My Favourite Holiday: Author Traci Lambrecht says Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful places on earth

Rio Celeste Waterfall in Costa Rica, a country of immense beauty – and spiders!
Rio Celeste Waterfall in Costa Rica, a country of immense beauty – and spiders!

PJ Tracy was the pseudonym for the mother-and-daughter writing team of PJ and Traci Lambrecht.

Together they were authors of bestselling thrillers including Live Bait, Dead Run, Snow Blind and Want To Play.

PJ passed away in 2016, but Traci is continuing the popular Twin Cities series with The Guilty Dead, published in hardback (£12.99) by Michael Joseph this week.

COSTA RICA is one of the most beautiful places on earth, with lush jungles, snaking rivers, waterfalls, abundant flora and fauna, and delightful people.

They also have spiders large enough to kill and eat small lizards – carnage I witnessed in a hotel bathroom. But don’t let this deter you from visiting this beautiful country.

I flew into San Jose and my first destination was Punta Islita, on the west coast. I’d scheduled a charter flight on a bush plane from San Jose, but I have a real problem with small planes and my anxiety increased when I saw the plane – apparently there was something wrong with it, because half the airport employees and my pilot were standing beneath the wing, pointing and arguing.

I also noticed the co-pilot boarding with a large machete. If I hadn’t been so delirious from jetlag, I would have made a run for it.

Traci Lambrecht and mother PJ

Bush planes make unscheduled stops, as I soon learned. The most memorable was on a dirt strip carved out of the jungle that ran parallel to a deserted, white sand beach.

I disembarked with everyone else and asked if this was Punta Islita. No, it wasn’t, we were picking up a passenger.

Here’s where the machete comes in. As we waited for this passenger, the co-pilot grabbed his ferocious weapon, shimmied up a palm tree with impressive skill and grace, and whacked a coconut to the sand below.

He jumped down, slashed the top off and, with a smile and a flourish, took a drink. He offered his prize, and told me to enjoy. To this day, it is the best thing I’ve ever tasted.

Later, I was dropped off on another deserted jungle airstrip. There was a shelter with a thatched roof, a hammock, and a cooler of iced beer. And me, all alone in the jungle.

I assumed my hotel was nearby and that someone would pick me up eventually.

But at that moment, I didn’t care if they did – I was content to loll in the hammock with a cold beer and listen to the chorus of howler monkeys.