Day 3-6/180: The National Park – Living Life in Costa Rica
November 13, 2019
The first thing I noticed when I arrived in Cahuita was how small it was. There were a total of maybe 5 streets, comprised of some colourful, but very modest houses that were all partially hidden by jungle vegetation. I think I saw more flora and fauna the first few days I was there than I have in my entire life. What I’d always suspected was hereby confirmed: nature is a concept unknown to a true Belgian citizen.
I soon discovered that people usually only stay in Cahuita for a couple of days, most likely to visit the national park, which is one of the biggest in the country. Other than that, there isn’t much to do besides wander around, go to the beach or sit in your car (a strange habit of the locals here, or so it seems). Although I was curious and excited to explore, in hindsight I can’t say this village appealed to me; I thought there was a bit of an awkward combination of local and touristy vibes going on. Not that it mattered, because I wasn’t going to be there for long anyway and our Airbnb, on the other hand, was lovely and the perfect place to adapt to a new environment.
Speaking of adapting, jetlag wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. I did fall asleep around 8pm, but in my defense, the sun goes down here at 5:30pm! Quite naturally I’ve gotten into the habit of rising early, which I’m enjoying. I think I can officially call myself a morning person now, who would’ve thought this day would come.
The highlight of my stay in Cahuita was obviously visiting the national park (never been in one of those) and swimming in the Caribbean sea for the first time! This may sound stupid but I was kind of afraid to do both of these (being ill for a prolonged period of time will do that to you), but I was (and still am) determined to do everything I can think of that scares me, because I’m sick of being overly cautious or, you know, a pussy.
Going into the park I did take all precautions I could think of: hiking boots (& socks!) on, fully covered in anti-mosquito spray, medical kit in my backpack, food and water for days… Although I did dare to go in without a guide, because I care even more about saving money than I do about not dying. No, I’m joking, it just seemed unnessecary, as we weren’t set on spotting EVERY animal in the forest on our first try.
Anyway, when I saw almost everyone around me walking around in swimsuits and flip flops (actual 2-year-olds were going in barefoot), I realized that perhaps I had taken it just a little too far. The Internet and my family sure know how to frighten someone! But alas, we weren’t attacked by jaguars or strangled by snakes. We did, however, saw some cute monkeys (dear god, run), lots of lizards, raccoons and even a sloth. The most spectacular thing was when we saw a mother monkey teaching her little one how to succesfully jump from branch to branch. Can you believe seeing this in the wild right before your eyes?? I was stunned, to say the least.
Now, back to the Caribbean sea part! Just to be clear: I love oceans, but I’m also kind of terrified of them. Not to the point that I won’t go in, but I’ll probably be swimming in fear if I can’t feel the ground beneath my feet. That was before I even entered an ocean that has sharks as inhabitants. However, I’m proud to tell you that this didn’t stop me from going in and fully enjoying the experience. As a matter of fact, the Caribbean sea and its beaches are fantastic and I could not. get. enough.
If you’ve made it this far, I salute you! My next diary entry will be about Puerto Viejo, which is where I gradually turned into a pirate. Or a mermaid. Take your pick.Liked this article? Please share!