Manuel Antonio

I realize it's been four months since I was in Costa Rica and I haven't finished telling you the stories of where I went. My only reason is I've been really busy with choir my other blog. Anyway, I've had this post saved as a draft for too long, so here's my overdue account of my day and a half in Manuel Antonio.

I had planned to tell you all the story of Andrea and I getting lost for over two and half hours while we tried to get from Monteverde to Manuel Antonio, but every rendition I wrote seemed like I was stretching a two minute story into ten. So instead, I'll give you the short version. We missed the turn we needed because the signage in Costa Rica is minimal at best, then tried to find our way with only a crappy map. I should mention that we were travelling on Costa Rica's game day against Greece, which would decide the team's fate in the World Cup. We ended up driving through a town and pulling over to ask for directions right as Costa Rica scored the final shootout goal for the victory. I kid you not I got three words out before the entire street exploded with shouts, laughter, and sobs. Grown adults were jumping in place and hugging whoever they could reach. People ran into the street. The flag was everywhere. It was incredible.

This video is over 2 minutes long and there is a lot of wooing, so don't feel obligated to watch the whole thing, just enough to give you an idea of how cool this was.

The video was shot four -- count em, four -- hours after the game ended. And just to drive the point home a little more, I'll tell you that this was one of two road blocks we encountered on our drive. The second one was right in the heart of Quepos, the city closest to Manuel Antonio. Anyway, I took a chance with my directional skillz and they totally paid off! We got back on course and made it to MA. Getting to the hostel in MA was easy since I knew it was on the way to the park and it was a little ways past the hostel I'd stayed in three years ago.

We stayed at the National Park Backpacker's hostel because I read really great reviews on hostelworld. I really wanted us to stay in the same hostel from my study abroad trip, but I couldn't find a booking website anywhere and came upon some depressing reviews of it. Either way, NPB was a decent. We chose to stay in the all-female dorm and were happy to find out we were the only guests that had picked that option. Everyone else had a private room or chose the co-ed dorm. Now, I have to be honest and tell you that I've never slept on a worse bed in my life and that the pool is the only thing I truly loved. The staff was nice and the place was pretty quiet. If there's ever a next time, I'll definitely just take my chances on availability and stay in the Pura Vida hostel, bad reviews be damned! It's where Andrea and I ate breakfast both days we were in town. $4 for gallo pinto, a pancake, fruit, eggs and toast AND free coffee. Yeah, it was yummy and so filling.

The next day was our day in the park. We bought our $10 tourist tickets and headed inside. By this point, we were both pretty desperate to see some animals. We'd seen a lot of undisturbed flora and just wanted to see the fauna. Not five minutes in, we came across a deer walking along the gravel path.

I didn't feel the urgent need to get a close up of this deer because I'm pretty sure I met her three years ago.  But I did get her as she trekked away.

My sister and I were overjoyed at the sight of a wild animal and we hurried along the path hoping to see some more animals. We didn't splurge on the park guide, but we did decide to stay close-ish to a smaller group. Sure enough, we were lucky enough to catch a sighting of a family of squirrel monkeys.

Apparently, squirrel monkeys are spotted every couple of months. And here we were, watching a mom, dad and baby jump and hop around the branches. The guide graciously informed us that the mom was more than likely jumping from branch to branch to teach her young one how to do it. I wish I'd caught some video of this, but after getting a decent couple of shots, I put the cameras down and just watched and soaked it all in.

Baby squirrel monkey.
As if the rare monkey sighting wasn't enough, we also saw a lone howler monkey chillin upside in a tree! It was seriously the closest I've been to a howler, and I've seen them directly overhead of me before. It was an incredible treat.

We finally made it to the beach, where we picked a spot under a tree. We hung up our packs and extended our towels. A raccoon did attempt to get into my backpack, but we caught him before he made any progress.

After a quick dip in the ocean, we decided to relax a little on the beach itself. As I was shutting my eyes to bask in the sun, I heard Andrea shout with excitement. There was a lizard walking nearby! Neither one of us could ID the reptile, but we followed it around for a little bit, which led to a really cool conversation with some Italian Swiss who had never seen a raccoon in their life before.

Thrilled with our wildlife sightings, we took to the waves. The water in MA is amazing. The park's main beach is almost shaped like a bay, so it feels more like swimming in a pool than in the ocean.

One thing we didn't realize was we were swimming during a tidal shift. I'm already not a great swimmer. I can tread and get to point B but I lack confidence in the water. Anyway, at some point I tried to swim through the wave or over it or something and it didn't work.

I was thoroughly tumbled. That's seriously the only word I can think of to describe it. I was tumbled like a rag in a dryer. I washed up on shore smothered in sand. I was so disoriented that I tried to stand up right as another wave came crashing down. You guessed it, I was thrown about again, this time a little too close to the rocks. This happened yet a third time before I finally pulled myself together enough to run out of the water's reach, laughing the whole way.

The best part of the story (for me) is this: Andrea was worried-laughing on her way out of the ocean (you know, to check on me like a good sister and traveling companion). She turned her back on the waves and one of them smacked her right in the back. Seriously, it was comedic the way her body looked when it felt the impact of the water on her back. So she too arose out of the ocean like a sandy mess.

It would take us about two weeks to get the sand out of our scalps.

By this point all of the excitement has made me a little hungry. There are no snack stands in the park, so all I had to eat was my chocolate (read: melted) KIND bar. As I crunched on that almond goodness, Andrea pointed to the coolest animal we saw that day.

A FREAKING CAIMAN CROCODILE! It slowly walked by the tree 15 feet away from our spot. We assumed it was headed out to the ocean, but got freaked by the swarm of tourists that rushed around it. I realize I was also a tourist, but I didn't shout around the animal like the others...I have respect for nature.

Anyway, the poor animal was too scared to venture out further than the tree line, and it eventually retreated back into the trees. That didn't stop the jerky tourists from following it, but I won't rant about that now.

Once closing time got closer, we decided we were hungry enough to pack up and head out. We enjoyed a delicious dinner at a local restaurant that overlooked the main strip of the city's beach and ended the night hanging out on a bar rooftop with the bar owner's children.

I didn't want to leave the next day, but we were running out of money and neither of us could stand the idea of another night on the plank of wood called a bed in our hostel. So we woke, up, had breakfast, found a guy who sold me a daiquiri three years ago to say hello, tracked down a vendor who trusted me enough to buy now pay tomorrow, and said goodbye to Manuel Antonio.

I still miss it.

♥ A

No comments:

Post a Comment