Lunch On The Beach

Trip Start Oct 07, 2013
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Puntarenas,
Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Manuel Antonio is said to be the most visited site in Costa Rica and, despite it's diminutive size, is supposed to be the best place in the country for wildlife viewing. We had been putting off a visit however, because it is also so crowded that they often need to close the gates after reaching a predetermined capacity. That said, Deb P was fully recovered from her allergic reaction to having a cold (and was once again happily gorging herself on family platters at the local restaurants), so we wanted to wrap up her visit with a trip to this must-see Costa Rican park.
 
The crowds aren't really the big concern- it's just that most of the crowd are Ticos (the name Costa Ricans have given themselves- and, duly following the rules of Spanish, if it's a group of women only, it would be 'Ticas'). I'm not convinced that there's a Costa Rican Spanish word for 'whisper', 'quiet', 'stealth mode', or any reasonable facsimile thereof. We have found Ticos to be very hospitable and full-volume-fun-loving but make no mistake, there are very few Ticos successfully sneaking up on critters in the wild- put big groups of them together and the only animals you will see are the  very curious ones peaking through the bush to see what the racket is all about.
 
And sure enough, we did end up in something of a mob scene in the jungle, but we did catch glimpses of a number of critters that had obviously grown accustomed to the excitement- two toed sloths (active during the day unlike their three toed cousins), monkeys, raccoons, pelicans, as well as the usual Costa Rican assortment of birds, spiders, and snakes. 
 
Given that one of the highlights of the park is its white sandy beach at the very end, our mini high-volume walking safari had an amusement park look to it with kids clutching beachballs, mom dragging a picnic lunch, and hairy dad working a speedo and a much-too-small muscle shirt. There actually were a lot of critters, but I'm not sure I would see the park as a must- do, although there are apparently trails that allow you to lose the crowd and feel at one with the jungle. When we did make it to the beach, it was indeed beautiful (except for the aforementioned speedos) but it was also closed with a less-than-vigilant set of rangers trying to keep determined Ticos away from the waters edge (except, of course, for those hairy guys in the aforementioned speedos who were being encouraged to take a dip). Apparently large crocodiles had been seen body surfing along the beach, and just as we had written this off to an overreaction to floating debris, who should surface, but a big 12' long killing machine. He glided along just off shore daring anyone to jump in the water (having seen the damage Deb P could do when cranky, she was about the only one I thought might have a successful swim... and come away with a belt and a couple of purses). These are fresh water crocs but apparently they are good with a few hours in the salt water of the Pacific Ocean before heading back to the feeder rivers. We did go for a swim in the next bay although I'm unsure why we thought this was a good idea given that the croc could just swim from one bay to the next.
 
Back in Jaco, it was time for Deb P to pack up her thongs and micro's and try to get ready for the blast of winter that we hear is hitting our friends back in Ontario (to those readers in Ontario, you need to know that it's not that easy for us either- after baking on the beach, we're being forced to pick our smoothie from an impossible-to-decide-from list of 30 or 40 flavours!!). Deb P, refusing to admit that her grasp of Spanish was tenuous at best, said something to her taxi driver that was supposed to be a greeting but apparently sounded like a barked out "rapido, rapido". Last we saw of her she was screaming away on 2 wheels headed to the airport.

Deb P wanted to summarize her Costa Rican adventure given that she felt she wasn't always portrayed accurately. After what she did to that crocodile, I'm not about to argue the point.
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Random Notes From The Maid's Bed
I really do love getting up every day not knowing what we'll be doing or where we’ll be going. Holding a baby sloth within hours of getting off the plane …..how many people will ever get to do that? 

Question of the day…every day…."wet or dry?”   

It was surprising cool when we were in the higher altitudes.  After repelling we were cold, wet and hungry.  I do cold and wet pretty well.  Hungry … not so much (see dinner pic from an earlier blog)  It’s late. We just get back to this beautiful room; the nicest one we’ve had. I get my own full sized bed. We’re fantasizing about hot showers and food. Vic tells us to grab a towel we’re heading out.  Our heads snap around.  Waaat?????? We start the wet or dry clothes routine and all we get is "just a towel”.  Harp snaps.  I’m right behind her.  We regret it.

Vic booked us into incredible hot springs carved out of the rock, each one heated to a different temp by the volcano.  OMG it was heaven.  We have our own outdoor cabana and a candlelight dinner with lights shimmering over the pools of hot water.  I don’t know how he finds this stuff but it was a perfect end to a perfect day. 

Question of the night; wat’s up with the maid’s bed?  Vic did finally relent and book a two bedroom unit when it was not only a “maid’s bed” but a “maid’s bed under the stairs”. 

Editors note: Given Deb P extremely frugal ways, she's quite fortunate we didn't stuff her in a backpack, sneak her into the room, and make her sleep in one of the dresser drawers.

When your Spanish is still sketchy every meal is an adventure. Harp ended up with the world's tiniest breakfast and I got the family platter while expecting a snack.

Definition of fear in the eyes...what Vic looks like when he falls out of a raft and realizes it’s me, once again, who may or may not pull him in.  

Editors Note: Not having experienced an X-rated rescue before, I'm sure many would sympathize with me.

Quote of the day from my good friend Harp, “wow is that ever a pretty picture  Deb.  It doesn’t even look like you”.  Waaat?

Harp, not only never (well almost never) screams, she also never complains.  She took a hit from a surf board resulting in a thigh sized bruise, and not a peep.   

Lesson of the day; never, ever, ever say, “muy rapido por favor” to a Costa Rican cabby. He shaved a hour off a 1 hour trip on the way to the airport.   I learned to pray.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for another amazing trip.  It was the perfect combo between educational and fun.   I really feel like I’ve been able to see the whole of what Costa Rica is all about and no two better people to do it with!

Hope you're sweating your azzes off!

 
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Comments

Elaine & Doug on

Good to see you back in business! We sent an email to your Yahoo address around the time you went off the grid. Well send it again just in case the first effort became lost somewhere in the electronic ether.

Deb P on

Hey, I'll cop to the healthy appetite...but I'm not cheap!

gilmer
gilmer on

We were just in Jaco last night. Now that's a busy area of Costa Rica as well. We are currently near Uvita... Enjoying our trip as well.

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