We slept in. No kids. No alarm clock. Get up when we get up. That was nice. Ready for the day, we packed up and headed down to breakfast. This is the one meal that is included with your stay here so we were sure to get down there and feed our faces. With full stomachs, we got on the shuttle for the short ride over to Manuel Antonio National Park. This is our big destination for the trip. We stayed in this area so we could explore the park, enjoy the beaches, and see the creatures for a few days.
The shuttle dropped us off at the end of the road. This ends in an area called Manuel Antonio – kinda like a little bazzar/bar area just before the park entrance. It was Sunday so it was a busy place. Tons of Costa Ricans were there enjoying the beach for the day. Apparently, it is the end of summer here. The kids just went back to school last week. Anyway, we were not sure where the entrance to the park was. People kept pointing back down this alley. So we went. After wandering the back streets a bit, we found the park entrance. Wasn’t quite how we envisioned the entrance but we were there.
Most books say to get a guide so they can help you find your way and more importantly spot all the beasties in the jungle. We opted not to since we would be back and could the 2nd time and figured we could deal. We got 100 feet down the road and ran into a group that was looking a sloth up in the trees via tripod-mounted binocular system. We couldn’t see a thing. Looked through my lens but nothing. Maybe we need a guide. Screw it.
We proceeded down the trails. Only one big fork and we decided to go west and try the other more remote trails next time. We quickly descended down to the beach and found some picnic tables to take a rest on. Kim needs to eat and drink every few minutes to stay alive and nourish our growing child I guess. So I complied. Actually, it was refreshing to get to sit for a while. Suddenly, we were attacked. They came at us from the bushes and surrounded us! Give us your food! What? At our feet, we had a family of raccoon-looking beasts that we think are called Coatis. Very cute. Much skinner than what you have seen in the States as a raccoon. And very passively aggressive. They jumped right up on Kim and wanted her food. They were not going to hurt you but they didn’t mind taking stuff out of your backpack. Just give them a chance. I scared them off by shaking a can of peanuts at them to which I was scolded by Kim for scaring away the “babies”. Man. Signs everywhere saying don’t feed anything. I know the drill and so does Kim but she can’t resist. As we were packing up at the tables, she dropped a few peanuts through the cracks and proclaimed, “Oh, whoops”. Geez.
We headed down a sandy trail to go over to Punta Cathedral. Along the way, I started hearing noises and noticing stuff in the trees. Monkey! White-faced monkeys! Kim, look! Another. Another. Oh, wait – they are everywhere. So we started getting out lenses and cameras and trying to capture the moment to share with our kids back home. Kids love monkeys.
During this, the raccoons came around and started trying to get into a trash can. They don’t have the bear proof trash can technology down here. It is a hanging steel can on a swing joint with a rusty nail holding the lid closed with a spring mechanism. Anyway, the raccoons seem to team up and figure out how to open them together. Somebody puts weight on the lid while the other messes with the lock. Suddenly, it was open and they had a plastic bag with some grub off in the underbush. More raccoons came and a growling war ensued to declare the loot. Funny stuff.
We kept looking at monkeys and trying to photograph them but we are retarded. Too much speed, light, focus, and other variables. Plus, if you use your flash, the Costa Rican guard dude comes and kicks your butt. We took video too and that ended up being a lot better. Check it out.
Back on the trail around Punta Cathedral, we heard someone on the beach proclaim “Holy Shit!”. I rushed out to see what it was. There was a medium sized snake eating a lizard – very slowly. His green skin blended right into the trees. We watched him eat and then slither away.
The trail was a set of steps that took us up to an old overlook. I wanted to come to this spot because 1 of 2 geocaches in this area of Costa Rica were in the park. I was close to this one and started looking through the bush to find it. There were spiky palms everywhere! I had just learned about these “boogers” on a recent Man vs. Wild episode so I used my newfound techniques to guide myself to the cache and score the find. This is the furthest cache I have ever found – 2481 miles from home! Plus, my first find outside the US. Was fun to make the find and then get back to animal spotting.
Everything is cool in the jungle. Check out this tree base!
Home for sale! Might have a bug problem.
Further up the trail, capybara(?) appeared on the trail. Kim knew what it was from Diego! He wasn’t too interested in us and wandered off into the jungle quickly.
So we headed on and popped out on a little beach where we took a rest for a bit.
Our hotel might be one of those. View from across the way.
We hit one last beach so we could say we stopped at 3 of the 4 beaches in the park. This one had the most people on it earlier but it was near the end of the day and people were clearing out. So I did some “sand graffiti” before moving on.
We were near the exit at this point so I wrapped up our hike from a GPS perspective. It had us at 4.06 miles with an elevation gain of 755 feet in 110 minutes. View my full GPS data.
We came out the west exit. You can’t enter here so I was confused exactly where we were. But the funny part was that you had to cross this little bit of water (or you could go around). But there was a guy there charging for ferry rides in which he put you in a rowboat and pushed it off and jumped in. It then coasted to the other side, he jumps out, and you pay him. The key — there is a sign that beware of crocodiles! I suppose they do come through here from time to time but seemed like a quality scam.
Finally, we finished off the last of our water so we decided to head out of the park and get some food for a late lunch. We ended up at an open air bar on the 2nd floor overlooking the main/only road into Manuel Antonio. As we were ordering, there was a lot of chatter nearby in the trees. Plus big leaves kept falling. Suddenly, a family of squirrel monkeys descended to check out what everyone was eating in the bar. They would yell at us and each other as to say – throw some food this way! We took a ton of pictures of them. Trying to get better at that close-up shot.
Next door, I noticed you could buy some Jesus if you wanted.
We chowed down and fueled back up and then walked the streets and checked out all the makeshift vendor booths. Nothing really new. We had some gelato at a small little place and waited for our shuttle. It came right on time and we boarded and were back at the hotel in minutes. We quickly stripped down and got in the pool to watch the sunset. Room service followed by a review of photo and video and writing up this blog entry for later posting. Grandma called us with the kids and we had a good chat about what everyone was doing.
I could blog for hours but I need to go to bed. What a day! And we have so many more to go!
View all photos from this event.