Costa RicaCosta Rica

Thanksgiving in the Jungle

Destination: Drake Bay

It's early now, 5 am. I awake to the sound of a rufus-breasted wren singing outside my window, and once I open my eyes and see daylight, well. I'm up. My cabin faces east, and the view over Drake Bay as the sun rises is calming.

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I will be joining 4 other guests of Jinetes de Osa today for a hike in Corcovado National Park today at the San Pedrillo Station. We will meet early (6 am) for breakfast and then be on our way, by boat, to Corcovado by 6:30.

We board the boat at the shore of Drake Bay and begin our journey. Along the way we observed some spotted dolphins and their young. Then, About ten minutes later, as I was looking shoreward I see what appears to be a waterspout, and sure enough, five seconds later the guide pointed out the whale.

We were lucky this morning to see a humpback whale lingering in the area. Most whales have already left the area by now, but sometimes if they have their young late, they tend to stay in the Bay known as Paradise Bay (its real name is San Josecito Bay). We observe the whale crest the surface several times and see her clear her blow hole several times, with sprays of water reaching 10 feet or more in the air.

Such an eventful morning already -- with perfect weather. It's warm and sunny, but not too humid. The still present morning fog hovers above the shore as the sun glistens on the surface. It is an absolutely stellar morning.

Upon arrival at the San Pedrillo ranger station, we embark on the Rio Pargo trail which winds along the beach to the Pargo River. Our luck of the day continues as we encounter white throated capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, spider monkeys, Jesus Christ lizards and several small song birds along the trail.

We return to the station for our gourmet lunch that was waiting for us in a cooler we brought along: homemade bread with either freshly cooked chicken, peanut butter and jelly or ham and cheese, an assortment of fresh fruit, hearts of palm salad, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

Our after lunch hike is a short, but slightly more technical one to a waterfall. Along the way, we found one of the most poisonous snakes in Costa Rica, the fer-de-lance, on the side of the trail . It appeared to be sleeping, so we quietly walked past it and left it to sleep in peace.

After briefly stopping to view the waterfall (which you have to wade upstream and around a bend to see), we backtrack and stop for a swim in a swimming hole where the water is safe for swimming.

We returned to the ranger station and waited for our boat to take us back to Jinetes. While waiting under the shade of the beach almond trees, I sip fresh coconut water from a pipa I picked.

Our guide Javier is very enthusiastic and knowledgeable. He sets a cheerful mood for the day with his enthusiasm for the forest and all its inhabitants and we all thoroughly enjoy our guided walk. Also having the day's schedule all pre-organized and planned through Jinetes makes it even better. We do not have to do anything but enjoy our day.

We returned to Jinetes de Osa by late afternoon and the smell of the cooking turkey dinner that awaits us was wafting through the air. We were expecting about 40 guests for dinner, a mix of Americans, foreigners and locals. Many have never experienced a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Green beans, turkey, mashed potatoes -- the works, complete with pumpkin and apple pies. All were delicious, and reminiscent of home. Yum!

Thanksgiving in the Jungle in Pictures

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