In one day, toucans perched on my shoulders, renegade frogs postured on my head and hummingbirds literally ate from the palm of my hand. I hiked through a lush Costa Rican cloud forest and felt the spray of 10-story high waterfalls crashing into crystal-clear lagoons below.

It’s just another typical day here at Peace Lodge’s adjoining property, La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park.

The nature park is comprised of two sections, including an animal reserve filled with Costa Rican wildlife including jungle cats, snakes, frogs, monkeys, butterflies and rare birds. Signs posted in the animal reserve explain that many of the animals were illegally owned as pets and were confiscated by the Costa Rican government. Unable to be released into the wild, the animal reserve gave these beautiful creatures homes.

The second section of the park, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, consists of a series of forest trails winding past majestic waterfalls, thick canopies and vibrant plant specimens. Personally, I’ve enjoyed my visit so much, I could see myself living here—just not near the snakes.

For more information about the La Paz Waterfall Gardens here: http://www.waterfallgardens.com/

Jennifer Rhodes is a writer and teacher whose big mouth and complete absence of sound judgment make her a liability in most professional and social situations.