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Things to Love about Thailand

I’ve been traveling in Thailand now for over 5 months now, so I thought perhaps now is the best time to break out with a few things I love or at least find the most interesting about Thailand:)

It will be a working list and isn’t in any particular order with the exception of the first one.¬† ūüôā

#1: NO SHOES!!!
I absolutely adore how before entering any building, home or place of work you must first remove your shoes!¬† This goes for just about every place, with the exception of some grocery stores (though no one would squawk if you didn’t have your shoes on) and with some restaurants as well.¬† But for the most part (including in the vet clinic where I volunteered) you have to kick off your shoes before entering.¬† I will admit sometimes it’s a pain to do so (if you are wearing anything other than flip ¬†flops) but otherwise, the no shoe rule is my favorite cultural behavior and one that I will be using wherever I end up for good:) I love, love, LOVE it!!

No Shoes
No Shoes

#2: Nature
The diversity of the landscapes here are extraordinary!  From the beaches to jungle to islands, mountains, rivers and lakes, Thailand seems to have just about every kind of terrain one would want to find.

#3: House Geckos
I just adore these creatures!¬† They are simply a much larger version of regular geckos and they are quite beneficial to have in the home since they take care of the majority of other insects in the home (including spiders, yay!!).¬† They also make the cutest and most interesting sound.¬† They start off with a quick series of chitters, then make a series of staccato sounds in repetition.¬† When I first heard their sound I thought I was crazy because it sounded like they were saying “F you” in slow repetition.¬† However, I’ve come across many other travelers and very-well-spoken-in-English-locals who have also pointed this out, so I guess I wasn’t as crazy as I thought, LOL!

#4: Animals
I know I just wrote about the geckos, and they technically would qualify in the animal section as well, but I just love those little buggers so much that they got their own section.¬† However, I do also adore the large variety of other kinds of animals here in Thailand.¬† From elephants, street dogs and cats, variety of monkeys, flying squirrels, regular squirrels, lizards, birds, the diversity is so rich!¬† You just never know what you are going to find!¬† The sea life is also beautifully diverse and lush!¬† From corals to sting rays, sharks, nudibranchs, sea cucumbers, and a huge variety of fish, it’s amazingly impressive!

#5: Kind & Honest People
The people are generous and kind, patient and welcoming.¬† I have yet to run into a rude local here and though I’ve heard from other fellow travelers that it all depends on where you go, in my opinion and experience the people have been nothing but kind.¬† In addition to the generous and kind nature of the people here, they are also very honest.¬† In particular when it comes to money.¬† I’ve been other places where I’ve handed over too much money (from being tired or just not thinking the correct exchange rate) and they’ve gone on their way with the extra money in hand.¬† Here, there have been several occasions where I’ve handed over too much and they immediately return whatever over I’ve paid, even if it’s just a single baht!¬† I’ve gotten so comfortable with their honesty that there have also been several times when my mind wasn’t working properly to understand how much I owed in Thai that I’ve simply held a bunch of bills and let them pick what they needed.¬† I love that kind of honesty as it makes one feel more comfortable in their surroundings!!¬† Now, that’s not to say some people won’t try to overcharge you for something (cab ride, etc) but if you ask upfront what something will cost, they stick by it.

#6: No sleazy men
Traveling in Latin American countries, one thing I had to get used to that also really annoyed me at times, but just had to learn to ignore, was the cat calls, whistles, stares and hissing sounds (they literally sounded like snakes to be honest) men would constantly make toward any female as you walked by.¬† Here, no such behavior exists!¬† The men are much more respectful in that way and even to the point where I sometimes wondered why I wasn’t getting any looks from locals, and it simply is because their culture, unlike others, is to not display emotions of affection in any way in public.¬† Hence, no cat calls, uncomfortable stares or hissing sounds!

