Costa Rica, 13-14 June, 2016

The entrance the Curi Cancha, a privately owned nature preserve in Monte Verde
The entrance the Curi Cancha, a privately owned nature preserve in Monte Verde

On Monday morning (13th) we woke, packed, and had our final breakfast at Cabinas Capulin, in Monte Verde.  Then Orlando picked us up and took us to the Curi Cancha nature preserve.  This is one of many privately owned preserves in Costa Rica.  We went looking for wildlife — and found some.

Our final breakfast in Cabinas Capulin, Monte Verde
Our final breakfast in Cabinas Capulin, Monte Verde
Are those folks professional models? Wow! What a swell looking outfit!
Are those folks professional models? Wow! What a swell looking outfit!

We took this picture in front of a giant ficus tree.  We had ficus in our yard when we lived in Florida, but I never guessed they could get this big.

I took this picture of the “bell bird” with my phone through Orlando’s spotting scope.

This is a picture of the triple waddle something-or-other.  That is the technical name for this species of bird.  Even with the “long lens” on my camera, I couldn’t get this close, so I used my phone to take the picture through Orlando’s scope.

Hummingbirds at the Curi Cancha Reserve
Hummingbirds at the Curi Cancha Reserve

There was a big tree with a dozen hummingbird feeders hanging under it in an open field.  With the “long lens” I was able to get extremely closeup shots of the birds.

Sam being attacked by a massive spider
Sam being attacked by a massive spider
At the continental divide within the Curi Cancha Reserve
At the continental divide within the Curi Cancha Reserve

Curi Cancha is one of the places you can see the continental divide in Costa Rica.  On the other side of that cut in the mountains is the Caribbean (Atlantic).  The valley running from left to right in front of us flows into the Pacific.

After a couple of hours at Curi Cancha, we got into the Turismo Van and headed down toward the Pacific Ocean.  The first third of the trip was over unimproved roads through the mountains.  Eventually we hit the Pan American highway, and the going became easier.

This shot gives you a sense of the roads from Monteverde to Quepos.  Along the way we met this group of cowboys moving some of their herd from one field to another.
This shot gives you a sense of the roads from Monteverde to Quepos. Along the way we met this group of cowboys moving some of their herd from one field to another.
Crocodiles in their natural habitat
Crocodiles in their natural habitat

On our way between Monte Verde and Quepos (Manuel Antonio National Park), we stopped at a bridge over the Tarcoles River where we saw a bunch of crocodiles.

We counted 33 crocodiles in this area
We counted 33 crocodiles in this area

 Having arrived near the Manuel Antonio National Park, we checked into our hotel, took a quick look at the beach, and found some place for dinner.  As Tom can legally drink in Costa Rica, we ordered a pitcher of sangria to share.  I think he liked it.  The next morning we had breakfast early and then walked to the entrance to the national park.  Along the way we were accosted by a number of guys offering tour guide services.  Apparently this is something of a scam.  We were warned ahead of time that the private, non-licensed guides are the source of a number of complaints.  At one point, an employee of the National Park latched onto us and walked us to the park entrance.  Once we were with him, the other folks stopped trying to sell us their services.

The entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park
The entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park

We decided to go into the park without a guide, which turned out to be a pretty good idea.  We moved about at our own pace.  Often we would see three of four groups with guides stopped along a trail looking at something, and we would stop and take pictures ourselves.  The value of the guide is that you are supposed to see more wildlife with one than without one.  I think we did okay on our own.

A white-faced monkey on one of the walking trails
A white-faced monkey on one of the walking trails. We got within a foot of this guy as we walked past him.
The beach within Manuel Antonio National Park
The beach within Manuel Antonio National Park

Someone who had visited Costa Rica told me that the beaches weren’t very nice, but I think they were terrific.  The sand is not quite as sugary white as Panama City, Florida, but it was good, clean sand.  The water was a very comfortable temperature.  There were few rocks or shells, so walking barefoot was easy.  Look at the color of the water!

The life of a white-faced monkey is a hard one.
The life of a white-faced monkey is a hard one.
Is this a scene in "From Here to Eternity?!" This handsome couple should be in movies!
Is this a scene in "From Here to Eternity?!" This handsome couple should be in movies!
An observation point overlooking the Pacific from within Manuel Antonio National Park
An observation point overlooking the Pacific from within Manuel Antonio National Park
A low-hanging sloth near the beach in Manuel Antonio National Park
A low-hanging sloth near the beach in Manuel Antonio National Park

Sloths have got to be the ugliest mammals on the planet.  To me they look like the Morelocks in 1960’s version of The Time Machine.  They move so slowly that their fur is full of mold, parasites, and insects.

This raccoon-looking thing seemed unimpressed by a group of humans walking along this path.
This raccoon-looking thing seemed unimpressed by a group of humans walking along this path.

I asked Orlando who Manuel Antonio was.  I figured he might have been a president of Costa Rica, famous explorer, or some other notable figure.  Apparently, a woman didn’t make it to the hospital and gave birth on the beach.  The locals began to refer to the area as “the beach where Manuel Antonio was born” or “Manuel Antonio’s beach.”  When the park was created in this area, they kept the name, Manuel Antonio National Park.

A land crab
A land crab

After a couple of hours at Manuel Antonio we went back to our hotel, locked up the camera and other valuables, and went to spend some time on the beach behind our hotel until the clouds darkened and threatened rain.  The water was a very comfortable temperature.  Tom, Sam, and I played in the breaking waves for an hour or so, and then we relaxed on towels for a while.  Finally we went in to shower up and get ready for dinner.  By the time we got on the bus to take us from our hotel up the hill to the restaurant area, it was raining.

El Avion restaurant
El Avion restaurant

For our last dinner in Costa Rica we ate at the El Avion restaurant.  The restaurant’s bar is inside this US cargo plane that was involved in the Iran-Contra incident and was eventually shot down in Honduras or Nicaragua.  After several years it was bought by the folks who own this restaurant.  The food was good, but it wasn’t the best meal we’ve eaten in Costa Rica.  As with most of the restaurants in Costa Rica, there were no windows, just open walls with a beautiful view of the ocean.  It would have been a great place to view the sunset if it hadn’t been cloudy and raining.

We then returned to our hotel room for snacks while watching a movie on my computer.  We all hit the sack very early, because the next day, our travel-home day, was to start very early in the morning.

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