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.
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What a great video about our time there! Very well done Brandon. Big smiles on our faces. We are going to miss you when you move to Malaysia, but we’ll see you within the year there.
Thanks for the great time! We’re looking to seeing you in that part of the world as well.
I think the most important triumph of your trip is that you made it to the Osa Peninsula without vomiting. Vomiting is horrific. Congratulations on that. (I’m actually only kind of joking–I have a mild vomit phobia and the thought of you avoiding it really does bring me relief.)
Sounds like your trip was awesome.
My friend Konrad introduced me to your blog, and I’ve enjoyed it so far. It’s nice to meet you. *extends hand for a virtual handshake*
Nice to meet you. Thanks for your comment, and here’s to being vomit-free!
fun post. It looks like you had such a wonderful time. The children had such freedom and fun exploring and experiencing everything. Loved seeing the video.
I love your blog posts and videos, as you know. Thanks for another great one!! It was such an adventure we all had together. I’m so glad we were able to go and have a really fun time. :) Keith did an amazing job planning it out for us too. Marie is all ready to go back and take another ride down Greyson’s sand slide and play in the waterfall. Very refreshing vacation and the perfect way to end our time here in Costa Rica.
I agree Jen! It is the ‘real’ Costa Rica and we are so glad to have experienced it.
What a fabulous adventure with great friends. And I was so delighted to hear David Wilcox songs on the video…. both of those songs really apply well to your life, don’t they?
That crocodile was a bit too close for comfort….
Yeah, the crocodile was just down the river from where we were swimming! Saw him on the way back. Yes, I like those songs. :)
I can empathize with the ticket. I was there last year in the Arenal area. Actually, on the way from Playa Flamingo to Mt. Arenal.
The traffic flow/road conditions make a driver want to make up time when there is a straight smooth stretch. I guess they clocked me at 120km in an 80km zone.
Not fun… It cost me 23 US and 13 CR…. that was after begging grace by my travel companion. It’s a funny story now b/c we couldn’t find our passports since we hid them so well b/c of all the stories we had heard. It wasn’t so funny then :)
I meant the equivalent of 13 US in CR currency.
Love your posts and I loved the vidio. What a life you lead. I would be envious except at my age I’d be so tired. I’m with your mom on the crocodile.
You can find those Malay food in Singapore too. :)
Thanks for sharing your photos and videos with us.
I am assuming you home-school the children. Is there a specific format or syllabus you follow.
I guess what I am asking is how would you start home-schooling kids the way you guys are doing?
Hi John. Yes, we homeschool, but we don’t follow a format or syllabus. There are so many great free resources online to learn and we use these extensively to follow what the children are interested in learning about, along with some basic math and reading skills. We try to cover a broad base of subjects, from science and history to art and music, language and culture studies, computer skills, and much more. But we usually start by asking our kids what they want to learn about today, and go from there. Their interests are broad. It was a little rough getting started, but now that we’re in the habit, the kids love it and it’s fun for everyone. Jen and I are learning a lot as well. I’ll try to post some links to sites we use in an upcoming post.
thanks for the reply
much success to you and your family
I would really like to know about home-schooling …since I trust your opinion I want to know about your home-schooling plans…
Will you teach the kids until a certain age?
For eg…its hard to teach advanced topics like programming, calculus
This would make a great Blog post
We don’t really have plans. We may put them in a foreign school for language practice, and they may go to college if they’re interested in doing so. We’ll just play it by ear. As for programming and calculus, I’ve studied both and from personal experience have found that the best way to learn programming is simply just get down and do it yourself — there are plenty of free tutorials and people willing to help you online. As for calculus, unless you’re going to be a physicist or engineer, why bother? I’ve never used it for programming, even though I had to take through calculus II in college. Although most of my classes in college were irrelevant to what I wanted to study… If you’re really interested in calculus, you can learn that online, too. Some great videos here: http://www.khanacademy.org/
I love this. The video is great (love the music) and so are all of the pictures! What a great way to finish off in Costa Rica :)
We live in Honduras and in a couple months will live in Ecuador. After, we hope for Asia or Europe. But, you know, I have a hard time in one element: I miss a homeschool community. Not having libraries is not so fun either. Do you miss a homeschool community? How do you work around issues like wanting a group theatre club or other group things? For the last four years, we have not had this unless we created (and paid) for every element of it. Homeschool is unknown here and parents don’t do this kind of interaction much, so don’t typically want to go out of their way. I hope that Ecuador is different! How do you work around having little community? Maybe I am just feeling pitiful and lonely! I miss friends and homeschool groups, but I really enjoy having these travel adventures with our family.
I can understand wanting more of a homeschool community. I’ve really missed a nice theater here to perform in, and hope we can find one in Malaysia. But we have made friends with other homeschooling families in Costa Rica, although they are rare. We’ve been able to get together for activities regularly and our kids have enjoying playing and learning with them, as well as friends of other children who are not homeschooled. Sometimes if you look on yahoo groups or Facebook you can find others in your area who homeschool. We’ve also taken advantage of art classes and other learning activities alone and with friends. I’m not sure how Ecuador will be in that regard, but hopefully you can make some friends there, whether with expats or locals so your kids will have others to play with.
[…] Thank you to the Pearce Family for accompanying us on this great adventure. To read Brandon’s post about it, visit: Without internet in a Costa Rican Rainforest […]
Amazing place I would like to visit
No surfing for you ? :)
Not this trip — too many dangerous rocks along the coast.
[…] 6 days without Internet in a Costa Rican rainforest with our friends, the […]