Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Monkey Heaven

After a weekend of non-stop fun and activity, the first day of our honeymoon was...tired. After getting only one hour of sleep the night before, we zonked out during our plane rides to San Jose, Costa Rica and could barely keep alert during the three hour ride from San Jose to Manuel Antonio (luckily, we hired a friendly Costa Rican man to drive us). When we reached our lovely hotel room at the Makanda by the Sea, we went straight to bed, lulled to sleep by a lullaby of ocean waves and cicadas. It sounded like one of those fake nature soundtracks--but it was for real, baby!

For dinner, we ate at a outdoor covered cafe called
El Avion. It's called that because there's an actual plane in the restaurant(!) According to our guidebook, the plane was shot down by the Sandinista army, leading to the scandal that uncovered illegal CIA supply missions to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. A lizard walked on the dinner table. When we drove back to the hotel, our cab driver informed us that we'd just experienced an earthquake (but we didn't feel a thing in the moving vehicle).

Feeling replenished and rested, the next day we went to the
National Park which is known for its hiking trails, beautiful beaches and white-faced monkeys. We spent the morning hiking the trails. We saw tons of lizards, mouthless crabs with bright orange legs, two huge iguanas, and sloths moving in slow-mo, high in the trees. We stopped to relax on the beach. The sand was white, surrounded by vegetation and the water was warm and calm. Swimming in the ocean, surrounded by such beautiful nature, I felt relaxed and content.

My husband.

Hiking the trails.

Creepy crab.

Iguana on the beach!

Dan, excited to be on his honeymoon.

I'm in love with the whitest man on the beach.

My new bikini. (And perhaps the whitest woman on the beach?)

We could see dark clouds approaching, but we weren't ready to leave the park just yet. We hadn't seen a single monkey yet. A tourist advised us to hike the waterfall trail. You had to cross a small stream, she said, but when we got to the other side, we'd find monkey heaven. Fat raindrops started to fall from the sky, but we weren't deterred. We would go to monkey heaven.

Hiking in the pouring rain was definitely a pretty intense experience. It felt like we were navigating the jungle, running away from the Viet Cong. The further in we got, the wetter we got, the darker our surroundings. Then we reached the "small stream." It was a pretty wide stretch of water -- nothing you could hop over. It was rushing fast and furious with no indication of how deep it was. We could have turned back, but visions of monkey heaven kept us going. Dan went first, backpack over head to protect camera. He carefully took one step, water going ankle deep, and then another. Suddenly he dropped to knee deep, then ankle deep, ankle deep. He made it to the other side! I took a deep breath. I was wet already so here goes nothing! I went in the water, shoes and all. It felt as you would expect it would. Kind of scary, uncertain and gross.

There was another stream, same situation. Again, we were so close to befriending monkeys so ahead we went. A few more steps, we made it to the waterfall. Torrential rain made a picture impossible to take, and we were pretty uncomfortable just standing there. There was not one monkey in sight. So we just turned around and headed back.

We had enough adventure for the day so we left the park to sit at a beach cafe, in our soaked clothes, and enjoyed some nachos and umbrella decorated drinks as the rain tapered off.
Dan insisted we walk the uphill mile back to the hotel (there were cabs everywhere) because he wanted to take a picture of the plane from last night. I whined about it most of the way until we went by the pizza place and discovered a little monkey heaven of our own. We stopped and admired tons of monkeys climbing trees and walking up and down the power lines. We saw some of these guys and him too.

By the time we got to the hotel, it started raining really hard. We knew that we would get some rain on this trip--we were traveling during Costa Rica's rainy season. However, all the guidebooks acted like it was no big deal, like it would sprinkle for an hour or something. I wasn't expecting rain this hard and all day. We didn't feel like getting wet again so we just stayed in for the night. There was lightning and high winds and the power went out a few times. We didn't think anything of it until the next morning, we discovered that we had survived a tropical depression. No one knew it was coming. They told us it was the worst storm they've had in 15 years. Trees were down all over the area, and because of many knocked down power lines, our hotel would have no power (except for a few hours on the generator) for the rest of our stay.

The plane! The plane!

A glimpse of monkey heaven!

Quiet before the storm.


Matt Apice said...

That picture of squeen with the green background will be his picture on the back of the book he writes "The Marathon Ran Out of Spite".

Squeen said...