Manuel Antonio: Howling Monkeys and a Hot Sun

December 30, 2014 - 3:56 pm 1 Comment

A long drive out of the mountains, past fishing towns and industrial ports, and a stop at a bridge over a family of crocodiles. Marie rubbed her pregnant belly like a Buddha for pretty much the whole trip.

Cordillera de Guanacaste


American Crocodile

Finally, we arrived at our fancy, resort-ish hotel called Byblos, nestled in the trees somewhere between Manual Antonio and Quepos.

Room at Byblos

Went down to the beach in Manuel Antonio for lunch. Beachside bars and cafes blast music, souvenir stands with high pressure salesmen. Surfers and Rastafarians, beards and dreads everywhere. The sun is scorching, it’s humid as hell, but fruit smoothies everywhere help beat the heat.

Pineapple Banana Smoothie

A stroll up and down the massive beach filled the rest of my afternoon. This Pacific water is the warmest I’ve ever felt, warm enough for me to get in!

Father-Daughter Exercise

Me on Playa Espadilla

My Feet in the Pacific

Sunset in Allison's Sunglasses

Then a sunset on Playa Espadilla, Manuel Antonio’s largest beach. David and I walked up and down the beach to find the perfect alignment of rocks for the sunset.

Sunset on Playa Espadilla

Sunset on Playa Espadilla

Sunset on Playa Espadilla

Sunset on Playa Espadilla

Sunset on Playa Espadilla

Sunset on Playa Espadilla

On our first night in Manuel Antonio, we had dinner at El Avion, a cool restaurant down the road built out of the shell of an old American C-123 military cargo plane. Like every other restaurant in Costa Rica, it took forever to get our food and the service was slow, but the food was pretty good.

El Avion

El Avion

The highlight of this night was going to the bar and seeing a very drunk Brian almost get his ass kicked. Jorge challenged Brian to find a woman in one hour. With five minutes to go, he approached a cute Costa Rican girl and asked her if she wanted a bed for the night. Her boyfriend, built like Arnold Schwarzenegger and following closely behind, heard the exchange. He turned to Brian and gently patted his cheek, and Brian instinctively patted his cheek in return. The guy turned to Brian, but the girl pulled him out of the bar. Jorge explained that patting another man’s cheek is an ultimate sign of disrespect in Costa Rica and that Brian was a few seconds from getting pounded.

This morning’s activity was a walk through Manuel Antonio National Park (no idea who Manuel Antonio is). Jorge was a bit slow getting out of bed, but we eventually made it down to the entrance. The wait to get into the park was long and miserable and hot. For some reason I can’t explain, there are no mosquitoes here. Or maybe they’re just not biting me.

The park’s supposed to be rich with wildlife, but aside from a few monkeys, we didn’t see a whole lot. We heard a bunch of birds, but they were too thick in the trees to see. I thought I’d have close encounters with sloths and toucans and tree frogs in Costa Rica, but that aspect of this trip has been a bit of a disappointment. Maybe you really need to go to a zoo for that sort of interaction.

Howler Monkey

Golden Silk Orb-Weaver

Brown-Throated Sloth

But I let the group walk ahead and enjoyed a few beautiful moments of solitude.

Near Playa Manuel Antonio

White-Faced Capuchin

White-Faced Capuchin Family

White-Faced Capuchin Family

White-Faced Capuchin

Then an amazing lunch at another one of the beach-side restaurants in Manuel Antonio.

Fried Red Snapper

Shrimp Caesar Salad

Caprese Salad

Now back at the hotel, chilling out by the pool with a piña colada on the ground to my left. The sun is sinking in the sky, white-faced capuchins are playing in the trees above me and fucking on the roof of the poolside restaurant, and a big hamster-looking thing (an agouti, I think) is wandering around nearby.

This is the fist downtime I’ve had in Costa Rica. It’s been a very busy tour, with constant activities and hikes and meals and drinks. It’s nice to just stop and relax for a few hours.

On every trip, there’s a reflective moment when it feels like you “get” the country you’re in, when you start having more answers than questions, when all the other tourists around you look like amateurs. That moment hit me today.

    One Response to “Manuel Antonio: Howling Monkeys and a Hot Sun”

  1. Ivonne Kalinski Says:

    I love the animals and the bar that you went to. I imagined that one would see many sloths there 🙂 The spider was scary.

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