In the pure tradition of Elliot tours, sitting around is not something that is scheduled in the itinerary for very long. So it was that yesterday afternoon we had been able to check out the place and do our own reconnaissance walk but today we had two planned activities scheduled.
The first was called the “Long Nature Hike” and commenced at 8:30 finishing around 12 noon. The point of the long hike was not to actually walk a long way but have an extended period of time to look out for the creatures that live in the Osa. We were joined on the walk by a couple from Massachusetts, Annie and Jim and our guide Marlon. The other couple had done many of the walks in the area but felt that they had not seen much wildlife so I was a little apprehensive that we would be the stragglers of the group. As it turned out the walk was paced so that we walked a little through the forest and then stopped to look at something. It wasn’t a fast paced hike with the key I ring not just to reach the end…but more about getting to the destination. Throughout the walk we saw a number of things both big and small – a peccary and Caoti down to Leaf cutter ants that are just the most miraculous things carrying a load way bigger than their body weight. The monkeys were also ever present above us although as the day heated up they become harder to spot and less vocal in amongst the foliage. Marlon was a knowledgeable guide having lived in the Osa for five eyes and he had also completed a 4 year Eco tourism degree. He was able to provide a lot of interesting facts that kept us engrossed throughout and the walk also enabled us to see parts of the property that only a guide could take you on. If was a great way to start our first full day even if it was a hot one.
Our second activity of the day occurred after lunch and was a two hour horse riding expedition conducted by a neighbour (hmm Miguel actually lived about 20 minutes from El Romansa but we were told he was a neighbour). Miguel looked like an old fashioned gaucho; barefoot, shirtless, tanned and a little weather beaten. A man with no English but someone who loved to engage in conversation regardless. Now let’s just say OHS rules do not apply in this world. Get up on your horse with ropes for reins and off we go …hmm where are the helmets…ok there aren’t any! Kinda seems a bit scary when you’re riding a horse you don’t know on terrain you don’t know especially when Claire’s horse was particularly feisty and like Claire only knew how to be in one place in the line and that was first. Unfortunately that position was taken up by Miguel and his horse, although half way along the ride, Miguel whistled for us all to stop, and promptly switched horses with Claire’s, putting the saddle and reins on his horse that only had a small rug.
The ride was really enjoyable, through the rivers and forests of the Osa and then out onto the beach. Whilst with any trail ride, the horses know where to go, it wasn’t so much about being in a procession line, especially when we got to the beach. Miguel was also quite a character and loved to have a chat and a laugh using hand gestures and objects to show us what he meant. His style of going through the forest involved pulling out a huge machete and cutting a path reminiscent of a a Paul Hogan scene in Crocodile Dundee.
After finishing the ride, we got back into our vehicle with Felix to make the 20 minute trip back to El Romansa. The journey there and back was also enjoyable in that we were put in the tray part of the Hilux on seats designed for their bird watching tour (another compliant OHS issue). It meant that we bumped along on the gravel road in the back of the ute whilst Felix watched the road ahead. This became a little funny when we got back and was greeted by Yesse who looked terrified in that she had sent 5 guests on the horse ride and only three were in the ute. This fear was compounded when I said to Felix that he had been going a little faster on the way back than the way there. She was unaware that the other couple (Shannon and Jared) had driven their car and thought that something terrible had happened to them on the return voyage.
Two really cool activities today to highlight the Osa and that coupled with a beautiful room, amazing surroundings, good food and the most helpful of people made for an incredible day in the Osa…a sensational place for finish our holiday.