(This section of the trip log includes our arrival at the Iguana Lodge - still on the Osa Peninsula - until our departure for home. You can enlarge any picture in this narrative by clicking on it - in some cases, it will show detail you can't see in the smaller version. Use the back arrow to get back to the narrative. Keep in mind that this trip was pre-COVID so places and procedures may be quite different now!)
Monday February 24
The Iguana Lodge is a very different world than the Bosque del Rio Tigre! It's on the Golfo Dulce ("sweet gulf") and on a beautiful, long beach. There is a variety of housing available - we are in what they call the "club rooms" above the restaurant. It's basically like any motel room with private bathroom. No A/C but we have both floor and ceiling fans. Good lighting, comfortable bed and chairs; nice porch including more chairs and a hammock. (View from the porch at the right. Notice the tall bamboo tripods - they are full of holes that house birds that you will see in pictures later!) Some of the rooms do have air conditioning and if I had realized how very humid it would be, I might have elected to pay the premium for that. We're used to going to Mexico where, in January and February, we have never needed air conditioning. But it was significantly hotter here. Besides the palapas on the beach, there are numerous other "lounge and relax" areas on site so we had plenty of space.
We are back in the world of WiFi so we can make phone calls, get email, etc. One negative is that we are further from town than we had thought (from the maps) so we are basically limited to the on-site restaurant (La Perla) downstairs. Picture at left is La Perla; our room is the corner room upstairs on the far right. The people are very nice, the food is good but we would have liked more options. A cab to town costs $15 so adding $30 to the cost of a supper probably isn't worth it. For the first night we both had big salads and went to bed early.
Tuesday February 25
I woke up early - around 6:30 - this morning and wandered over to the breakfast place (breakfast is included with the room). Very nice - buns, muffins, omelets, fruit, yogurt, juice. Each day they have a hot "special" in addition to the items available all the time - pancakes, eggs cooked to order, breakfast burrito, etc. We took a beach walk (of course, that became a daily occurrence) then sat on the beach under a palapa and read for a while. We saw a few people in the water but we were surprised the whole time we were there that the beach wasn't more popular. First iguana siting.
For lunch I had a smoothie that was just ice and juice and very sweet. I was dismayed, but I learned that all I had to do was ask! When I said I preferred something way less sweet and with some yogurt, the waiter said "Oh, of course!" And from then on, I still had a choice of a dozen or so flavors but he cut back on the sugar and added dairy. My favorite was Passion Fruit and mint (and since coming home we've been buying passion fruit pulp from Amazon to recreate it).
Tuesday night is beach Barbecue Night. They set out a great buffet on the beach and light a bonfire (left). They actually carried out all of the tables and chairs from the restaurant to the beach. The food was good, the bonfire was fun and there were no bugs! Walking back to the Perla we discovered the crabs that come out after dark. They are called Halloween Crabs or Red Land Crabs (very reminiscent of the colorful sally lightfoot crabs in the Galapagos). Fun to watch them scoot around. (On vacation we are easily entertained.)
Wednesday February 26
Lazy day. Up before 7, after breakfast a beach walk for an hour or so (where I was joined for a while by a whimbrel hunting for his breakfast) then napped until lunch time. I had a "real" smoothie for lunch and read a book and watched macaws most of the afternoon from our balcony. They are almost always in pairs and very noisy. Their behavior reminds me a bit of the Canadian geese in Iowa in that they will (apparently) suddenly decide to take off as a group, fly all around the area making horrible squawky noises, then come back and settle down again. After showers we went to supper - I had a burger and fixings, John had mahi-mahi and we both had a big bowl of caramel ice cream.
Thursday, February 27
The morning was much like the others: breakfast, beach walk, relax and enjoy the birds and view. After BLT's and ice cream for lunch, we went to try out the waves! They were awfully powerful and we didn't last long, but it was fun! That evening we went to the Rancho dinner (upstairs from the business office and the breakfast bar) served at large tables family style. It was North African chicken night. The food was not as great as we had expected given how they bragged about their great chef; there were only 3 other people there that evening and it's billed as "candlelit" but it was so dark that we literally had to get out the flashlights on our phones to see what we were eating. There was way more food than we could possibly eat but we weren't impressed and we stuck with La Perla after that. We did find the frog hangout - at the fountain before going back to our room! These are not ornaments, they are real frogs lining the pool around the small fountain.
Friday February 28
John discovered this morning that his Kindle Fire isn't charging. He tried various things but has resorted to reading off of his phone using the Kindle app. Been there, done that. It's not ideal, but it is at least possible to keep reading! Today seemed hotter (or more humid?) than others and we just didn't feel like doing much. After the beach walk (I took a selfie just to prove we really did walk, even if not so far) we settled in on the nice sofas under the yoga studio. There are fans, water features and a black vulture who keeps an eye on things!
Friday night is "Salsa Night/Pasta Night" at the Perla - a big Italian-style buffet with lasagna, spaghetti, assorted salads. There is also music - lots of locals come for dinner and dancing. Our strategy was to enjoy the meal then go take a long walk until things quieted down! It doesn't run late - I think the music was off by around 9 pm so it didn't really intrude much.
Saturday February 29
Nothing terribly profound today - I did meet a Snowy Egret on the beach and saw a Tropical Kingbird while reading on the balcony. After lunch I went to the pool and cooled down. It's a nice pool but none of the lounges are shaded, so after I dried in the sun a bit, I went back under the yoga studio to read until supper time. There were lots of little lizards and geckos to entertain me.