#7: Packaging with plastic bags
This one I personally struggle with from the environmental perspective and really wish they would cut back on their use of plastic bags, but I do also find it interesting and entertaining how they package to-go food or drink items.¬† Coffee, sodas, rice, soups, and more are packaged in a plastic bag tied off with a rubber band for take away.¬† Other items like rice and pad thai are put in styrofoam containers, so it’s one evil for the environment versus the other… While I can understand the simplicity and ease of using plastic bags, I wish in general they would cut back because they insist in using a ton of bags for very few items.¬† I’m always refusing bags (as I generally bring my own or just don’t need one) but you really have to be on the ball to say you don’t want a bag as they are very quick to snatch one out.¬† The straws also drive me nuts (though technically from the hygienic perspective it’s better) as they will give you one for each can or bottle purchased (including for beers) so if I walked in and bought 2 bottles of water and a soda they would put in 3 straws!

#8: Built to last
Another thing that really impresses me about Thailand is the construction of their homes and buildings.¬† Yes, there are several homes that are made entirely from bamboo and other wood (though bamboo is a very highly resilient wood to begin with!) but many homes, stores and general buildings are built to a very high quality standard and are built to last!¬† It’s amazing watching them construct a home or other building because their scaffolding is simply rickety looking pieces of wood that you wouldn’t think would hold people walking or working around them, yet the finished product is brick and concrete with tile throughout.

#9: Muay Thai
Whether it’s enjoying an evening out watching fights or joining in training yourself, Muay Thai is entertaining, engaging and a real real-kicker!¬† Granted not all fights are created equal as some are much more entertaining or gruesome than others, but all the fighters have a real sportsmanship about them that isn’t as easily found in countless other sports.¬† What I love the most is the fights where it’s evident that the competitors are friends.¬† They encourage each other between fighting rounds but when the bell goes off, all bets are off and “may the best fighter win” kicks in.¬† Another thing I love about Muay Thai is the sense of tradition and culture.¬† The fighters respect the ring, the judges, their opponent and their God.¬† The more I train in Muay Thai, the more I understand the fights as I watch and questions I had before while watching fights are now answered because of my own training.¬† I won’t go into that here, but will in a future post for sure!

To be continued…

Back to Thailand

Munich

Munich is absolutely lovely!!!¬† I was very shocked on how green the city is!!¬† Seriously they have so many parks in the heart of the city!!¬† I figured it would be much like every other city: drowning in nothing but buildings with a token park here and there.¬† But not so with Munich!¬† It is individual, full of history, character and very friendly and welcoming people!¬† There’s the synopsis, now here are the details;)

Before going to Munich, on a whim and on a promise, I shot off an email to Nikki whom I met and traveled with through the San Blas Islands in Panama.¬† In fact, she was the clever woman who coined “modern day pirates” to describe our sailboat crew:)

I say on a whim because though we had exchanged a few emails, we really hadn’t kept in touch a whole lot (I don’t Facebook) and since it had been so long since I’d emailed her, I wasn’t sure first whether she even had the same email, and second whether she would respond.¬† I had made her a promise long ago when we parted in Colombia however that if I ever made it to Munich, I would look her up!¬† So, about a week or so before going to Munich I wrote her an email to let her know I would be in town for the day.

I was humbled to hear back from her and even more tickled that she too had the day off and was able to meet me!!¬† The good in people never ceases to amaze me and it’s a blessing to know people who, even after years of no contact, extend a hand of friendship!!

I made it to Munich early in the morning and after calling Nikki agreed to meet her at a coffee shop near the Odeonsplatz underground station.¬† As I made my way out from the underground I could hear the joyous music of Oktoberfest celebrations and once out on the street was greeted by a lovely parade!!¬† I made my way along the road trying to get somewhere to take some pictures when a very nice group of people offered me a stool to stand on so I could get above the crowd:)¬† Thankfully one of them spoke a little broken English and I asked where the coffee shop was (all I could see was Starbucks and we weren’t meeting there!!).¬† Once directed and all the pictures were taken, I headed to meet Nikki.


