11.05.2011 - 13.05.2011
After awaking to a gorgeous view from our hostel, set just outside Manuel Antonio, and eating a not-so-complimentary breakfast (long story), we decided to take advantage of a planned "chill day" to go on a small and supposedly easy walk to a beach close to our hostel. After 2 unsuccessful attempts (one: no, sandals are definitely not going to be enough for this, two: "no worries ladies, that barbed wire is only meant to keep the cows out", which we assumed meant it was ok for us to cross…), we walked through the forest, across an shade-less field with the blazing sun above, and finally along a dirt road to arrive at the most wonderful deserted beach we could have imagined. It was breathtaking, and we were kicking ourselves for having left the cameras behind. All along the route, we were followed by our hostel's loyal three-legged and oh-so-sweet dog Luna, who seems to have taken quite a liking to us (like many other dogs in this country for that matter, who like to follow us around wherever we go). After taking in the scenery, we started the hike back to our hostel. The sun was beating down hard and we were nearing midday. The next hour proved to be quite challenging, as the heat and humidity made it extremely difficult to stay hydrated and keep our cool (all puns intended). Luckily, we found a place to refill our bottles of water (what a life saver!), even sharing some with Luna who was struggling as well, we finally made it back to our hostel, exhausted and hot, and immediately jumped in the pool. ¡Gracias a dios!
The next day was our intended exploration day as we set off to visit the Manuel Antonio national park, famous for being the most visited park in Costa Rica. The town around the park, seemingly built solely due to the influx of tourists, is by far the most tourist-centered place we have been to so far. "You want Cuban cigars honey?" says one vendor, "You like clay pots baby" says another, and this was never ending. The guides were no less insistent, but budget travel not permitting, we decided to do without. We entered the park, hoping to see the monkeys everyone had been promising, and tried our best to spot some "wildlife" (it's hardly wild when you have so many people around). We toured the park, walked along about a kilometre of beautiful beach crawling with crabs, but reached the exit without seeing a single monkey. What were we going to do!? Determined to reach our day's goal, we had lunch and re-entered the park. This time, as the morning's rain finally caught up with the afternoon, it started to drizzle, and about 15 monkeys we're making their way across the tall trees surrounding the road to find shelter from the storm. Yippee! Not much of a photo op, as they were far and hidden by many branches, but we were very happy to see them fly from tree to tree.
Today was spent chilling, as we are embarking on a new journey tomorrow: travelling to the south of the country in order to hike through the rain forests of the Osa peninsula in Parque Nacional Corcovado. All in all, Manuel Antonio has left us a little… uninspired. Blame it on the extreme humidity, the frequent rain, the tourist traps, home sickness, never actually meeting Manuel nor Antonio, or whatever else it was, we're happy to be entering this new part of our trip, which should provide us with a good challenge.