Seaside Jungle Adventure

Trip Start Jun 26, 2009
Trip End Jul 12, 2009

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Puntarenas,
Sunday, July 5, 2009

Day 9 – Sunday, July 5, 2009 – The long drive to MA. We ate breakfast at the rancho (had some very good pumpkin bread with chocolate chips).  We walked to the beach one last time and took some more pictures of Villas Hemosas.  It truly was a touch of heaven.  Now it was time to hop in the van and hit the road heading for Manuel Antonio.

The ride to the ferry was not very eventful.  When we go to the ferry, the line was pretty long (while we were in Mal Pais there was a car race and a lot of the participants were headed home).  While we waited in the line at the ferry, the kids and I got snow cones.  Parker got root beer and I got Kola (not to be confused with Cola).  The snow cones were good, but they melted very fast in the heat.  We made it onto the ferry with no issues, and went to the "air conditioned" salon.  The ferry was very full, but the ride was not too long.  The weather was a little worse than when we had came so the boat rocked back and forth a little more than when we came.  When it was time to exit the boat they had everyone go to their cars rather than walk off the boat as it was starting to rain. 

After exiting the ferry we were on very good road and we had intermittent rain.  We stopped for gas once.  We drove through Jaco trying to decide if we should stop and eat there (they have a Pizza Hut and a Subway).  We decided not to eat and went on our way. 

We stopped at the crocodile bridge and went out and saw the crocodiles, but it was raining very hard so we didn't take any pictures.  We were just glad to be back in the car and out of the hard rain.  The crocodiles were very large.

When we finally made it to Quepos (about 6 hours after leaving Mal Pais), we stopped and ate at Le Grande.  It was a sea food restaurant right across the road from the beach.  It was a very interesting place to eat, and they had a lot of fish mounted on the wall and information about big game fishing.  Dinner here was good, but everyone was tired from riding in the car.

Oscar took us on a quick driving tour of Manuel Antonio (the small town) to show us where everything was, and then he took us to the La Posada ( ).  We went to check in and met Jonathan.  He showed us our rooms and helped us with our bags.  Grandma and grandpa’s room was one of the small bungalows.  The room had a queen size bed and a nice sofa in the room.  Our room, the monkey room, had a queen, a double and a twin (just perfect for our family).  There wasn’t a lot of extra room, but we were fine.  Both rooms had a microwave and a refrigerator.  Shaeleigh and I walked to a small grocery store and got some snacks while Necia, Parker, & Malesa swam in the pool.  When we got back, everyone was so tired that we all went to bed even though it was fairly early.

Day 10 – Monday, July 6, 2009 – MANUAEL ANTONIO NATIONAL PARK IS CLOSED ON MONDAYS   We knew this before we came, but it is good to know when you are planning your travel schedule.  We slept in as best we could and then went to breakfast.  Breakfast starts late at La Posada (I think it starts at 8:30 and runs until 10:30).  We were there at 8:30.  They had fresh fruit, banana bread, rice & beans, and scrambled eggs.  It was very nice.  After breakfast we went shopping in the stalls along the beach.  There are a lot of little stalls all along the beach selling all manner of stuff.  Parker wanted to shop on his own, and Necia, grandma, Shaeleigh, Malesa and I all shopped together.  Grandpa wasn’t up for shopping.  Not all of the stalls were full as it was a Monday, but there was plenty of stuff to look at.  Most of the stuff was pottery, t-shirts, jewelry, etc.  The girls found lots of stuff they liked.  Parker was fairly fast at shopping and didn’t find much his first time through (he wanted the shopping to be like Thailand, but it wasn’t).  His second time through Parker found a lot more stuff he liked.  We shopped for quite a while then we went back to the hotel (it was a short walk through an alley to our hotel).