Seriously it was as if no time at all had ever passed between us!¬† She looked just the same as she did before: fabulous!¬† And we had a great time catching up in each other’s lives and reminiscing on the good times we had during the San Blas trip:)¬† We hung out for a little catching up, then she proceeded to give me the VIP walking tour of Munich!!

First stop was just nearby, a place called Feldherrnhalle, which is where Hitler began the plotting of his Nazi regime before setting up in Berlin.  What is amazing is that as he began to take on more popularity and power, it was mandatory that people walking in front of this building had to salute to the soldiers standing in front to show that they were with Hitler.  If you walked in front without saluting you would get in serious trouble!!  So, for those who opposed Hitler, they would bypass walking in front of the Feldherrnhalle by walking down the street just behind called Viscardigasse.  Down this street today you will find a golden path laid out in bronze bricks symbolizing the path of freedom.  This path was walked by all who opposed Hitler.  It was their way of rebelling Hitler and what he stood for.

Across from this building is the Residence of Munich (Residenz Munchen) where the Royal Family lives and the lions statues guarding the entrance are rubbed by passersby for good luck!

The Residence of Munich leads onto the Hofgarten where there is a lovely little building topped off with a little monument.  Here they have many musicians who come to practice their skills and even monthly they put on a formal waltz dance event!!

From there we headed past the Art Museum and headed to probably the most interesting or at least shocking part of Munich… Surfers!!!¬† Yes, I typed correctly: surfers!¬† Apparently some very clever surfers wanted a way to continue to practice their skills and keep in shape year round without “chasing the waves” so they made their own!!¬† In the Eisbach river, just at the start of it where it flows under a bridge, several stones were dropped to the river bottom and eventually enough were planted in to create a wave!!¬† And due to the natural fast current through the river, the wave is large enough to basically simulate an ocean wave!¬† So darn clever!!!

This little surf spot is in a way the beginning of the English Garden (Englischen Garten).  The English Garden is the largest garden in Munich and it is even LARGER than Central Park in New York City!!

We made our way past the Japanese Teahouse (Japanisches Teehaus Kanshoan)

to an area where if you choose you could sit out nude

English Garden Nude Area
English Garden Nude Area

finally to the Monopteros.  This monument was once overrun by drug addicts but thanks to an increased presence of cops wandering the streets, the momument was abandoned by the addicts and spruced up for locals and tourists to enjoy:)

From the Monopteros it was on to the Chinese Temple (Chinesischer Turm) where a little beer garden was conveniently located, so of course we had to stop for a BEER!!!!!¬† It was here during a bit of a passing thunderstorm where I learned the history of beer gardens… Long ago when there weren’t any refrigerators, companies cleverly decided to put¬†kegs of produced¬†beer under¬†trees that provided lots of shade (hence natural refrigeration).¬† So much beer was being made that companies would invite people out to these “gardens “with kegs of beer under each tree to drink the beer while it was fresh and cold!¬† All they asked was people paid for the beer, but otherwise you could bring your own food, etc.¬† So these beer gardens began to gain popularity as almost a social or fun day in the park so to speak with cheap, delicious beer, your own picnic and tons of other people to socialize with:)

After a few pints we walked our way to the Siegestor, a triumphal arch that has a statue of Bavaria on top leading 4 lions!  It was originally dedicated to the glory of the Bavarian army but today it is a monument and reminder for peace.  Absolutely love it!!

On we went past the University to perhaps my favorite building of all I had seen that day: St. Peter’s Church (Peterskirche)!!¬† Just absolutely stunning in my opinion and so playful!!¬† Notice the dragon climbing up the church and the timekeeper…

I could have spent hours looking at the church just discovering new things about it but alas we were getting a bit hungry, so we headed to a great restaurant, had some delicious local food then headed to Nikki’s where she graciously allowed me to crash for the night:)¬† However, NOT before helping her to fix her anklet!!¬† We had both purchased one in the San Blas Islands from the Kuna Indigenous tribe but sadly hers had fallen off.¬† She kept the beads and the strand however so I helped to affix it back on:)¬† Good times!!!

