Sunday, January 13, 2013

Continuing Through Costa Rica

Our vacation to Costa Rica is coming to an end.  Nat and I are sitting in the San Jose Airport, waiting to board our flight to Houston.  We may have one more adventure before us – getting our bags in Houston, through Customs and onto our flight to Dallas in less than 90 minutes.  Should be exciting!  Cutting it close at the airport makes traveling all that more fun. **Update - we caught our flight, even after I forgot my hat on the plane and had to wait for someone to retrieve it!**

Ready to go!
After the Quetzal Tour, we went zip lining through the canopy behind the Trogon Lodge.  Once you get over the fear of accidentally handling the cable incorrectly and losing all the fingers on your hand, it was very fun!  It was exciting to get a bird’s eye view of the cloud forest.  Just beautiful.

Here comes Nat!

After our canopy tour, we packed up our two backpacks and three suitcases.  For the record, traveling this heavy is not my typical style, but I have been on vacation for an entire month and had to pack everything from jackets, heels and swim suits for every occasion.  On my Trans-Siberian journey, I packed one heavy backpack full of necessary items and just enough luxury items (hair products, makeup, jewelry, etc) that most people did not believe I was a backpacker.  Not being confused for a backpacking tourist was kind of a big deal for me.  I digress.

We hauled our rental car up the steep mountains of the cloud forest and headed to the beach.  Costa Rica is full of surprises.  Quite often we would be on a “major” highway but then would find our selves booted into a small city.  We would stumble around in our car, making illegal U-turns in an attempt to find the illusive highway that disappeared.  Eventually we would find our way back, after asking an average of 2 people for directions. 

Driving through the Cloud Forest

Playa Dominical was a small beach city with a few surfer hostels, restaurants and bars.  The highlight of this stop was definitely sitting on the terrace of the hotel and watching the wildlife fly – remember how I mentioned we saw toucans that flew by?  

The next day we headed to Manuel Antonio National Park.  We parked our car and were approached by workers of the national park who offered us a guided tour of the park.  It’s a good thing we agreed to take the guided tour!  There is a good chance we would have walked right through the entire forest and not even seen one animal.  You had to have a refined and trained eye to find the critters that lived in Manuel Antonio.  Often our tour guide would set up his telescope finder and show us a snake, lizard, crab or another creature, and it would take us minutes to even figure out where he was pointing his scope!  It was amazing!  

Black Iguana
Can you spot the green lizard?
Green Anole Lizard
Huge spider

The following photos were taken with an iPhone through the guide's telescope.

Eyelash Viper
Howler Monkey
Wasp Nest
Patriotic Crab
Harem of Bats

Interesting Facts
  • You should always be careful not to touch anything in the Rain forest.  The eyelash viper is venomous and will easily look like another branch
  • Howler Monkeys are the third loudest animal on Earth - after the Blue Whale and the Lion
  • Wasps nests are vulnerable to monkeys when smaller, but by the time they approach the size above, monkeys steer clear of them. 
  • The Patriotic Crab is thus named because it boasts the national colors of Costa Rica
  • Bats often form harems, which include one male and two females

Toward the end of our tour, we found sloths!  I have wanted to see them since I was a freshman in college and my friend had seen them in Costa Rica.  They really don’t move, at all!  Not like the white capuchin monkeys that flew through the trees just feet in front of us.  They were even trying to steal our drinking water.  
Sleepy sloth

Monkey with a plastic bag
They were so close to us!
Thirsty Monkeys
The raccoons were by far the most fearless animals we encountered through.  They would just walk up to a backpack in the middle of a group of people and trying to dig through it before sand was thrown in their faces.  They had become addicted to salty caloric snacks provided by tourists, and were therefore no longer nocturnal creatures.  When they got too close to some tourist's backpack, our guide yelled, "Throw sand at them!" to frighten them away. 
Brave raccoons


After saying “adios” to our tour guide, Nat and I went for a dip in the warm beautiful water that surrounded the park.  This beach may just win out Miami and Cancun for best place to take a dip.
Manuel Antonio
Beautiful beach at Manuel Antonio National Park

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