Monday, March 27, 2017

The Grand Slam! and Ziplining Costa Rica

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For our first full day on the Osa peninsula we had a zip line tour scheduled for the morning and were being picked up at 8:30am, which I thought would mean a rushed morning of eating and getting ready to go. While we were staying at Casa Bambu though we ended up going to bed early each night (the sun would be down by 7pm and having lights on inside only lured bugs in so we usually were in our beds by 7:30pm) and then were up not long after the sun, around 5:30am (this proved helpful for the kids when we came back and they were right on their normal schedule still). This first morning waking up on Playa Matapalo though I woke up really early and walked down to the beach as soon as the sun was peeking out enough that I felt safe enough to venture out from the protection of the bug net :-). It was absolutely beautiful on the beach in those early hours watching the sun come up and the hermit crabs were out in full force! I also saw a couple of the big crabs digging back into the sand to hide away for the day and knew Addie and Preston would be excited about them. When I walked back up to the house around 5:30am they were awake so we hurried back to the beach and enjoyed the rest of the sunrise together (the big crabs were all hidden away at that point but the hermit crabs were still everywhere). For the next 4 mornings after, the three of us went down to the beach around 5am and I loved starting my day that way. The pelicans flying across the sunrise were beautiful and the scarlet macaws would wake up with the sun as well and start flying among all the trees on the coast. It was truly like a scene from the best dream ever.
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the only other person at the beach :-)
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it was nearly impossible to get a good picture of the macaws flying, but they were sooo beautiful when they were. Mike managed to get this winner
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view of our house from the beach
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We had a nice, hearty breakfast that day (we knew we had earlier departures the next two mornings), got ready and Marcos was back to pick us up. He ended up being our driver our entire stay and was such a funny guy. He didn't speak English but loved to talk, so Mike endured most of his chatter :-), occasionally passing on interesting info to us. He liked to tell stories but also taught us a lot about the area and the animals that lived there. He loved to joke with the kids about Howler monkeys and then would imitate them and thought he was so funny, haha! He was great at spotting animals while driving and always would stop so we could get out and get a closer look.
When we pulled up to the zipline place, Osa Palmas, I was initially a little disappointed because the scenery looked more like our Dominican zipline than the Costa Rican one Mike and I did years ago in Manuel Antonio that we loved. We did end up going further into the jungle though as we progressed through the lines and there were a couple nice long ones, plus one that they bounced the line up and down for us on which was really fun and a favorite of everyone.
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While we were climbing up to start with the first line one of the guides heard a toucan and sure enough there was one in a tree near by. It was our very first spotting and we were SOOO excited!!! Toucans were at the top of Mike's list for what he was hoping to see, and of course the rest of us were all hopeful as well. Preston had already left down the zipline when we saw it and he was so bummed to miss it, but luckily we saw plenty more later on during the trip.
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Oh, I want to remember this too...The kids and I all had the company's nicest, smallest gloves for the day which made it easier to do things while wearing them. I had the GoPro on my helmet and was also trying to take some photos and videos with my phone which was in a special case around my neck so I would take off the left glove occasionally to press buttons on both. Near the beginning, maybe after the 2nd line, we were on this platform, way up in the trees and about to climb up a ladder to an even higher platform to go on the next one when I dropped the left glove. The platform was made of wooden planks and there was one gap in it and I watched as the glove fell perfectly from the crook of my arm right down through that small opening and just kept falling and falling. Uh, whoops. I felt really badly and one of the guides had to give me another random glove to wear instead. I was very, very careful not to drop that one haha.
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The owner of Casa Bambu had arranged this tour for us and had also mentioned that they had a good restaurant on site that supposedly had good pizza. We decided to stay and eat when we were done and the kids were really, really excited at the prospect of pizza :-). Mike and I ordered the typical Costa Rican meal (Casado)...chicken, rice, beans, plantains and it was great but the highlight of the meal was a little appetizer we ordered that was sooo delicious! Plantains, which had been smashed super flat and fried so they were like tortilla chips with a yummy pico de gallo type dip and a pureed black bean dip. It was a hit...and it was a good thing because the food took a loooong time to be ready :-).
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On our way back home Marcos pulled into a little side road to show us a pretty little hidden beach. We were all hot and sweaty after our ziplining and were looking forward to some time at our own beach, but when he showed us that one we wanted to try it. He said it would be an hour walk from our place so Mike asked him about driving us, waiting for us and then driving us back. He said he didn't want to drive back and forth :-) (it was a long, bumpy ride from town to our house), but that he would drop us off there on his way home and we could just walk back when we were done. So he pulled up at our house, we quickly changed, grabbed the real camera and hopped back in the car. The kids were NOT excited by our decision. They wanted to just stay at the beautiful beach we had right outside our door, but we had plenty of days left to enjoy it so we promised them a stop for cold sodas on the walk home.
The beach was really nice and we had it all to ourselves. Mike and I relaxed in the shade while the kids played in the water for awhile. There were macaws flying in the trees along this beach as well and at this point we were still so shocked by this! Actually, I don't think we ever got fully used to the fact that the birds flying around were scarlet macaws...just thinking back I am still amazed! Anyway, we didn't stay super long at the beach because we knew the sun went down fairly early and we wanted to be sure we had enough time to walk home (I went on a jungle walk at night once when I went to Ecuador in high school and that was enough for me forever! I don't want to know what comes out at night ever again haha!!!).
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We started walking, and walking, and the kids were not thrilled abut it. There was complaining and whining and lots of wanting to stop and rest :-). But then, we started to spot animals! Howler monkeys in the trees over us! Toucans! More and more rainbow macaws! Then squirrel monkeys (which we were calling spider monkeys this first day and which we found out later are the most rare of the monkeys to see in the wild)! And it continued on. We ended up with The Grand Slam! We learned the next day from our guide that this is what it is called when you see all 4 monkeys in one day...and that it is extremely rare to do so. So this relatively short walk ;-), ended up being quite a remarkable experience because we were able to do that!
The 4 types of monkeys in Costa Rica are howler, spider, capuchin (the white faced ones) and squirrel (the teeny cute ones). When I was doing my research on where we wanted to go in Costa Rica I was looking for less touristy areas with lots of wildlife and the Osa peninsula is the only place where you have the chance to see all 4 species of monkeys, as well as the added bonus of having one of the greatest concentrations of scarlet macaws in the world so I was sold! Even knowing that going in we still were blown away by all the wildlife and sparse amounts of people. We also spotted a coati running across the road (I almost caught him in a picture) and a capybara (a type of rodent-like animal that Addie immediately identified for us...she is like having a walking animal encyclopedia around) on this walk.
(I really wish we had the big zoom lens with us on this walk!)
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And another group of squirrel monkeys!!!
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The walk ended up being more than an hour and as we saw the school on the right and the little restaurant on the left we were all SOOO happy! It meant cold, refreshing drinks, and we knew we didn't have much further to go before we would see the turn off for our hotel. We ordered 5 sodas, 1 bottle of water and 2 orders of chicken quesadillas and it was almost $50!!! I guess when you are the only place in the middle of no where that's what happens haha. It was worth it at that point though and we were able to make it the rest of the way home...and spot our first capuchin monkeys, the capybara and the coati.
It never felt so good to shower and lay down!
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Running after the coati hahaha :-)
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the insta story from the first 24-ish hours at casa bambu

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