Quiero ver los monos!!

Trip Start Jan 07, 2011
Trip End Jun 15, 2011

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Puntarenas,
Friday, February 18, 2011

I had never been so ready for a trip in my life.  I had bought snacks and drinks for the weekend and all the hotels/transportation were somewhat planned. Victor and I were briefly waiting at the airport. After anticipating and planning her visit for weeks, pure enjoyment overcame me when Jane walked outside and spotted me with my orange headband. Everything had gone smoothly with her flights and we were together again in yet another country!
Victor was driving us from San Jose to Quepos/Manuel Antonio National Park. This is a beautiful beach area with the Pacific Ocean on one side and a National Park full of wildlife on the other side.  While heading there, we were grasping the craziness of our relationship and letting the idea settle that we were in Costa Rica together. Of course, we were also chatting with Victor about the country and the places that we would be seeing in the next week.  Halfway there we stopped at this bridge that is a small tourist attraction, which aparently is a home for alligators.  We walked out onto the bridge not expecting to see much.  I look over the edge and I see an alligator!!  He was right there, 50 feet below us.  I was loving it because I had never seen an alligator in nature before.  We were gonna head back to the car, but then decided to jump across the street to see if we would see any more alligators on the other side.  Thank god we did because we saw 18 more.  No joke!!  A couple of them were moving in and out of the water.  It's fun to watch Alligator's walk because it's almost like a woddle. I had left my camera in the car, so we didn't take any pictures, but we both saved the images in our head. 
Once we checked into our hotel, we said thank you/goodbye to Victor and he headed back to San Jose. From this moment on, Jane and I were pretty much together and alone for the next 9 days.  We really didn't leave each other's side, except for when I had to go to class.  Just the two of us being together, traveling together, and getting to know each other was really nice. We caught the sunset and walked around a couple of shops before being hungry enough for some dinner across the street from our hotel.  We sat down with a couple from Israel, who had been traveling for a few weeks at that point and had already spent ample time in Manuel Antonio. So, they were a great source of information for us.  They had told us to get a tour guide for the National Park, which was a great piece of advice because you see things that you would never be able to spot on your own.  They told us to find the beach in the National Park because it was like a lagoon and very remote.  They had videos of monkeys around their hotel and videos of whales and dolphins from an excursion close to domincal.  This was getting me even more excited for the rest of the weekend. I was really looking forward to seeing and playing with some monkees!  
In the morning, Jane and I woke up to a wonderfully fresh continental breakfast at our hotel. Fresh coffee, fresh juice, fresh fruit (banana, papaya, pineapple, watermelon), platanos maduros, granola, and freshly made eggs any style with the option of adding cheese, onions, mushrooms, and ham. ĦQue delicioso!  So, I stuffed my faced at breakfast and took some bananas to go.  We were also able to fill up our huge water bottle for free, which was a huge bonus for the weekend!  We hit up the beach before 10 and made a new friend named Butch as soon as we were settled with our beach chairs.  Butch was one of those guys that comes up to you on the beach and wants to provide you with drinks and food on the beach.  When we first met him, I was kind of resistive to him because I didn't want to be bothered, but he was such a character that he was actually quite entertaining and really nice.  I had told him to come back in a little bit because it was literally 10 am and we had just finished breakfast.  We weren't in the state of mind to be drinking just yet.
Jane was laying out and reading while I was working hard on my sandpit.  I was sweating profusely. Its such hard work to dig up sand in the hot sun!!  Luckily, when the time was right, Butch came by and I ordered the first round beers.  While working on the sandpit, a little boy wanted to help me.  So he jumped in the hole and helped out for a bit, then we proceeded to have a sand fight!  He was about 8 years old, so about 1 year older than me. Being all sandy/sweaty, it was time for Jane and I to jump in the water.  The next few hours consisted of more playing in the sand, laying out, reading, chatting, laughing, and drinking.  Butch kept checking on us throughout the day making sure we were happy.  Later in the afternoon, the people who rented us the beach chairs told us to move the chairs back because the tide was moving up.  We cooperated while other people weren't moving back and then some of there stuff got wet... Karma.  We left the beach around 4 because we wanted to be at this restaurant called "El Avion" by 5 to see the sunset and eat dinner.  This was a perfect plan, but the sun was kind of hidden behind the clouds off in the distance, so we didn't get a spectacular sunset. We enjoyed a great dinner and were at the restaurant for almost 4 hours!  We wanted to hit a bar afterwards, but we were exhausted from the day in the sun and passed out.
The next morning we were up early in order to enjoy another fantastic breakfast and make it to Manual Antonio National Park by 10.  We were waiting outside the gate of the park when a man came up to us and asked us if we wanted a guided tour.  I jumped on the opportunity and was pleased with the outcome. It ended up costing us $30 a person for entrance into the park and pretty much a personal tour (we were with one other couple from Canada).  This was exactly what we wanted to do and it was about a 60% discount! Our tour guide was awesome! One of the first things I said to him was "Queremos ver los monos!!"  He showed us orange crabs crawling around, toucans chilling in the trees, sloths being lazy, bats sleeping, other birds, a herd of ducks in the distance, and of course MONKEES!!!  Most of the animals you could only see through his telescope because they were off in the distance, they blended in with the environment, or they were too small to see.  This is why getting the guided tour was such a great idea.  Whatever I was able to take a picture of with my camera is what I was able to see with my own eye (no telescope). 