Repaired San Blas Anklet, yay!!
Repaired San Blas Anklet, yay!!

 

On to Berlin

Back to Europe

Isola d’Elba

Isola d’Elba!!¬† Though I am half Italian, I never knew that this little archipelago off the coast of Tuscany in the Mediterranean Sea even existed!!¬† The shame, I know!!!¬† Thankfully my dad did as he suggested a weekend trip there to explore the little land and its numerous beaches!!¬† From his house outside of Florence it took about 4 hours to get to the dock at Piombino where we drove on to a ferry-boat (called MOBY) and headed to the port in Portoferraio on the island of Elba.¬† Though the weather had been very sketchy for several weeks prior to our trip, and though it even rained on the ferry ride over, we got two full days of sun on the island and only had cloudy days on the day we arrived and the day we left:)¬† Seriously lucked out since it was toward the end of summer/early fall that we went to begin with!

Our hotel (hotel Gabbiano Azzuro- hotel Blue Seagull) was located in a town called Marciana Marina on the North Western section of the island.¬† The town itself is a cute little quaint place with the usual shopping, restaurants, beaches, marinas and hiking trails from here to there.¬† The hotel, while really not terribly impressive inside offered quite a delicious breakfast including some of the best brioches I’ve personally ever tasted!¬† They were filled with Bavarian cream… YUM!!!¬† Just looking at them however pretty much capped my daily allowance of sugar intake… lol!!¬† I should probably clarify that the hotel itself was quite clean, the people very nice, the location an easy walk to/from the town center, but the rooms were not that big and while they boasted that each room had a private balcony, the majority of those balconies looked on to an abandoned building and you could only see a sliver of a nice view.¬† However, we were not there for the hotel… we were there for the BEACHES!!!

As far as beaches are concerned, I seriously didn’t think the ones in San Blas could be topped but the ones on the Island of Elba sure do give them a bit of a run for their money!!!¬† The colors of the water surrounding the island at the various spots are out of this world beautiful!¬† I found myself literally taking the same exact picture 3 or 4 times over just to make sure I was properly capturing the colors!!

The beaches are quite different from one another and some were even different from any I had previously been on before.¬† While I’ve mainly been used to beaches with sand, many of the beaches on Elba consisted of stones!!¬† I wasn’t expecting this aspect at all!!¬† The stones are like river stones, therefore not sharp in any way, but smoothed out from years of sea water sanding them out.¬† While they weren’t that comfortable to lay out on, they weren’t completely terrible either and it was due to these stone beaches that the colors remained so crisp and lovely, even when in the water!

Needless to say, after mapping out several beaches for us to visit, the next few days were spent just going from one beach to the next, sunning and tanning, swimming and snorkeling and generally just loving the water and life!  It was a great and relaxing time to be sure!!  Even more of a bonus was that we were still in Italy so dinners were to die for!!  I Love Italian food!!  The last day was spent driving almost all the way around the island, taking several pictures along the way before heading back to the ferry and then home.

Pictures:

On to Return to Treviso

Back to Europe

Uvita

The road to Uvita was quite uneventful.¬† Just before leaving I was told by various Manuel Antonio “locals” (i.e. the bus stop gang previous mentioned in the Manuel Antonio post)¬†that due to the storms that had been in the area, the road to Uvita had been washed out and was impassable.¬† Though I thanked them for their concerns (really I think they just wanted me to hand out and around with them, but as drugs aren’t my thing I really wanted nothing to do with¬† these particular folks) I figured that if indeed this information was correct, then the best people who would know for sure would be the bus drivers themselves.

So it was that I set back on a bus from Manuel Antonio to Quepos and had zero trouble boarding a bus for Uvita.¬† As it turned out the information given to me about the hazardous road wasn’t completely untruthful as at one point we did pass a portion of the road where literally half of it was missing and it was reduced to a single lane road.¬† The drainage pipe below the road simply wasn’t able to withstand the amount of rain and debris that had passed though to keep it standing.¬† Nonetheless however we were able to get past the area and still in good time.

