Saturday, September 06, 2008

Labor Day Trip

Kurt, Kory and I took a Labor Day trip to Drake Bay, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica. Kurt and I have been to Costa Rica before in December 2006, but we did not go to the Osa during our last trip. Thus, this trip was scheduled to explore the most remote area of Costa Rica. Kory has never been out of the country with the exception of Canada, so this would be a totally new experience for him.

Awesome, incredible, and unique trip. Loved it. And, I came back feeling refreshed and less annoyed with the office…..I did not take a computer with me, so I handwrote a trip report each day after the day’s hikes and the like had happened. Am now typing from my notes…..

Day One

We flew from Detroit to Dallas to San Jose, Costa Rica. Had dinner in Dallas as our layover allowed time for that. Had soup and salad, and thought our waiter’s use of “y’all” was very “Texan”. Landed in San Jose and breezed through customs. I liked it because I walked up at the second part of customs, and they allowed me and Kurt to just walk through, not putting our bags through or anything. Love being blonde in Central America…….Went outside, hoping that our hotel would be there. Right outside, a guy with a sign that read “Lori Haskell”. Whoot. Jumped on the shuttle to the Garden Court Airport Hotel and Casino. Knew Kurt was tired when he did not insist on checking out the casino, LOL. Pretty much went straight to bed, setting our alarm for our early flight to Drake Bay.

Day Two

Got up super early for our flight to Drake Bay. We flew Sansa Air, in a one propeller small plane. Smallest I have ever been on.

I loved it, but was concerned about Kurt because he hates flying. He was fine and actually commented it was a great flight. Flew into the *airport* in Drake Bay. Yea, it was pretty much a hut in the middle of nowhere.

So cute. From there, we were picked up in a pick-up truck, riding in the back. The truck is *supposed* to cross two rivers, then take us to a boat. WELLLLLL, one river was high and our truck was not even trying to make it through, since a bigger truck had gotten stuck already. So, we had to wade across the river. In waist deep water. Luckily, I am not high maintenance with huge suitcases. We all just threw our backpacks on and slowly crossed. The current was really strong and some guides helped us. Jumped in another truck, soaking wet, and were taken to the beach to a boat. Jumped in the boat and were taken to the resort, where we were met at the dock by Vincent, one of the managers of Aguila de Osa. Vincent took us to the bar and told us to order whatever we wanted, on the house. I got a really yummy drink called a Tropical Storm. Yea, should not have done that on an empty stomach. Was buzzed the next several hours…….Heh. Vincent sat us down and went over the tours available and such, gave us the key to our room and asked what we wanted to do next. Oh, while Vincent was talking, another manager, Carlos, came up and grabbed me to show me animals. In the first 5 minutes of being there, I saw a baby iguana, a huge crocodile, several bats sleeping, a Jesus Christ lizard (they can walk on water) and a tanager (a pretty bird).

We next chose to unpack and get acquainted with the resort. The walk to our room was more like a strenuous up hill hike, LOL. We were at the top, in Room 6. After walking up four flights of steep stairs, we fell into rocking chairs outside our room to catch our breath.

The change in elevation and the steep stairs really take something out of you! But, the view in return is incredible. In front of us was the jungle and a complete ocean view. Totally gorgeous. Decided to take a hike to through the jungle and to the beach next. On the way to the beach, we saw spider monkeys, a bat (right by Kory’s head, which was hilarious, he jumped a MILE), heard howler monkeys, macaws, lizards, crocodile, herons, flycatchers and frigates.

Finally got to the beach, which was almost deserted. One other couple was there. Nice. We walked around, and saw a ton of crabs and clam.

Took some pics, then hiked back for lunch, which I needed to undue my drunkenness. After that, I was tired. The boys decided to hike into *town*, which is all of like two stores and some hostel type restaurants. I took a nap. I cannot tell you the last time I had time to take a nap. But, nothing is more relaxing than napping, in the nice weather, with a fan on and sound of the ocean and the jungle. On their walk, the boys saw capuchin monkeys, leaf cutter ants, and a tree full of like 20 red macaws. The boys came back and we headed down to apps and dinner. While sitting with apps, Carlos asked if we wanted to head out on boat to watch the sunset.

