Billy Joe here. First, an important correction to yesterday’s post. Manuel Antonio is NOT a person, as I previously said. It’s a national park. Well, slap my head and call me silly, I know. This is why parks shouldn’t be named after people.
We had another great breakfast of Gallo Pinto and delicious coffee on Thursday morning.I found out the coffee is not imported. It’s grown and made right here in Costa Rica. I thought Juan Valdez was from Colombia. You know the coffee picker with the burro that stands in front of the mountains? It turns out, he is from Colombia but coffee is also grown in Costa Rica. Who knew? I’ve had Mexican coffee, in Mexico, of course. Their coffee is nowhere near as good as Costa Rican coffee. I’d even put Costa Rican coffee ahead of Colombian coffee. Our breakfast waiter, Jose, was quite informative and spoke to us in almost perfect American. He told us Costa Rica is known worldwide for its coffee and pineapples. It also produces a lot of sugar, made from sugar cane, just like in America, although our sugar cane has been replaced largely by sugar beets. If you’re from the South and you was raised on sugar cane sugar, you can tell the difference and not in a good way. Jose also told us they grow lots of fruits in Costa Rica and the breakfast juice was freshly squeezed, unlike back in America where it usually comes from a can.
While we were waiting for our shuttle to take us to Manuel Antonio, I asked the front desk lady if Ben Veneedos ever checked in. She looked and couldn’t find his name on the register, so I guess he lost his reservation, poor guy. Finally, the shuttle arrived for us. It was a nice, modern van with air conditioning and such.
The roadway to Manuel Antonio gets very curvy as it winds through the jungle. Our shuttle bus driver, Jose, seemed to delight in scaring us all half to death as he rounded blind curves at a fast clip. As my dad would say, “He’s in a hurry to get to an accident.” I would have taken a picture, but we kept getting tossed back and forth in the van as he went around curves.
There were five of us in the shuttle – me, Chester, a husband and wife and their little boy who was knee-high to a grasshopper. They were either from Ohio or Iowa. I always get them confused. The driver took us to a small town near the park called KAY-pos. I’m spelling it like it sounds. The town was packed to the gills with tourists. I’m talking Disneyworld-size crowds. But, one thing I’ve noticed about towns in Costa Rica that we’ve seen so far is that they are a lot cleaner than those in Mexico. Luckily, the hotel had booked a guide for us so we wouldn’t go the wrong way and get eaten by something wild in the park or snakebit. We met up with him in town. He jumped in the shuttle and told the driver where to go into the park. I decided to call him Jose, even though he kept telling me his name was John.
The five of us were supposed to pay the guide $20 a piece, so he made a cool $100 on this trip. That didn’t include the park fee. After we paid that the guide took us into the park on foot. Guess what? I noticed the park had a sign up on the entrance gate welcoming Ben Veneedos. Boy, he sure gets around.
It sounded like one of those old Tarzan movies, you know with the jungle sounds. The guide spotted a sloth first off. I have to wonder if they are real because they move really slow like they are battery operated, but the battery is just about to run out. When they look at you, they are grinning. Chester grinned right back at him and they had a grin-off for a few minutes there. Evidently the sloth was smarter than Chester because he got bored first and continued his climb up the tree. There were lots of butterflies too. They were all different colors and sizes and were everywhere. There were so many, I thought there might be a butterfly convention or something.
“How do you prevent all the monkeys from getting out of the park?”
Chester wanted to see monkeys and boy did he. There were some big black ones they call Howler monkeys. They weren’t very friendly and actually seemed pissed off we were there. Later he saw some white-faced monkeys that were kind of cute and very interested in us. There were also some spider monkeys in the trees that have really long arms and legs (like a four-legged daddy long legs). There was also orange-colored ones. Boy, was Chester having fun looking at all of them. He asked the guide how that locked gate at the entrance of the park kept the monkeys from getting out of the park. I was kinda wondering that myself. Sure enough, Jose let out a big laugh and said they LIVE here. I have to say I had never considered that wild animals would decide to live somewhere. Chester said we should call it the town of Monkeyville, so we did. Even the couple’s little kid laughed at that.
We continued our hike down a jungle trail, seeing big lizards and more of them zoo birds. We found out they weren’t parrots, but birds called macaws. I told you they got a different word for everything down here in Costa Rica. We walked down to a secluded, but somewhat crowded little beach that looked like something from Gilligan’s Island. We met the shuttle driver, Jose, who had brought us a nice lunch to eat under one of the trees along the beach.While we were eating, I mentioned my plan to build a beach shack and thought this beach would be perfect but our guide kinda poured cold water on my plan. He said this is a protected national park and anyway, even if it wasn’t, you can’t just build something on a beach in Costa Rica. there’s all kinds of paperwork that has to be filled out in triplicate. My plan got shot all to hell. We had some raccoons visit us on the beach, but of course they had a different name for them in Costa Rican. along with some white-faced monkeys that were trying to grab our stuff. Sure enough, one of them grabbed the bag of Chester’s chips that he was going to eat his sandwich with. Chester was not amused and he and that monkey had another stare-off until the monkey took off with the bag, followed by some other monkeys who apparently thought the bag should be shared. I think Chester and monkeys may not be as far apart as the rest of us, bless his heart.
Our guide broke open a couple of coconuts and we had fresh coconut meat. Previously, the only time I’ve had coconut is on an Almond Joy candy bar. I thought that’s the only way you could eat it. It was pretty tasty, too. We also had some pineapple that was out of this world. I don’t mean it was alien pineapple, just that it was the best I’ve ever tasted. Jose said it was locally grown.
We took another trail through the park and saw some Fruit Loops birds, called TWO-cans, although I’m not sure how they came up with that name. Oh, we saw animals that looked like deer and probably tasted like them too, and I mentioned my plan to hunt food in the
jungle to our guide. He was now starting to look at me funny. He told me I couldn’t just hunt animals in the jungle — he called it a rain forest. There are rules about hunting and you had to have a license but that required all sorts of paperwork. I am beginning to see why there are so many animals in the Costa Rican jungle. Apparently they don’t have ANY paperwork to fill out to live there.
Well, my fingers are getting tired so I’m going to sign off for now. More stuff happened on our trip, but I just don’t have the gumption right now to write it all down. We’re going to the local farmers market tomorrow. We have them back home in Alabama, so it will be interesting to see the difference.
As always, if the folks back home in America have any questions, please post them in a comment and I’ll do my best to answer the. This is Billy Joe signing off for now