If the beds in this country don’t kill me, a side trip to the Manuel Antonio National Park just might. Don’t get me wrong, I used to love a really firm bed, rock hard, granite slab. But then we got the waterbed, and my body happily adjusted to that. Most nights sleeping away from Darien’s casa have been a little hard on the body.
We started out the morning getting ready to go to the Manuel Antonio National Park. Manuel Antonio National Park, named by Forbes as one of the world’s 12 most beautiful parks, is a small national park in the Central Pacific Conservation Area on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. It was established in 1972, and is 4,014 acres, making it the smallest Costa Rican national park, it is the destination of as many as 150,000 visitors annually and well known for its beautiful beaches and hiking trails, and is the second most visited park behind Volcan Poas, which we visited early on in the trip.
Although Manuel Antonio National Park is the country’s smallest national park, the diversity of wildlife in its 3 square miles boasts 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds. Both brown-throated three toed sloth and Hoffman’s two toed sloth (perezosos) are a major feature, as are three of Costa Rica's four monkey species — the mantled howler monkey, Central American squirrel monkey, and capuchin monkey. Black spiny-tailed iguana, green iguana, common basilisk, white nosed coati and many other snake and bat species also are here, along with 184 bird species that include toucans, woodpeckers, potoos, motmots, tanagers, turkey vulture, parakeets and hawks.
All that being said, going there this morning was like pulling teeth without Novocain. I had been upset with myself for not booking a hotel closer to the park; however, when we got there, I was not unhappy with my choice. From the minute we arrived, there were hawkers trying to score $120 guided tours through the park, paying for parking, diverting you away from the lots closer to the park. And it was bloody hot.
Wayne and I made our way through the den of iniquity to the desk where you buy your entry tickets with difficulty. Not only because of the people harassing us, but also because my plantar faciitious was really flaring up. I could feel every bump on the pavement. And, when we neared the front of the line, Wayne realized that most of our cash was back in the car, so he went and retrieved it.
By now it was 8:30, the sun was blazing, and I was on my third coat of sunscreen.
We were herded like cattle into the park, and then walked along a path that was in pretty bad condition. The foliage was beautiful, and we saw some gorgeous creatures, but the overwhelming number of tourists, trail conditions and heat were making it truly unpleasant. I hobbled out of the park holding onto Wayne around 1 1/2 hours later. I did see some cool critters like howler monkeys, different kinds of lizards, and sloths, but somehow the day was lost. I was happy that we went to Corcovado two days prior.
From here it was back to San Juan, with a stop for lunch at Nambi along the crocodile river.
From here it was time to turn in the rental car, go to our hotel, and get ready for our last night in San Jose. We ate dinner at RostiPollos, a chicken chain developed by a Nicaraguan couple. The food was good, the service was so-so (they forgot to bring out Wayne’s dinner, I think they forgot to put in the order to be honest), and the sound of airplanes taking off and car alarms going off was priceless! And the price of the meal was definitely a plus.
And now time for bed after blogging. Ciao Costa Rica, we enjoyed our time here!