April 1–Thursday started with a breakfast buffet then it was a short bus ride to the Manuel Antonio National Park. On the way there we were told that they close the park once so many guests go in and that with the holiday that it was extremely busy so they weren’t sure just what would happen once we arrived. However, we got there and it was a go so we entered the park and met up with a local guide, Mauresio. Our group split so that Fico had one group and the other group (us) had the other guide. All guides, including Fico, carry a tripod and binoculars as just a regular part of their equipment. Fico had his set up every morning at the Hotel Arenal Kioro while we had breakfast, looking for birds. What was so amazing to me is how well they could spot animals without the aid of binoculars! OK, this is their job, and they probably are there often enough that they have an idea where to look, but still. I had problems finding them through the binoculars at times! During our walk through the rainforest we saw sloth (2- and 3-toed), which was such a thrill as they said this is an animal that’s hard to see, as well as a stick bird, toucans, night hawk, tree frog, bats and monkeys. When we came out of the rainforest we were at the beach, so we spent an hour or more in the very warm water of the Pacific. As we walked along the beach heading back to the bus and town, we saw several monkeys, so stopped to watch them. There was a water fountain that someone had set a cup on and one monkey would drink out of the cup, and then pretty soon took the cup back up the tree with it. Then another would come sit on the drinking fountain with its hand over the spout as if saying it was for the monkeys and we couldn’t have any. They were quite entertaining.
Once we got back to the street and bus some people went back to the hotel while others stayed to eat and shop. We ate at Marlin’s, which had excellent nachos, then did a little souvenir shopping before the bus came back to take us to the hotel. Now, this hotel we’re at, as I mentioned, is extremely nice. But, the road to it is just awful! Along with it being narrow, it’s washed out in places and is very bumpy. You would never dream such a nice place is at the end of this road. The one downside to this resort is that it’s above the ocean, so if you want to go to the beach (all beaches in Costa Rica are public) you have to walk down the hill, climb through a small opening in the fence, then walk down another path to the very small beach. With the holiday week, evidently it also meant time to go to the beach because as we were coming back from town we rounded the last corner before the hill up to our hotel and it was lined on both sides with cars. And as I mentioned before, they don’t always park well off the road. In this case, they couldn’t since both sides dropped off, so there was not much room for our bus, at all! Most of the cars had their mirrors pulled in, which is good because otherwise they would have been ripped off when we passed by. The bus driver was wonderful in maneuvering through the parked cars, with the help of Fico hanging out the door to make sure we could make it. There was hardly an inch to spare on each side, but he did it. You couldn’t pay me to drive down there! It was worth it, though, when we arrived back to the hotel again to cold towels and fruity drinks. Right after we went back to the room we felt an earthquake, which the news later said was 5.2. It just lasted a second, but that just added to our list of what happened on our trip. And that wasn’t even on the itinerary! We also had 3 more postcards, this time from our rafting adventure.
Tonight was our Farewell Dinner, which was sad even though we knew we’d see everyone the next day. It just meant that our wonderful time was quickly drawing to an end. We had dinner again out on the patio, then went inside where we watched a slide show from our week. It was fun to look at the pictures from when we barely knew each other to when we all felt like a close-knit group.
We had to have our bags ready by 9:30pm, so went back to finish packing up. They picked up our luggage and put it on a truck headed back to San Jose airport where we’d get it when we arrive there the next morning. I sure didn’t envy them carrying our heavy luggage down a flight of stairs to the elevator!