Last Updated on March 19, 2022 by Carolyn
Hidden Views in the Cloud Forest
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On our 5th day in Costa Rica, we were up at about 5 am with a beautiful sunny clear morning welcoming us. Our jaws hit the ground when we stepped out on the deck for our morning coffee. We couldn’t believe our eyes. The view before us was absolutely stunning: Rolling mountains with vibrant green valleys leading the eyes down to the ocean, and then beyond that to where the ocean and sky meet. The whole time we’d stayed at the cabin we had no idea that an ocean view lay in hiding behind the clouds.
I realized then, why when I had inquired about an ocean view property the seller had responded, “I haven’t had much luck taking a photo of the ocean view”. I had thought it very odd at the time, now I understood! When one lives where the cloud ceiling can practically be touched with your hand, the views though stunning play hide and seek with the clouds.
San Isidro Farmers Market
Today we were heading to San Isidro de el General where we’d planned to stop at the famous Feria (farmers market) and then head through the mountains to the Osa Mountain Eco Village on the Osa Peninsula. Getting to San Isidro took no time at all but finding the farmers market did. I can’t tell you how many times we drove around it, circling it but not finding it, we’d pass people obviously heading to or from the market but couldn’t actually find it. Finally I said, “we’re close, let’s park and ditch the car and use google to get us there” and that’s what we did. We grabbed our shopping bag and walked the few blocks to the Feria. It’s a huge building I’m not sure how we kept missing it.
We were worried that going mid-morning on day 2 of the 2-day farmers market that items would be pretty picked over, not to worry. There are well over a hundred vendors (if not two hundred) at the market with a huge variety of fruit and vegetables and other offerings such as meat, cheese, plants, sauces, etc. Sadly it’s not an organic market but there are quite a few organic vendors there, and we sought them out.
We were on the hunt for “Manzana d’Agua” but sadly they were out of season and there were none to be found. We did meet an expat from Colorado, Elena who operates a healthy baked goods booth called “Colibri” who chatted with us for quite a while. She told us we wouldn’t like Osa Mountain Village which was disappointing to hear, as we had high expectations. She also curates an email newsletter called Chayotevine which lists a lot of real-estate, events, and general news for the area.
Drive through the Mountains to Osa Peninsula
After spending an hour or two at the market we set off for the Osa Peninsula. We were taking the longer less traveled mountain route and would return along the coastal route later in the week. Per google, it would be approximately 2.5-hour drive.
As luck would have it, as soon as we started driving the rains caught up with us. It was pretty slow driving due to a lot of trucks along the way and fog impeding our vision. I was amused to see goats staked out along the roadsides along with quite a few horses. We weren’t in a rush so we took the drive fairly slowly. The area is quite remote without much development along the way. When we turned south towards the coast we followed alongside the huge river “Terraba”, which was interesting, especially the part where half of the road had caved in. I’m glad we weren’t driving at night!
We arrived in Palmar Norte without falling through the road or getting caught in a mudslide. Palmar Norte is where route 2 ends and you have to head either south or north on the Inter American Hwy. The turnoff to Osa Mountain Village is only 7km north from Palmar Norte. We drove to where google maps said to turn but were unsure if we had the correct road as there was zero signage, and it didn’t look like a maintained road We drove past this turn and after a bit, decided, yes that that was the turn, and turned around and headed back to the turn-off. We then proceeded to drive down the rockiest bumpiest road we’d driven on yet. We were definitely puzzled at this point. Who would build a community on a road like this? But my GPS seemed happy with our route, and we hadn’t seen any other possible turn. At the 9km mark low and behold there was an Osa Mountain Village sign welcoming us and we drove in.
Osa Mountain Eco Village
We had wanted to rent a private tiny house rental that’s part of the Osa Mountain Village community but unfortunately, it was rented for the time we were visiting and we had to settle for staying in one of the condominiums which really isn’t our style. Upon our arrival, we called the rental manager Patricia who showed us the way to our unit and gave us a quick low down on the community and its amenities. Our unit was tucked against the jungle which was nice so we didn’t have neighbors on all sides.
The rental units are privately owned residences that owners offer for rent while not staying at Osa Mountain Village. The units are comfortable to stay in as they are air-conditioned, fully enclosed with glass windows but rather “North American” in style. They cater to those who want to live near the wild but not lose the comforts of their home.
Since the rains had stopped and there was still time before dark, we set out to explore the Osa Mountain Village. Our first impressions were less than stellar. There was a general feeling of disrepair. The road signs were missing letters, with just a shadow of where letters once were, the gravel roads had weeds growing up the edges and the place felt abandoned. How the property was developed struck us as odd. The property encompasses 750 acres yet the developers had chosen to build in a basin-like area with no views. As we walked up back toward the main road and explored a lesser developed part of the community we had stellar views of the Osa valley and the ocean beyond.
During this exploratory walk, we saw our first toucan, who even stayed still long enough for us to snap a few photos. What a thrill! We stopped by the community center where there is a restaurant, bar, and swimming pool, and there wasn’t a soul in sight. We decided we’d better head to town and get some provisions for dinner, in hindsight we should have done that on the way in, but you know how it is when traveling, you just want to get to your destination!
We’d passed the BM grocery store on our way into Osa Mountain Village, it was about 15 km away, in Palmar Norte. It is a decent size and well provisioned.
Hidden Gem: Batambal
Between Osa Mountain Village and Palmar Norte, there is an interesting archeological site “Sitio Arqueologico Batambal” where you can stop and see some of the mystical stone spheres famous in Costa Rica. The site is 10 acres, and is situated on a hill that affords gorgeous views of the Diquis Delta, the mangroves of the Sierpe River, and if you turn around, of the OSA mountain range and jungle looming above. It is thought to have been an ancient civilization’s ceremonial site. The Costa Rica National Museum produced this nice video on the Batambal site:
Night Sounds of the Osa Jungle
We returned to our condo, cooked supper, and spent the evening listening to the sounds of the jungle from the covered porch.
One of the most interesting sounds of the night is that of the “tink” frog, aptly named for its call which sounds like a metallic “tink”. They are elusive little frogs despite listening to a chorus of “tinks” many times, I still have yet to see one. An interesting fact: These little tree frogs have no tadpole stage, they emerge from eggs as little froglets.
We had many questions from our few hours at Osa Mountain Village: Where were the private lots and houses, so far we’d only seen the condos. Why the aura of neglect? Where were the abundant gardens that provided the weekly food baskets? We’d only seen one garden and it certainly wasn’t abundant We would seek answers the next day.
Joining Us in the Middle of Our Trip?
This link will take you back to the beginning of our Costa Rica Adventure: 17 Day Costa Rica Itinerary