Leaving the cloud forest of Monteverde behind us we jumped on a shuttle bus and travelled south to our third Costa Rican house sit.
Arriving in Ojochal was magical.
Originally a French Canadian settlement the village is surrounded by such beauty it is easy to see why so many people fall in love with the area. The house we are caring for is set on the side of undulating mountains that tumble down to meet the shores of the the Pacific.
It is surrounded by miles of unspoilt jungle and consequently the views are incredible. On our first night here we were treated to a breathtaking sunset and each morning we are woken by howler monkeys and serene views of the evening mists retreating over the mountains.
SOUTHERN COSTA RICA
The wildlife here is abundant. The house sits on a huge cashew farm and when relaxing on the front porch you’ll be joined by countless species of hummingbirds, toucans, butterflies as big as your hand and if your lucky a sloth will be hanging out in one of the trees.
I was quite surprised to find a gigantic stick insect chilling out on one of the towels in the laundry room this morning! His camouflage was so convincing I nearly picked him up thinking he was in fact a stick!
I’ve also found out that having a praying mantis traverse your leg is rather a strange feeling. I thought perhaps he may have just been a welcoming neighbour out to introduce himself although the reality is he likely thought me just another obstacle in his jungle habitat!
3 WEEKS OF JUNGLE LIVING
We have been charged with taking care of the house and the owners wonderfully obedient Golden Retriever Jack for a little under three weeks.
Every morning Jack and I head off on our morning constitutional around the farm, Jack is the largest of the local dogs and has become the leader of the pack.
As we walk past other properties dogs of various and often undetermined breed squeeze under their gates and join us as we hike round the farm. Once the clan have assembled they race off into the undergrowth in search of things to chase and I am left to enjoy the sounds of the jungle.
LIVING LIKE A LOCAL
We are making some great friends here.
While walking Jack we often bump into the neighbours (there are fifteen other properties on the farm) and they stop to share tales of the joys of life in the jungle.
We’ve just been invited to join them in their Thanksgiving celebrations later on this week. It is set to be a traditional American affair with a full roast dinner and desert. Although I’ve been enjoying the Costa Rican staples of rice and beans my mouth is watering just thinking of the delicious goodies we’ll sample!
The property is much larger than I had thought and exploring it is turning into an adrenaline sport! So far we have traversed the river that runs the width of the farm, discovered a secluded waterfall and hiked to the top of the ridge behind the house to spot some howler monkeys feeding.
THE SIMPLE LIFE
Our Costa Rican adventure is beginning to take effect on my consumerist soul. It was just six months ago that I was desperately fighting to cram as many of my possessions into a fifty five litre backpack as was physically possible and sitting here surrounded by lush tropical rainforest I am beginning to realise I needn’t have bothered.
Here we are getting a taste of the simple life. We’ve no unnecessary electrical goods, no wide screen TV to rot our brains, just an abundance of fresh air, mountain and ocean views. The house is beautifully designed and boasts 360 degree views from the bedroom upstairs, the front doors open up onto a small patio with comfy wicker chairs and a plunge pool where we spend hours playing ball with Jack.
Each morning we trundle off into the jungle and down into the village to stock up on fresh fruits and practise our Spanish. Crossing the bridge over the river that runs around the border of the property is my favourite part of the journey.
If we’re lucky, and Jack is on his best behaviour, we’ll catch sight of howler monkeys playing in the tall boughs high in the trees. Once they’ve spotted us they shriek loudly and Jack bounds into the water to tease the furry antagonists.
I’ll be sad to leave Ojochal. While the assignment is our shortest so far, just three weeks, I think it has been the first to truly steal my heart. The warmth of the people, taste of wholesome living and diverse life that surrounds our every waking moment is so alluring. I know we’ll be back.
Hasta Luego Costa Rica, Volveremos.
Have you spent time living in Costa Rica? Share your comments with me below.