1. anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.
  2. “I realized I was a lifelong sufferer of FOMO”

Urban dictionary definition: The fear that if you miss a party or event you will miss out on something great.

My definition: DON’T MISS THE EVENT.

Luckily, I’m here to provide you with all things you’ve missed, in this popping city of Los Angeles. My name is Shirley Ju, and I live, breathe, sleep Hip Hop. Coming from the Bay, I grew up to the hyphy movement. That being said, turning up is all I know. This will be a weekly recap of the dope events that I myself felt like I couldn’t miss, and you guys wish you were at.

Friday, December 1

It’s finally here: the trip I’ve been waiting impatiently for months. B̶a̶c̶k̶p̶a̶c̶k̶i̶n̶g̶ glampacking. This is exactly what it sounds like. The spoiled version of backpacking. We’re doing it all: hiking, coffee tours, staying in local hostels. . . but we rented a car. Game changer, especially in a foreign country. Costa Rica has been on my list for quite some time now, and I was stoked to finally be able to pull it off.

I went with my soulmate (yes, we call each other that) and her good homeboy. We took a red eye out of LAX at 12:55 a.m. Thursday night, flying Delta Airlines. They had delayed the flight four minutes, which I thought was hilarious. Was that necessary? Anyways. I’m pretty notorious for being late and (nearly) missing my flights, so I was advised to get to the airport three hours early. Good thing, because LAX was on one. I felt like everyone was on my level: operation gtfoh for the holidays.

I don’t mean to rag on L.A., but I am a wanderlust and I believe the point of life is to travel. I feel like I work my ass off to travel. The world is literally enormous and there’s so much to see. Let’s explore. We land in San José, the capital of Costa Rica, at 8 a.m. The flight was five and a half hours and you know it was rough for a girl with ADD. There was no turning back now. We picked up our vehicle from Economy Car Rental and we were off.

We were on our way to check into our hostel in Santa Elena, and had to get out to see the beautiful view along the Pacific Coast. First stop on our itinerary: coffee. We wanted to take the official tour at Monte Verde Coffee Center, but we missed it by 30 minutes. That’s okay, we were still able to go and sample. I guess Costa Rica doesn’t believe in decaf. Smh. I can’t have caffeine.


Tables filled with espresso beans outside the Monte Verde Coffee Center.

They had the most delicious tea though, and we drank it on a table I personally fell in love with. It was filled with a variety of espresso beans under a see-through glass. On the way back, we caught the sunset at the same view we were at earlier. I’ve been really conscious of trying not to be on my phone this trip, so I’m probably not getting as much footage as I should.

For dinner, we decided to walk from our hostel and explore. This is what most backpackers do. It felt like we were in a tiny town with hole-in-the-wall food places and souvenir stores. We happily stumbled upon Tree House Cafe, one of the top 10 most bizarre restaurants in the world. Yes, please.


Tree House Restaurant & Cafe in Santa Elena, Costa Rica.

It was magical. We spent all night there. My friends split a bottle of wine, and I enjoyed the live band and the fact that we were elevated up “in a tree.” The only negative part of the evening was the fact that there was no hot water in the shower back at the hostel. That was a bit rough.

Saturday, December 2

The early bird gets the worm. We got up at 7 a.m. for breakfast, which was included. FYI, Spanish is the main language here. Communication was definitely not my strong point. I went up to Spanish 5 in high school, but can barely complete a sentence. I was able to say I wanted fruit and eggs. . . barely.

Wasting no time, we got in the whip (we decided to name him Freddy) and made our way to Monte Verde Cloud Reserve. We were ready for the physical challenge. This was straight up in the mountains. We hiked about an hour and a half to the designated viewpoint, and then hiked some more to the hanging bridge. Walking up and down the wobbly bridge was honestly awesome. Scary, but awesome. You could see entire forest underneath you. Total duration of the hike: 3 hours and 15 minutes.

