Sunday, November 09, 2008

Costa Rica Day 2: Manuel Antonio and the Americana Fea

After a good night of sleep, we had a nice breakfast at Gaia's restaurant. This resort really pampers the guests. Lots of staff available at all times to help with whatever you need or want. The restaurant has a fantastic view of the ocean and many miles of coastline. My skills at photography were not up to the task, but here's the best shot I took:

After breakfast we went on a tour of Manuel Antonio National Park. The resort provided a guide, William. He was born in Nicaragua, moved to CR at age 9, and it seems like he works a lot. He also knows a tremendous amount about the flora and fauna of Manuel Antonio, and he has remarkable eyesight. He could spot small camouflaged animals (including bugs) from substantial distances. Thanks to William, we saw a wide variety of animals. We also got to see three different kinds of monkeys - Howler, Whiteface, and Squirrel Monkeys. Pictures below (click on any photo to enlarge):

Howler Monkey:

Leaf Cutter Ant:

Capuchin (or Whiteface) Monkey:

Bats (look closely on the tree trunk):

Squirrel Monkey:

When we saw the Squirrel Monkeys, there was a large group of fairly young Americans nearby. They got very close to the monkeys and one woman actually picked up a stick and tried to poke a monkey. A guy in the group was telling her to stop and she kept doing it. A new take on the ugly American - La Americana Fea.

There was a tremendous variety of trees, other plants and animals. We saw "land crabs." We didn't know there was such a thing before. Lots of color, though of course, mostly a lush green. The trail leads to beaches that are stunning. It was a weekend day, and many people who seemed native to the country walked right through the trail to get to the beach.

On the way there and back, we noticed a beach area outside the park that had some street vendors, along with regular shops and restaurants. So we had a nice lunch at the resort (the food there is excellent) and then they drove us back to that area. We bought a few touristy things from the street vendors. I'm sure they were ripping us off on the prices, but it was much cheaper than anything that you'd see in a US tourist trap, and haggling worked too. We sat on the beach for a while. This was another nice spot. Very pleasant.

Once we got back we spent about 20 minutes in Gaia's pool. This was another spectacular feature of the resort. The pool has multiple levels. A couple of them are "infinity" pools where the water level is just a touch higher than the wall on one side, so it looks like the pool doesn't end - and the view in that direction is the ocean. The water goes over the edge and forms a 15-20 foot waterfall to the lower pool, which has another one that drops off just a few feet. It was quite humid and the water felt great. Below are a couple shots of the pool (it was so humid the lens fogged on the second shot):

Before dinner we treated ourselves to a "couples massage". We both got a massage in the same room. We enjoyed that. Dinner was good too. I don't remember the details as I write. After dinner we enjoyed a quiet evening in our room and got to sleep fairly early.

A couple things about our room. I particularly liked the combination jacuzzi tub/shower. The jacuzzi jets were weak, but it was still a nice feature. The shower head was great - excellent pressure, and an interesting shape. It was cylindrical and the jets were in a line. Also, there's a window on one side. When you open it you can see out onto the terrace and beyond into the flora and even the ocean. The other thing is that our suite had a rooftop terrace. You go out of your room and go up a flight of stairs, and there is a terrace where you have an even better view, similar to the view from the restaurant. There's a table and chairs, a couple of lounge chairs (with wet cushions from the rain the previous night - they don't dry out because of the humidity), and a reflecting pool (which was empty - one minor failing in an otherwise fine stay).

Oh, and I didn't find a working WiFi signal in the room, but there were multiple ethernet jacks and they worked well. I did not check the rest of the resort for WiFi, so I don't know about that.

Stay tuned for Day 3. :-)

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