When our friends Jen and Witt Sparks posted on their blog (whensparksfly.org) that they would be in Costa Rica for a few weeks and welcomed visitors to come down, we jumped on it! We'd never been to Costa Rica before and the opportunity to see our friends that we hadn't seen in over a year! We spent 6 days in an apartment in Alajuela, a suburb of San Jose that's perched above the San Jose valley and explored the nearby Poas Volcano, drove 3 hours (to go 30 miles) through some of the craziest traffic and steepest roads I've ever experienced (even compared to Italy) to see the Orisi valley, experienced a 4.3 magnitude earthquake at 2am, toured a natural coffee plantation and had a great time. After Alajuela, we traveled with the Sparks up muddy dirt roads (that required 4WD) to the tourist town of Monteverde located high up in the cloud forest (think rainforest in the clouds). We stayed in a small casita right on the edge of the rain forest where we were regularly visited by beautiful birds. Here, we hiked through the cloud forests both on the ground and suspension bridges strung through the canopy. We hired a guide to take us on a night hike through the rain forest and saw a number of super creepy insects, leaf cutter ants, a viper, and a very close encounter with a margay (a small jungle cat)! We bid adieu to our friends Jen, Witt and Quinn Sparks and headed south to the Pacific beaches of Costa Rica, specifically Playa Bejuco and Manual Antonio. We explored Manual Antonio National Park before returning back to the dry highlands of Denver.