Stories Behind the Photos
La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Oren (my boyfriend) and I had just landed at San Jose airport in Costa Rica that morning, around 6am, from a Los Angeles red-eye flight. We had a shuttle pick us up from the airport to take us to La Fortuna, where we would be staying for the next couple days to check out Arenal Volcano, local hot springs, and do some hiking and kayaking. The drive took a few hours and by the time we checked into Hotel Kokoro, we were already exhausted. It was only 11am.
We had signed up for a horseback riding tour prior to our trip that was scheduled to leave at 12:30pm. After squeezing in a short nap, we were on our way. We honestly weren’t sure what to expect out of the tour – we thought it was just horseback riding in the rainforest, which sounded perfect for our first day.
We joined a small group of about 6 other people and the guides gave us a quick overview of how to maneuver the horses. Shortly after, we started our ride up one of the mountains, enjoying the gorgeous scenery along the way. It was foggy and the volcano had a beautiful mist around it that made the whole place look ethereal. Wild toucans were flying around everywhere – it was the first time I’d ever seen them in real life. They’re awesome.
When we reached the top of the mountain, we tied up the horses and were going to hike down to a waterfall lagoon. This was actually a surprise to us; we had no idea our horseback riding tour included a venture to a waterfall. Despite getting no sleep the night before, I think both of us were just so happy to be there that our 2nd wind kicked in and we were all for it. It took about 45 minutes to hike down as we crossed several suspension bridges along the way, like the one above I posted on my Instagram. Words can’t explain how amazing it is to walk through the forest like that.
When we got to the lagoon below, the water was crisp and clear – perfect for swimming. The waterfall was mesmerizing as well, tumbling over the cliff above us. Oren and a few other guys kept trying to swim towards the base where the cascaded water crashed into the pool below, with no luck obviously!
After enjoying this pocket of paradise hidden in the rainforest for about an hour, we hiked back up to where we left the horses. Our guides then took us to an indigenous village where we met some of the local people and listened to them talk about their culture and traditions. We were allowed to explore the village a bit and admire the beautiful huts they constructed. They passed around a cider they made from scratch and showed us their traditional art, most of it based on the wildlife and nature.
Our first day in Costa Rica couldn’t have been more perfect. For more ideas and further information on what to do there, see Top 10 Things To Do In Costa Rica.
We visited Q’inqu as part of the city tour in Cusco, Peru. This tour took us around to several sacred sites around the prehistoric city of Cusco, Heart of the Incan Empire. This location was one of the largest wak’as (holy places) in the Cusco region, consisting of various breathtaking natural rock formations. The name “Q’inqu” itself translates to labyrinth, represented in the diagonal and crooked pathways.
Just by walking through it, you can get a sense of why the Incans believed this place held some sort of power. You could definitely feel the energy emanating from it. Perhaps because of this, it was also believed to have been the location for Incan sacrifices and mummifications.
Carnevale (Carnival of Venice) is held annually in Venice, Italy. It coincides with the Christian celebration of Lent, ending the day before Ash Wednesday. However, what it’s traditionally more famous for is its elaborate masks and costumes. I went to Carnevale with a few friends when I lived in Bologna, Italy (year-long study abroad program). We took an early morning train and arrived in Venice around 7am that day. This photo was taken when I was able to capture a beautiful, quiet moment before the festivities began.
- An average of about 50,000 tourists visit the city center daily.
- The city has 118 islands and more than 150 canals and 400 bridges.
- The Acqua Alta (“high water”) tides can rise up to 2 meters (6 feet). They flood the low-lying areas, including St Mark’s Square. Partially due to these tides, Venice is gradually sinking. A colossal dam system is currently being built to block the Acqua Alta tides.
- A couple famous Venetians you may have heard of are Marco Polo and Casanova.
- Venice is divided into 6 districts and the numbers of the houses are numbered according to these districts, not the street. This makes it almost impossible to find an address if you do not know the way or are able to identify it by proximity to a certain monument, famous building or shop. I remember this very well as finding specific restaurants was mostly trial and error for us!
- The structure of Venice was created out of necessity to escape a barbarian invasion. The city’s unique landscape would make it harder for invaders to infiltrate.
- Depopulation remains one of the most serious issues facing Venetian society. The number of individuals residing in the city’s historic area is 61,000 less than it was in 1966. Some experts believe that Venice may become a ghost town as early as 2030, only getting traffic from visitors.