Of course we did! Headed out to a gorgeous view. Dinner was tilapia, rice, pork, broccoli, flan, etc. Super yummy. The eating style was *family style*, at two tables where everyone staying at the resort sat. We talked to a family from Holland, who became our friends for the trip. That night, Kurt was not feeling well, so Kory and I headed out on the night hike with Gustavo. One of the scariest hikes I have ever done, LOL. Loved it. We saw a kinkajou (also known as a night monkey), crocs, Jack O Lantern crabs, which are SOOO kewl looking. Toads, frogs of many variety, tarantula, spiders, snails. We had to wade through streams and rivers, which let me tell you, in the dark at night with a flashlight is a TINY bit scary……..It started to rain at the end, so Kory and I were pretty wet from the wading and rain by the time we got back to the room. Told Kurt about the hike, then crashed as we had a long day ahead of us the next day on the mangrove tour.

Day Three

It poured all night, and I slept so hard. I love the rain. Stopped raining as we were getting ready to head to breakfast. Perfect! Headed out with Carlos on the Mangrove tour, which was prob one of the most awesome tours I have ever taken. We took a boat across the bay into the mangroves and saw so many animals. Carlos, very helpfully, wrote down all the stuff we saw. He does that for us, but also to keep track for the resort. We saw the following (and a lot of these, we saw more than one of the same):

Green Iguana
Sackwing Bat
American crocodile
Yellow Crowned night Heron
Green Backed Heron
Blue morpho butterfly
Brown Pelican
Little Blue Heron
Royal Tern
Magnificent Frigate bird
Three Toed Sloth
White Ibis
Yellow Headed cara cara
Long Nosed bat
Mangrove tree Boa
Mangrove hummingbird
Howler Monkey
Spectacle caiman
Squirrel Monkey
Common Potoo
Mangrove Crab
Purple gallinule
Black Bellied Whistling Duck
Capuchin monkey
Green King Fisher
Belted King fisher
Black river Turtle
Scarlet Macaw
Tiger Heron
Solitaire Sand piper
Night Moth

Stopped and had lunch in Sierpe at a place called Las Vegas Restaurant. Slightly different than Las Vegas. Much better, actually! J. Had a spicy shrimp meal that rocked, then walked around Sierpe. Kory bought some Costa Rican beer, and Kurt bought two bottles of rum to bring home. He loves foreign rum, it’s all we carry at the Haskell Bar and Grille. Ride back to the hotel was over some huge waves, we had Kurt slightly freaked out until the ocean calmed. Came back and we all took a nap, then headed down to the bar to play Scrabble and wait for dinner. Dinner was awesome, again. Had this incredible snapper with potatoes and lemon pudding. Met a really kewl family from New York at dinner this night.

We also saw a baby boa that day at the resort that Carlos found and brought to us. Kory came saying he wanted to see a boa, and Carlos just kept delivering anything we wanted, when we asked!

Day four

Today, we got up early to do the Corcovado Sirena Station Tour. The ride there was pretty long, over an hour in the boat over pretty choppy water. Our Guide on this trip SUCKED. We found out later, after Kurt complained at the resort, that the regular guide had an emergency and this had been a fill in, so the resort ended up giving us the tour for all three of us for the price of less than one of us should have been, so it made up for it some. A wet landing, jumping into the ocean and walking to shore. We did see a lot of animals, but NOT thanks to the Guide. Thanks to other guides on the trip. Anyway, on the hikes, I felt like I was literally RUNNING thru the jungle. That’s how fast this Guide was going. He did not look for anything and seemed to want to get to lunch. But, we did end up seeing all four kinds of monkeys (that are in Costa Rica; squirrel, capuchin, howler, and spider). The squirrel monkeys were adorable, and we had never seen them before, as they are very rare. Loved watching them jump thru the trees. We also saw a coati VERY close up, white ibis, pelicans, crabs galore, agouti, toucans flying, and best of all, two tapirs. I never thought I would get to see tapirs in the wild.

