After I published last night’s blog, we decided to escape the hotel and go out to the main road for dinner. They called a cab for us and a few minutes later we arrived at our dining destination, El Avion. This establishment is based around a C-123 airplane that was bought by US taxpayers as part of the Iran-Contra scandal. Follow that link above for the full story — but the story goes that 2 C-123 airplanes were bought as part of that effort. One was shot down over the neighboring country of Nicaragua. This one was abandoned in San Jose, Costa Rica, as the political drama unfolded in the US. Years later, this C-123 was bought and brought piece by piece to this spot and reassembled to form the basis of the establishment. You can walk right in through the tail into the bar. Kind of a cool center piece.
Oh, here the local beer of choice — Costa Rican Imperial!
We decided to sleep in today — this is vacation after all. Probably rolled out around 11 AM. We skipped the complimentary breakfast and headed back to Manuel Antonio. The plan was to cover other sections and trails in the National Park so that we could say we covered it all. But first, we stopped at the Marlin Restaurant and ate lunch so we had fuel for the afternoon. Kim hadn’t been doing well hiking on breakfast so we figured let’s try the early lunch approach instead.
We got right into the park and marched a mile to the fork where we had previously gone right. We went left instead today. There were a few different trails off in this section and there we less people. We quickly arrived at Play Gemelas. Right in the trees near the water, we found the monkeys. More white-faced monkeys. Down really low in the trees and running all over the place. Kim started snapping photos and I shot some video. I went down on the beach and looked back in at them and was so close to some that I could have grabbed them. They came to me but not to get me. They just wanted to get some fruit that I was near and could have cared less that I was standing there.
If you want more monkey pictures, click on the view link at the bottom of this post. Here is the happy monkey photographer. I think we can check this dream off the list. It is my job to make them come true so it is nice when I can deliver.
After a ton of pictures, we packed up and headed along the trail to see if we could reach Play Escondido. This is the furthest beach in the park. There are 2 ways to get there that form a loop. The up high way and the down low way. We opted for the down low way. The jungle was sweltering at this point and Kim was overheating. I had all her gear but that wasn’t helping. So she opted to stop at a junction and let me go ahead and check things out. I went down to the beach but realized that the tide was in and our route was cut short. I then remembered overhearing someone saying that you can only take that route in the morning at low tide. I took some photos and video and watched some crabs run around the rocks. Then I hiked back up to find Kim a bit cooler waiting for me. Luckily, she wasn’t attacked by some jaguar while waiting. That would have been another animal for the checklist but I would have been short a wife/momma.
On the way back, I decided that I was hot so we took another small trail and ended up back at Gemelas. I went exploring on the rocks and decided to take a swim. I took off my shoes and dove from a rock ledge that I thought was going to be all manly. Turned out not to be so manly because the water wasn’t that deep. Felt adventurous in any case. Didn’t see anyone else doing it!
After cooling down, we were ready to start heading back out of the park. Along the way, we were keeping our eyes open and up in the trees. We had a hint from some others and were able to find a sloth up in the tree near a turn in the trail. Could it be a 2-toed sloth? We haven’t gotten that one yet for the Costa Rica checklist. It was! Check. Moving on.
We hit the end of that trail and then heard some Howler Monkeys off in the distance. They sounded like they were near the park entrance but we hadn’t planned on doubling back. Suddenly, Kim noticed something down the trail up in the trees. What is that? We walked a few feet and saw big black shadows way up in the trees. Much higher than we would find the other monkeys that we have seen. We got out the 400 lens and were able to see them — yep, Howler Monkeys! Check. The final monkey has been obtained. Figured these were the females resting while the males were off causing trouble further away. We watched them for quite sometime. There was a baby with mom that would occasionally look right down at us. Really cool to see. Photos are decent for how far away these were. Everyone that passed that had a plain old digital camera was screwed.
See baby laying on Mom’s back?
Oh, and ever played Monkey Ball on Wii or the iPhone? I got your Monkey Balls right here.
We went back to the Playa Manuel Antonio and took a food break. No wildlife to be found there. Tons the other day. Not today. Glad we came multiple times! We then hiked along the main beaches and decided that we hadn’t really just chilled in the ocean. Why not now? First, Kim hates the ocean because she is afraid of what she can’t see — namely sharks. Reason 2-100, see reason #1. But we hung our stuff up in a tree so it was out of the surf and got out in the surf. Nice big waves. We rode them for about 45 minutes before being told that the park would be closing soon. Closes at 4PM — gotta get everyone out before dark.
For our hike in the park, we went 3.27 miles with an elevation gain of 559 feet in 72 minutes, which is a moving pace of 22:09. View my full GPS data.
Not having enough we figured that we should go into Manuel Antonio and hit some more surf. Unfortunately there was a line to get out of the park. The tide was way in and the row boat guy from the other day had about 20 people waiting. Nice gringos in tennis shoes who didn’t want to get wet. Kim and I knew the path around this so we kept saying “Excuse me” and moved around the line — seeming like rude tourists. However, moments later we popped out on the other side never getting wet over our ankles. Blank stares from the line. We continued up the beach, made a spot, and got back out in the surf. Kim was doing great until she made some comment about how she likes when I protect her. So when the next big wave came, I somehow grabbed her from behind to help brace her. I grabbed some really small bit of skin under her bicep and bruised the hell out of her. I did more damage than the wave could have. Dang it. Anyway, she looks cooled down now!
After getting our fill, we dried off and hit a bunch of the street vendors for some gifts for the kids. Decided not to spend a lot of time haggling since I felt like Costa Rica had been good to us and didn’t need to pinch dimes out of people. We stopped in the grocery store and had a good time watching the monkeys inside and outside trying to lift dinner from unsuspecting tourists. Funny stuff. Well, that ended our time in Manuel Antonio. We have a different excursion planned for tomorrow and the day after that, we start heading out.
Here is our final video of the wonderful Manuel Antonio National Park. Such a place with a ton of diverse creatures. You can see this stuff in a zoo I suppose, but there is nothing like spotting them in the wild for yourself.
We got back home and “our” sloth was sitting right where we left him fast asleep. Sounds like a great idea!
View all photos from this event.