Pura Vida, Costa Rica!

What an amazing country when within a 3.5 hour drive you can go from windy and chilly mountainous peaks to a hot and humid tropical coastline. We arrived in Manuel Antonio around midday and checked into our airbnb – a complex with several cabinas sharing a common room that looked onto a jungle garden which often had a troop of monkeys entertaining the guests. Our host had just finished showing us our room when he called out to us to come see a snake – it was super skinny and long…

On Sunday we woke up early to make our way to Manuel Antonio National Park because we’d been informed that the park has a limit of 800 people at a time and the ticket and entrance lines can already be horrendous by 7am (opening). Another couple staying at our airbnb from Philadelphia, USA, kindly offered to give us a ride in their rental car rather than our plan of catching the local bus as they were also going to the park. The lines were pretty packed when we arrived at 6:40am. Kadin and I were approached by a local guy who said for $20 US each we could join his tour of the park and skip the line (Normally costs $50 US if you book with the official guides). We got a good vibe off the guy and decided to give him a chance (knowing we could get ripped-off). We still had to wait in the ticket line but once we had our tickets our guide instructed us to push in the front of the line (was a bit dodgy) … but we were in the park by 7:30am and following him around with his telescope looking at the wildlife along the path…

After our tour had ended (about 9am) we continued to explore the many beautiful beaches located inside the park. The water was unbelievably warm, we had to google it later to find out that we were swimming in 30-degree beaches. Luckily there were lots of shady jungle trees on the shoreline to escape the heat – but we had to watch out for the cheeky monkeys and iguanas that wanted to grab our food. The monkeys were so quick – I didn’t get a photo of the moment when some naive young tourists in front of us left a zip lock bag of cut up mango on their towel when they went for a swim, and a monkey swooped in and ran off with his easy-earned treat!

There were also lots of crabs on one of the beaches. Kadin had fun finding all the different houses in the neighbourhood…

Later that night we went on a jungle night tour. This was a great evening in which we saw many amphibians and reptiles. Some interesting finds with our torches were:

The Jesus Christ Lizard – can walk on water (Check it out on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45yabrnryXk). Another cool feature of this reptile is that if it is put on its back the muscles will relax making it appear stunned…

Scorpion – our guide had a UV light to spot these guys…

Tent-Making Bat – this bat makes a tent from the palms. This made it an easier find as you just had to look out for a tent constructed in the forest…

tent bat

We had lots of fun walking around in the dark spotting lots of wildlife…

When we were walking down the street near our accomodation a random guy sitting on the side of the footpath said to Kadin, “One day, I’m gonna have a beard like you.” This made his day – because those of you who haven’t noticed, Kadin has forgone shaving since we kicked off on January 1st.

On Monday morning, we were collected from our accommodation again for another activity: Learn to Surf. Kadin wanted to give this a go and I was his photographer, snapping up his successes and failed attempts too…

Right near the beach by the surf school we encountered our closest Sloth experience. It is very rare to see a sloth down from the treetops and especially a 2-toed sloth as it is nocturnal. But we made the most of the moment to get a photo together…

For our last full day in Manuel Antonio we decided to relax in luxury. Our airbnb hosts had mentioned that a nearby hotel (nightly price ~$300) allows use of their pool if you purchase a drink from the bar. Our friendly Philadelphia friends offered to give us a lift in their car as they checked out in the morning but didn’t fly until midnight, in return we let them use our shower. This hotel tip-off from our hosts was amazing as we managed to park the car in the hotel complex for free, we all bought $3 fresh blended fruit drinks, enjoyed a near-empty pool and then also had beach access (which usually required a $5 parking fee). It was a super chilled way to end our time in Costa Rica…

The next morning, we had to travel back to San JosĂ© where we booked one-night accommodation near the airport before our Thursday flight to Miami. For dinner we decided to walk to the KFC 1km down the road. We had a bit of a giggle at the reviews on google which had been translated from Spanish – we of course had to order our meals in Spanish too, hopefully we weren’t eating pigeon!

kfc san jose

Unfortunately, we received our first flight cancellation for the year… American Airlines have grounded all their 737max planes due to a crash in Ethiopia. After some talking over the phone, instead of our intended 3-hour direct flight, we now have a 9-hour travel day in which we are flying with Delta Airlines via Atlanta to Miami and landing around midnight instead of 4pm. But, hey, it’s all part of the adventure!

Have fun at work!

Gemma

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