On recommendation from a person whom I had met at the Costa Linda Backpackers hostel in Manuel Antonio (he worked for Lonely Planet and was making his way around to various hostels to review for their publications) I was set on staying at a hostel in Uvita called “The Butterfly Garden”.¬† Ok, once again I can’t be exact of the name now since it has been a while, but it was definitely something to do with butterflies.¬† And anyone who was paying any sort of attention to the various road signs along the way would have spotted signs for it for quite some time.¬† The signs for Uvita however were not so clear.¬† One thing to definitely get used to is that there are never any welcome signs or alerts of any measure to indicate which little town you may be in or may have passed.¬† All there is to rely on is the information and constant inquiries to local passengers or the bus driver (despite the numerous “do not talk to the bus driver” signs) as to where exactly you are and when it is that you need to leave the bus to make it to the right place!

I was the last person on the local bus and wasn’t panicking yet as I still saw road signs along the way advertising the Butterfly hostel.¬† Seeing as I was the last one on board however, I struck up conversation with the driver directly this time (usually I try to pick the local people’s brains sitting around me) and he instructed me on when to get off and which way to go.

I was dropped off along a dirt road and pointed in the direction of a long dirt road that curved at the end.¬† About 10 minutes later I arrived at the Butterfly Garden hostel.¬† The place had been described to me as “Neverland” complete with treetop bungalows that you had to get into via wooden ladders.¬† Really the story of the owner, as is the story of most, was quite interesting.¬† She had moved down years before having decided that Uvita was her place to live.¬† She gave up everything in the States to create her own personal Neverland and thus there it was in front of me.

The place was quite impressive and had a lot of charms.  They were in the middle of constructing new treetop bungalows however so there was a lot of work and noise going on mainly from volunteer random travelers and from friends of hers from the States who came down to help with construction.  The place honestly was quite deserted had it not been for 2 Italian girls (volunteers to do art work and other creative projects on-site) and another couple of volunteers who were just hanging out trading work for a free stay.

For some reason, while the place was quite nice and the people too were perfectly nice, something about the place just didn’t sit well with me and as soon as I had arrived, I had already made my mind that I would be leaving the next morning.

I nonetheless settled in for the night and as it was still early in the day, I opted to go for a walk along the beach that was only a few hundred meters away and via the entrance from the hostel you could avoid the fee to enter what was considered their National Park.

The Baleen National Park of Uvita is so named for a sand bar and for the numerous whale spottings off of this particular coast.¬† At just the right tide however, and with an aerial view, a sand bar would present itself in the exact and perfect shape of a whale’s tail!¬† It sounded so fascinating, but as mentioned you really wouldn’t be able to see much unless you had an aerial view and if you had timed the tides correctly.

I wandered along the beach for quite some time taking pictures of the area but opting not to swim as there were several signs to guard your belongings from beach thieves.¬† Since I didn’t have a buddy with me to watch my stuff while in the water, I chose this time to simply be a photo-op session.¬† I do adore the ocean in so many ways but again, perhaps it was just my mood, but the beach wasn’t at all impressive to me.¬† Or perhaps because I had just come from some beautiful beaches, these just didn’t seem up to par.¬† The beach was washed up with a ton of random debris, the water looked murky, dirty and portions had what looked to be oil slick along the surface, and sadly there were no whales to spot in the distance.

I spent about 1-2 hours walking along the shore however until I reached a river jutting into the ocean and opted to turn back instead of trying to swim across (Lord knows if I would have been able to get back again with the tides turning!!).¬† I made it back to the hostel just in time to be invited to go surfing by the owner and her construction friend from the states.¬† Now, I have never been surfing but at this point thought, why the heck not!¬† But that’s as far as that story gets as when we got back out to the beach the conditions were not suitable for surfing.¬† So while I still haven’t been or tried surfing yet, I did learn a little about it by one of the surfers who explained “closed-out” waves and other surfing conditions.¬† We did spend some time simply splashing about in the ocean however and just enjoying the wonder that Nature had provided in the form of the vast sea.

