By Jatin D.
My family was given the opportunity to visit Osa Conservation in Costa Rica by one of my mother’s former students. At first we didn’t really know what to expect. We flew to the Piro Biological Station from San Jose in a very small plane that made me very nervous at first; the first of our unique experiences before we even arrived at the research center. While we were driving towards the research center, we saw our first wild animal, a mammal running across the bushes adjacent to the road. My family was unsure what exactly it was since we saw it so briefly, but some guessed it was a capybara.
Arriving at the research center, we were greeted and shown where we would be staying. The research center was not like I expected. Three red-roofed cabins stood near the edge of the rainforest, all connected by a small dirt path which led to a similar but slightly larger red-roofed building, the dining hall. I immediately noticed a large hole in the ground bordered by stone, and asked the friendly man who greeted us what the purpose of the pit was. He answered that the station’s staff themselves were unsure of the purpose, although many ideas had apparently been suggested and debated. After we saw our rooms and put down our luggage, I ran to the edge of the research center’s grounds, the border of the rainforest, with my binoculars, excited to see some wild animals. I only saw some lizards in the first twenty minutes or so. As I began to settle back down in my room, someone told me that there were monkeys spotted in the nearby trees. I was very excited. There was already a group of people on the other side of the research center’s ground looking up at the trees with binoculars. I ran to join them. They were hard to see at first, but I could make out the rustling in the branches and saw some spider monkeys jumping through the trees. It was amazing to see wild animals so close to where we were staying. After lunch, we were treated to more monkeys, several capuchins this time, all over the tree near the research center’s entrance, helping themselves to a fruit that grew from the tree.
Speaking of lunch, at first I was worried about the limited food options since I am a very picky eater and was unfamiliar with Costa Rican cuisine. The food was a very pleasant surprise for me. I liked the unfamiliar Costa Rican food they served, and they also had options like cereal and fruit with the meals.
Later on went on a trail towards the beach with Manuel Sanchez guiding us. I had brought night vision goggles in hopes of seeing some animal activity in the dark, but I didn’t get many chances to use them on the trail. We were not prepared for the amount of mud and water we would have to trek through. Thankfully, there was a large set of boots the staff provided and advised us to use whenever we went out in the wild. Part of the trail required us to walk through a river around a foot deep in the dark. We were hoping to see some sea turtle tracks on the beach, but we had to head back soon.
Throughout our visit, we had many amazing experiences. We explored a part of the beach where we saw many rare scarlet macaws, explored rock formations caused by volcanic eruptions, and saw many animals in the rainforest. We went on a pretty unforgettable horse ride where a tiny dog managed to follow us the entire time, happily running alongside the horses even through wet swamps and a beach with waves that seemed to envelop the dog whole. The dogs in Costa Rica are really something else. We also went on a water buffalo-driven cart to a part of the river which we would explore in kayaks. Another amazing dog not only followed the water buffalo all the way to the river, but also got in the river to follow us on the boats!
Overall, we had a lot of fun at the Piro Biological Station. The people there were very hospitable and friendly. We learned a lot about the local environment and what was being done to help it. I recommend a visit to Piro Biological Station to anyone interested in experiencing nature up close, especially the rainforest. Just be prepared for some cold showers.
My family was so impressed by our visit to Costa Rica that when we started looking for summer activities, my mother found out that I could actually work for the same company that hosted us at the Piro Station here in DC! I was interested in the internship position because I wondered what working in an office would be like, and I looked forward to helping out the company that made our amazing visit to Osa possible. It was very enlightening to see both sides of the operation, both in the field and behind a desk.
***We here at Osa Conservation would like to thank Jatin for his vivid account of his journey with us into the Osa. He graciously wrote us this blog while interning with us here in our Washington DC office so he could share his experience with others in the hopes of promoting awareness to the beauty of the Osa and to highlight on the importance of it’s conservation.***