Friday, May 25, 2012

Manuel Antonio National Park, May 10

Quepos is about 7km from Manuel Antonio, the town and national park.  My hostel was about 2 blocks away from the bus station where I needed to catch one of the shuttle buses that go between the two locations every half hour.  For about 50 cents each way, you can easily get to the beach or national park.

I travelled there with an American traveller from Atlanta I met at my hostel, Tom.  As soon as we got off the bus, we were approached by a tour guide, but neither of us wanted to pay the $30 or so for his services, so we went into the park on our own.  The tourist entrance fee is $10, and as I learned from one of the staff at my future hostel, the proceeds from all the parks goes into one big pool where it's split up and portioned out as required to all the parks in the country.  It's a guarantee that some parks don't get more revenue than others that might need it just as much.  I thought that was a neat system.

We started walking through the trail, and it wasn't hard to spot when there was something interesting to see because all the other groups of people that did hire guides would all be gathered round to see whatever it was! As a result, we saw a small stick bug, several lizards, and three-toed sloths.  How exciting to see a real sloth in the wild!  One of the guides was kind enough to let me take a photo through his telescope.  It was awesome.  I learned about sloths that they move so slowly that algae grow on their fur, and it actually helps to camouflage them.  Also, their slowness means that various types of insects end up living in their fur, eggs are laid, hatch and go through their larval and pupal stages.  As cute as they are, I don't think I'd ever want to hug one (and also the fact that it's a wild animal).  I also learned they only poop once a week; Tom said he'd hate to be below the tree when that happens! hehe  The reason using a telescope to see them is a good idea is that they like to live at the top of the highest trees in the canopy, so we could definitely see them with our eyes and through our cameras, but of course, the detail isn't nearly as good as with the telescope.  The jungle is a noisy place to be; all kinds of animals I can't identify are making their various sounds, and there are bird calls and insect noises and who knows what else.  It sounds nice by day, but it would probably freak me out at night!

Tom and I parted ways when we ended up at one of the beaches in the park.  He wanted to go swimming, and I wanted to just lie on the beach and read.  It was around this area that I saw several iguanas, white-faced monkeys, and hermit crabs.  Don't worry; I will be posting pictures of all these creatures!  I read for a while and then decided it was time to go back to the hostel, mainly because I knew it was going to rain in the afternoon--I hadn't remembered it would be the start of hurricane season, so I had enough rain, though it wasn't too bad.  Anyway, I got back just in time as about 15 minutes later, the rain started pouring.  After it was over, I wanted to go get some food as I hadn't eaten lunch yet and happened upon a cafe that served locally grown and roasted coffee.  Unfortunately, they didn't have much in the way of sandwiches or even pastries, so I had an ice cream parfait, of all things!  When I got back to the hostel, I ran into Tom again, and we made plans for supper, but through miscommunication, we didn't end up meeting up, so I ate at this seafood restaurant alone where I had a great seafood chowder and shrimp ceviche.

I did stop at a grocery store during the day.  I like to check out grocery stores to see what's available and kinds of products people use and buy.  I was surprised to find sambal sauce, satay sauce, and all kinds of other Asian ingredients.  At least I know if I was forced to live there, I'd survive! hehe

There is currently a small lizard in my room as I write.  Better that than a nasty spider, cockroach, or some sort of rodent.  But still, the sound of the thing still freaks me out--just as it did in Bali.

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