Costa RicaCosta Rica

Day 1: Leaving on a Jet Plane

Destination: Drake Bay

view from airplane on the way to osaThe night before I left, I had that feeling of nervousness and excitement in the pit of my stomach, just like a child with a case of the night-before-Christmas butterflies. Except this time I was not a child, and these were the night-before-the-Osa-Peninsula butterflies.

I have wanted to visit this isolated frontier; since learning of its existence four years ago in a guidebook. Over 70% of the peninsula is comprised of Corcovado National Park, making it the ultimate location for spotting scarlet macaws, monkeys, poison dart frogs, and even rare tapirs in their native habitat.

the whale's tail at punta uvitaArriving at the Liberia airport nearly an hour earlier than was recommended was a bit excessive, but I wanted to be sure not to miss my flight. The employees checking me in were helpful and I felt a bit like a celebrity as one worker escorted me through security and directly to the gate. I would be enjoying my own private flight for the first leg -- no doubt the unfortunate effect of a poor global economy.

Before reaching my destination of Palmar Sur, we would be making two stops: one in Tamarindo, and one in Pavas. En route to Tamarindo, the pilot invited me to ride in the cockpit, where I enjoyed the best seat in the house. I could not look at anything but the breathtaking views below us: neighborhoods, farms, rivers, estuaries and then ocean.

The leg from Pavas to Palmar Sur was a bit turbulent, and I closed my eyes and held onto the armrests every time we went through a thick, white cloud. We again flew over hills, mountains, winding roads, houses and finally the coast. It would have taken at least 10 hours by car, but by plane I had arrived in under three.

sierpeAfter a smooth landing, Jay from Aldea del Rio Tours drove me 15 minutes to his office in Sierpe. The town was much smaller than I expected, but it felt safe and homey. We piled into our boat and floated an hour and a half through mangrove estuaries before reaching our lodge. The captain treated us to a proper "beach landing," which entailed zipping head-on toward shore at breakneck speeds until I nearly had a heart attack. I finally realized we weren't on a suicide mission when the driver cut the engine and the boat magically floated onto land, in one gentle swoop.

reception area at poorman's paradisePoorman's Paradise Lodge was peaceful and beautifully landscaped -- overall, it was quite aptly named. A true escape from society, it is not a place for those who are overly sensitive to heat or accustomed to five-star amenities. Like many Osa hotels, electricity is available for three hours per day -- between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m -- meaning that there is neither air conditioning nor fan running at night.

A delicious dinner of freshly caught mahi mahi was served at 6:30, and I found that the resort's other guests were adventurous souls, all sharing a common bond of wanderlust. Unfortunately, I was too tired to join the group afterward for drinks. Instead I crawled into bed, lulled to sleep by sounds of the ocean.

Day 1: Leaving on a Jet Plane in Pictures