It’s been almost a month now since I started volunteer work here at this little station on the beach of Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula. This is the first break we’ve gotten between overlapping groups of schoolkids and tours. We’re backed up on Corcovado National Park, the largest reserve in Costa Rica, and within a short boat ride of Cano Island, one of the best preserved spots anywhere. Within reach, there’s rainforest, coral reef, and gorgeous tropical beach.
Most people passing through are here for the nature, in some form. And there is plenty of it. Whether it’s the university students here to study monkey movements, or kids jonesing for a giant snake, or birders trying to see as few giant insects as possible, there is something here for everyone. Colorful animals? We see macaws and blue morpho butterflies regularly. Weird animals? I still can’t find a good way to describe things like tapirs or tamanduas. Giant bugs? Yes. Oh lord yes.
I will never get used to the staggering level of diversity here, but even more so the unpredictability of rare animal encounters. I was helping dig drainage ditches when we unearthed a nest of caecilians. I have spent hours unsuccessfully looking for those things, and there they were in the gutter. Once I turned a corner on a trail to find a tapir standing in broad daylight, blithely eating leaves ten meters away. The beaches here are crawling with little moray eels and mantis shrimp. I know exotic is a relative term, but creatures here just seem more interesting.