(Warning: extremely long post but worth it!)
This past weekend, Friday-Saturday, three friends and I went to Manuel Antonio, a beach town. I went there back in September with ISA, but I was only there for about seven hours on a tour, so this was quite different.
We took a nice bus from San Jose to Manuel Antonio early in the morning on Friday. By the time we got to Manuel Antonio, it was 2:00 p.m. We walked around and finally found a hostel. The front was a restaurant and bar, and it looked nice. There were a lot of people eating there. $10 per person a night? Sure, why not! So we booked a four person room and that was that. Except, it wasn’t a super nice room or anything;I forgot to take photos though. It was two bunk beds, a sort of window, and not much room to move around. But it was a place to stay, and I was fine with it.
That day, we spent a few hours at the public beach which was just right down the road, and watched the sunset. It was SO nice to be in the ocean again, even if it was the Pacific (not my favorite) and a bit rocky. For dinner that evening we ate at a nice little restaurant right by the beach, and for three or four hours afterwards we sat in the restaurant part of our hostel playing card games. The only reason we made it until 11 p.m. before going to bed, however, was because our hostel provides free coffee and we drank a good amount. 😛
The next morning, we awoke early and had breakfast at our hostel. For 4,000 colones, we got the above plate of fruit and an amazing pancake, plus another plate of eggs, bread, and gallo pinto. And, of course, all the coffee we would like. We ate until we were bursting, and then off to el Parque Nacional we went!
On the walk down the road to the entrance, we saw monkeys in a tree not too far away, and we were SO excited! Our main reason of going into the park was to see monkeys (something I hadn’t gotten to see the last time I was there). At the entrance of the park there was a jaguar in a tree, but only Maria saw it from our little group.
We got in the park and saw all of the animals I had seen last time with the tour guide, except for the tiny little bugs. Those are hard to pick out amongst the crazy trees. We got to see a sleeping sloth not too far up in the trees, and a little later on we saw more monkeys, but they were up high sleeping.
We then hiked up a pretty steep path to get to el Mirador (the lookout). I had not hiked this last time when I had the tour guide, as it is a good 20-30 minute uphill hike, so I was really excited about this. We were sweating loads by the time we reached the top; seriously, I’m not sure I have sweat so much in my entire life. Do keep in mind that it was 90+ degrees and insanely humid and we were hiking…
On our hike back down the hill, a couple stopped us and pointed out that there were about five monkeys swinging in the trees right off the path. It was SO neat to watch! But I couldn’t get any nice photos from it. However, another 50 meters down or less, there was another sloth in the tree rather close to the path. :]
We then decided to take the path to the left that lead to a beach I hadn’t visited the last time there. As we got down the path a bit, we noticed that everyone was stopped and taking photos. We looked up and saw SO many monkeys, swinging and jumping around above our heads! It was amazing! Needless to say, we spent a lot of time there taking photos and videos. In fact, we took so long that two of my friends got hungry and decided to take out some snacks to munch on.
In that instant, they realized their mistake, for in the blink of an eye there were four monkeys descending upon us. The four of us stood back-to-back in a circle and watched the monkeys less than ten feet from us watching us back, teeth barred. We were terrified.
I was shaking so badly that hardly any of my photos turned out (because of course during this I had to take photos! They were so close!). We were all screaming and asking “What should we do?! What should we do?!” while the locals just took pictures and laughed at us. Pretty soon some locals just walked right on by the monkeys, and when they weren’t attacked, we decided it would be all right to walk on by, too. So on the count of three, we walked quickly past the monkeys and on to the beach!
The beach was beautiful and wonderful, and we spent at least two hours there before we had to head back into town and take the bus back to our homes. Oh, and on the way out of the park there was a sloth very close to us on the path, just taking a snooze!
Overall, a wonderful two days and definitely the most exciting days I have had so far here in Costa Rica! 😀