The beautiful garden at Casa Alma in San Jose, Costa Rica
random adventures

my volunteer & adventure trip to Costa Rica, day 1, San Jose

This is the first in a series of posts, one for each day, of an incredible 2-week volunteer & adventure trip to Costa Rica in December 2022. I wasn’t sure this trip would happen, but luckily it did.

Hard to believe I was in a bathing suit & flip-flops on a catamaran on the beautiful Pacific Ocean just over a week ago. Despite the drastic 70-degree temperature difference, I am still very grateful to be home. I escaped a crazy cyclone bomb storm that threatened millions of holiday travelers’ plans. With my volunteer & adventure trip to Costa Rica still fresh in my mind, here is day 1 of this fantastic 14-day trip.

heading to paradise

My flight wasn’t too bad, considering I had to schedule a cab for 4:30 am in order to catch my 7 am flight to Miami. Then from Miami to San Jose, the total trip was about 12 hours. Pretty routine as far as traveling is concerned. After landing and navigating the San Jose International airport, I stopped at an ATM to get some cash. Though US dollars are widely accepted, I wanted to get acquainted with Costa Rican currency. Currently, 1 US dollar = 600 colones.

Costa Rican’s new currency features wildlife and nature. Photo courtesy of Costa Rica Guide

Costa Rica resides between Nicaragua & Panama in Central America. A lush & rugged country, it has coastlines on the Caribbean and Pacific. Its capital & largest city is San Jose, with a population of 1.5 million. Costa Rica is known for its beaches, volcanoes, and biodiversity. About 30% of the country is protected rainforests, reserves, and national parks, making it a wildlife paradise.

google maps

I was a little nervous walking through the airport, looking for my ride. The original trip had been called off multiple times because of various COVID complications and was finally moving ahead. Thank goodness for Alma Travel Group. They stepped up & hosted, We Are Bamboo’s last adventure, ever. Bamboo was sadly going out of business & liquidating.

I imagine that trying to maintain a travel business during the pandemic proved to be a nightmare, to say the least. I was very sad to hear this news because I had gone to Tahiti with Bamboo in September 2019 and had an incredible time. Click here to read all about it. What I liked about Bamboo was meeting like-minded travelers who enjoy exploring this big, beautiful world by giving back (volunteering) and being active in animal & environmental conservation.

alma travel group saves the day

I can’t say enough about the owners, Kim & Alex of Alma Travel Group, who led our group on an adventure of a lifetime. Besides hosting us in their lovely home, they filled us in about the Costa Rican culture & assured us that we were in good hands. Our group leader was the fabulous Jana, while Ozzy was our lovable, fearless driver. This eclectic bunch of 11 travelers was from all over the U.S., Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Canada & the U.K. As a tour guide myself, leading small private tour groups in Chicago, hats off to them for leading us on a 14-day adventure with grace & kindness.

Music I Use:

casa alma

On the first day, we stayed at Casa Alma, the cozy home of Kim & Alex. Self-described as a boutique urban guesthouse, Casa Alma is a lovely, comfortable space that accommodates up to 17 guests. It has a guest kitchenette, a garden patio, and an indoor multi-use area. Check out their other tour destinations here. We relaxed while waiting for everyone to arrive, letting it sink in that we were really in Costa Rica!

Then we walked to dinner to get acquainted with our new travel mates. Some in the group arrived a day earlier & went on an excursion that included touring a historic church & a volcano. It sounded pretty amazing!

Like-minded travelers about to begin a fabulous Costa Rican adventure!

After dinner, we returned to Casa Alma to get some rest after a long travel day and prepare for the first full day of the trip. After a delicious breakfast the next morning, we loaded into the van and headed to the southeastern Nicoya Peninsula to learn about & join in a sea turtle conservation effort.

Hope you enjoyed my volunteer & adventure trip to Costa Rica, day 1, San Jose. Many thanks to Alma Travel Group! I will absolutely consider signing up for one of their trips in the future. Peru, perhaps? I tried something a little different with my photos in this post & created a movie. I would love to hear what you think.

Stay tuned for my volunteer & adventure trip to Costa Rica, day 2. Pura Vida ❤️

You will hear and see a phrase everywhere in Costa Rica: “Pura Vida.” It has been in Costa Rica’s vocabulary for over 50 years, and its English translation means “pure life” or “simple life.” It is, however, more than just a phrase – it is a way of life.


  • David Earley

    The video looks great. What a great start.

  • mimi

    Thanks Dave! Working on day 2 now.

  • Tressa Ferrella

    Enjoyed reading your Travelogue–looking forward to more of your days!

  • mimi

    Thanks for reading Tressa!

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