Friday, March 24, 2017

Our Introduction to the Osa Peninsula

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We arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica around 7:30pm on Monday night, caught the shuttle to the Hampton Inn right by the airport and got settled into our rooms. It was the absolute most seamless arrival we have had anywhere, EVER! We packed really light and only had carry-on bags so we hurried to immigration where we walked right up to a counter, and then headed outside where the hotel shuttle was ready and waiting for us to hop in. It was such good luck! After a little dinner at Rosti Pollos it was off to bed to be ready for the beginning of the real adventure the following morning.
I tried to be selective with the timing of our flights this trip to avoid any crazy early wake-ups and was nice to have a relaxed morning at the hotel. Mike and I worked out as best we could in the teeny little gym and we all got stuffed at the nice breakfast buffet. The kids enjoyed some last moments of television and then we were headed back to the airport.
Nature Air runs short routes on teeny planes between a few Central American countries and it took us a bit to find where to check-in since they didn't have an actual counter of their own. After asking around we checked in (and ended up in line with a funny, talkative lady I had been sitting next to on the flight from Houston the night before funny enough) and were handed hand-written tickets to Puerto Jimenez.
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We got through security quickly, hung out in the lounge a bit thanks to Mike's VIP card status and then headed to the gate a little before they were going to start boarding, only to find out that our flight had been delayed. It was then delayed again. I was getting worried that we had no way to contact the driver that was supposed to be meeting us at the airport and that with a delay of over one and half hours he may not be there (had I known then what I know now about the size of the town and the airport in Puerto Jimenez I would not have been worried though!). The Nature Air employee said they would notify the driver (I had no idea how at the time either haha, but now I know they probably had a worker just walk out by the runway and find the one driver waiting and tell him) and gave us $50 in food vouchers for the 5 of us to get lunch. The kids were SOOO excited because they had a Smashburger in the airport...so random. Mike waited with the bags and the kids and I hurried up to get the food. The line was long but we waited it out and then were so worried the plane would be there that we ran through the airport with our food to get back to the gate. We made it back with just enough time to chow down the food before they came to get us for a plane.
Finally we were on our way!!! The airport tram drove us up to a teeny little propeller plane that seated 17 passengers. I was excited that even this part of the trip would be an adventure! We had great views and aside from Ella feeling a little motion sick, it was a really fun experience.
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As we landed in Puerto Jimenez I think we realized just what an adventure we were in for. There was no actual airport. Just a teeny landing strip that ran alongside homes and a cemetery and a little office that was the "airport". A man name Marcos found us, loaded us into his car and we were off!

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Our first challenge was grocery shopping. Marcos knew we needed to stock up for our week (the house we were staying in had a kitchen and a woman named Leda who could cook for us if we wanted her to, but we needed to buy her ingredients for the recipes we had picked out) and that was our first stop. Trying to go through the grocery list in Spanish, look at the English translation and then find it in the store, which was HOT, was stressful. We did it though! We figured out that they weighed the produce and marked it in that section before going to the register, we figured out what meat was what at the butcher counter, and we figured out just how many bags of chips we needed to survive for 6 days ;-). I am sure Marcos thought we were kidnapped because we took so long in there!
With the hard part out of the way, I was in my element driving south towards the tip of the Osa peninsula down the dirt road. One of the most exciting thrills for me is being in a new place for the first time and just taking it all in. I especially love driving through little towns and getting a glimpse of what the people who live there are like. Puerto Jimenez is pretty teeny so it wasn't long before we were surrounded only by trees and fields on both sides.(interesting article on Osa here)
Marcos helped introduce us to a little glimpse of just how much wildlife we would see during our magical week. He pulled over as he spotted things while driving...cayman, howler monkeys, pygmy owls, etc. Addie would be dying to hop out each time he stopped to see what he had found!
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When we finally pulled up to the Casa Bambu houses and walked up to Casa Linda I think we all felt reassured that we were in for a good vacation. The view of the gorgeous beach from the patio was perfection, the house was large and felt clean and safe, we could hear howler monkeys in the distance and 2 rainbow macaws flew by.
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It only took a few minutes before we were all headed down the little path to the beach and almost immediately we realized there were hermit crabs EVERYWHERE. Addie and Preston could not believe their eyes and spent the rest of our time there playing with them (we had to have conversations more than once about why hermit crabs could not come on the tours with us).
We walked the length of the beach exploring, had Leda make us dinner (she did ribs as the meat the first night and everything was SO good!), and got all unpacked and settled in, feeling even more excited for the days to come!

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walking back up to our house
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Addie started drawing animals we saw each night and this was the first.
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