Arrival at a special ecolodge

Published: September 7th 2009
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My scariest flight ever

We made it to the small airport on time for check-in and managed to find ourselves seats in the 2nd row of the small twin engine plane that was to fly us to Puerto Jimenez. Luckily the plane was not full, as the dress took up 2 seats in the first row directly in front of us. It is the smallest plane that I have ever been on and Dan hadn't help calm my nerves by stating that it is best that we die if the plane crashes, as we wouldn't want to survive a crash all mangled!

The take-off was fine, but upon our ascent every bump or slight drop had me cursing and grabbing onto Dan's arm for dear life. Fortunately, the noise of the engines was loud enough for other passengers to not hear me. I didn't want the little girl sitting a few rows back, who was also a little scared, to hear me. I was in luck, as the sky cleared with not many clouds for us to pass through, keeping the turbulance to a minimum. We didn't reach any higher than 9,000 feet and I consoled myself in the fact that we were flying with one of Costa Rica's premium airlines and that the 2 pilots flew this route at least twice a day. Dan was excited as we could see the cockpit with all of the gauges clearly visible. We could see every move of the pilots. Dan did have one good piece of advice for me and that was every little bump was just like a bump in the road, so that was my chant for the rest of the trip. We had to drop people off at a miniture airport and pick others up (along with the mail) before taking off again to fly to our destination. The adrenalin in my body by the end of the journey only added to the excitement of what was to come.

Safe landing with warm welcome

We were greeted by 2 lovely Ticas (Costa Rican ladies), who directed us to the Lapa Rios office and gave us a chilled coconut each to drink, whilst our bags were loaded up into the 4WDs that were to take us to the ecolodge. We had a choice of sitting inside a landrover or sitting on the back of a Landcruiser on padded seats, so its obvious which one Dan chose - we couldn't be sitting in a vehicle with bad suspension now could we! We sat on the padded seats along with a couple from New York City. They were the first we were to meet that were on their honeymoon. It seems that Lapa Rios is very popular for honeymooners and young families. Along the way out to the lodge, the driver stopped to allow us to see cranes and large hawks. We also saw many vultures sitting on the fence posts beside the road. Due to the great start to wildlife spotting on the way there, we were very much looking forward to seeing what animals and birds there were at the lodge.

Pigs, twigs and garbage

We were greeted with fresh fruit cocktails and given an orientation of the grounds upon our arrival. We decided to go on the 'Pigs, twigs and garbage' tour straight after lunch, which was a tour demonstrating the sustainability choices of the lodge. We got a tour through the kitchen with their recycling options, past the convection-solar heated water tanks located around the grounds, shown the generators that use biodiesal to run and introduced to the pigs that eat the food scraps and produce enough methane gas from their slop to supply the kitchen of the workers that live on site. Most of the environmentally friendly ideas were good and they have achieved a lot for a resort so remote. They are one of only 4 hotels in the country to have a 5 leaf rating given by the government to rate the hotel's friendliness to the Earth. The biodiesal is transported all the way from San Jose costing more fuel in the process and the pigs were never let out of their tiny pens for exercise, so we think that there is room for improvement in their strategies, but they have made a great start.

Animals and beautiful surroundings

After the tour, Dan and I checked out the observation deck, which is located in the roof of the main hut. It offers views over the rainforest out to the ocean. We were lucky enough to see white-faced monkeys eating the small orange apricot-like fruit in the tree close by whilst we were up there. We heard howler monkeys earlier, but didn't get a glimpse of them then. We also spotted aracaris, a type of toucan in trees of a different type on the other side of the deck. Beautful red and blue macaws continuously fly overhead but not close enough for us to get a good look at them yet.

After the tour, Dan and I went to our beautiful bungalow to appreciate all that it had to offer. There are no windows to the building, but large sheets of mesh between small sections of bamboo wall that separate the indoor and outdoor spaces to keep any bugs out. Inside there is polished floorboards with a massive bed covered by a mosquito net taking centre stage of the main room. Outside, there is a cold water shower hidden next to a small private garden at the back of the deck. The large deck faces the rainforest that stretches out to the ocean below. Deck chairs and a hammock add the extra attraction to this private space.

After reading over the information supplied about our stay and having showers, we went back to the main hut for dinner. We had pre-ordered our dinner at lunch, so the chefs knew how much to cook to prevent wastage of food. I ordered half portions as I was hoping to still fit into my dress on Sunday! The food includes choices with tipical regional fare. We ordered a ajote (choko) soup to start with and then for main I ate stuffed cayotes and Dan had the chicken with chocolate mole sauce with mango salsa. We were already impressed with the standard of food at lunch and were not disappointed with the quality and freshness of what was served at dinner.

Additional photos below
Photos: 13, Displayed: 13


Methane gasMethane gas
Methane gas

We saw the gas burning at the kitchen of the staff housing
Bed and desk in the bungalowBed and desk in the bungalow
Bed and desk in the bungalow

The mosquito net wasn't really required and you can see that there are no windows! There is only a mesh where a glass pane would normally be.
Outside showerOutside shower
Outside shower

There was one of these cold showers in the bathroom opposite the normal hot water shower.

We saw this beautiful bird close to the observation deck

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