Costa Rica Part 1: The Hilton Papagayo

First off- thanks so much for the support on my post about not running the NYC Marathon. As much as I don’t care what people think of me, of course a little part of me does and it was a little difficult to come to my decision and then share it. I really love you guys and appreciate that you accept me for who I am- an insane person who overshares and changes her mind a lot 🙂 I’ve admitted defeat and moved past it and that’s a big accomplishment! I’ve also taken almost 3 weeks now off from running (except a 2 miler on Wednesday) and I am now itching to get back into it whereas I had dreaded every run for the last few months when I had the marathon looming over me.
On to the good stuff. Our trip to Costa Rica was in the works for about 2 years when John’s sister first got engaged and decided she wanted to have a destination wedding. Score! I picked the right family to join! 😉  So the last month before we left was crazy with shopping, and the craziness surrounding John’s dilemma with getting his passport on time. Long story short: he applied weeks before me (early June) for his passport and I got mine in 2.5 weeks whereas he still hadn’t received his a week before our trip. That entire week was probably the worst of our relationship; so much crying and fighting and feeling totally helpless at the mercy of the assholes who work for the passport agency. No clear answers were given and I nearly had a stroke multiple times. That Thursday we were told it had shipped and “should” arrive by Monday. SHOULD. We were leaving Tuesday. 3 PM Saturday, the damn thing finally came. Big middle finger to whoever took so long with it. I hate you.
That Sunday was glorious. I ran 13.5 miles in the morning with Andrea and that’s the run that I had a heart-to-heart with her and decided to  call it quits with the marathon this year. Since this was my first real adult trip, I treated myself to a great mani/pedi/massage/eyebrow combo, my first pair of Birkenstocks (OBSESSED) and a new pair of shades from Express. Getting ready for a trip is almost as great as the trip itself, eh?
Oh just a disclaimer; I’m going to break it up into each day so grab a drink and some popcorn if you’re into reading novels. 🙂 I actually am going to write so much that this will be a 2-part post. Trip of a lifetime deserves 2! Also: LOTS of pict
That Monday I taught my last class in the morning, worked all day (plus over an hour longer… reallllly had to work for this vaca 🙂 ) then met up with John and his mom for pizza. This was her first time seeing us in the city and I can’t wait for her to come actually stay for a real visit! We went back to our apartment and finished all our packing and got a few hours of sleep.
Tuesday we were up real early, showered and in a cab by 6 AM. Our flight was at 9:50 and it was our first international flight so we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time. If you’ve read my blog in the past you know I have a very bad fear of flying, so my anxiety was out of control as soon as we set foot inside JFK. We got through security with plenty of time to get breakfast and relax. I had a delicious strawberry banana greek yogurt smoothie bowl from Jamba Juice with granola and peanut butter on top, then 30 minutes before we boarded I had a big ol’ glass of wine. This is what semi works for my anxiety so don’t judge that this was 9 AM, mmkay?
Here’s my coping mechanisms. We get on the plane, I usually am spotted looking terrified by the pilot upon entering or a flight attendendent who try not to laugh at me, we sit down and I HAVE to cry. Not hystarically, but it happens involuntarily for a few moments and then I feel 3% better. Then I chew gum like an annoying child and start to sweat and overheat, like to the point where you can feel the heat radiating off my body (ask John). This was our first flight together and I did MUCH better with him because I’m so used to him calming me down from my anxiety attacks anyways. In other words, I’m a god damn mess. Be happy you don’t have to date me. 🙂 Once I get through the first 20 minutes of take off, which involves me clenching the hand of whoever I am flying with until their fingers are damaged, I can begin to relax a little. I stress eat, and JetBlue is absolutely AMAZING for this. All the free snacks and drinks you want! I went with Terra chips (incredible) and animal crackers while watching Sex and The City 2.
Miranda took my mind off how much I wanted to cry the whole flight.
Miranda took my mind off how much I wanted to cry the whole flight.
prettttty clouds
prettttty clouds
Finally, 5 hours later, we arrived. John’s sister and fiance picked us up and we drove to our first destination: The Hilton Papagayo All-Inclusive Resort. In other words; heaven.
landing in Costa Rica!
landing in Costa Rica!


I can’t say enough good things about this place but let me start. We sat right down to lunch and the start of many howling monkey drinks, which were like delicious mango smoothies with local clear rum called Casique. I HATE rum after drinking it so much of it when I was younger, but this was basically tasteless. Mmm I miss those drinks so much. First meal in Costa Rica was fish tacos (I didn’t eat the shells because they were corn) and a salmon wrap. Delish.
Iguanas everywhere. This dude pretty much owned the resort. Love him.
Dinner the first night was at El Dorado, a contemporary cuisine restaurant on the resort. All-inclusive is literally heaven. You can order any amount of appetizers and entrees you want! The portions are relatively small of most things because it isn’t America, ha. It was super dark inside, so my appetizers are unpictured but it was a grilled vegetable salad a skewer of peanut crusted shrimp. My entree below was duck with a potato cake and dessert was pistachio ice cream and chocolate truffles.
We were all super stuffed and sleepy so we sat by the pool with some drinks for a bit and then got a good night of sleep.
Wednesday was our only full day at the Hilton so we got up early to fully enjoy it. First up was breakfast. Aka, heaven. SO MUCH UNLIMITED FOOD. I had eggs, waffles, fruit, sausage and the most incredible out-of-the-oven whole wheat bread slathered in pineapple jam. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

For the record: I do not enjoy papaya. It tastes like feet.
For the record: I do not enjoy papaya. It tastes like feet.
Followed by hours at the pool and beach. And my beach fashion. 🙂
Andddd more food. Lunch was SO GOOD and incredibly healthy. All kinds of veggies, caviche, plantain chips (obsessed) and more bread. We also OD’d on Coke Light while there. I think the U.S. is the only place where it’s called Diet Coke but regardless, Coke Light tastes SO AMAZING! They use more sucralose (Splenda) than aspartame. All I know is Splenda doesn’t give me stomach aches and aspartame does so I drank a buttload of it!
Back to the pool/beach area. This time with champagne. When in Rome (or an all-inclusive resort) 🙂 .
Finally got off my lazy beach bum and went on a hike with John. Technically this was my first ever hike and holy smokes is it hard. This was just 15 minutes up the hill and my butt was killing me. Views from the top were incredible! The pictures of the little cabanas is where ours was. So cozy!

ha my attempt at yoga ;)
ha my attempt at yoga 😉


We left pretty abruptly once John heard a rattlesnack. That brought me back to the reality of how I am SO not an outdoorsy girl. But I will stand outside for a gorgeous sunset.

Our last dinner at the Hilton resort was just like the rest- delicious. I had raw tuna spring rolls that were fabulous and a wedge salad with bread to start.
Grilled BBQ chicken with a side of unpictured chipotle potatoes and veggies.
And mini desserts of carrot cake and pumpkin cake.
Love of my life 🙂
John’s mom and I got up early to walk on the beach for our last morning at the Hilton and for an early breakfast so we could enjoy every second of the beach. We stumbled upon a dead puffer fish! I love sea life. 🙂
2 plates of food and a green juice for breakfast. I seriously lost 7 pounds on this trip and it makes no sense. I ate like a 600 pound man.
Beeeeach. Don’t make me leave.

Beach squint. 8-)
Beach squint. 😎


John and I kayaked, too, and I think my abs still hurt from laughing so hard. We each had our own and I basically couldn’t move mine and kept spinning in circles. I have no basic coordination.


We finally packed up and left around noon to head into the rainforest for the next half of our trip. Next recap will be all about it and John’s sisters’ wedding!