My 35th birthday weekend is one for the record books...
Hopping in our car, we drive 2 hours to Puerto Jimenez, in the heart of the rugged Osa Peninsula. We check into our waterfront cabin and then hit the road again to explore new beaches. As we were driving to Matapalo, on a typical skeleton-rattling pot-hole ridden Costa Rican road, I notice a tree swaying dramatically above us, which can only mean one thing: MONKEYS!
Andy pulls over and I hop out to make friends with a curious baby spider monkey. We've only seen spider monkeys once before in Costa Rica, and we've never seen a baby. A foreshadowing moment of a weekend full of firsts. I fire away on our camera as he closely inspects us while munching on leaves.
I am in love, I want to throw him on my back and take him home with me. Look at that precious little face!
Ending our drive at Playa Matapalo, we get out to explore and walk the beach. The water is blue, the jungle is glowing green and flourishes right up to the shoreline.
I love being in a place where the jungle meets the ocean, like two Romeo and Juliet lovers, forbidden from joining themselves into one, but always just within torturous sight of one another's grasp. Two magical, colorful pieces of the Earth with vast, untouched spaces, waiting to be explored. The waves are powerful, and looming black rocks line the beach. The coarse, black sand feels like pumice on our feet, and we take advantage of the free pedicure.
Ending our day with a slow walk along the pier, we pause as nearly 100 green parrots fly over our head, into the sunset, screeching and cackling to each other happily. Another special animal moment to mark our souls.
The next day we wake up early and take Sophie for a walk. All three of us stop on a bridge to watch a family of 9 scarlet macaws, the most we've seen at one time, soaring over us. The abundance of animals on the Osa Peninsula is absolutely mind-blowing.
I thought about what my birthday wish was, and it was simple: to spend the day on the water. There is no better way to see a place, experience a culture, fall in love with somewhere, than from the water. If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.
We book a 6-hour eco boat tour of the Golfo Dulce with Paradise Rocks. Captain Josh is full of information and we learn how incredibly deep this gulf is, as he propels us around it, which is very rare for a gulf. He talks about how the fresh water flows into the gulf constantly from the rivers, covering the salt water with a layer of clean, clear mountain water. We notice how clean the air smells, and the usual "fishy sea" smell does not exist here.
The entire gulf appears deserted, not another boat in sight for miles. The ocean belongs to us, my birthday gift from the Universe. Stopping at a dock, we take turns launching ourselves into the ocean.
Pulling up to a deserted beach, we jump overboard into the greenest, purest water I've ever seen. For the next hour we float and snorkel, admiring the live coral and colorful fish, while munching on pineapple and watermelon.
We spot a pair of devil rays swimming together in the water, as well as a few flying fish. But the dolphins refused to be outshined. They stole the show with their friendly acrobatic skills, abundant energy, and playful spirits.
For the next 2 hours we chase these magical mammals through the pristine gulf. A pod of 300 bottle nosed dolphins chose the Golfo Dulce for their home. They chose well as they are healthy, well-fed and contagiously happy. Spinning and whipping the boat in circles, we tempt them to chase us in a game of tag, and they gleefully accept.
Majestic, humbling creatures, they play with each other, with us, with the surf. They launch their voluptuous bodies into the air and crash into the water with a dramatic splash. Synchronized swimmers, they follow the leader, their motions rhyming in the sea. Piercing through the surf, like a well-aimed bullet, carving a harmonious, perfect path into the sea, their calculated, joyful motions are mesmerizing, methodical, and medicinal.
Words are a funny thing. I love words. I love the way they can dance across the page, change a mood, draw a tear, soothe a worried soul. Words never fail me…until now. There are no words that can attempt to do this experience justice. It is the closest to nature I have ever felt. I looked a dolphin straight in the eye, and like looking into the eye of a hurricane, it was soul-changing.
A beautiful moment which I will never forget, our boat was propelling across the gulf at a high speed, the air carving a soundless heaven around us. No words could be heard and none were spoken, as we flew across the water, chased and surrounded by endless splashing dolphins. The welcoming silence soothed us all into another state, a state of pure bliss, cocooned by mother nature.
I am so eternally grateful to have had such an intense, lovely experience to mark the entrance into my 35th year in this life. What a special piece of Costa Rica the Osa Peninsula is. Overflowing with animals, rugged, unexplored, deserted. We are the minority and it's a powerful, humbling feeling to be outnumbered.
Thank you, Muchas Gracias, Merci Beaucoup, and OneLove to all.
Kari Pinkerton Silcox
It would be a tragedy to die, having never really lived. Which is why my husband Andy and I quit our jobs, sold our house and decided to chase our dreams. We moved to Costa Rica without a plan, and this is the story of our adventure.