We hung around the hotel and chatted while we waited for our mangrove tour with Juan Brenez.  Part of the time, we had to wait in the little dining area because our rooms were being cleaned.  Wow, do they take cleaning seriously at this hotel.  The maid was in our room for at least and hour and the room was perfect when she was done.  Everything was in order, our extra shoes were lined up under the bed and nothing was out of place.

Juan showed up at about 1:00 to take us on our tour of the mangroves.  We drove out of town to his boat.  I think most of the mangrove tours start from the same dock down near the old palm plantations.  The boat was very comfortable for all 7 in our family.  Oscar also came along with us.  In total there were 10 in the boat.  The tour was about 2 hours long (only done at high tide).  We learned all kinds of things about mangroves and the different types of plants and animals that live in the mangroves.  We saw crabs, birds, lizards, and monkeys.  The monkeys were the biggest attraction.  Juan does not feed the monkeys, but since the monkeys are used to coming to be fed, they still come when the boat pulled up.  Juan gave us a lecture about how bad it was to feed the monkeys.  We shook our heads and agreed, but we didn’t tell Juan that we had fed the monkeys when we were in Thailand.  I am sure he is right, it is not a good idea to feed the monkeys.  The monkeys at the mangroves were very comfortable around people, and I think if you fed them, they may go wild, and you may get bitten.  They sure were not afraid of coming into the boat.  We did see an ant eater while we were in the mangroves.  It was very small, but it was cool to see it.

We spent some time looking for snakes and crocodiles, but we never saw any.  It is just one of those things, sometimes you see them and sometimes they are our hunting and you don’t see them.  It was a fun experience and I would go again.

On the way back from the mangrove tour, we stopped at a soda to eat.  It was a typical tourist trap soda, but the food, and the juice they gave you to drink were both good.  (We were surprised this was included in the tour – at it was 4:00 pm when we ate it kind or ruined our plans to go out to dinner, but we were on vacation and we were being flexible).

When we got back to the hotel, Parker and Shaeleigh wanted to go shopping in Quepos.  Oscar took Necia and the kids and I back to Quepos to shop.  Malesa, grandma and grandpa stayed back at the hotel.  When we got to Quepos, it was just about sundown.  I took a picture of the kids near the beach just as the sun was going down. 

Quepos is a fairly large town and the shopping for souvenirs was pretty good.  We spent about an hour shopping in various stores and found some nice things (including some nativity sets).  It was pretty dark when we were done shopping.  On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a grocery store to get a couple of snacks and to get some ice cream.   While we were in the store, we saw the missionaries from our church.  One of the elders was from Costa Rica and the other was from Nebraska.  We talked to them for a minute and purchased their groceries for them.  We ate our ice cream in the car on the way back to the hotel.  We got some ice cream for Oscar as well.

We were going to watch a movie when we got back to the hotel, but our DVD player in our room was not workings.  So, we watched the movie A Street Car Named Desire.  Most of us didn’t make it to the end of the movie before we fell asleep. 

Day 11 – Tuesday, July 7, 2009 - The day in the national park – We got up and got ready to go to the beach.  I purchased the tickets to the national park.  The kiosk to purchase the tickets is right outside the La Posada hotel.  We went to breakfast, another great Tico style breakfast.  While we were at breakfast, we saw Bambi, the local deer, and we saw lots of monkeys come through.  We talked to Juan and got everything set up for getting grandpa into and out of the park in the afternoon.  Juan told us the best way to get into the park (go down by the ocean, but he told us to be careful because the stream was polluted).

