For 15 years Shawn Thomas has traveled the world as an official BMW tour guide and off-road riding instructor. His daughter Hailey has always been in love with motorcycles and inspired Thomas to combine his passion for riding with the joys of parenting. Father and daughter have shared several motorcycle adventures throughout the US, Central and South America.

Here’s Part 6 of their latest adventure into the villages, beaches, and rain forests of Costa Rica.

father and daughter motorcyclist
Like riding with Hailey, waterfalls in Costa Rica have no equal.Shawn Thomas

Adventure Log Day 6: What The Heck Is A Pizote?

Location: Arenal Volcano to San José.
Weather: Warm and windy, then rain.

They look like a raccoon mixed with an aardvark. They make cute little squeaky sounds, and though they are wild, you would think they were pets. And Hailey is in love with them. We were riding up a mountain toward a waterfall park and came across the critters on the roadside. Our guide Juanca hopped off the bike, knelt down, and in moments was crawling in furry cuteness. Apparently these pizotes are used to tourists and are quick to ask for a snack. We stayed for a good half hour feeding them, and Hailey didn't want to leave.

father and daughter
Perfect timing as we both need a shower.Shawn Thomas

Finally we continued up the mountain, arriving at an awesome roaring waterfall. It was one of several, and an entire park had been set up around them. We had a quick bite at the on-site restaurant and took a look around. In addition to waterfalls there was a small zoo, complete with aviary, butterfly habitat, reptiles, monkeys, and even some local predatory animals such as cougars and ocelots. Hailey really enjoyed feeding the hummingbirds, and I was enamored with the jaguar habitat. Those are some intense cats!

Of course, no trip to the waterfall park was complete without a trip to the waterfalls. This was tough, thanks to my injured foot. A staircase wound through the rain forest, each step causing a throbbing pain in my stubbed toes. Our guide Chris tried to keep the pace sympathetically slow, but Hailey would have none of it and charged ahead. The pain was worth it; the falls were even more intense and beautiful close up.

It was drizzling when we returned to the bikes. By the time we suited up, it was dark and raining. It was right around this time that I remembered my rain gear, which was nestled safely in my hall closet at home. Oops. Suffice to say the ride was cold and miserable. But the rain let up, and eventually we enjoyed a crisp, warm ride back in to San José and Elephant headquarters.

pura vida keepsake
Pura Vida—the most famous saying and Costa Rica and now Hailey’s favorite keepsake.Shawn Thomas

Hailey was a bit melancholy at first, sharing that she didn’t want the trip to end so soon. But she got over it when the team at Elephant presented her with a plaque depicting “Pura Vida,” the Costa Rican slogan meaning “pure life” or “simple life” to the locals. We had spent the whole week hearing it and were only just starting to say it ourselves without butchering the pronunciation.

Pura Vida means a lot more than these simple definitions. Like “aloha” in Hawaii, it’s used to convey happiness, acceptance, and enthusiasm. This certainly lends to why we heard it so often, as the Costa Ricans are exceedingly kind and happy, seemingly at all waking hours. Indeed, the entire country gives off a feeling of relaxed serenity and beauty.

These moments of Pura Vida with Hailey are more precious to me than anything I can imagine. As she ascends to becoming a young woman it’s my sincere hope that these adventures will bond us together, keeping us close.