What to Pack for a trip to Costa Rica?

I am super excited. A new addition to the bucket list. I had no idea about Costa Rica. I mean, yeah, it’s a country in the tiny narrow section of Central America. It has great beaches. It’s like any other Central America country. Right? Nope. I was so wrong and am moving Costa Rica up to the top of the list. I am just a plane ticket and one perfectly packed suitcase away from this “Rich Coast” vacation.

El Ocotal, Costa Rica

Located on the north-east coast, El Ocotal, Costa Rica is small beach town with a large beach resort on Ocotal Bay. To enjoy the beauty of this country, I will definitely pack my bathing suit. Costa Rica is known for its beautiful beaches and none are more beautiful than the ones on the Pacific Ocean side of the Spanish-influenced country.

Fortuna, Costa Rica

The interior of Costa Rica is just as fascinating. It’s full of rich tropical rain forest, mountains, and waterfalls. I packed my hiking shoes to traverse the forest and find one of these pockets of tranquility in Fortuna, Costa Rica. Fortuna borders the Volcan Arenal National Park. The 29,000-acre park is two volcanos side by side, both dormant for several thousand years. The park offers several hiking trails carved in the lava fields and forest of the park.


Volcan Arenal – Image courtesy of Cindy Baker via Trover.com

Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Further down the west coast is another beautiful beach town called Tamarindo, Costa. The city is a popular tourist destination for Costa Ricans on holiday. I need to pack my surfboard for my visit to Tamarindo. It has some of the best waves on the West coast. Waves reach up to 12 feet in November and December. Once I wear myself out from a day of surfing, I can’t wait to sit back on my surfboard, relax, and watch one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world.

Tamarindo Beach – Image courtesy of Garrett Britton via Trover.com

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica is a national park near the urban area of Quepos. The scenery is some of the most breath-taking in the world. The 682 hectares is home to several birds, wildlife, and plants, but its most interesting residences are the three different species of monkeys. The beach is considered one of the top 25 beaches in the world, so I will make sure and pack my sunscreen. I’ll be spending a lot of time hanging out on the white sand beaches of Manuel Antonio Park.


Image provided by Erika Calvert via Trover.com.

Papagayo, Costa Rica

Located on a peninsula that jets out into the Gulf of Papagayo is Papagayo, Costa Rico. This area of Costa Rica has some of the most amazing resorts. The rich and romantic seek out Papagoya Peninsula for their getaways. I packed my riding boots because I want to see this part of Costa Rica on horseback. Guided tours wind through the hills and valleys and if I’m lucky, I find one of those beautiful waterfalls the country is known for.

Have you been to Costa Rica? 


Press Play on These 4 Great Travel Podcasts

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on March 22, 2016.

The appeal of travel is that you get to, well, go somewhere. That’s why a travel podcast might sound a little counterintuitive at first. Most people would rather go to Peru (for example) than hear someone else talk about it. And if that’s not an immediate option, browsing photographs may seem superior to spoken word.

And yet podcasts have exploded in popularity precisely because the spoken word is so powerful, and because a lack of visual commitment makes them perfect for filling time stuck in traffic, walking the dog, or cleaning the kitchen. Plus, travel podcasts specifically can clue you in on new destinations, while also offering travel tips, language lessons, and much more.

If you’re in the market for some new podcasts to add to the queue, try one of these; it just might just inspire your next vacation.


1. The Indie Travel Podcast:

For the last decade, New Zealanders Craig and Linda Martin have been “professionally homeless,” meaning they travel full-time. The couple chronicles their travels on the Indie Travel podcast. According to a recent anniversary episode, Craig and Linda describe “Indie Travel” as the desire to experience a destination as opposed to just seeing it — generally by engaging with the local environment, businesses and people.

In most episodes, the couple hones in on a specific destination and talks about their experience — whether that means navigating the United Kingdom, living in Mexico, or visiting Ukraine. The couple also sometimes shares more practical advice and interviews other travelers. With over 300 episodes already broadcast, new listeners have plenty of backlog to enjoy on top of the usual two to three new podcasts coming out each month.

2. Travel with Rick Steves:

A good number of top travel podcasts are created by a couple or group of friends who quit their full-time jobs to travel the world. They are (understandably) eager to share tips and best practices to that end — which is great! But many of us aren’t in a position to necessarily rearrange our lives around travel; we simply want to get away or spice up some standard trips. That’s why the “Travel with Rick Steves” podcast remains a staple.

Episodes don’t spend time on his life story or on motivational quotes about breaking away from your routine. Instead, the episodes showcase places and cultures, while also featuring renowned guests from activist and author Gloria Steinem to British actress Joanna Lumley. And while Steves’ voice may sound a bit monotone when you first tune in, it’s actually quite soothing as you get used to it, making for perfect background listening.


