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Costa Rica Day 4-5: The Corcovado Jungle

The man and woman proprietor of the little Cabinas Murillo don’t speak any English, which is sort of refreshing and a signal of how far from mainstream Costa Rica we have come.  “Si Si Pinto Gallo para las ninas” I mumble in the most pathetic Spanish.

It’s 5 am, and just getting light.  The surf of Drake bay is just audible over the hill. Trish and I pour some coffee and eat huevos and fresh fruit.

We’re 2/3s of theway to Corcovado National Park, the last and best preserved coastal rainforest on the Pacific Coast of the Americas, for three days of camping in what National Geographic calls “the most intense biodiversity on the planet”.

The long trip to Corcovado

Yesterday, we finished our surfing in Uvita and checked out of the La Cusinga lodge.  The lightning in the distance threatened to spoil our day, but it held off long enough to get our 2.5 hours of surf lessons.  We will remember our surf instructors, Gebron and Adrienne, fondly.

The car we ordered arrived on time and took us to Sirepe, the first leg of the three part journey to the Corcovado inner jungle.   Sirepe is a town at the top of a long brackish river lined with mangroves.  Our guide, Kenneth Mendoza met us at the ‘Las Vegas Restaurant’, which is also the local boat pier.  Fortunately he had reserved our water taxi reservations already because the boat is packed.

It hasn’t rained much lately, he told us.  It’s the end of the dry season.  No sooner did he finish his sentence than the skies opened up in a windy torrential rain.  25 people with lots of luggage and packages crowded together in ponchos or plastic bags.  The high speed boat whipped the warm rain so hard that everyone has to put their heads down.  Emma and Lily curled up in wet pink and yellow plastic ponchos on the metal bench of the boat for the hour ride.

The boat ride was really uncomfortable, but sort of fun too, at least until we hit the open ocean and six foot waves threw the flat-bottomed boat into the air and slammed it back to the sea.  The capitan was forced to seek shelter in the rocks near shore.  Trish has a panic attack, which is not unusual on boats in dangerous circumstances.  We were able to get on our way after a sort wait.

We are in Agujitas, the main town of Drake Bay, Costa Rica.  It has a population of about 400, and is entirely a tourist town service the Osa Penninsula and Corcovado.  Kenneth booked us a cheap room and it’s perfectly adequate for a quick nights rest.  We ate the grossest pizza we have ever had at a local Argentinian Pizza Place.  (Maybe that was the clue?  Argentinian Pizza?)  It’s hot.  We are definitely in the tropics.  I sleep fitfully.

Corcovado finally

The senior and seniorita offer us more eggs and toast, but we have to go.  We’ve left most of our bags here at Cabinas Murillo, taking only day packs stuffed with essential items on the 90 minute boat ride around the Osa penninsula to the Sirena Ranger Station of Corcovado.

Corcovado has three ranger stations that you can stay at, and Sirena is the most popular.  The hike up the beach, and to the airplane landing strip is only about a mile but we get great views of squirrel monkeys, scarlet macaws and a coati rummaging for bugs at the beach’s end.  Most of the animals in corcovado are located along the beach line.

We have a small room with two bunkbeds and a seperate bed.  It’s hot but clean.  Kenneth has brought sheets for us.

Straight out into the jungle we go, and there is so much wildlife.  The air is ringing with birds.  We see owls, pigs, anteaters, tapir, sloths, spider monkeys, and various ground birds that look like small turkeys.  He also shows us leaf-cutter ants and Trish gets bitten by Army ants.

It’s completely draining to walk the jungle, even slowly.  At lunch on the river Sirena beach, Kenneth and I fall asleep while Emma and Lily play in the rising tide of the river.

The trip after lunch is cut short by heavy rains.  We all get pretty drenched and our smaller camera gets waterlogged and breaks.  We usually destroy a few items on every trip.  So far on this one, we’ve trashed a new S100 Cannon camera and an old Amazon Kindle.

Kenneth makes a dinner of seafood in a pasta cream sauce – camping style.  It’s great.  The station lights go out at 9pm, and the wind picks up and howls.  Thunderclaps and lightning begin.  Lily screams frightened- MOMMY! in dark room.  It’s going to be a long night.

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