They are endangered and awesome. Both were sleeping in the shade. One had recently been attacked by a cat of some sort, a puma possibly the Guide thought. He had scratch marks on his back, but appeared to be healing OK. Amazing creatures. I was so excited to be close to one. I was only about 6 feet away. Had lunch on the beach then headed back to the hotel. Took a nap (standard here, LOL). Kory and I then walked around the resort gardens and took the walk part way into town. At dinner, Kory was mentioning wanting to buy some jewelry for his mom, and suddenly, Carlos produced a table with a girl selling handmade stuff. I ended up buying a wood Costa Rican necklace and one made out of a Costa Rican stone that is black. Kurt bought himself a necklace.

Day 5
This day, we decided to do the Corcovado National Park San Pedrillo tour. Took another boat ride, about half as long as the day before. On the way there, we saw, in the ocean, a gorgeous green sea turtle, crocs, and lizards. I have never seen a turtle at sea, so I loved that. Really kewl. Another wet landing, jumping into the ocean and walking to shore. It POURED on our first hike, which limited the amount of animals we saw as the animals seek shelter in that weather, but we did see a bunch of howler monkeys, great curassow (a bird that kinda looks like a turkey), tiger heron, ibis, and a lot of macaws. We had ponchos, but were literally drenched at the end of the trip. There was an overweight, really high maintenance girl on this hike, which was ANNOYING. She constantly needed help with everything, was slow, AARGH. Hated being wet, hated bugs, and so on. I was thinking ‘why are you here, seriously?’ On the other hand, we met a couple who are biologists who were extremely kewl and knew so much about Costa Rica and the jungle. Anyway, as SOON as we got back to the ranger station, the sun came out. Of course, LOL.

Right by the ranger station, we saw two anteaters, which I have also never seen, so I was really psyched about that. Had lunch, then headed out for another hike to a waterfall. Kory and high maintenance chick stayed back (Kory had cut his foot). The hike was AMAZING. We saw coati, agouti, tiger herons and one of the nicest waterfalls I have ever seen. It took some major uphill/downhill, river crossing to get there, but all worth it. We sat there for some time and relaxed, then hiked back. Got back pretty late and chilled a little before dinner, playing Scrabble. Stayed after dinner kinda late, playing Scrabble and chatting with other guests. Kory drank almost an entire carafe of red wine. It was free, so I guess he did not want it to go to waste? Went to bed after that.

Day 6

It poured all night, so I was kinda concerned our flight from Drake would get cancelled. Ate breakfast, then headed on the boat to the truck, through the two rivers (did not have to wade across this time), and to the plane. Took ride back to San Jose, and to the airport. Had lunch and walked around the airport stores. Kurt bought a couple little sculptures for his office (one of two macaws and one of a monkey), and I bought some postcards to send out, and a really kewl wood (cortex) bowl. I have kinda started a foreign wooden bowl collection, and now have ones from Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua. Flight went fine to Miami, had dinner, and on to Detroit. Got home late, came home, straight to bed.

Overall, amazing trip. Not the kind of trip for everyone, but if you appreciate relaxing, nature, wildlife, water, and being someplace totally one of a kind, this would be for you. I have never seen so much wildlife in my life. We had a capuchin monkey, a red iguana and a gorgeous green hummingbird that hung out, outside our room in the trees at almost all times. Parakeets, macaws, frigate birds and black vultures flew overhead at our room all the time. I would go back to this resort in a heartbeat. Best service I have EVER received. The maids left our towels in cute little shapes, the servers were at your table the moment you sat down for meals or were thirsty and the managers would do anything to accommodate you. The rooms and views were gorgeous.

Click here to see the rest of my 250+ pics. Yea, I go a little bit crazy with the camera.....


Brittany said...

You trip sounds amazing, and your pictures are awesome, as usual!

.................Nancy said...

W-O-W! I don't even know what to say.. you like live my fantasy life!! hehe In my next life I want to be a smart liberal blonde lawyer that takes the coolest vacations!!