RU Abroad with Rachel: Stepping Foot Into The Jungle

Toronto to Newark, Newark to San Jose. After arriving in Costa Rica, I had one night in the capital city before heading off to Puerto Jimenez the next morning. Despite excitement and wild anxiety to finally start the yoga retreat, I slept pretty well on my first night in a new country. Originally, I thought that I would be able to include almost all parts of my journal into these blog posts (read the background of my blog post series here). But boy oh boy, some things cannot be made public. I will be taking some words right off of my journal, but other thoughts and experiences will remain just within my private pages. No worries though, some of the most important thoughts, reflections, and wonderful words from people I’ve met throughout my trip will indeed be shared.

I left San Jose by bus to get to Puerto Jimenez. In total, I was on that bus for eight hours. It’s not as bad as it sounds, mostly because the coach bus was comfortable, air conditioned, and surprisingly quiet. I also got to see rural parts of the country (I’m talking itty bitty villages built on mountaintops; mini supermarkets selling a handful of things, and skinny cows feeding on grass on the side of the road) that I would have never seen if it weren’t for that bus ride. Looking back on that bus ride, my butt was numb and I was sick of almonds (my precious snack) but it was worth saving over $90 USD by skipping the plane ride.

Rachel ruabroad mountains

The views of surrounding mountains and cities and villages outside of the bus window were stunning. This is what I wrote on the bus ride, at 12:39 pm on February 28th:

“I have no idea where we are. If I ever don’t get myself on the bus on time after the pitstop, I’m so screwed. We stopped a second time, this time for longer, at a gas station with one restaurant and a little store. I bought water while everyone else is eating fried rice and other stuff. Can’t… I’d feel too bloated for the next few hours, sitting on a bus. I might buy a fruit cup, though. On the way, we’re picking up people, and dropping off people. I see a couple, French I think, who stand out. I’m the only Asian girl. I keep getting stares and murmured ‘Chinos?’. Anyway, we should arrive in Puerto Jimenez before 4 pm! Thank God, ugh.”

Puerto Jimenez is a town, but it’s not like Mississauga or Brampton. It’s like… Queen West. Yonge and Bloor. What I’m trying to say is that the town is really, really small. It’s basically the size of one of the neighbourhoods we have in Toronto.


There is one main grocery store that is the size of our Metro near campus. A hospital that’s no bigger than Victoria building. A “Biblioteca” that has “Biblioteca” spray painted on one of its sides. There is one police station, and a handful of restaurants that mainly cater to tourists and foreigners who drop by the town to teach English, or stop in town before heading to the Osa peninsula, a 45 minute taxi ride from Puerto Jimenez. The Osa peninsula is home to a few yoga retreat centres and luxurious vacation homes that overlook the Pacific ocean (to the West) and Golfo Dulce (to the East). The taxi driver told me that the government has put in much effort to preserve the nature in the area as much as possible, which means that human beings have to be more cautious and respectful to not disturb other living things on the peninsula.

ru abroad rachel lee

After stopping in Puerto Jimenez, I caught a taxi ride to Osa, after meeting two fellow Torontonians who were also attending the yoga retreat. After a very, very bumpy 45 minute ride, we arrived at Tierra de Milagros. Owned by an elderly couple from NYC, the beachside property is managed by the couple’s daughter, a NYC chef who took care of us for 7 days. Get ready for some mouthwatering photos in the next few blog posts. Since we arrived past 6 PM, it was already very dark. The next morning, I was able to see the beauty of the jungle, the beach (Playa Pan Dulce and Backwash Bay), and also some animals and creepy crawly things surrounding us. I met the twelve other women who were attending the yoga retreat, and we got much closer than I originally imagined. More to come.