after only two hours of sleep (notice the pattern?), i jarred myself back into conscious and got ready to leave san jose for drake bay down in southern costa rica. the hsus had breakfast waiting for us and we met one of their daughters. we left their house at 7am, mr.hsu giving us a ride to pavas, a small local airport. there was a lot more to see passing through san jose early in the morning during the daytime. like the trash, they don't just leave it on the curb, there are actually these elevated trash cages, to prevent wild dogs from picking through them. all the houses were heavily fortified, tall gates, bars on windows, even though it looked like we were driving through a suburb. there was a surprising amount of joggers, which made me jealous, what i wouldn't give to go on a run. it also goes without saying that all the signs are in spanish, but thankfully they drive on the right side of the street.

mr.hsu stayed with us until we got our boarding passes, then he left. at the weigh-in, i didn't have to pay a penalty even though my luggages were overweight (the actual luggage was 14 lbs, but my carry-ons were 21 lbs). a rather large woman who was ahead of us in line got incensed when the airport guy asked her to get on the scale so she could be weighed. "no way," she said, and started shaking her head and waving her hands in defiance to flight safety. her husband had to coax her into doing the right thing. at 8:30am all the passengers boarded the plane, a twin-engine propellered twenty-seater, a row of single seats on the left, a row of double seats on the right. my father and i were one of the first few people to board and both of us grabbed left-facing window seats. our flight attendant was also our co-pilot, she briefly went over the safety rules, and we wheeled around the runway for the takeoff. from the window of i could actually see one of the wheels of the plane lift off from the ground as we became airborne.

every visit to a foreign country should start off with a flyby. from the air, you can learn a lot about the country. costa rica is a lot of green hills with little dirt roads that snake through them. we saw a lot of farms with neatly arranged crops, perhaps coffee plants, one of costa rica's main exports. after about an hour, we arrived at drake bay. the aiport, or should i say runway, was just this empty stretch of grass-covered landing strip. the weather was different from san jose. the capital is built on top of a hill, so it never gets too hot and there's always a plesant breeze. here on the lowland of the osa peninsula, the weather is how you'd expect a jungle to be, hot and humid. there was an suv waiting for us with a carload of returning passengers. the plane itself was heading to yet another destination. those going to drake bay got off, and they brought out our luggages, which were transferred to the luggage rack on top of the suv. we piled into the vehicle and went on our way to the resort, while those who were waiting got into the plane.

even though the ride was probably a few miles at most, it was through bumpy dirt roads. we were thrown inside the suv like rag dolls, and i started to get motion sick. when we stopped by the edge of a river 25 yards across, we thought the driver was playing a joke on us, that is until he drove right across the river, the water almost coming into the vehicle. that was just one of several rivers we crossed. finally we stopped by a beach, with no resort in sight. i thought maybe this was some sort of scenic rest stop, but the driver told us to follow a man who was carrying our luggages onto a motorboat beached on the shore. a boat ride to take us to the resort! i didn't remember reading about this in the description. we rolled up our pants, took off our shoes and socks, and followed the captain into the boat, where we went across drake bay to the eponymous resort along the edge of a small river. on the riverbank was a baby crocodile sunning itself, about 3 feet long. none of the native costa ricans on the boat bats an eyelash.

when we got there we were met by a man named miguel who said in broken english that we could go into the dining room and get some breakfast before going to our cabin. we told him we wanted to see the cabin first, maybe freshen up, before eating. he was a little hesitant because i think it broke some sort of resort protocol, but after a quick phone call, we were told we could see our cabin first. we got cabin 20 out of 22 cabins, at the farthest end of the resort. the room was modest, wooden shutters, venetian blinds, screen windows. two beds, one twin, one queen, a ceiling fan, a mural on the wall with some sort of sea landscape. the first thing i did was to take a shower. i was worried at first when only a dribble of water came out from the shower head. "ah, cold showers only," i thought with dismay, but a minute later the water turned hot. the shower stall was large, perhaps big enough to fit 9 friendly people. the water never did come out any better than a soft dribble, but it was hot (heated by their solar panels), and from what i've read about some of the other resorts around here, that's very much a luxury out in the wilderness.

