. Why would we do that to ourselves?

Totally worth it.

First off, the food. I’m pretty sure we would fly back to Costa Rica JUST for a home-cooked meal at that lodge. All of the food is cooked over wood-fired stoves and ovens, using ingredients grown or raised right on the property

Secondly, the people. We met so many people from Costa Rica (and around the world) there. Every person we met was so kind to us. We felt so loved and cared for, even by complete strangers.

More impressive than the food (and at least as impressive as the people) was how connected to nature we felt. We hiked around the property and enjoyed the acres of farmland, natural rain forest, wildlife, and gardens. We took a guided rain forest hike on the side of the volcano, up the road in a national park. Everywhere we looked, there was more natural beauty to see an experience. It was really like a step back in time, into a partially untamed wilderness.

There is just something about being IN nature that feels so right. Something so truly restful about enjoying and appreciating all that God has created. All the way down to that darn mouse running around in your cabin like he owns the place. How can we not be in awe with the amazing wildlife and habitats that exist? We are just so grateful that we have the chance to experience it, even when things don’t go according to OUR plan.