We left and went down to the beach.  There were a lot more people around today because the park was open.  Most of them get dropped off at the beach and walk up to the La Posada to go into the park.  We went down to the beach and walked out in the ocean to avoid the stream (it is a very small stream, but it is contaminated with feces).  We got to the guard house where they checked our tickets and we went into the park.  We had just barely gotten into the park when I saw a snake on the trail.  A few steps more and Necia would have stepped on it.  I yelled at Necia to stop, but I didn’t yell snake.  When she finally saw the snake she was very frightened .  She told me that in the future when I see a snake she is about to step on, I should yell “Stop Snake.”  The snake was pretty long (maybe 4 feet).  It was not poisonous  and it just went on its way

We walked down the path, enjoying the view, but being careful not to touch the trees as many of them are poisonous (will give you a rash).  We finally made it to what we thought was the beach we were supposed to go to.  It was a nice beach, but the surf seemed a little rough.  We played in the water, picked up some shells and built some sand castles.  I even found a sand dollar (we had been looking for one the whole trip).  The one I found was still alive and covered with a brown velvet like fur.  We looked at it and then threw it back in the ocean.  As we were getting ready to leave we noticed there was another beach to the left of where we turned right.  This was the beach we were supposed to go to .  It was the beach you see in post cards.  We stayed for a few minutes, but the beach was crowded.  We did see a raccoon come get into someone’s bag.  It caused quite the stir.

We walked back the way we had came in, but we didn’t see the snake.  There was a man with a boat at the stream this time.  We paid him a dollar and he let us walk across the steam on his boat (the boat was wider than the stream).  We bought snow cones on the beach and went back to the hotel. 

We were supposed to meet Juan at 1:00, so we had time to go to lunch.  I took Malesa, Parker and Shaeleigh and we went to a local pizza place on the beach.  We got a very small plain cheese pizza and sat on the beach and ate our pizza.  It was very enjoyable.  We also got gelato for dessert.  On the way back to the hotel, the girls got henna ink tattoos.  Shaeleigh got a butterfly and Malesa got a dolphin.

When we got back to the hotel, we met Juan and were off on our tour of the national park.  Juan is an excellent guide.  He knew how to look for the animals and we saw all kinds of them.  We saw crabs, sloths (about 7 sloths both 2 and 3 toed), toucans, iguanas, caymans (like a small crocodile), Basilisks (lizards that can walk on water AKA Jesus Christ lizards), a very large rodent I don’t know the name of, geckos, parakeets, and a stick bird.  It was all great.

Grandpa a Malesa stopped at the beach.  They were too tired to walk the rest of the way and Oscar was coming with the car to pick them up.  We continued with the tour by going back the way we had came in the morning.  It was on this part of the trip we saw the cayman.  We also saw the gecko.  Juan put the gecko on Shaeleigh’s ear and it hung onto her ear with its teeth and looked like an earring, but Shaeleigh said it didn’t hurt her.

When we got back to the small stream, it was not about 40 feet across because the tide had came in.  Some people were trying to walk across and some locals were playing in the water (gross).  We got into a boat and were taken across the stream.  It had been a great time in the national park and we had seen more animals that we could have hoped for.

When we got back to the hotel, we got another treat, there were a bunch of squirrel monkeys at the hotel (they are endangered and it was neat to see so many).   We took lots of pictures.

Parker, Shaeleigh, Malesa and I walked over to the beach for a few minutes, but while we were there a massive rain storm hit.  Luckily we had umbrellas with us, but it was a massive storm that dropped a ton of rain.  We enjoyed walking in the rain (I had to carry Malesa though).   It rained so hard, it was like walking in a river on the way back to the hotel.  When we got back to the hotel, the power was out.  There was an emergency light in the room, so we all sat in the room and talked.  It was fun to have a little time with no power to just visit and not have to worry about the TV or other things.

We ate dinner at the La Posada that night (they have dinner and a movie on Tuesday and Thursday nights).  Tuesday night was spaghetti night.  The movie was Bed Time Story.  The dinner was good.  Oscar came up and ate with us, and we had a fun time.  The only bad part of the evening was that there were two new families at the hotel, both with little girls and the parents did not watch the girls.  I was surprised at how naughty the girls were and how little the parents cared.  I guess it was because the dad was too busy using the internet.  Oh well, it makes me proud of how well behaved my kids are on vacation.  Overall, it was a very good night and the rain actually made it a very comfortable night to eat outside.
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