after my shower, after we changed into some clothes more suitable for the hot and humid climate, we walked to the dining room.
along the way, i was snapping photos of tropical flowers and some insects, including a large brown grasshopper (about the length of a finger). finding insects i've never seen before makes me happy. inside the dining room, there was two plates of fruits and some juice waiting for us. on the wall was three glassed encased panels of insects. i just stood in front of them while eating my food, thinking about the kind of insects i'd find here. along one wall was some indian handicrafts for sale, wooden masks and potteries. on a table were several nature guide books, to help you identify the animals you'll find here in costa rica.

we went back to the office where we checked in for real, a woman named maleni was there, she basically gave us the info about the resort, about their services and the things we can do. since this was our first day and we had nothing scheduled, we basically wandered around the place on our own. we walked around the shoreline facing the pacific ocean, volcanic rocks forming tidepools. hermit crabs were everywhere, as well as sea snails. occasionally we'd see a fish or two. we found a carambola tree, my father picking a ripe fruit off of the ground to eat later. mimosas grew like weeds, their leaves closing as we walked through them. we went back to the cabin, where it started to rain. even though i told my father a few times before we left, he didn't bring any rain gear, not even an umbrella, so he went back inside while i stayed out a little bit more, walking a stretch of sandy beach.


rocky beach

crab shell

seed in water

sea snail

ghost crab trail

beach orchid

tropical skipper

lightning bug

around noon we had lunch at the open air bar, which had a panoramic view of the bay. it had stopped raining by then as well. we sat with an old couple from alberta, canada, john and maggie. this was their second season at the drake bay resort, so they were seasoned veterans who could tell us what the different tours were like. they saw macaws earlier this morning, and squirrel monkeys constantly run on the roof of their cabin. they also told us where to go to see black vultures.

after lunch, my father and i went on the path behind the resort that snakes through the forest. not too much wildlife, we heard the songs of birds and the distant howl of monkeys. a few insects (including a trail of leaf cutter ants), some interesting vegetation. we walked until we ended up at a deserted beach (cocalito beach), waves crashing on sandy shores, tall palm trees swaying in the wind, their coconuts dotting the floor beneath them, a living postcard right before my eyes, a landscape so beautiful that it intoxicates and makes me never want to leave.

reluctantly, we returned to the cabin, where i took another shower. we didn't have any shampoo so i had to use the soap to wash my hair, which left it dry and frizzy, one of the casualties of remote vacations. i felt physically dehydrated and having only slept 2 hours since thursday night, i was tired as well so i took a nap, i got the queen bed while my father took the twin. with the ceiling fan on, the cabin was pretty comfortable, cool enough to use a blanket. the ocean, just a few hundred yards away, sounded like the highway.

after only two hours of sleep (i think i'm only allowed to sleep for two hours), my father woke me up to go down to the dining hall for dinner at 6:30pm. it was dark outside and we needed a flashlight (in my case, the ultra bright LED headlamp). fireflies winked on and off in the darkness, the first time ever i've seen fireflies in action, and they made my father nostalgic about his days as a boy growing up in taipei. we were first two there and sat down, soon joined by john and maggie, then the two blondes living two cabins down from ours. the girls had been out at sirena today, one of the places in corcovado you can visit, and were talking about the animals they saw. i was busy hydrating myself, drinking as much fluid as possible. maleni came around, asked us how we were doing, and took our order for what we wanted to do tomorrow, which was to visit caño island.

we went back to the cabin after dinner, the illumination of my headlamp picking out cane toads in the darkness. i checked my coolpix 4500 manual to learn how to use the manual focus. after some weblog note taking and photo organizing, i recharged one of the camera batteries (so happy this place has electricity!) and went to bed after my third shower of the day, the sound of a cicada buzzing so loudly outside that i slept with earplugs.

today's count: 333 photos, 2 audios, and 1 movie