Last week we went with some friends to the Osa Peninsula — a very remote part of Costa Rica accessible only by boat where there is no Internet access, no cell phone service, and no electricity unless you have your own power source. And we had a fabulous time!
Below, I’ll be sharing some photos and videos highlighting our trip. But first I’d like to talk about what I learned from being without the Internet for almost a week. As much as I tout working only five hours per week (and I usually do), I have to admit that I do some work every day, and I use the Internet a LOT. In addition to being a fun vacation, this trip was also an experiment to see how my business would run without my daily interaction, and how I would handle being away from my business, personal email, online reading and research, and *gasp* Facebook!
It turns out that except for a few temptations the first day, where I resisted the urge to reach for my iPhone and check email, I didn’t miss these things at all! I was able to completely focus my attention on enjoying my time with family and friends, and the beautiful nature that surrounded us. I didn’t bring a book to read, and didn’t touch the iPad I brought, except to put it away in the safe.
Before I left, I did let my teams know that I wouldn’t be available for about six days, and that they would be on their own for handling all problems. I also set up an auto responder on my personal email box letting people know not to expect a response right away. I unsubscribed from a number of newsletters and email notifications to keep the inbox volume down.
When I came back, I had 82 messages in my personal inbox and 84 messages in my business inbox. I was able to clear the personal inbox in 90 minutes and the business inbox in about 3 hours. It surprised me how many of the messages were unimportant in the context of a week, where I would have spent more time on them had I checked daily. And because I wasn’t readily available to my teams, they didn’t rely on me and came up with their own ways to solve problems. The result was that no major issues occurred, my businesses continued running smoothly and growing steadily, and my programmers even launched a couple new features while I was gone. I’m starting to think about maybe switching to checking email weekly instead of daily, at least for my business email. It’s less stressful overall. I’ll get more chances to test how this works in the weeks ahead as we travel to Hawaii and move to Malaysia.
Speaking of Malaysia, on the first day of our trip we ate lunch in Dominical, Costa Rica at the Coconut Spice restaurant which specializes in Thai and Malaysian food. I had the Penang Curry and was overcome by the explosion of delicious flavors, which got me even more excited to move to Penang next month. Only, once we’re there, the same dish will cost 10 times less! Oh, I’m so excited for more Malaysian food!
On the way to Dominical, though, I did get pulled over for going 20km over the speed limit (about 10mph). I didn’t bribe my way out of this one so it’s costing me a whopping $350 for that ticket! Ouch! Not the best way to start a vacation. I’m not sure how locals making less than $1,000/month here can swallow that kind of ticket — it’s really expensive! But maybe that’s the point.
Anyway, after we made it to Dominical and had lunch, we stayed at Villas Rio Mar, where we enjoyed their swimming pools and lovely gardens, very clean cabins, and the delicious dinner and breakfast that were included in the price ($120 for all five us).
The next day we got up early and drove another hour and a half to Sierpe, where we got on a small, crowded boat that would take us to Punta Marenco Lodge on the Osa Peninsula. However, about ten minutes out, the motor quit, and we had to wait about 30 minutes for a rescue boat. After switching boats, we enjoyed our ride through the river, until we came out into the ocean and started crashing against the oncoming waves. I got quite sea sick, and Emily and Marie were terrified when water started coming into the boat. Fortunately, we arrived safely, and I was able to recover without vomiting. But I’m looking forward to not being on a boat again for a long time, if ever.
The highlight of the trip was definitely our time at Punta Marenco! We hiked through Corcovado national park and saw all types of animals, including scarlet macaws, toucans, a white hawk, monkeys, basilisks, giant grasshoppers, poison dart frogs, hermit crabs, tapir footprints, and many more. We even saw a whale from the shore!
Being a rain forest, the trees were also incredible, and we learned a lot about the animals and foliage we encountered, from how strangler trees shoot down roots to kill other trees, to how leaf cutter ants don’t eat the leaves they cut, but use them to cultivate a giant underground mushroom inside their colony which they then eat.
We also had fun playing on the beach and in the waves, and hiking through the stunning landscapes. We even climbed a steep and wet trail to the top of a waterfall where we played in the refreshing water.
Despite it being the rainy season, we had near perfect weather every day of our trip — bright, sunny days with little or no rain in the afternoons — except for the last day, where it poured constantly. That was the day we were supposed to go snorkeling at a nearby island and hopefully see whales and dolphins. But we still had a great time sitting and talking in the lodge, listening to the rain, and relaxing. The kids played in the rain, did crafts, and made up games to play together. Our hosts were wonderful and made us feel like part of the family.
On the way home, we stopped in Manuel Antonio for lunch at Jefe’s Mexican restaurant, which was excellent. And then we came back home to reality, which I think doesn’t have to be quite so different from this vacation.
Here’s some of the video footage and other pictures from our trip.