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Friday, 22 January 2010

Wings, Wheels and Waves: An Exploration of Costa Rica's South - Page 3

Written by Stephanie Hartka
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The flaps go down, the wheels descend out of the body of the aircraft and suddenly the tiny plane shudders to a halt. The light is golden and I am surrounded by palm trees as far as the eye can see.

“Welcome to Quepos Manuel Antonio!” exclaims the handsome young pilot over his shoulder. It’s the first leg of my five-day excursion into Costa Rica’s southern and less-explored villages and jungles; a vagabond’s dream come true. I arrive in Quepos Manuel Antonio not as a tourist, but as a chronic itinerant. I’ve come to look at this place as bit of an obsession; it is as if some vortex constantly pulls me back.

 

 

One powdery guava breakfast pastry later, I decide to jump on the bus and head south again. As the bus lurches out of Dominical, a young Tica (Costa Rican) with thick lashes rests her combed head on her mother’s lap. I wonder how their lives will change once the road is paved, and if Dominical will even have enough wave space and Imperial beer for the growing number of surfers who flock to this famous and foamy seaside.

 

While the bus is stifling, the Costanera road is paved from Dominical to Palmar and the route is incredibly beautiful. Snaking along the coastline, the bus follows craggy shorelines, passing giant ferns and cecropias.  A good four hours out of Dominical, I arrive at Palmar Sur, grab a cab, and head straight to the Sierpe launching dock. This is the portal to the Osa peninsula, a southern gem less ventured through by tourists who are disenchanted by the reputation of the roads in the area, said to have gaping potholes big enough to swallow cars. However, while snacking on the freshest ceviche, I notice the launching dock bow with the weight of well prepared tourists sporting multi-pocketed khakis, eager to make their way further south no matter the consequences.

 

Wings, Wheels and Waves: An Exploration of Costa Rica’s South, Quepos Manuel Antonio, the Costanera, Dominical, Costa Rica’s surfing meccas, Palmar Sur, Sierpe launching dock, the Osa peninsula, Sierpe Mangroves, travel Central America, Drake Bay, La Paloma Lodge, Corcovado National Park, Puerto Jimenez, Golfito, Bosque del Cabo, backpacking Costa Rica, travel Costa Rica, Stephanie HartkaThe trip through the Sierpe Mangroves, the biggest in all of Central America, to Drake Bay is exhilarating. White, red and black mangroves fly by as the boat careens through hundreds of canals at breakneck speed. Finally, we spill out into the open sea of a crescent cove, Drake Bay. The wind is high, the cerulean waves are rough, and I notice that I’m not the only one clenching the boat’s edge with white knuckles.

 

Trundling into a calm inlet, I am dropped off, alone, with my bags at a dock overflowing with fragrant blossoms. After a short hike, I arrive at La Paloma Lodge, and I am immediately greeted by a troop of white-faced monkeys, who will wake me at daybreak as they thunder across the roof of my gorgeous cabina.

 

Wings, Wheels and Waves: An Exploration of Costa Rica’s South, Quepos Manuel Antonio, the Costanera, Dominical, Costa Rica’s surfing meccas, Palmar Sur, Sierpe launching dock, the Osa peninsula, Sierpe Mangroves, travel Central America, Drake Bay, La Paloma Lodge, Corcovado National Park, Puerto Jimenez, Golfito, Bosque del Cabo, backpacking Costa Rica, travel Costa Rica, Stephanie HartkaLa Paloma eco-lodge is simple, relaxed and tastefully groomed, offering a truly private and very magical experience of Drake Bay. With Corcovado National Park only twelve miles to the south, the ranchos of La Paloma Lodge rest on a high bluff overlooking the sea. The backdrop of rain-soaked primary and secondary jungle, as well as constant sea breezes, lends to a fresher atmosphere and is a treat to all five senses. Here, guests sit on their rancho balconies amongst the trees, inhaling the luscious scent of dewy ylang ylang flowers, and observe a multitude of butterflies and birds, including the much sought after scarlet macaw. A maze of stone walkways snake through thick foliage, connecting the ranchos to the “clubhouse” where guests can enjoy family style meals. La Paloma is extremely private. Each rancho, with tiled washrooms and waxed tropical hardwood floors, is so completely surrounded with the sounds and sights of the buzzing jungle, that human civilization and all that goes along with it, feels years away.

 

 

(Page 3 of 5)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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