P.S. I had brought two blank CDs for our rental car and decided to spend one on Childish Gambino’s Awaken, My Love! Genius. We couldn’t get over how perfect it was for this trip. We were literally in the jungle and the funky vibes of the project couldn’t be more fitting. Now I get why Gambino performed in Joshua Tree. We were so stuck on the first track and kept repeating it. 


Waterfall on our rainforest cloud hike at Monte Verde Cloud Reserve.

This was my favorite part. We spent a good amount of time at this waterfall, just soaking it all in. The hike itself was exactly what I wanted out of this trip: being in nature and literally shutting myself off from the world. Everyone was so green, and the air was too fresh. We felt like we were in Jurassic Park. Can you believe dinosaurs existed?

We kicked it for a bit at the hostel and got some food. I was randomly obsessed with the grilled corn at the taco place next door. The next thing we had booked was the night hike tour at 5:30 p.m. It was with a family owned business called Santuario Ecologico Monteverde. This shit was absolutely nuts. We were literally in the rainforest in pitch dark with only flashlights. I felt like Tarzan, real talk.


The tiniest frog on our night hike tour.

The entire walk/hike lasted about two hours. I was super into it when it started, until I started getting attacked by bugs. It was ridiculous. At one point, a stick bug was chilling on my arm and I freaked the fuck out (definitely screamed). At multiple times throughout the night, we turned off all our lights and just listened to the crickets chirp. It was nature at its finest.

We hit Tree House Cafe when we got back. Couldn’t resist.

Sunday, December 4

We had planned to do the Tarzan swing and a waterfall hike today, but literally woke up to rain. Pouring rain. Plans canceled. It’s crazy how much things can change due to weather. I honestly couldn’t believe how bare the hostel was at this point. Backpackers are definitely prepared for moments like this. I wasn’t. Sigh.


Lake Arenal, Costa Rica.

We had a 4-hour drive to our next destination in La Fortuna. Because of the rain, they advised us to go around this lake, Lake Arenal. Thanks again, Childish Gambino. The drive was scenic, we saw a lot of animals. The roads are extremely bumpy and difficult to drive. Shout out to the homeboy who had the time of his life doing it.

We stopped by the cutest cafe on the way: Cafe y Macadamia. Just look at these cinnamon rolls. Mouth watering. I copped some legit Costa Rican coffee for the rental units here. It was a much-needed pit stop. Only one hour left to our destination…


The view from our room at the resort.

I literally don’t feel like I deserve this. But I do. I work my ass off. This was the Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa. My homegirl hyped up the hot springs part of the trip, and now I know why. It was literally everything I ever wanted. Pure bliss. It was definitely still raining here, but not cold rain. 

These hot springs were literally relaxation at its finest. I needed this so fucking bad. It’s like an all natural, man-made hot tub. That’s how I would describe it. The water (101 degrees) comes straight from the volcano posted nearby. Damn guys.

Glampacking guys, glampacking. We had dinner at the bar and walked around in the resort in our robes. Who do we think we are?

Monday, December 5

One thing I can tell you (in traveling or real life), is you can never trust the weather, especially what the forecast predicts. We assumed it would be raining again, but woke up to sunlight blazing through our room as we pulled back the curtain. Yes. Time for the volcano hike.


Arenal Volcano in Fortuna, Costa Rica.

Destination: Arenal Volcano National Park. You pay $15 per person to drive in and park, and then proceed to go on a trail that leads you to a dope view of the volcano. The trail itself had us feeling like we were in Jurassic Park again. This seems to be the theme of the trip.


Early morning volcano hike at Arenal National Park.

It didn’t take long at all, and we had an early start, which meant we were done by noon. I love being productive, especially when you travel. The early bird gets the worm. My girl was tired, so the homeboy and I decided we wanted to check out the La Fortuna Waterfall, which was such a great decision. You have to make the most of your time, especially when you’re in another country. There was a high chance of rain in the afternoon, but we said fuck it.

