After graduation, I worked for a year and saved all my money to travel with 3 of my friends to Central America. Talking about our plans while visiting Colorado, someone overheard our conversation and told us to visit the “Tree of Life” when we were to go to Costa Rica. And boy am I glad we listened to their advice!

Sunset over the rocky beach - Dominical, Costa RicaAfter arriving in Costa Rica, we made our way to a small town called Dominical, where we camped on a beach or a week. One morning, we met a man who said he helped build the trail through the jungle that leads to the “Tree of Life,” also known as “Diamante’s Cave” or “Casa de Piedra.” With the initial guidance from our new friend, and the help of many other locals, we eventually found our way to a trailhead in the middle of the jungle about a week later.

The mountain ahead of us was huge. There was no way were were going to climb it with our big travel rucksacks and all of the camping gear we brought for our entire 3 month trip. So we wrapped all of our belongings in a blue plastic tarp, covered them with banana leaves to keep our things hidden, and took only what we needed up the mountain.

2006 - Costa Rica, La Casa De Piedra - Hiking ViewAs we arrived closer to our destination, we were suddenly surrounded by clouds. Hiking through a cloud jungle was a surreal experience. It was even more bizarre to then stumble across garden along the trail, but that’s when we knew we must be near. Suddenly the clouds opened up to an 80 foot waterfall in the distance.

2006 - Costa Rica, La Casa De Piedra - Waterfall FrontBehind the waterfall was a cave, and as we hiked closer then underneath and behind the waterfall, we found beds and seating made of stone and wood. Further up, there was an entire kitchen, complete with a sink and a gas stove. Beyond that was a shower overlooking the waterfall. The entire place was absolutely amazing!

When we arrived, there were only 2 other people there. They were tour guides. Apparently, this place that we found, “Tree of Life” is a retreat center (treeoflifetours.com) where guests normally pay a guide to help them find their way. However, these two tour guides at the cave said that since we had found it all by ourselves, our arrival was “meant to be” and so they only asked that we donate whatever amount we could at the end of our stay.

We stayed nearly a week and I’d have to say that my favorite part was the white noise created by the waterfall. Anytime I wanted, I could easily escape back into the sound of the water and be at peace with any troubling thoughts or problems I might’ve had at the moment. It was an amazing place to sleep, and by the time we left we were all much more at peace and ready to continue our journey through Costa Rica.

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