|Welcome to My Wonderful World
SOCIEDAD Y CULTURA
In my 15 months living in Carate, I can tell you many things that make the Osa Peninsula special, yet many visitors to Costa Rica miss our little gem, and it is included in few travel packages. Maybe people are put off by the distance and time it takes to get here, or the intense heat and humidity. I think they’re crazy; they have just missed the best destination Costa Rica has to offer!
As a wildlife biologist I am biased towards what the peninsula has to offer in terms of wildlife, but when you live here for a while you uncover so much more. The warmth of the people here is like no other, people always have time for you, are happy to help, and being a small town, it is so easy to get to know people. Having lived in London for two years I can’t tell you how lovely it is to walk down the street and speak to people you know, or to take a bus and make friends with the person sitting next to you. If I tried to talk to someone on a bus in London they would probably think I was crazy!
Then there is the basic life. As a traveler and someone who does not fit in well to fancy bars, I am happiest having a beer on the side of the road seated in a plastic chair: what more do you need! Here you learn to live with only what’s necessary (yes that does include tequila!). The rest is unimportant and you learn to appreciate what and who is important in life and to connect with nature. The range of activities offers something for everyone, from surfing in Matapalo to diving in Drake and hiking in Carate. Then there is the food. As a vegetarian I cannot enjoy a lot of what is on offer, but it is truly a misconception that all Costa Ricans eat is rice and beans. I’m happiest when eating sweet plantain and cheese, patacones, homemade tortillas, their amazing bean salsa, empanadas . . . and let’s not forget the Imperial beer to go with that! Finally, I want to mention our tourists; they are the best! They come with interesting stories, and I have found amazing connections in them. They don’t want an easy ride and to just hug a sloth; they are truly interested in what we have to offer here and are willing to trek, get dirty and live in basic conditions to find it.
I leave the best for last, the thing that provides most of the peninsula with a job, the thing that most people come here to see, our wildlife! So here I want to present you with some amazing facts that I have learnt over my time here. Now maybe you will understand why I’ve left London for this little piece of paradise!
Below are some facts about Costa Rica and the Osa Peninsula that show just how important it is to protect-
•Costa Rica is a biodiversity hotspot with around 5% of the world’s species in 0.03% of the worlds landmass- the highest biodiversity in the world.
•50% of all Costa Rican species are in the Osa- Making the Osa the most biodiverse place on the planet.
•The Osa has the last remaining lowland rainforest along the Pacific coast of Central America. This is important as Caribbean rainforests and even Pacific rainforests in South America hold a very different biodiversity.
•The Osa holds many endemic species due to the joining of two land masses 2 million years ago. Many animals never made it across the Talamanca mountain range and are limited to the Osa.
•It is a migratory route and seasonal feeding ground for many species of birds from North America.
•It has a wide variety of habitats and micro climates- The Osa supports some of the world’s most threatened ecosystems, including mangrove forests and wetlands.
•It holds the most significant wetland ecosystem and mangrove forests of Central America
•Ten percent of flora (plants) are found nowhere else in the world and 25% of all the world’s known endemic amphibians.
•It has the largest population of scarlet macaws in the world and one of the few remaining populations.
•It boasts more than 700 species of tree (which is more than all the Northern temperate regions combined!)
•It has 234.8 plant species per 1000 square kilometers, Colombia, the 2nd most biodiverse country has only 43.8 plant species per 1000 km2
•It holds 28.2 species of vertebrates (excluding fish) per 1000 km2, Ecuador, the 2nd most biodiverse has 9.2 species per 1000 km2, and the third most biodiverse vertebrate country, Malaysia, has only 4.4 vertebrate species per 1000 km2
•The Osa has 463 species of birds and one of the highest avian biodiversity in the world.
•There are 140 species of mammal, including 25 species of dolphins and whales.
•There are 4 species of sea turtles.
•Costa Rica has the most eco-tourists worldwide