The Roving Richards

A family on the move

Manuel Antonio

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

We left Xandari fairly early, with a final walk to the butterfly bush.  Sad to say goodbye, but we’re sure we’ll be back.  We started our epic journey to Manuel Antonio, which was somewhat hampered by the arrival of the fuel truck that blocked the only exit out.  Once it moved and we negotiated the exit (which is not the way to the laundry room) we were on our way.  No wrong turns–hey we’ve done this before. We made the obligatory stop at the Tarcoles bridge where we saw the crocodiles, and also stopped at Carara Biological reserve to hike and hopefully see scarlet macaws.  We didn’t see any on our hike, but we did get caught in a huge torrential downpour.  Rainy season in the rain forest, what can you expect?  We were as drenched as if we had taken a shower, but what are you going to do?  We finished our hike, having seen no macaws.  We rinsed off the stroller wheels (love that thing) and our shoes with the provided faucet, and noticed some French tourists looking at something in a telescope.  Success!  We could see the macaws playing on the tops of the trees with our binoculars we so sensibly purchased for this trip.  I heard from other travelers later that the place to stay if you really want to see macaws is Villa Lapas.  The rest of the journey was reasonably uneventful.  It was a bit dark because of an approaching storm, and of course there is the issue of the bridges—they’ve nicely repaved the road, but there are three times where you approach a bridge only to see a “Puente en mal estado” sign.  The road ends, you divert to a dirt road and then have to cross either a tiny cement bridge (1) or a rickety old railroad bridge that has been converted to be used by cars–one way only of course (2).  One of these in particular is in really bad shape–it looks like the supports are starting to buckle.  So Costa Rican (or really just Latin American)–why fix it now when you can just wait until it falls down and do it then?  We got to the Tulemar Bungalows and checked into our bungalow #118, that looks out over the grounds.  Very spectacular.  We had dinner at the hotel restaurant, as we remembered expensive food that wasn’t very tasty.  The kids watched tv in the room while Mark and I relaxed in the other room.  So nice.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Today we decided to take it easy and hang out at the hotel beach.  We had breakfast and then took the car down to the beach (it’s too steep of a slope for the stroller, and too far for Charlotte to walk).  The kids played with hermit crabs and then we all played in the ocean.  The waves kept knocking Charlotte over but she didn’t seem to mind.  The tide was coming in and pretty soon there wasn’t much beach left so we headed back up to the pool where we took a shower and then swam there for a while.  Genevieve and I headed back to the room while Mark and Charlotte waited for the hotel staff to bring towels (they never did).  As I was walking to the bungalow I heard this sound in the trees so I looked and what should I see but a baby tree sloth!  We watched it for a while and then I realized it was actually up near the parking lot so we went back up the path and were so close we could have touched the little critter!  I called Mark and Charlotte over and we all admired it for a while.  Then we went to the bungalow, showered, and went to El Mono Azul for lunch.  Sometimes they have rescued baby tree sloths in their restaurant, but not this time.  Of course, what did it matter, we’d just seen one anyhow!  I had this really incredible rice dish, their house specialty, which I thoroughly recommend.  After lunch we went to the butterfly reserve run by Si Como No.   The ticket seller was very skeptical about selling us tickets, mostly because Genevieve was being very four and half (unfortunately the stellar good behavior we received from her during our San Diego trip did not resurface and so there was a lot of whining and power struggles on this trip), but he finally did.  We walked around the butterfly enclosure a while before our tour at 3:30.  We were the only ones on the tour and the guide did a great job explaining things to the kids, especially to Charlotte.  I often forget that Charlotte understands most of what we tell her these days and concentrate on explaining things to Genevieve, but the guide talked to both of them equally.  They also each got to hold a Morpho butterfly right after it had emerged from its chrysalis, but unfortunately Charlotte is a “look don’t touch” girl and freaked out and whacked her poor butterfly, leaving it smushed on the floor.  Whoops.  The guy picked it up and we checked on it later and it was a bit tweaked but it looked like maybe it would be able to fly.  After this we went back to the room for a bit, and then to Escalofrio in Quepos for dinner.  There we had the best pizza we’ve had since Italy–who would have thought?!  After dinner we returned home, the kids got their tv and we again got some peace.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Today we were going to tour the park.  We decided not to book the tour through the hotel because it was expensive (45.00 per person) and we also didn’t want to deal with the transportation.  We went to the front entrance (the back entrance is closed now) and booked a guide at 20.00 per person.  Unfortunately, our guide was totally not into it, quoting from memory most of the time and generally just wanting to get the tour over with. Whatever.  We saw a coati, lots of lizards, crabs, tree frog eggs and plants, but only a few monkeys.  Wierd.  Fortunately we had seem the white faced ones from our hotel earlier.  We had lunch at the restaurant the guide recommended (not good) and then went back to the hotel for a swim and then nap. It was such a beautiful day, it was tempting to stay at the beach but the kids were getting tired.  I saw squirrel monkeys while the rest of the family was napping, and woke everyone up to share.  Now that everyone was up, we thought we’d take the evening frog tour at Si Como No but the same super skeptical ticket seller was there and Genevieve was being particularly whiny so we opted to just go straight to dinner, this time at Rico Tico which is a kind of a steak house.  Mmmmm, yummy!  Researching restaurants ahead of time DOES make a difference. And then home for tv and bed.

Friday, July 22, 2005

For our last day in Manuel Antonio we opted to the do the Damas Island boat tour.  It departed at 11:00 (they go with the tides) so we hiked down to the beach in the morning.  This was a mistake. With all of the construction at Tulemar (which is totally changing the ambience, I doubt we’ll stay there again) there’s no animals to see and the path was slippery and muddy.  Once we got to the beach Mark requested a van to take us back to our room, and the kids played with crabs while we waited.  We arrived back at our room, got ready for the boat tour, and the tour van came and picked us up.  We left from the dock where we arrived on our previous tour, and our guide wasn’t as good.  Also, we had one of those couples on the boat that was not really getting the Costa Rican thing–they were hardly environmentalists, advising us to pull the claws off of a crab so Charlotte could play with it, for example.  But we did see a mangrove snake, which Genevieve was very happy to play with, as well as crabs and birds.  No monkeys, though, which was disappointing because last time they were crawling all over the boat.  After our marginal lunch back at the dock they took us back to the hotel, where we took a swim and then decided we couldn’t face another restaurant meal so Mark went to El Mono Azul for take-out pizza.

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