Monday, October 10, 2011

People, Fox, Sloth, Monkey, Iguana and Alligator Crossing

Last Friday Oscar was able to get off of work so we capitalized on the situation by taking a 3 day weekend trip to one of the closest beaches to San Jose, Manuel Antonio.  Manuel Antonio is about 2.5 hours away from San Jose by car, 3 hours by bus.  This was my third time to MA and let me tell you, it never disappoints.

Like everywhere in Costa Rica, the drive to MA is breathtaking.  A new "highway" (more like paved road) was just put in so travel is more simple to the coast.  You swerve through beautiful mountains that have more than a small chance of creating a landslide right over your car.  The signs on the road warn of falling rocks, iguanas, alligators and.. lightning?  I didn't get a shot of the "alligator crossing" sign, and now feel like I have to go back to MA for this reason alone.




On the way to MA, we passed through a town where Oscar's mom grew up.  It's called Palo Seco, or "dry stick".  As you can imagine, a place with a name like Paco Seco is no tourist destination.  Instead there are tons and tons of palm trees that are used to gather oil.  Oscar tells me they get the oil from the oily (Schweddy?) balls that the trees produce.  There is also a factory where the oil is processed.  Other than that there are a few houses (shacks) and a road, and that's about it to Palo Seco.

Back to more beautiful places, once in Manuel Antonio we stayed in a hostel that I had visited before, Backpackers Manuel Antonio.  It's not actually in MA, but right in between Quepos (the town) and MA (the beach and national park).  For those who don't have a car, the bus stop is literally right across the street and costs about 200c for a short 5 min ride down the hill.  The folks who work at the hostel are very nice and so is the 3-legged puppy, Luna, who loves to hang out in the common area.  You also get free make-your-own pancakes for breakfast.  YUM!  Evidently this is a problem during the high season, with there only being 2 griddles and a small amount of batter.  But the only people at the hostel were Oscar and I, and an Australian bloke who couldn't really get his life together.  So, we had a bountiful amount of pancakes.

View from hostel

Enjoying the breakfast

Luna loved hanging out with us!

Oscar and I spent sunny Friday and Saturday at the beach.  On Saturday we paid the $3.00 national fee and $10.00 gringo fee to get into the National Park where you can see lots of fun animals and beautiful plants.  We saw some monkeys, lizards and crabs, but the true highlight for me was the sloth.  I wish I could claim that I spotted the brown, mossy, slow moving mammal, but we just so happened to be passing a guide who yelled "SLOTH".  Then the picture taking began.  I was really excited because I have never seen a sloth move before.  Usually they are a small brown lump on a small brown tree and you have to use your imagination to picture an animal.  But this guy was cruising around.  I didn't get any great pictures because he was far away and really back-lit, but neat anyways.

Manuel Antonio National Park

Through the woods!

My bad picture of the sloth.  He was so cool!


We arrived at the beach area of the National Park and almost got kicked out within 10 minutes of settling down because you're not allowed to drink.  Oops.  Luckily, the guard guy just gave us a "stern talking to" and took Oscar's beer that was almost empty anyways.  After spending an hour or so in the waves, we set off walking down the empty beach.  It was absolutely stunning and I took tons of pictures.

Beach in the national park.  No drinking!

Beach to ourselves (well plus the monkeys)


That night, we drove into Quepos to have dinner and try to find a party.  Everything was dead.  Not even the prostitutes were getting any action.  We ate by ourselves in a fancy, but moderately priced, Italian place called Blue Moon.  After a few glasses of wine we were ready to party the night away, but Quepos was not supplying the venue.  Restaurants and bars were barren.  We drove all the way down to Manuel Antonio with the same bleak view.  The worst part was we had forgotten to get more beer and all the stores were closed!! So we called it a night and watched the new Community episode on the balcony of the hostel.

Party mode!

Creme brule!

Sunday morning we wanted to squeeze in as much beach time as possible so we scarfed our pancakes, slathered on sunscreen and drove down to the beach.  Before we even put our towels on the beach, a rain storm erupted from the daunting black clouds.  So we packed up and headed home to get our puppy!  Turns out she had eaten her collar and her leash.  The leash was salvageable and just happens to be really short now, but she's going to need a new collar.  Silly pup!

Rain.  Lots of it.