Sunday March 1
After almost a week of lying about, we were ready for an outing! We were picked up by Oscar at 8 am after breakfast to go to the marina and take a water taxi, with Luis, across the gulf to the Casa Orchideas botanical garden. (This was arranged by the Lodge and it all worked perfectly - the drivers called each other so they knew when we would be ready!) Our first treat, though, was before we got to the gardens, we watched the dolphins cavorting in the gulf! There were way more than we have ever seen at one time - they played with each other and with the boats. This is just one picture, there are plenty more in the photo collection though my camera lens was splashed and so many of the pictures have smudges or water drops on them!
At the garden, there was a small cost (I think $5) and we were given a self-guiding tour pamphlet with a map of the area and notes about all of the different sections. The owners are ready to retire and the acreage is for sale, so I don't know how long it will remain in business as a tour destination, but they clearly put a lot of work into it. Besides orchids (which is their focus) they had a medicinal area, cannon ball tree, coconut tree, lots of gingers, fruit trees, palm trees, desert plants, bamboo, a kitchen spice area, gourds, many bromiliads and other things I don't even remember. There were also some resident scarlet macaws to keep things interesting (and noisy). So here is just a small sample - an unusual orchid, hibiscus and something called "coral aphelandra." Again, see the photo collection for more! In the afternoon, nap (we were up early this morning!), dips in the pool, relaxing, reading.
Monday March 2 - Tuesday March 3
Nothing different for the next couple of days. Long beach walks, reading, napping. Enjoying the flora and fauna. Barb in hammock on our balcony and ZeeZee - the resident Irish Wolf Hound who spends many hours trying to cool off! (Notice he is standing next to a stairway - the lowest step you can see is the 4th one. A very tall dog!)
Wednesday March 4
By now we're rested up and ready for another excursion! This time we met Sidnar, the Lodge naturalist, at 6:30 am - early breakfast - and headed off with 2 others to Matapalo, down to the tip of the peninsula. We stopped first at a panaderia in town to get drinks (we already had our water bottles filled) and snacks. While he was willing to stop anywhere we wanted to, we soon learned to let him take us to the "good spots" or we would have stopped every minute or two! Sidnar reminded me a bit of Abraham in the way he carried his telescope around and was able to plop it down and zoom in on something we would never have seen if he hadn't showed us! He also taught us how to take pictures through his scope! There are 3 types of monkeys in the area - here they are. Squirrel monkey, spider monkey and howler monkey. (They really DO "howl!") Below that are a 3-toed sloth, a sleepy anteater and a 2-toed sloth.
Also on the list of things we saw, that you can find in the photo collection, are a toucan, a green iguana, caracara (bird), Brahman cattle, great kiskadee, cacao tree, Panama tree and some beach pictures. We walked from the road to Pan Dulce Beach and around the corner of the peninsula where we were picked up again by the nice, air-conditioned van. We were pretty tired when we got back so had lunch, a short nap then I hung out in and around the pool until it was time to clean up for supper!
Thursday March 5 - Friday March 6
Our last two days were of the same pattern as before: up for breakfast, beach walk, lie around and read, nap as we are moved, pool time, watch the birds from the balcony or the beach, supper, sleep. One of the "new" birds I saw was the red crowned woodpecker who had a nest in one of the holes in the old bamboo posts (left). It looks a lot like the red-bellied woodpeckers we have here in Iowa. I got other pictures of another one at a different hole so there may be several families out there. Another bird was the black crowned tityra - this one appears to be a female (right). I had seen one up in the jungle but didn't get a picture of it.
Thursday in the late afternoon, as I was walking back from the pool, a family of (what I think were) spider monkeys showed up between the Perla and the road. They were having a good time climbing around in the tree tops and harvesting supper. Friday night was another salsa night - music was nice to listen to from far away, not right there. So we were towards the front of the line to eat then walked the property for a while.
Saturday March 7
Today was leaving day. While I hated to head back to winter, I was ready to be "home." Of course, by now we had heard of COVID but it was just beginning (no cases at all in Costa Rica and the only ones in Iowa so far were 3 people who had been on a tour to Egypt) so we had no idea what was coming up. We got a taxi to the landing strip in town (Puerto Jimenez) and hung around the SANSA waiting area until it was time to go. While they have some pretty tight size restrictions, we found that they weren't rigid about it. They weighed each person with their baggage and kept a running total. If they had gotten overweight, I guess then they would have insisted that some people, luggage or both would have to stay. But neither of our flights were that full so we lucked out. (I did read some reviews that indicated this happened at times and not necessarily in a "logical" way - that is, people with the most luggage weren't always the ones who were bounced.) Here's one of our last views of the Osa Peninsula!
In San Jose this time we stayed at the Hampton Inn by the airport. It cost a bit more but they were MUCH more efficient at pick up and delivery! Very nice accommodation just minutes from the airport. Though there were some eateries (Denny's, e.g.) within walking distance, it was raining and we didn't feel like walking across parking lots in the dark in the rain, so we ate there at the bar/ restaurant in the lobby. The menu was limited but adequate - and they had great burgers. We had to leave before dawn so they provided a convenient "sack breakfast" including a muffin, fruit and a snack bar since we wouldn't be there for the full breakfast. The shuttle runs about every 15 minutes. Both of our planes left on time - at this point nobody was wearing masks and we were not screened for illness. We had time for lunch in Atlanta and got back to Cedar Rapids around 4:30 pm. The last leg of the trip wasn't quite smooth - Bekah picked us up in our car, but before we got back to her house we had a flat tire! Fortunately, it was a pretty nice day for early March in Iowa and the road service people dispatched an efficient mechanic to change it for us. We had to drive home a little slower with the "donut" spare but we made it safely! Great trip and we hope to be able to visit Costa Rica again.