The most important thing for me was to see some monkeys and we saw a ton of them.  I took a bunch of pictures and videos... go check them out!! It was an indescribable experience...  We saw howler monkeys, white face monkeys, and squirrel monkeys!!!  We were so close to the white face monkeys that I could reach out and grab them if they wouldn't run away.  I don't know if Jane was up for trying to catch one of the monkeys.  As for me, I wanted to grab one and play with it for at least an hour.  Taking it home would have been an adventure too, but I was informed that they are quite destructive animals. The white face monkeys were hanging out next to the beach close to people's stuff.  They only went after things that interested them such as anything that resembled food.  One monkey was eating some crackers that he found. Another monkey was eating an entire mango that he snatched from someone.  The national park security guy blew his whistle when he saw the monkees eating food because people were not supposed to feed the monkeys. The people didn't feed them, but it is their fault for leaving the food out for the monkeys to grab. Maybe the people did feed the monkeys and I just didn't see it happen.  The tour was coming to an end and then we caught some monkeys doing it on a tree branch!  I have the end of it on one of my videos posted...Check it out! Then, just before the tour actually ended, there was a monkey that stole a child's juicebox and the boy was balling tears.  I focused my pictures on the monkey with the juicebox, rather than the mom carrying away her crying baby.  To finish off the tour, we took a picture with our tour guide, Nicolas, and thanked him for the adventure.
Before we went back for some more monkey action, Jane and I chilled on the beach for a couple hours.  This was the lagoon beach that the Israeli couple had recommended to us.  We were pretty much by ourselves on the beach, other than people off in the distance and a few people that had walked by. We enjoyed the peaceful combination of the sand, water, and the animals.  I had field day with my camera and the lizards on the beach. I captured 5 different lizards (some missing their tails) on my camera running around the beach. I was attempting to capture the lizards from all different angles. My favorite is the one with the lizard running away with the ocean in the background. When I had finished playing with the lizards, Jane and I were about ready to head back over to the monkeys.  We seemed to be full of fantastic ideas on this day because when we went back I made the best monkey video of the weekend!
We were back on beach where we saw the monkeys before, but they weren't there... Jane told me she needed to go to the bathroom and on the way to find the bathroom we found more monkeys.  Thank you Jane!! At first, there was only one. Then there were two!  And then we finally spotted a crowd of about 10 monkeys messing around, wrestling, chasing each other, rough housing, and doing it!  I was able to get a video of all of this stuff... THIS YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY CHECK OUT!! I was videotaping these monkeys from a distance ranging about 6 ft to 30 ft.  It was incredible! I really wish I could have played with these monkeys, but I didn't know if they were as friendly as they looked. After I got my monkey fix, I joined Jane on the beach where I continued to take pictures, but of hermit crabs.  My camera was able to zoom in and get some cool detail of the crabs, which made these pictures really interesting to me.  The park was closing at four oclock, so we jumped in the water and enjoyed the remaining time there. Leaving the park was interesting because the tide had come up where people exited the park. There was a boat service to take people to the other side, or you could walk through stomach/chest deep water. We walked through the water of course!!
Jane and I went looking for some margaritas and we found a place that was doing 2 for 1! Perfecto!  We enjoyed a couple rounds and then grabbed a beer to go, so that we could catch the sunset. Once again, the sunset was blocked by the clouds in the distance and we only saw a red ball drop for a few minutes.  On the way back to our hotel, we caught a group of squirrel monkeys walking along power lines onto a rooftop and then jumping from the rooftop into a tree. AMAZING!!! It was really awesome to see them jumping onto the tree.  One of the monkeys was a little slower and kind of scared to jump by himself.  We captured the entire thing on video... definitely CHECK IT OUT!!  After the monkees were no longer visible, we went looking for dinner and spent some time chilling together on the beach at night.  We found some really dry empanadas, but that was the extent of our hunger because we had snacked here and there throughout the day.  The following morning we ate another amazing breakfast and checked out of the hotel.  We needed to catch the bus leaving for Dominical at 930am, but there were no taxis waiting in the street yet and it was just after 9am.  I had to run back to the hotel and quickly call a taxi for us.  Our bus was leaving in less than 10 minutes when the taxi arrived, so the taxi had to book it into town.  Luckily the bus was running late and we were able to buy the tickets on the bus. We were about 5 minutes from missing the only bus that would have taken us to Dominical that morning.  Oh, the adventures of traveling!! 
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julianstauffer on

My two favorite videos are missing!! I'll try to get them up again...

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