3. Conde Naste Traveller Travelogue:

Another established, well-executed podcast that features a nice range of voices is the Conde Naste Traveller Travelogue. Conde Naste is one of the world’s leading media companies, while its Traveller Magazine boasts beautiful photography and seemingly endless travel suggestions. The podcast, as you might guess, is essentially the magazine a new form.

Launched last fall, the weekly episodes are conversational, yet keep things a bit more journalistic. So far, topics have included how to travel with kids, information on new TSA rules and how to survive holiday travel, in addition to destination-specific highlights from Australia to Miami. Oh, and each episode kicks off by sharing the “Cocktail of the Week.” Get a buzz on, then book a trip!

4. Survival Phrases:

Ever find yourself in a new country without the ability to even ask for basic directions? That’s where the “Survival Phrases” podcast comes in. It can help travelers prepare (or perhaps cram last minute) for travel to a country in which people speak a different language. There are podcasts series available for 27 total languages, from Spanish to Chinese to Dutch. In teaching important travel phrases, the podcast attempts to offer listeners “cultural insight you will not find in a textbook,” including frequently used modern phrases.

If you have travel coming up, pick a podcast, scroll through the archives and find an episodes that focuses on your destination. You’ll be sure to find some great suggestions and stories, while other episodes may also provide the perfect place to visit for vacations that follow.

The Very Inspiring Blog Award

inspiring-bloggerI haven’t done one of these properly in a while. Since the big move, a lot more has changed then just my geographic location. I thought it was a good opportunity to update you on what is happening in the world of Sydney Aaliyah Michelle, the person, the writer and the blog. Thanks so much to Fel Scotzig at The Peasant Revolt for the opportunity.

The Rules!!

  1. Display the award logo on your blog.
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  3. State 7 things about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 bloggers for this award and link to them.
  5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

7 Thing About Me:

  1. I have discovered a love for reading science fiction. I love the movies, but never really gave it a chance as reading material. When it comes to world building/scene setting, you can’t beat a good sci fi novel. – Thanks Steve Umstead and his Gabriel series for showing me the way.
  2. I am a huge football fan and didn’t realize how much I missed the drama of it while living overseas.  Just catching the playoffs of the 2012 – 2013 season showed me so many highs and lows, fights and injuries, band substance accusations, fake girlfriends and bizarre love triangles.  And you thought it all happened on the field.  SMH
  3. Unemployment doesn’t quite suit me. I figured I would use all this free time to get my blog in order and editing done on WIP #1. But, it’s back firing on me. I am much more productive with a lot less free hours in the day.  I’ll use the rest of this free time to examine why this is.
  4. Even though I am unemployed, I still spend a good part of the day planning what I am going to buy once I am employed. And, moving home from China, I basically get to start all over. That means buying a car, getting an apartment, finding a church, and a gym.  I get to develop a whole new routine.  That includes my annual vacation this year and next year. So far, I’ve planned a trip to London (I miss my favorite city), Hawaii (Mark Koopman’s writing retreat) and DC (Beyonce Concert).
  5. Sydney Aaliyah is a pen name. It has parts of my real name and I have started to add more of my real name, Michelle, which creates a new pen name. So, if you start seeing Sydney Aaliyah Michelle around the blogosphere, that’s me, too.  But, please feel free to still call my Sydney, Syd or Sam (that’s what my parents call me).
  6. I did find my writing spot. It was a recommendation from Kate O Lynch.  The Coffee House Cafe.  The food is so good. They have a cool patio with a fire place that is nice for reading.  Most important, it is quiet from 2-5.  Perfect writing time while I am still unemployed.
  7. In case you didn’t get it, I’m looking for a job.  If you or someone you know is looking for a writer, event director, project manager, editor, proofreader, golf club consultant, book recommender, and/or hand holder while you get your first or fifteenth tattoo, I’m your girl.  That last one, I would actually do for free.  😉

15  Nominations: 

  1. Donya Lynne
  2. Ellie Garratt
  3. Mark Koopmans
  4. Ali Cross
  5. Shannon A Thompson
  6. Spearman 101
  7. Gus Sanchez
  8. Misha Gericke
  9. Marcy Kennedy
  10. Raewyn Hewitt
  11. Annalisa Crawford
  12. Kyra Lennon
  13. Elise Fallson
  14. Tasha Seegmiller
  15. M.L. Swift

Congrats to the winners and check out their blogs.

Who inspires you? 

I Know What You Did Last Summer – Fact or Fiction

I would like to thank Emily and Melody for allowing me to relieve a painful and bitter sweet summer memory.

This particular memory occurred quite a few years ago, but it still makes me cringe every time I think about it.

