I just returned from celebrating my 25th birthday in Costa Rica. This was my first visit there and I left with a great admiration for the country. Costa Rica is, in a word, green, reflecting all things sustainable, rich in wildlife and nature. I marveled at the ecological pureness.

I can't speak for all of Costa Rica, but the region we visited was incredibly conserved. It's as though the native people accept that the land belongs to nature and respectfully share their country. Towns and restaurants are practically nonexistent near Uvita, with entertainment revolving around spending time outdoors. It's truly an escape from reality which is part of the allure.

Our home for the trip, Oxygen Jungle Villas, was a breathtaking haven, hidden away on a remote hilltop. Oxygen contains twelve Balinese style glass villas, each one very private and concealed by the trees of the jungle. The trek up the long, winding road, even by car, is not an easy one. If you go to Uvita with a lot of activities on your agenda, I would not recommend staying here. Otherwise, it couldn't be a more calming getaway.

The cuisine mirrors the Costa Rican lifestyle: simple, relaxed, and humble. Rice, beans, and plantains are daily staples and completely unavoidable on menus. Where Uvita lacks in restaurants, it makes up for in fresh tropical fruit and ceviche vendors, which line the uncommercialized roads. Due to the somewhat troublesome location and limited selection of restaurants, we were confined to eating most meals out of the hotel, which was not such a bad thing.

As our visit was at the start of the rainy season, the sun made rare appearances, but even the rain couldn't have been more enjoyable. I can't think of a better way to enjoy an afternoon nap than being enclosed in a transparent shelter and surrounded by the rainforest during a storm.

Our most adventurous day involved a picturesque 1.5 hour drive to the Sierpe River, a 45 minute boat ride through the mangroves alongside crocodiles, and a terrifying stormy journey on the Pacific to Corcovado National Park. Once there, we completed a 3 hour hike in search of wildlife, but they were left unseen. Although unsuccessful in our original endeavor, the hike itself through the jungle was a first for me and a memorable experience. 

I left Costa Rica feeling refreshed, enlightened, and fulfilled, now absorbed in thoughts about dishes to create inspired by this paradise..

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