Published: August 13th 2010July 30th 2010
Woo... Central America! We're at the lush, green Manual Antonio Park in Costa Rica. It's gorgeous!
First, how we got here: Last night we arrived in Quepos after a long day of traveling. We had our 5:30 AM flight from Chicago, arrived in San Jose at 1 PM. From there, we found a bus to take us down to Manuel Antonio / Quepos at 4 pm. Five hours later, we arrived in Quepos tired, in the dark and with no place to sleep. It was a bit interesting, since the town of Quepos is, well, not really that great. Actually - it's a grade A dump. Our guide book recommended no place to stay in Quepos, and I could tell why. Since it was dark, and the only people out were rather drunk, I decided to duck into the first place we saw that offered lodging. The place, some small hotel owned by an older guy, was cheap enough that we decided to stay. It looked all right enough, though the owner was slightly shady and the room wasn't exactly the jewel of the jungle -- but we were
in the jungle, so what can you expect?
Apparently, my youngest
sister thought you could expect a lot more. Whether it was from exhaustion, home-sickness, the first time in a country unlike the US, being younger... she started to panic. I didn't think the situation was so bad as to start to become anxious to the point of self-destruction, but I could kind of understand where it was coming from. It was a less-than-perfect start of our tropical vacation that she'd been looking forward to for months. Nevertheless, we convinced her to get some much needed rest in preparation for the fantastic park we were about the visit the next morning: Manual Antonio.
I chose to go to MA since we were on a time constraint with our free time. Out of our nearly 2 weeks in Costa Rica, we will be spending 1 volunteering on the Caribbean side with sea turtles. With the slowness and logistics of travel around the country, our choices were limited with our limited student budget. Our priorities were: close enough to San Jose for a 2 day trip, animals, and beaches. Since MA is the smallest of the beaches, it was feasible to do a lot in 1 day. Since it's touristy, the animals
are incredibly used to humans and will try to steal your stuff (as we experienced) giving you a close up of them. And since there are 3 moon-shaped beaches in the park, it seemed like a perfect fit. If only Quepos has treated us better!!
We spend a good 3 hours in the park, swimming in the ocean, looking at the animals (monkeys, lizards and a raccoon, oh my!), relaxing and admiring the incredibly dense vegetation before Hannah started to think about going back to our Quepos accommodations. Right as the sun was coming out, right as the day started to become the beautiful paradise of Costa Rica we envisioned, right as I was about to suggest going off to look for a sloth that I desperately wanted to see, the panic started to set in. Hannah wanted to leave. Go back to San Jose. Sigh...
In order to do that, we had to leave right then and there. Our less than 24 hours in Costa Rica had already taught us that we'd be waiting a while for a bus to take us somewhere. So we did what we needed to do to prevent a full-out mental breakdown:
we walked past howling monkeys, beautiful beaches, white sand, waterfalls and lagoons... and left! We got our bus tickets, took a quick shower at our hotel to wash out all the sand, grabbed a nice dinner and left. Almost exactly 24 hours after we arrived in Quepos, we arrived in San Jose and went to our hostel we had already booked for the next night.
I really would have liked to stay for a while more in Manual Antonio. We got there super early, which was great because it hadn't gotten crowded yet, but the sun really made it beautiful. My goal was to see a sloth... but I guess I'll have to wait until next time to spot one. So, it was a bummer to leave early. But that's what traveling is all about right, adapting and overcoming obstacles? Let's just hope the rest of the trip is a bit more smooth!
There are more photos below