Our Jungle Adventure Begins…
My family and I are travelling to the jungle of Costa Rica’s South Western coast, the Osa Peninsula. I invite you to join us on our jungle adventures by following my blog posts. The Costa Rican blog posts are written in real time using excerpts from my vacation diary.
Follow along on all our jungle advents here: Jungle Adventures!
I chose Costa Rica Osa Peninsula for our jungle adventure because of Corcovado National Park. National Geographic calls Corcovado the most biodiverse place left on planet earth. I want to experience an earth of thousands of years ago when humans were almost wild and lived amongst wild creatures…
We’ve rented a vacation home that sits deep in the jungle just north of Corcovado. The house sits high on a hill above the Sierpe River. The only way to access our new jungle home is by boat from the small town of Sierpe. The home has no internet access, no TV and the only phone access available is between the house and Sierpe.
The trip to Costa Rica is long and exhausting, up at 4:00 a.m. for our flight from Kelowna to Seattle, to Los Angeles and finally to San Jose. Pippi’s a mess on the flight from L.A. She cannot sleep and complains dramatically about a sore stomach. I cannot sleep as I try to sooth her. I am terribly envious of Peter, Tabitha and Mistaya all sleeping soundly in various gaping mouth and floppy head positions. We fly through a turbulent lightning storm which only makes Pippi’s stomach worse. She points to her belly button as the source of her pain which makes me think of appendicitis. A tangerine stripe of dawn through the plane window gives me hope that perhaps we will make it through the storm and I will live to see the sunrise.
We arrive in San Jose at 4:30 a.m. Kelowna time. 5:30 a.m. in San Jose. Yup, we’ve been in transit for 24 1/2 hours. Waiting in line to go through customs is beyond difficult. Pippi is too weak to stand yet there is nowhere to lie her down. Peter and I take turns holding her 55 lb. body. Finally, Costa Rican officials take pity on us and let us through ahead of many other travellers.
Our driver Felipe is waiting for us outside the airport with a sign: Melissa Mix Hart. I should be pleased, thrilled even, to see my name written in bold official looking letters. But I am a worried, exhausted mess. I lay Pippi on the concrete beside Felipe, open the big purple suitcase and take out an army knife. I’m sure Felipe’s wondering what type of lunatic family he’s agreed to escort into the jungle. I slice a Gravol tablet in half and give it to Pippi. I tell Peter that we can’t possibly take her on a 4 1/2 hour van ride deep into the jungle in the state she’s in. We need to find a hospital to have her checked over first.
Suddenly, Pippi sits up from her concrete bed. She’s feeling much better, the pain has subsided from an 8 out of ten to a three. She is able to make the trip. And this is the moment, my friends, when I finally cotton on to the fact that Pippi is the world’s biggest drama queen when it comes to stomach pain. Up all night on the plane, collapsed and in agony and then suddenly, at the thought of postponing the jungle, she’s a little Indiana Jones.
Onward to Sierpe! Felipe is a wonderful man, easy to converse with, knowledgable and patient. We stop after a few hours at a surfing town for cold drinks. Peter orders himself a smoothie. No one’s stomach is ready for breakfast. To my disgust, I experience my first Costa Rican “no flush toilet paper” rule. The garbage can doesn’t even have a lid. I dispose of the wads of tissue in the garbage can like instructed. I pity the poor soul who has to take out this garbage.
We drive down narrow two lane highways and under monkey bridges (narrow mesh bridges designed to allow monkeys and other small land animals to cross the highway to the other side of the jungle safely).
Felipe takes us to a large grocery store before we arrive in Sierpe. I’ve prepared a grocery list and a week’s worth of meals in advance—one of the best trip planning actions I’ve done to date. We manage to pick up just about everything on the list. We purchase enough fresh chicken for two meals as I am unsure if we have a freezer. My menu consists mostly of stir fries and tomato sauce pasta. I purchase a bag of cashews and some cheddar for protein incase we don’t get a chance to purchase anymore meat for the week.
We finally arrived in the town of Sierpe. Felipe opens the airconditioned van doors; a thick cloud of hot, wet air slides inside. But what air it is! The jungle air is rain forest pristine and heavy with oxygen. Guillermo shakes our hands. He has the charming spanish accent of someone who speaks English well but not often. Guillermo lead us down a long dock, above salty river water that’s filled with crocodiles and floating purple hyacinths. The boat has no life jackets. The Canadian in me is a tad concerned for Pippi’s safety…the river flows directly into the South Pacific Ocean and changes levels and currents with the tide. Did I mention that it’s filled with giant crocodiles?
We cruise down the wide and mighty Sierpe River…lined with lush jungle trees, giant mangrove forests and the occasional palm oil plantation forests.
After 25 minutes we arrive at a small dock hidden amongst giant mangrove trees. Our arrival surprises a large iguana who darts under the hyacinth plants floating near shore. A small, striped dog fish swims along side the dock.
It is a long climb up a jungle path to vacation property; the air is heavy, hot and smells deliciously of tropical flowers. I am dying for a glass of water. I’d rip off my yoga leggings but it would require too much effort. Thank goodness an ATV is parked at the base of the trail, waiting for Guillermo to load up our luggage and drive it to the top of Sierpe del Pacifico Peninsula, where our vacation home awaits.
Jungle voices fill my ears with insect buzzing and chirping, frog, bird and monkey calls. The most exquisite butterflies, including a giant blue morpho, flutter quickly across the path into the forest, never landing for a photo op. We watch the ground and trees for snakes as we climb the hill. The deadly Fer De Lance viper is known to hide amongst ground leaves; it is aggressive and will nearly always attack rather than retreat and the eyelash viper, in its brilliant shade of yellow, likes to dangle from tree vines.
A beautiful plantation style jungle house sits quietly on top of the tallest hill of Sierpe del Pacifico, overlooking the vast jungles of the Osa Peninsula and the thick mangrove forest that line the Sierpe River. We are home. Home Sweet Jungle Home.