Shout out to traveling in threes. I’ve always heard it’s better to travel in threes than in twos. There needs to be a mediator.


The La Fortuna waterfall.

It was 500 stairs down, and 500 stairs back up to see this beauty. After this, we were officially burnt. We picked up food and brought it back to our room. We couldn’t help but laugh because we realized we could see the same exact view of the volcano from our balcony. It was literally hilarious. The hike was unnecessary, but necessary at the same damn time.

Can we please look at this moment I captured via Snapchat? This little girl literally kicks the big. Her mom was terrified. I was dying.

I love my friends. They turn the fuck up. We head over to the hot springs for round two, and they were on a good one after hitting their Jameson bottle. Words of advice: if you’re going to bring alcohol on a trip, cop it at the airport duty-free beforehand. It’s so much cheaper.

I was most excited because I decided to splurge on a honey treatment massage. I saw cheaper massage places off site, but the homie convinced me to do it at the resort. This was a whole other experience.


The waiting area inside The Grand Spa.

I’ve never experienced such bliss and tranquility. The massage took place in a bungalow at 8 p.m. at night, outdoors. They asked if I wanted music or natural sounds. I picked the latter. My lady was honestly doing the most, and I fucking love excellent customer service. I was provided with the spa services which included a hot tub, relaxation beds, smoothies, tea, you name it.

The massage itself lasted an hour, and I showered off the sticky honey with hot spring water in a bathtub right outdoors. I can honestly say I didn’t miss America one bit in this moment.

Tuesday, December 6

Time to make moves again. We had a 5-hour drive to our next destination: the Caribbean coast. Yesssss. This was the beach part of the trip. We kept saying how perfect the weather was for the dates we picked. We had just missed a hurricane that hit. My homegirl who went over Thanksgiving had a 12-hour flight delay. No bueno (sorry I’ve been on my Spanish tip).

The drive was brutal, with the roads being nearly impossible to steer. Shout out again to the homeboy for being MVP. I burned a new CD for my friends and they couldn’t stop repeating “Some Kind Of Drug” by G-Eazy and Marc E. Bassy“Fake Love” by Drake was a close runner-up. Those songs will forever be tied to this trip.


The sunset on the black sand beach.

This was the villa part of our stay. Going from hot springs to the jungle again was probably not the smoothest transition, but look at this damn sunset. The hotel/villa was literally steps away from the well-known black sand beach, or what they call Playa Negra. We had lunch at the restaurant and walked about 100 feet to the water. It felt so good. I didn’t get all the way in, but my friends did. They were one with the ocean. I almost drowned once before, so I have a slight phobia of having play time in this vast body of water.

We had the ultimate chill night. The drive tired us all out, even though homeboy did all the work. This was such a different part of Costa Rica. Finally, no rain. The weather was perfect. It was warm, but not too warm. I repped my AlunaGeorge long sleeve tee I received from Red Bull Sound Select in their #30DaysInLA concert series. Thanks for the merch <3.

We went back to our room, which was two stories and stocked with a king bed, twin bed, full kitchen, balcony, two bathrooms, the list goes on. We kept joking how spoiled we were this trip, but it all came down to how much we deserved this. I really do hate spoiling myself and I hate the term ‘vacation.’ It’s just all too surreal.


A turtle swimming in the pond next to me.

We went for dinner at the same (only) restaurant/bar. The evening was so tranquil, filled with nature and sounds of crickets and frogs. We were right next to a pond with a bunch of frogs and I definitely had a good moment just observing them and how interesting they were. And this turtle was in the same pond as a koi fish. This is seriously beautiful, guys.

Confession, we streamed Love & Other Drugs when we got back. We were craving a chick flick and the homeboy could not stop raving about it. It hit the spot.

