The last leg of our Costa Rica trip was the most remote. We left Manuel Antonio by shuttle bus and went down the coast to the town of Sierpe, which is as far as the road would take us.

Here’s a classic view of the Costa Rica highway.

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From Sierpe, you can only reach Drake Bay by boat. We piled selves and backpacks into the motorboat at the dock. Nadja made a run for the pipa seller at the last minute. Pipa turned out to be a good delivery system for the guaro (sugar cane liquor) we still had left over from Manuel Antonio. Here we are turning a regular riverboat into a party boat with Sally and Lauren (they must be the ones taking the pictures), the British ladies we met on the shuttle.

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The boat took us from river to ocean, and at the beach at Drake Bay, we all jumped into the water to wade to shore. A jeep met us at the road and drove us up the hill to Cabinas Manolo, our hostel.

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There are only two roads in the town of Drake Bay, and the only place for meals or coffee was the hostel restaurant. We had salad (me) and arroz con pollo (Nadja) and walked down the hill to the beach to wait out the heat until that night’s entertainment: a walking tour through the jungle with Tracie the Bug Lady.

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Cane toad.  Do not lick.

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Sunset in Drake Bay

I was kind of amazed by the night tour. We saw spiders on spider-lookers’ top ten lists, including an oh-so-clever trapdoor spider that can feel its enemies walking on the ground above it. We heard a treeful of cicadas, who are so busy mating and eating all day that they need all night to take care of bathroom time. Apparently there’s a local drinking expression, “having to piss like a cicada.” We saw a velvet worm – one of the first animals to walk, and one that has not changed since that early evolution. Fossils of velvet worms have been found that look exactly like the ones you can find alive. The Drake Bay area of Costa Rica is one of the very few places in the world you can find them at all. And we saw a crocodile. Well, with our headlamps we saw the orange “eyeshine” of a crocodile, which are notoriously well camouflaged even in daylight. That was just as scary as you think.

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There’s that tailless whip scorpion again

One sight we did not see was the turnoff to the road back to the hostel after the tour. There are two roads, and we took the road that is way, way less traveled, certainly by tourists. We got quite a lot of exercise finding our way back. We missed dinner by, oh, hours. We ate the last of our almonds in our room, washed off the bug spray, and checked for scorpions before falling asleep.

The next day was our last full day in Costa Rica. Nadja took a daylong tour to Sirena Ranger Station, but since I’d left my boots in Manuel Antonio, I couldn’t go. I was pretty crushed to miss my last chance to see sloths, not to mention more birds and monkeys and the amazing plant life we’ve barely even had a chance to talk about here! But Nadja caught it all on camera. She never got a sloth sighting either, but yes to macaws, monkeys, lizards, and a tapir trying to take a nap.

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And then it was goodbye. The last morning we took a taxi that drove us right through a flooded creek to the microscopic Drake Bay airport, a teeny-weeny plane to San Jose, and a bigger plane home, stopping only for the usual re-entry mental health evaluation in the form of lost luggage in Fort Lauderdale.


The Drake Bay airport

We were deep-fried in sunscreen, bitten by every flying thing in the jungle that has teeth or a stinger, and my boots were gone, but no regrets. Costa Rica is an amazing place. And sure enough, that craving for homemade salsa lizano is crushing me.