My best friend and I had earned some extra money working in my dad’s warehouse.  We did this a couple times per summer and it paid a lot; 10 whole dollars a day.  That was a lot for a couple of 12 years.  We decided to put our money together to revive my friend’s old fish tank.  But, we were way to mature for fish.  This time we were going to construct an terrarium with frogs, snakes and lizards.

Her mother had stored her old aquarium in the attic and we decided to go look for it.  The attic was on the second floor or her house.  It wasn’t a finished attic, but it looked safe enough.  It had exposed beams that criss-crossed to make a floor and exposed insulation.  I knew not to walk on the insulation.  Plywood covered half the floor and several boxes were stacked along the walls on the plywood.  It was August in Houston, Texas, hot and sticky.  We wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.

“You look over there in the corner,” I looked in the direction my friend said and spotted it.  Way in the back.

Only a couple of boxes were in my path.  I stepped on a beam and moved the boxes blocking my way.  I took another step and then another and then


I fell through the floor.

Now, I don’t remember falling and I don’t remember landing.  I remember hearing the crash, but the next thing I saw was my friends face looking down at me through the hole in the ceiling.  Her head looked so small and at that point we were both kind of confused.  Then it registered to us at the same time what had happened.  She started screaming, I started crying and then the pain hit.

My best friends mom came out to see what all the noise was and she sees me lying on the concrete floor.  She starts screams.  But, not at me. No, she is screaming at her daughter whose’s head is still sticking out the hole in the ceiling.  “What the hell are you doing up there?” her mom said.

Thankfully she had the phone in her hand.  She called 911 while now yelling at us both.  “I told you I would get the damn thing?” “Why don’t you ever listen?” “You could have killed yourself.”

She was right.  I had fallen between a patio table with a glass top  and a bar b que pitt.  If I had been off just 6 inches either way, I would have been hurt even more or worse.  So, I guess you can say I was lucky.

I ended up breaking my back bone in three pieces.  My doctor said I fell perfectly. I liked that.  I felt pretty blessed.

Now the bitter sweet part, I had to spend the rest of the summer in bed.  But, I watched movies, read books,  and annoyed my mother to entertain me when I was bored.  Oh yeah, and I got to keep the terrarium in my room for the summer.

Now, did this really happen?  Come back on Wednesday and read another summer memory and let me know which one you think is true.  

Dog Days of Summer Blog Fest – Ultimate Vacation

When I heard about this Blog Fest I had to join.  Thanks so much Jeremy Bates.  Great idea.  Since I haven’t had much of a summer and no hint of a summer holiday, I would like to at least hear about others enjoying their summer.  Click on the badge to read other summer inspired posts.

Along with living vicariously though my fellow blog hoppers, I wanted to share with you my Ultimate Vacation.

I have a long bucket list of places I would like to visit all over the world, but my Ultimate Vacation might surprise you.  I would like to drive across the United States.  I know it doesn’t have the history of Europe or the cultural diversity of of Asia, but I think it would be so much fun to visit different parts of America and see first hand the american culture in all it’s forms.  I have it mapped out already.

I would start in Maine in the springtime.  I picture a harbor in Maine with a lighthouse as the perfect place to start my cross country adventure.  Next stop would be New Hampshire to visit Dover established in 1623 (a long, long time ago) and Vermont to the Ben & Jerry’s factory.  All the ice cream I can eat.

Then, I would spend a few days in Boston (great city), then New York (greater city) and New Jersey (I have to get to Pennsylvania some how) and then proceed west.

Next, I would stop in Philadelphia.  Walnut Street is one of my favorite places to shop and I haven’t spent nearly enough time there.  After shopping, it would be nice to drop in on family and friends in Maryland, DC and Virginia.

I would make a quick drive through Kentucky to get to Chicago.  Chicago would be my food stop.  From the pizza to 3 restaurants that are on my bucket list, I would leave Chicago full.

I would head over to Wisconsin (cheese and white water rafting), then Minnesota (Mall of the Americas). While the weather is still good, I would spend some time in South Dakota.  I really want to see Mount Rushmore.  Montana would be fun, too.  It it’s not to cold, camping in Glacier National Park would be amazing.

I would drive straight through Wyoming to go skiing in Colorado, spend a week at a writer’s retreat in Taos, New Mexico, and then relax in a spa retreat up in the red mountains of Sedona, Arizona before driving to Vegas for some serious indulgence; food, shows and gambling.

I would proceed north, to Lake Tahoe for some golf and then proceed to Oregon to explore some of the ghost towns and then wind up in Seattle, Washington for what else, but coffee.

All in all this trip would take about a year.  But, just think of the things I would see, adventures I would have and the stories I would write.

That is my Ultimate Vacation. What is yours?