By this point it was starting to get dark so back to the hostel we all went again.¬† The rest of the evening was quite uneventful and passed rather dully.¬† To this day I still can’t put my finger on what my “Beef” with Uvita or the Butterfly place was.¬† Because while the people were perfectly nice and the place was very beautiful, there just was nothing to really do there.¬† The town was very small and uneventful (I did forget to mention that I had¬†a walk-about the town itself before the beach walk in search of much needed food!!)¬†and really I felt like I came away from the place having spent way too much money for what it was worth!¬† But not every place is for everybody, so I took it in stride and stuck with my plan to leave the next morning.¬† I caught the 9am bus headed South again to get to my next “planned” destination of Puerto Jimenez on the Osa Peninsula

Back to Costa Rica

Pictures from Uvita and the Butterfly Garden hostel:

Manuel Antonio National Park

The next morning thankfully turned out to be a sunny one and we prepped ourselves for the Park.¬† As mentioned in the last post, the walk to the National Park was only about 300 meters from our hostel.¬† As we walked toward the Park up ahead in the Park trees a bunch of the tree tops began to rustle and a deep, penetrating roar could be heard¬†coming¬†from the rustle…¬† It literally reminded me of a scene from Jurassic¬†Park with a T-Rex about to emerge from the dense forest, roaring as it did!!¬† It was a little unnerving until I was informed that it was¬†only¬†a Howler Monkeys making the noise and that there was nothing to fear.¬† When we arrived at the entrance (about 8am) there were already a ton of tourist groups lined up in various places getting their troops together to enter the Park.¬† B, A and I purchased our tickets (again $10 for tourists though this time I paid with colones and paid less than $10… perhaps it was because of the current daily exchange rate that the Parks do pay attention to) and entered the Park.

A few things we were told through the grape-vine¬†about the Park prior to entering was #1 do not hire a private tour guide as many other tourists do this so you can always “bum” in their tours by simply looking where their tour guide is pointing to find something interesting and #2 go off the beaten path when possible away from the rest of the tourists and you will be guaranteed to see much more!

Keeping that information in mind we set in our walk without a guide.¬† Both pieces of advice above came in great handy as alone the main path of the Park several tour guides had already set up shop with their binoculars on tripods pointing out insects and crabs to their hired tourists or pointing high in the trees sharing interesting information on a particular plant or tree.¬† Luckily for us, B was a botanist (there is actually a more accurate name for his title, I just can’t recall what it is… Sorry B!!¬† But I do know that his work involves cataloging every species of plant and tree!)¬† and he knew¬†just about everything there was to know about every plant so in a sense we already had a fabulous guide for that portion.

We made our way along the path sighting many spiders, a scorpion eating a wasp, a variety of crabs hidden in a variety of clever places, a toucan (YAY!!!) and lizards!!

At a certain point we came¬†across a point of crossroads where we could either go straight, right or scootch¬†our way around the “closed” sign of a path to our left… Well of course we chose the path to our left!! ūüėȬ† The path was closed because¬†it hadn’t been groomed recently, but it didn’t bother us at all.¬† We made our way up the path to a quiet area where no sounds except that of nature could be heard.¬† It was amazingly blissful!!¬† So quiet¬†with only the sound of the wind rustling gently through the trees.¬† It is quite an amazing thing to stop and just listen to the beauty of nature!!¬† We stayed there for a bit taking in the sounds until some new sound caught my attention high in the trees.¬† Of course curiosity took over¬†good sense as I followed the noise only to spot my first Howler Monkey!!!!!

