Costa Rica: Going south to Osa Peninsula

7 May

I used all the data of my Kolbi SIM card pretty quickly, hence the interruption in the flow. We’re back home since last night. I’m now catching up.

Monday 30 April 2012, we left Savegre Albergue de Montaña under the fog and drove to the city to return the rental car. The drive took almost three hours. After so many days away from cities, it was a bit of shock –all the animation and traffic. San José itself was crazy. Not only was there a lot of traffic at mid-day, but we drove past three accidents although people don’t speed that much (none of the accidents seemed serious, fortunately). At this intersection, for example, a truck had collided into a car (not visible in the photo), and while policemen were taking measurements, the traffic was taking place around them, both on the road and on the sidewalk visible at the right of the truck:

San José. An accident occured. Policemen are taking measurements. San José. An accident occured. Policemen are taking measurements.

San José. An accident occured. Policemen are taking measurements.

The car rental guy agreed to drive us to Tobias Bolaños international airport, a very small airport. So small that it didn’t have a bar or cafeteria, not even vending machines. We were starving. It occurred to me to try to catch one of the big birds or climb the giant mango tree and pick ripe fruit. But we just sat outside in the shade, enjoying the breeze, killing time. We were going to travel very soon in the blue plane:

Nature Air planes at the small Bolaños airport. We travelled in the blue one, a Twin Otter, to Puerto Jiménez.

Nature Air planes at the small Bolaños airport. We travelled in the blue one, a Twin Otter, to Puerto Jiménez.

The plane in question was a Twin Otter, and it wasn’t the smallest of the airline (since we flew in a smaller plane on the way back). About 15 passengers boarded around 3 p.m. and soon we took off. It was really impressive, more impressive than the usual big airliner. It wasn’t scary or anything (at least, not for me; I don’t want to tell on him, but this isn’t necessarily true for Vlad), the plane lift off quickly but not as high as big airliners do. So we had time to see the immense San José under us getting smaller and smaller, but it is such a large city that the entertainment lasted a while:

San José from a bird's-eye view

San José from a bird’s-eye view

Then the city went away and came the hills and their curvy ochre country roads, and meandering rivers between hills, and then clouds. We flew through clouds and above them. At some point during the 50-minute flight the pilots couldn’t avoid a series of air pockets. It lasted just long enough for my body to prepare to get sick (that is, five long minutes), and then to be glad it was over.

We landed in Puerto Jiménez, right behind the seafront and next to a cemetery very similar to those we saw in Guadeloupe last year, with white and black tiles decorating or protecting graves. We were going to be in the Osa Peninsula for 4 days, staying at the Lapa Rios Lodge, a luxurious ecolodge of 16 bungalows, for which we got a special offer. But first there was a short stay at the local office of the lodge, where we were greeted with a local drink –agua de pipa (coconut milk) and banana cake (very nice):

Agua de pipa & banana cake

Agua de pipa & banana cake

Then we set for a forty-minute ATV drive, as Lapa Rios is 18 km south of Puerto Jiménez. On the road, our driver showed us three big birds –crested caracaras, one young and two adults–, some monkeys in the trees, and a juvenile blue heron. When we reached the lodge there were two members of the lodge staff to greet us with wet hand towels and cocktails of fruit juice. How nice and unexpected.

We were then given a short tour and introduction, and were taken to our bungalow. It was dusk, there was still enough light to discover the view from the deck; long big waves in Cabo Matapalo, behind a thick forest:

Cabo Matapalo waves at dusk, view from Lapa Rios.

Cabo Matapalo waves at dusk, view from Lapa Rios.

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