categories: Cocktail Hour / Getting Outside
Our trip was vacation. Nothing arduous, small glitches only, comfortable lodging, some of it expensive. Despite which all was exotic, beautiful, elemental, heartening. We started–Juliet, Elysia, and I–with a couple of orienting nights in Alajuela, not too far from the San Jose airport. First morning, Elysia breathed in the heat and light and all the greenery and said, “I love Costa Rica!” And that remained our theme. Second morning, not too early, we took an internal Sansa
flight to Peurto Jimenez on the Golfo Dulce, Osa Peninsula, then a little Cessna I’d chartered to hop over the peninsula to the Pacific surf-side. These planes were fun. You’re not too high up for detail. The Cessna barely cleared the very tall rain-forest trees. The landing strip, in Carate, was just a couple hundred yards paved beside the ocean. A man from Luna Lodge picked us up in their Land Rover. We tried our Spanish a little. Yes, he said in better English, it is dry. It had been, in fact, a record dry season–no rain for nearly three months.
At the end of the road we came to the lodge and were offered glasses of cold water. The owner, Lana, greeting us, showed us around and eventually to our bungalow, which was a conical thatched-roof structure with open walls, nicely appointed, a couple of big beds. Elysia claimed hers.
In subsequent days we made like tourists and went out with guides, and then, more and more, on our own. Birdwatching, monkey spotting, night walks, hikes to waterfalls, hikes in secondary and primary rain forest, horseback riding along a manicured lane (more monkeys) and to the beach. We walked into Corcovado hike six miles starting one morning very early. It was hot. But we saw our first squirrel monkeys and more howler monkeys and spider monkeys and capuchins (or white-faced). Also tapir
tracks and an anteater and land crabs and birds, birds galore, especially scarlet macaws, which were everywhere. (I’ll write up the birds in a separate post.) And the ocean! I wanted to swim, but the guide said forget it. Rip-tides, he said. And you could see it wouldn’t be easy. Still. I took my boots off, put my toes in, sank fast in the soft sand. The slope into the surf was steep. Do you see any surfers here? the guide said. There weren’t any surfers. There weren’t
any people at all. No surfers because it isn’t safe. And then he pointed down the beach to a log that turned out to be a crocodile. They hunt in the surf. Who knew. I didn’t swim.
Snakes, armadillos, kinkajous, even an opossum. Insects, from dazzling blue morpho butterflies to a big scorpion on the floor of our room to giant katydids to leaf-cutter ants in great parades.
Sudden sunsets. Sudden downpours. The new moon rising with Venus and Jupiter.
Vines. Leaves the size of tablecloths. Strangler figs. Trees taller than any in Maine, and lots of them. Gold miners in the river, carrying machetes, retreating to their huts at night–black plastic for a roof, visible fire for cooking, spring water gushing from hoses plugged into the earth.
Power at Luna Lodge is supplied in several ways–a complicated water turbine system, solar panels, back-up generator. Lights are dim. Dark is bedtime. Guests eat together in the rancho, and gradually we made friends, ended up at the big table in a group of ten or more, laughter and stories from around the world. Simple, excellent, local food.
Yoga every morning with Lana, who’s an inspiring teacher. And just Lana in general, the power it took to put this place together in the middle of the dense forest at the end of the road.