Title: Manuel Antonio National Park Location: Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
We spent a week just outside the beautiful environs of Manuel Antonio National Park and the small town of Quepos. Our days were spent alternately at the national park which has rain forest and beaches all wrapped up into one neat little monkey-filled package, and at our hotel's pool which was very nice and virtually deserted... Many Costa Ricans that we spoke with lamented over the lack of tourism this year versus years past, and while we felt their pain, we couldn't help but enjoy the fact that we had the pool to ourselves, never waited at any restaurants, didn't have to share the monkeys and so on.
Another noteworthy trait of this area is the street. Unlike most of the cities that we live in,dear readers, most of Costa Rica's towns revolve around one main street with maybe a few smaller legs off this main street. In Manuel Antonio this street is as Paul McCartney would say a "long and winding road". Except that instead of leading back to "you" it leads to near death. I don't know if its the a) constant up and down of the hilly road, b) utter lack of street lights, c) non-existent sidewalks, d) buses coming towards us at top speed, e) all of the above - but on the bright side, at least it was paved.
While we spent our longest stint in Manuel Antonio there is not a whole lot to report on due to a pre-meditated lack of activity. While we monkeyed around at the Nat'l Park enough, we did not go on any sort of organized tours since we thought ourselves to be experts on the travel patterns of the Costa Rican two-toed Sloth already... and since a Sloth (living up to its name) moves slower than Dick Cheney reporting a hunting accident we were justified in this.
The park was way up there with our favorite destinations in Costa Rica since it combined the natural beauty and animal watching of Monteverde with the warm blue waters and (mostly) sandy beaches of the Pacific Coast. We also met some new friends, Justin and Joe, who became our partners in crime for much of this part of our trip.... the crime being showtunes and books, and of course monkey spotting in all of our cases.
The four of us spent a day hiking up to Punta Catedral one of the higher points in the park offering breathtaking vistas of the vast blueness that is the Pacific Ocean, then on to the beaches where many idiotic tourists fed the monkeys right out of their hands despite the constant warnings not to. Monkeys can get sick, and complacent (sounds like me in Costa Rica) when fed human food. However, in many cases the monkeys take it upon themselves to "borrow" food from humans - I guess its sort of a primate to primate understanding.
We got to talk to many natives, trying to use our Spanish. Good thing the immersion classes will start soon. It will be easier to understand people and get around.
Another of Manuel Antonio's draws are the beautiful sunsets. Note to male readers - if traveling with a woman, budget about 75% of your trip towards talking about sunsets, planning to view sunsets, getting angry at missing sunsets, plotting future sunsets, discussing best places to see sunsets, oh and occasionally viewing sunsets. Having said all of that, they were pretty nice. The colors blended smoothly like the milky bottom of a bowl of fruit loops, apple jacks, and fruity pebbles mixed together and painted into the panoramic backdrop of the rain forest and rolling hills.