Saturday, December 22, 2007

Best Day Ever

Our first weekend jaunt away from Playa Hermosa was to visit the national wildlife preserve, Manuel Antonio. This is about an hour south, so we rented a car in Jacco and headed out Friday afternoon.

Driving in Costa Rica is something else, in this respect CR shares much with Peru. Drivers here take passing to a whole new level. Find the car in front of you too slow? No problem, just veer off into the other lane, no real need to check for oncoming cars, they'll get out of the way too. After a while seeing three cars abreast on the two lane road became monotonous.

Manuel Antonio is a major tourist attraction here, but the roads haven't really kept up. Several times we waited to cross rickety one lane bridges, with what looked to be old railroad rails making up the decks of said bridges. No policia were present to control who went when, instead when one side got frustrated as to how long they had waited, they would just start going, the other side be damned. Surprisingly, this seemed to work out just fine.

We arrived after dark and just found a hotel recommended in the book for supporting the monkeys here (10% of receipts go to a cute foundation started by kids). Great cause, lousy hotel, and we decided to step it up a bit the next night.

But first, onto the park. Everybody who comes to Manuel Antonio tells you about the monkeys, and we won't lie, that was definitely the big draw for us. Seeing a bunch of monkeys up close, outside a zoo, definitely has it's a peel. (hah!) The park itself is gorgeous though, a real jungle right on the shore it was like walking around in a green house all day.

Sure enough, the monkeys were there aplenty, but we also saw huge numbers of hermit crabs, some really colorful caterpillars, giant bamboo and even a deer or gazelle which used me as a salt lick.

After the park, we decided to give the much mellower waves of the local beaches a go. We've had our share of being tumbled time and time again at Hermosa, so playing on something slower breaking and smaller was great. We both got some confidence back, catching quite a few waves and just generally remembering why surfing was a fun activity, not necessarily one filled with near drowning, tumbling, fetal position "oh god I'm going to die" marathons like our outings at Hermosa.

Finally, we headed back to our hotel for the evening, a definite step up, and expensive at $150/night, but worth every penny. Our room looks out high above the canopy towards the ocean, is impressively clean, and even has hot water. (a real treat in Costa Rica!) It's nice to splurge a bit, especially considering our rather meager lodging at Hermosa, and I can say with certainty this place is worth every penny.

I see Baker is getting pounded with snow right now, I'm sure the skiing there is truly epic. But on this particular day, I wouldn't be anywhere else. Best Day Ever.

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