Saturday, December 09, 2006

It's a Jungle Out There

The Osa Peninsula certainly did us right this past week. We had remarkably safe travel and an amazing trip. The drive down took about 9 hours, because the last bit of it especially was very slow going. Infastructure is definately a part of Costa Rica, but the southern peninsula is a little behind the rest of the country and the world. We saw many more bikes than cars. We bumped our way to Puerto Jimenez and arrived at our hotel out in the boonies, only to find that the road was closed. Not to be deterred we found another road through bamboo and arrived in the midst of their employee Christmas party. When John went to ask about our rooms, the manager was shocked that we had managed to get back there, and since there was a party going on right under where we would be staying that night, she bumped us up to the really nice resort also owned by her for no extra cost for all three nights. This place was a dream location where the four of us shared a two story bungalow overlooking the ocean. The only drawback was the fact that Howler monkeys wake up at 5:00 am and begin to howl quite loudly at that time. It seemed that they were right outside our window, literally. While in Puerto Jimenez, we enjoyed our time lounging on the beach, kayaking through the mangroves and lounging in our gorgeous surroundings.
One highlight of our time in Puerto Jimenez was our morning trip to Matapalo, a large bit of rainforest by the beach. Because hiring a guide was insanely expensive, we decided to drive ourselves out there and see what we could. We drove on a wretched road right into the heart of this place and had no idea where we were or what we should be doing there. We pulled over at what looked to be a farm of sorts with guys lounging about, and Brian went to ask some questions. At this place, there happened to be rare squirrel monkeys, Scarlet Macaws and a white-faced coati wandering about. The Tico man who owned the place was happy to let us run around his property and take pictures. Then he told us about a waterfall hike that he would take us on if we wanted. It is crazy, because everyone was literally just hanging out on a Monday morning. We were excited about going hiking and got our stuff ready to go. Our kind guide was shirtless and barefoot, but he did go get a machete to strap about himself. At this point we realize that we have locked the keys in the truck. We are quite literally in the middle of nowhere, but the guys at this place all jumped in to help try to break into the truck. As the guys worked on picking the lock with asundry items, Steph and I waited, when strangely enough, a gringo came riding up on a four-wheeler saying that his friend was badly hurt and asking if there was anyting we could do. Since Steph is mostly through med school, she got on the back of his four-wheeler and rode up to the accident, where she ended up diagnosing a broken shoulder. After about 45 very long minutes, they were able to break into Brian's truck, and we joined Steph at the site of the accident. Since the ambulence was due any time and the injured man was stable, we set off on a quick hike to some gorgeous waterfalls, quite rounding out our incredibly interesting morning in Matapalo. Who knew.
After our wonderful time in Puerto Jimenez, we drove to Drake Bay, on the other side of the Osa, which required driving through 9 rivers and across the beach for a stretch. This place was quite remote and very undeveloped, which meant it was quite rural. We had to ask specifically to get rooms with electricity at the lodge we stayed at. The four of us shared a bathroom with no light that had fiber glass walls with a giant frog painted on the wall. We also had to hike up crazy hills and stairs to get to our rooms, which did pay off with a fabulous view. From Drake Bay, we took a tour of Cano Island, a 3 mile round island about 45 minutes away by boat. We went snorkeling and hiking and saw ancient stone spheres. We also spotted whales and dolphins on our way back.
Lastly, we spent one night in Manuel Antonio, a tourist hot spot in Costa Rica that truly is gorgeous. John and I spent about 45 minutes watching white-face monkeys eat and play and steal pizza from tourists. We also saw another sloth, moving very slowly of course.
All in all, our trip to the Osa was really great. Now we are back at Brian and Steph's spending a week in the life of missionaries in Costa Rica.