Day 9: Cheeky, cheeky monkeys


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Published: February 13th 2018
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Another great day in paradise started with a home cooked breakfast in our sweet digs before heading out to check out some souvenirs. On our long drive yesterday we passed a small patch of souvenir sellers that had colourful tablecloths hung up for sale. They also happened to be next to the (we now know) renowned “crocodile bridge” in Tarcoles. Since it was a beautiful morning three of us hopped in the car to check them out. We made a pit stop on the way to check out a souvenir shop en route - I’m always on the hunt for a magnet as a memento. Mostly we were looking to see what was on offer and what the typical prices were. It took us just under an hour to get to Tarcoles and although the crocodiles did not disappoint, the tablecloths did. There were at least 25 crocs sunbathing by the river and we could watch them from a safe distance on the bridge. Some were HUGE and it was amazing to see so many in one place. The tablecloths *were* lovely but they were also ALL from India. We got suspicious when we noticed one had an elephant motif. They were a bust, but we got a lay of the souvenir landscape which will help us decide what we want to bring home. Right now, I’m set on some house hot sauce from a restaurant we went to in San Jose. It buuuuuurns!

Our morning run took a little longer than planned so we skipped lunch, made a pit stop to get T, and headed for Manuel Antonio National Park. We had read a blog post from someone who had been recently and followed his advice on where to park, how to get to the park entrance, etc. We entered the park at around 2:30pm. It closes at 4pm and will not be open tomorrow so this was our one chance to stroll through and check out Manuel Antonio Beach inside the park. The beach is known both for its beauty and for the brazen capuchin monkeys that troll the beach looking for snacks to steal. The trail to the beach was through the forest mostly on an easy boardwalk (there was only a small detour onto a service road where part of the trail was being worked on). It was mostly flat so easy walking (and welcome in all this heat), but had a steepish climb up a hill and back down to access the beach. In all, about a 20 minute walk. Our feet weren’t even on the sand before we saw our first (then second, then third) capuchin. They were everywhere and not remotely shy of people. I’m not normally a monkey fan, but seeing them so close may make me a convert.

When we read up about the park the consensus was that the best times to go we’re (first) early morning or (second) late afternoon. We were there late afternoon and although this meant it was still hot and humid as sin, it also meant we there when the animals were active. On our way in we only saw the capuchins when we got near the beach, but on the way out (we started the walk back at 3:30pm) we were treated to some fantastic and close views of a whole lot of squirrel monkeys moving through the trees collecting their evening meal and some utterly charming sloths. An agouti crossed our path and near the exit we saw a few white tailed deer. They were so close it would have been impossible to miss them. On our previous wildlife viewing forays (Monteverde and Arenal), we really needed a guide to be able to spot and show us where to look for critters, but here, we were fine on our own.

The beach was beautiful and if we had had more time it would have been a lovely spot to chill for a spell. Before entering the park, there is a much larger/longer beach (Playa Espadilla) that is also gorgeous and much more accessible, so for those wanting a beach day without having to cut through the jungle, it could be a good option, but you’d miss out on the abundant critter viewing.

This part of Costa Rica has been teeming with animals. Even from our rental property we’ve seen birds aplenty (including hummingbirds and some exquisite scarlet macaws) and lizards big and small (and of course our beloved iguana). Simply glorious.

Next up: The Fabulous Riverboat


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