Wednesday, December 7

Finally, a good night’s sleep. I literally could not sleep the night prior and spent the evening bored af/waiting for my friend’s to wake up. Don’t you hate that when you travel? It was 9 a.m. and time for our free breakfast. Hotel Banana Azul is so lit. They have A1 customer service even months before we arrived. My friends got huevos rancheros while I got a ham and cheese sandwich. I fell in love with the koi fish beside me.


The Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica.

Today was the sloth sanctuary tour. Our homeboy literally was going to cry. He was the most excited to see the sloths on this part of the trip. As was I. Zootopia literally set the bar for sloths. If you haven’t seen that movie, please do. We chose to take the insider’s tour which was $150 each. You heard me, 150 dollars each.

The tour started at 11 a.m., and we were there until 3 p.m. Our first encounter with a sloth was Buttercup, which they named their hotel after, Buttercup Inn. Apparently, she’s the oldest female sloth in the world, 24 years old. The tour consisted of meeting adult and baby sloths, a nice lunch by the river, a canoe trip, bugs, and a behind-the-scenes tour of the nursery. It was literally like the Planet Earth channel came to life. We were all so into it. We learned a lot, too. We love science.

On our way back to the villa, we stopped by a cacao plantation and bought out all their real chocolate. It was so dank. No artificial sugar. I will never look at Hershey’s the same. We spent the rest of the day at the beach. They played in the ocean while I kicked back in the sand. The sunset was beautiful, per usual. This was my last night here, tear. My girl is doing me a solid by taking me to the airport four hours away at 2:30 a.m. Flying back to L.A. in the AM. I’m ready for it.

Thursday, December 8

I can’t even count this as a new day because I literally had no sleep. I remember when all-nighters were a piece of cake. Now, I’m 25/26 and the struggle is too real. If I could only playback my last 24 hours for you guys. . .

We stayed up in our villa last night talking, which means, the driver and the passenger in shotgun, who was responsible to keep the driver awake, got no rest. I was the latter, and I nearly failed. My girl was doing me the biggest favor by driving me to the airport (ily). From Puerto Viejo, it was a 4-hour drive. Luckily, the roads were paved most of the way, but the bipolar weather and random outbursts of rain pour made me uneasy.

We hit the road at 2:30 a.m. Homeboy finally got the take a break from driving and he KO’ed in the back like a little baby. Shout out to this noise-cancelling Bose headphones, those seem to definitely do the trick. We tried to talked the entire ride, or else we would have fallen asleep. This was brutal. Like I said, I’m old now. I was nodding off halfway through. I only had one job…

I arrive at Juan Santamaría International Airport exactly when I needed to. For 7 a.m., it was definitely crackin’. I had time to kill before my flight, so I spent a good amount of time sampling the free chocolate in the gift shops. I was excited to lace my friends. If you got one, you’ve made it.


Fast forward through the five and a half hour plane ride (which I couldn’t fall asleep on), and I’m back in la-la-land. Perfect timing for HipHopDX’s holiday dinner party. It wasn’t all smooth, though. I finally get back to my apartment at 5 p.m. and honestly did not feel well at all. After laying in bed for a couple hours, I finally showered and mustered up some energy to get dressed.

The dinner took place at Marino Ristorante on Melrose in Hollywood. This spot has 4.5 stars on Yelp, a rare occasion. I walk into the private room next door and the whole HipHopDX team is posted, sitting at a long table enjoying their caesar salad. I was super happy to see them, and my girls.

They fed us too well. Before the salad, they were served pizza and calamari. After the salad came the pasta, entrée, and dessert. YG’s line, “We eatin’,” kept replaying in my head. We also got laced with HipHopDX windbreakers (thanks Nina!). Over dinner, J. Cole’s long-awaited 4 Your Eyez Only album dropped and our two writers had to bust out their laptops to get the story up. I thought that was the cutest thing. #NoDaysOff.

Happy to be back, but not so happy about the 30 bug bites all over my body. Good thing it’s winter here, sweater weather all day.