While the hours in Golfo Dulce are spent looking for wildlife, my time on terra firma is deeply enriched by people and places. In fact, this entire journey began with a single email from my treasured and respected friend, biologist Mike Boston who owns Osa Aventura. He provides the finest guided rainforest trips on the peninsula. Together we have made two amazing treks into Corcovado National Park (www.osaaventura.com). I had heard about the pending tuna farm and knew more reliable data was needed to help guide appropriate decisions. When I was struck with the idea for this study, Mike was the first person I contacted. I laid out my basic plan and asked him, point blank, if he thought I was crazy. Was the project even doable?
Mike responded with this. “Your idea is marvelous!!! I have a [boat] at your disposal.” Along with a page of fantastic and ultimately essential advice, he concluded, “It’s very doable, Brooke! Go for it!” Suddenly I went from having a concept to having a boat and some ground support in one delightful cyber-synapsis. Jorge works with Mike and, thankfully, was available for hire.
But I still needed funding. So I wrote my dear friend Guido Saborio at Friends of the Osa (www.osaconservation.org). Guido and I had collaborated on a scientific note, which was due to be published in January. He trusted my abilities. And it was Guido who ferried my project proposal to the appropriate people and helped me secure the required money, permits and logistical support.
I am ever-grateful for these guys—for their utter lack of hesitation—and for being two very beloved friends in this small Costa Rican community. Our study is well underway and already we have garnered some very interesting and valuable data.
Now, with only a couple weeks remaining, I’d like to show you around Puerto Jimenez and share some of the sights that greet me as I go about my daily living. I’m staying in the FOO office where the amenities are simple but adequate. There is no hot water; a mere pipe from the outdoor hose spicket provides my showers. After a day in the sun, the cool splash of water is exquisitely refreshing!
Since the houses are open-air, nobody can hide away, close off into private worlds of air-conditioning and television (as so many of us do in the states). The people here still interact, sitting on porches and stoops, chatting and laughing into the evening. It’s summer and school is out. At night I fall asleep to the happy sounds of children, playful giggles, bicycles passing, music tapping its contagious Latin rhythm. When I wake in the morning, I can hear the house next door starting its showers. Roosters call, crickets and frogs chirp, trucks begin rumbling in the streets.
And usually to the panderia (bakery) for sandwiches, where the smell of hot sweet bread wafts into the street. Then we drive to the pier. Our boat is still running like a champ; however, the Land Rover has been on the fritz for over a week, so we’ve been transporting all our gear to and from the marina, morning and afternoon, by local taxi (trucks with a modified beds for seating and shade).
As a side note, I did leave PJ last weekend for a 4-day tour with my new friend Alberto Robleto, a bright and gentle man who—along with his lovely wife and daughters—runs Aventuras Tropicales, a first-class company for kayak, outrigger and biking trips (www.aventurastropicales.com). On the third day of our expedition we were greeted by two curious Bottlenose dolphins. I see this species almost everyday for my survey, but it was a special treat to enjoy their company so low and slow on the water. Arturo (our kayak guide) told me there are only two things a Central American pueblo needs to be a real municipality.
This is the supermercado where I do my grocery shopping. Some of these photos may have you thinking I’m “roughing it”. But I’m not. On the contrary, I feel profoundly satisfied with my living conditions. Sometimes, in the American quest for prosperity and independence, we sacrifice the warmth of family and community. Connecting with others touches the human cord with greater richness than money can buy. It’s been years—since I was a little girl—that I could walk through a neighborhood and see so many people I know, faces that greet me with smiles and waves. Everyone here has been incredibly welcoming; it feels like an enormous family has taken me into its fold.
Of course, I can hardly wait to see Kevin! And the girls—Malki and Holli. Soon, I will be home and plant giant kisses on them all. But I am thankful to have enjoyed the experience of living on the Osa Peninsula , even for a short while, and I am sure to miss this place, the wildlife, the community, and my wonderful, wonderful friends who live here.