Call of the Wild: Unplugged in the Osa Peninsula

Friday, June 22, 2012

Capuchin monkey in the Osa PeninsulaSitting behind the pilot of the Cessna, I finally catch a glimpse of the Osa Peninsula.  It is a wild, seemingly untouched piece of southern Costa Rica, where furry green forests kiss the sea.  The landing strip at Puerto Jiminez is short – will we stop before hitting those trees?  Indeed, we land without effort and a wall of humidity hits as soon as the door opens…

Magical places.  We come across them sometimes in our travels.  The Osa Peninsula is one of those places – it got under my skin, entered my soul and remains there with a longing to return.  From the moment I was offered coconut water garnished with a bright pink hibiscus and a bamboo straw, I thought I had entered a dream.  It is a place where I was forced to be “unplugged” – no phone, internet or television.  No distractions, except for the constant flow of life before me.

Sunrise from the bungalow at Lapa RiosThe howler monkeys are my alarm clock.  At 4:30am, I lay awake under the diaphanous mosquito netting covering the bed, watching the array of colors and clouds that will evolve into the perfect sunrise.  The many species of birds begin to rouse the rest of the diurnal residents of the rainforest.  I can’t help myself.  I walk out onto the deck and watch the light skim the ocean, hit the canopy, and caress the thatched roof of our bungalow.  As the howlers’ song fades, the waves become audible, and soon the surfers will be rewarded with a long, lovely ride to shore…

Aracari at Lapa RiosSunriseSometimes we refer to travel as getting away from “real life.”  But my time in the Osa taught me that “real life” was right before me, in my face at every moment, whether I was looking for it or not.  With no emails to send, texts to check, phone calls to make, we become increasingly aware of our surroundings.  We are present, as there is no other way to be.  We must watch each step, to be sure we don’t step on a venomous snake.  We check everything before touching, so that we don’t disturb a stinging insect.  A coati comes onto the path, stops and sniffs at my daughter’s feet and goes about his business.  We are the visitors here.  It is our responsibility to allow the life to unfold here undisturbed.

Scarlet macaws flyingCapuchin monkey in the Osa PeninsulaA sloth sleeps in the tree outside our bungalow.  A golden orb-spider waits patiently for its next meal in an exquisitely designed web.  Scarlet macaws soar over the canopy and squawk at each other disharmoniously.   Capuchin monkeys wreck havoc by the pool.  Jarringly loud “ping” sounds startle me at night, which I later discover belong to the tiniest dink frog, hiding under a leaf…

I am no stranger to nature — having lived in the Colorado Rockies for almost 2o years, we’re accustomed to co-existing with wildlife.  But this place is different. This is biodiversity at its extreme.  From the seemingly lazy sloths at the tops of the guarumo trees, to the hard-working leaf-cutting ants on the ground, everything co-exists, has a purpose and will continue to thrive here. The fauna and flora have been here for a very long time and will continue to be, thanks to the staggering number of national parks set up by the Costa Rican government – 25% of this beautiful country’s land is preserved, which, along with a strong environmental education of its citizens, helps to protect 5% of the world’s biodiversity in this small country.

“Pura vida!”  It’s a phrase uttered among the Costa Ricans (Ticos) at all times of the day.  An expression of greeting, joy and overall mood, I finally began to understand its meaning toward the end of our stay.  We have checked out of our “busy-ness” and “shoulds” and have checked in to life, a full life, “pura vida.”

Isabella releasing a mothI watch a magnificent lightning storm move from the sea to the rainforest while sharing stories with new friends over a delicious meal.  Pura vida!  My hard-working husband naps in a hammock, inspired by the sloth, while listening to the buzz of the canopy.  Pura vida!  My daughter squeals in delight at the dolphins dancing in front of the bow of our boat and jumping in the wake in the Golfo Dulce.  Pura vida!  We meet schoolchildren and join in an impromptu game of hide ‘n seek.  Pura vida!

FlowerIt is time to leave our little slice of heaven at Lapa Rios Ecolodge.  As I wait to board the little plane that will take us to our next Costa Rican adventure, I think about our Osa experiences, smile and say to myself, “Pura vida!”


JeffreyI would like to thank all of the staff and friends at Lapa Rios for making this a most memorable trip.  Marijke, Guillermo, Jose, Andrey, Jeffrey, David, Dayanna and many others (including Josh with H2Osa Adventures and Carol with Santuario Silvestre), we could not have had the incredible experiences we had without you.  Pura vida, mis amigos!

Beach sunriseGolfo Dulce frogMore Costa Rican adventures to come in future posts…

View a video of Lapa Rios essence.

View a video of Lapa Rios wildlife.

Eat well.  Travel often.  Live  your passion.LizardPool reflection


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16 Responses to "Call of the Wild: Unplugged in the Osa Peninsula"

  • Tom Miller says:

    This brings me right back to our magical trip!

  • Marijke Mulder says:

    Hi Terri, thank so much for these inspiring words and pictures of your Lapa Rios experience! It was so nice to have your wonderful, talented family stay with us and we hope to see you, Tom and Isabella back soon! Keep enjoying life, pura vida! :)

  • admin says:

    Muchas gracias, Marijke! Pura vida!

  • tara says:

    Extrorbulous – I don’t have words so combining them. I can tell from your pictures how unique your experience must have been.

    Since I can’t find my way there financially at the moment, I am giving astral projection another go!

  • Julie Antenucci says:

    Amazing photos!! It is magical isn’t it?
    Thank you for sharing.

  • mary Sobzack says:

    Oh Teri! Your writing and your pictures are as beautiful as you and your family!! I’m so glad you experienced such a fantastic adventure…and I’m so glad you shared it with us through your incredibly delightful blog!

  • mary Sobzack says:

    P.S. Did you pay those Macaws to pose in flight like that?!
    Pura Vida!!

  • Katie Christensen says:

    Amazingly beautiful — not only the stunning images, but also the wonderful way you capture the special spirit of the place. Thanks for sharing your talent and experiences with all of us!

  • Sue Dorsey says:

    Thank you Teri. You brought Costa Rica alive for me again. It is a country that captures you and keeps calling you back. Can’t wait to get back there.

  • Suzy Vannucci says:

    Your blog and photos capture a beautiful essence, Teri. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing experience with me. I look forward to learning more of your trip!
    Pura Vida indeed!

  • Teresa Murphy says:

    Wow! My daughter is doing an internship there right now, and our communication is limited. I’m so happy to see your amazing videos and photos so I can feel more a part of being there with her. Thanks for sharing.

  • admin says:

    So glad you enjoyed it – your daughter is very lucky!

  • Elizabeth "Nannie" Nordeen says:

    Hurry up with the next episode, Tom, Teri and Isabella. We can’t wait!

  • Simonne Gallaty says:

    Breathtaking! You beautifully captured this gem of a place.

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