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Feriado!

Last Monday was a “feriado” or national holiday, so in light of the extra long weekend a friend and I went to the Osa Peninsula for the weekend. More specifically we stayed in Bahia Drake, on the northern part of the peninsula, and Puerto Jimenez, on the southern part of the peninsula.

The Osa Peninsula is in the southern pacific extreme of Costa Rica and contains some very beautiful scenery. There is the very large national park, Corcovado, on the peninsula housing what is said to be one of the most biologically diverse and untouched jungles in Costa Rica. Unfortunately due to the way we scheduled our trip, we were not able to go to the park. It requires a lot of time to go—at the very least a full day—but we still saw some beautiful jungle and still thoroughly enjoyed our trip to the Osa Peninsula.

We took the 5 a.m. bus from San Jose to Las Palmas on our way to Bahia Drake; however, it turns out the bus from San Jose arrives almost exactly at the same time the boat for Bahia Drake leaves on the Serpi River. Peachy. We quickly grabbed a taxi and made it to the boat dock on the river in time and were told by the captain to wait a few minutes; they were just about ready to load up. A few minutes turned into about fifteen and we started to get worried. Carli, my traveling buddy, went to go ask about the boat and found out that it had already left. With some last-minute scrambling we managed to catch a ride with a bunch of other exchange students on a private boat though. So past the mangroves and out to sea we went. Once in Bahia Drake we walked down main street—the beach—and climbed the hill up to our hostel, wet from both rain and sweat. In reality these few traveling mishaps may have been one of the most adventurous parts of the entire weekend.

We didn’t have a bunch of time in Bahia Drake and were honestly exhausted from just the ordeal of getting there. After arriving, I slept much of the remaining afternoon. The next day Carli and I got up early to go to a beach around the point of the bay of Bahia Drake. We walked and walked along the dirt road, enjoying the lush scenery and the quaint farm villages. But after a while, we, being slightly confused, asked a local if indeed we were on the right road. He told us that we were, and so we continued, hoping to see the beach after each rise we crested. But another hour later we realized that we weren’t going to make it to the beach and make it back in time to catch our bus to Puerto Jimenez. Although initially crestfallen we decided to change plans. Let’s go swim in the stream we just crossed! Thus we turned our failed beach trip into a successful trip to the stream; we told each other it had been the plan all along.

The bus ride to Puerto Jimenez was beautiful. It wound through dense jungle and through many rain-swollen streams. Often the bus doesn’t leave if there is a lot of rain, because it can’t cross the streams, but we were fortunately able to take the bus despite the intermittent downpour that afternoon. A backpacker on the bus ended up joining us on our way to Puerto Jimenez and we spent most of the rest of the weekend as a threesome. In Puerto Jimenez we found our hostel and dropped off our stuff and then went to get dinner. Afterward I went straight to bed. Travelling has a way of tuckering me out.

The next day we took an early trip up the nearby mangroves via kayaks. So as not to be “paddling on dirt” we started at about 7:30 a.m. and leisurely made our way up the river. It is best to go up near the peak of high tide and then come back when the tide starts to change. Our guide was a tico about our age and eager to be friends. The mangroves are not a zoo, even though the diversity is incredible in this part of the world, one has to be patient and observant. We saw several types of birds, crabs, and butterflies. On the way back we stopped at a sand bar separating the mangrove stream from the ocean bay. By this time the sun was high in the sky and blazing. I slathered on some sunscreen and then we all took a dip in the ocean. The color of the water was a beautiful light turquoise and very calm. Later, after we had come back up on the beach, we heard a loud slapping sound. Turning, we saw a small ray flapping wildly on the edge of the surf! Our guide ran down to look at it and we followed. We think it was a baby manta ray. Carli commented saying that that made a lot of sense; of course a baby manta ray would get stuck on the beach—“it doesn’t know what it’s doing!” We tossed it back into the sea. Hopefully that little baby manta ray is a little wiser now.

That afternoon Carli went to Matapalo, a town on the tip of the peninsula and I stayed in Puerto Jimenez to people watch and enjoy the tranquility. Later that night we met up with our guide again to enjoy dinner together. We retired early; we would be getting up to take the 5 a.m. bus back to San Jose. From Puerto Jimenez it takes close to 9 hours to make it to San Jose and then we still had to take the bus to Heredia. Never mind that we both managed to hop the bus to Alajuela accidently and then, because of that, had to take yet another bus in order to get to Heredia. One would think that after 9 months in Costa Rica we both would know which bus to take. It happens, I suppose. So close to 11 hours later I made it to my front door, exhausted but content with the weekend as a whole.

 

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