This past weekend my friend Meghan and I escaped the busy city of Heredia and took a bus to Manuel Antonio, one of Costa Rica’s most famous national parks, located on the Western coast beside a small town called Quepos. Many visitors come to Manuel Antonio to hang out at the beach and experience the awesome rainforest wildlife!
Weather Tally (enter the # of days for each weather type):
Partly cloudy: 4
What is the air temperature right now? Right now it is about 85 degrees here in Heredia.
How was the weather this week? The weather has been very wet for dry season this week! On Thursday there was a downpour here in Heredia, and on Saturday night it rained all night at Manuel Antonio. The sun during the days has been strong and the air has been humid.
What animals did we see this week? This was an exciting week full of animal sightings! We saw two kinds of monkeys, white-throated Capuchin monkeys and Howler monkeys. We saw a sloth sleeping in a tree. We saw a white-nosed Coati and an Agouti. We saw Black Iguanas, and we also saw a lot of hermit crabs on the beach.
Sloth sleeping in a tree Capuchin
What was the coolest thing we saw in nature this week? The coolest thing we saw in nature this week were the Howler monkeys in the trees above out heads.
This Week’s Nature News:
On Saturday morning Meghan and I walked into the park and down a wide stone path surrounded by thick forest on both sides. We could hear the buzzing and chirping of insects and birds. We were already sweating like crazy in the thick, steamy jungle air. We knew we would have to be very quiet and keep our eyes peeled to spot any animals that might be nearby. After a few minutes we heard something scuttling in the dry leaves, and we peered into the woods. We found ourselves face to face with a brown and white, long-nosed creature as big as a medium-sized dog. It was a Coati, a mammal in the raccoon family. It sat back and stared right at me for a little while, thumping its long, black tail on the ground to warn me. It was so cool to look this creature right in the eye!
At a lookout point, Meghan and I took out the plantain chips we brought for a snack, but it turned out somebody else wanted to share our snack. A fully-grown Black Iguana lumbered up onto the platform and looked hungrily at us. This gal was a little frightening! We did not know then that she was a vegetarian, and would not have done us any harm.
We were on the path heading to the beach, and could smell the salty, fishy ocean nearby. I listened carefully for new sounds in the jungle, and scanned the branches for movement and strange shapes. I saw a strange dark blob in a tree, and pulled away some vines to investigate. It turned out we had stumbled upon a group of five Capuchin monkeys! They hopped and swung from branch to branch around us.
After a good swim, we were laying on the sand in a little cove at the edge of the forest, when Meghan pointed to a tree right above our heads. “Howler Monkeys!” she cried. We lay on our backs and watched six adults and two babies hanging from their tails and munching on tree leaves right over our heads. These little black and brown monkeys make a terrifying roar that sounds just like a lion, but they are also just vegetarians. They didn’t seem to mind us at all!
What languages are spoken here? Mostly Spanish is spoken in Manuel Antonio, but many people work in tourism, and also speak English.
What type of money is used here? Colones and U.S. dollars are used in Manuel Antonio.
How much does a bottle of water cost? A bottle of water in Manuel Antonio is about $1.50, a bit more than in Heredia.
What was the best meal this week? The best meal this week was a cheap casado, or typical Costa Rican plate, fish filet with rice, beans, salad and fried plantains.
What music did we listen to this week? There was a lot of popular American music playing in Manuel Antonio. I heard the song “Titanium” by Sia all over town!
What activity was the most fun this week? Riding waves at the beach this weekend was a blast. Ever since I was a kid, I have always loved to wait for the big, strong waves and then swim really hard on top of them until just before they crash and turn into white foam. When you time it just right, the waves carry you to the shore above the water and you feel like you are flying! Sometimes you get tumbled upside down until your hair and bathing suit are full of sand and your eyes sting from the salt. But let’s be honest. It’s totally worth it.
What did I read this week? While I was there I read Things Fall Apart, a famous novel by African author Chinua Achebe.
What games or sports did I play? This week Meghan and I played a lot of rummy in the bus stations. A deck of cards is a great way to entertain oneself on a trip.
This Week’s News:
On Friday morning, Meghan and I took the wrong bus to San Jose! When we got off, we found out that we were actually in Alajuela, which is in the opposite direction! We had to jump on the next bus to San Jose and hope to catch our 10:20 am bus to Manuel Antonio. I felt grumpy, because I didn’t want my visiting friend to spend the day in a bus station instead of a park because of my mistake. When we finally got to San Jose, we ran the whole three blocks to the station, our bags bumping at our sides. When we asked the saleswoman for tickets to Manuel Antonio, she told us that buses to Manuel Antonio left from a different station, 20 blocks away! We couldn’t believe it. It had turned out we had gotten our bus information from an old, outdated website.
We took a cab to the correct station, but by the time we got there it was 10:30 am. “Well,” I laughed, “At least we missed a bus that doesn’t exist.” To our surprise, the salesman told us there was a bus leaving right at that very moment! We jumped on that bus and before we knew it, we were headed to Manuel Antonio, only ten minutes behind schedule! We learned two lessons that day. Lesson one: Always make sure you have the correct bus schedule. Lesson two: When you make a travelling mistake, don’t waste time being grumpy. Sometimes it works out just fine!