Costa Rica, Parte Tres: Livin’ La Vida Lowlands

Costa Rica, I’ve learned, is the size of West Virginia. But with such diversity, it’s really better to imagine all of California scrunched into the Almost Heaven state. Which is why, just a few hours after leaving the mountains with down vests on, we were sweating in our tank tops down on the beach.

Luckily for us, Son One’s company, Liana Travels, is all about lesser-known spots, so instead of parking us on the obvious stretches of sand we were driving along, he guided his rental car down a very iffy road, crossed a stream, and introduced us to Windows Beach, Playa Las Ventanas, where we could splash, but then rest in the shade.

One of the “windows”–a tunnel through the cliff to the open sea.

Our overnight was Hacienda Barú, a wonderful private preserve, reclaimed from cattle pastures and rice fields by an American, starting in the 1970s. (Ahead of his time, that guy.) He planted a ton of trees preferred by wildlife, and slowly, over the decades, lured the monkeys and sloths and coatis back.

2-toed sloth in a mango tree–very unusual to see it AWAKE and MOVING during the day!

Some of the trees were just plain pretty…

Arboreal fireworks

…and some, like this spiky monster, I learned were a sloth favorite.

I hear the fruit is delicious.

Seems the mama sloths, when they want to wean their babies, go into the spiky forest and leave their babies. The babies take much longer to work their way out of the spiny trees, and by the time they get home–all done, no more nursing!

The cabins themselves were worth the stay…

…but the best thing about Hacienda Barú was its trail system.

Wonderful to have Son One along, but these trails were pretty self-guide-worthy.

I went out for a solo walk the morning of our departure, and just dug the heck out of the quintessential jungliness.

Look at this lil’ guy trying to dig its roots right into the middle of the trail!

Our last lowland stop, before disappearing into the REAL jungle, was the town of Sierpe. Son One booked us a kayak tour down the Sierpe River.

Not pictured: the baby crocodile we saw, nor the juvenile caiman, nor any of the three species of monkey who came to greet us. It’s hard to paddle and take pictures!

Since rivers aren’t necessarily his thing (yet), Son One booked us a guide, Henry, who also happened to be a member of the Boruca People, indigenous Costa Ricans especially famous for their mask-making and weaving. From Henry, we learned subtle differences in the habits of herons, and Boruca legends.

Thanks, Henry!

By the time we returned to Sierpe, I was thrilled with all the wildlife, but ready to get out of the sun.

Approaching Sierpe from upriver.

After a cool drink, it was time to condense our stuff into smaller bags. Leave the iPad in the rental car; no wifi where we were heading. But maybe…just maybe…one of these guys?

…wha…???

Tune in next time for Parte Cuatro, o, el fín emocionante.

2 thoughts on “Costa Rica, Parte Tres: Livin’ La Vida Lowlands

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