Such¬†amazing creatures!!¬† These small, black monkeys with faces¬†so¬†familiar in human features and hands even more so familiar are just an incredible sight to take in!!¬†¬†They travel in troops usually anywhere from about a dozen to a dozen and a half!¬† There is only one alpha male of the group and the rest are females or young males¬†and it’s also pretty common to find a new mom in the¬†troop as well.¬† Their hands and feet, as well as the underside of about¬†the last 6 inches of their tail do not have any fur on them so they can easily grip surfaces.¬† The roar of the alpha male can be heard from great distances around!¬† I have since found out that they only roar early in the morning or to announce to another approaching troop that they are coming too close to their territory, or if rain is approaching!

As I gazed above me in wonder, they simply¬†gazed right back wondering what it was I was up to!¬† I¬†of course took a few photos and kept my voice low as I called my friends over to see them as well and then we continued up and up and up the path again passing many other lizards and even an Agouti¬†or¬†a Tapir¬†that ran off too fast to take pictures of (hence why I’m not entirely sure which it was exactly… but it was definitely¬†a land mammal).¬† The path ended on a platform at¬†what seemed like the top of the world!!¬†¬†Though it wasn’t a 360 degree view, it was still magnificent!!¬† You could clearly see the bay below and the jutting rocks that formed it, as well as a little cave carved into the¬†rock, as well as the land¬†clear south of us all the way to what we speculated to be the Oso Peninsula!!

After several pictures we headed back down the path to the main portion passing many other tourists who had also opted to take the “unbeaten” path.¬†¬†Now sadly, it was about this time that the batteries in my camera started to fail… I was able to get a picture or two in, but then would have to shut the camera down, take the batteries out to rest for¬†several minutes then reload them and pray they would work again for a few more pictures!!

There are about 5 walking trails in the Manuel Antonio National Park and we ended up taking each of them to their various destinations.¬† Along¬†another path of interest, we came across a¬†tourist and his¬†young son.¬† They were surrounded by a large troop of Capuchin Monkeys!!¬† The Capuchin monkeys¬†are most famously recognized from their white faces and black bodies,¬†as well as¬†their “star” quality.¬† They can be seen in movies such as Outbreak and the Hangover¬†Part II, as well as in the TV show Friends.¬† Now I don’t advocate the use of wild animals for our entertainment, nor was I thrilled about the scene we had encountered.¬†¬†Despite the Park rules¬†that warned to¬†NOT FEED THE ANIMALS this father¬†was blatantly¬†ignoring them as he and his young son continued to offer the monkeys a variety of¬†fruits.¬† While it was quite an amazing feeling to have so many monkeys coming at you and around you in every direction all¬†trying to get their piece of fruit,¬†I opted to remove myself from the¬†center as I do not agree with feeding wild animals, and this next bit is part of the reason why: At one point the¬†young son was trying to offer¬†one of the monkeys a piece of fruit.¬† The monkey was quite reluctant to simply take the piece of fruit from the boy’s hand, so it didn’t.¬† The boy, probably too young to understand the wrong in his behavior¬†and not being told otherwise from his dad, continued to push his arm forward toward the monkey, trying to entice¬†it to take the fruit.¬† A few moments later, the monkey had had enough and literally slapped the outstretched hand of the boy away and screeched!!¬† The father finally stepped in and told the boy to no longer feed the monkeys and they headed away.

Wild animals are wild folks, and should remain that way!!¬† We have no business interfering with their nature and even less business trying to tame them.¬† Ok, I’ve said my peace on that topic for now… moving on!

This particular path ended at a magnificent lagoon-like beach!!¬† Unlike the black sands of Manuel Antonio beaches in the “city”, this beach had white powdered sand!!¬† Hermit crabs were everywhere by the hundreds¬†as well as a variety of crabs once again.¬† Sadly, myself nor my two companions had realized there were beaches in the Park to swim in, so none of us had our suits on to be able to swim!!¬† So for all of you out there who are planning to visit the Park, please take that bit of advice as your #3 lesson:)

We hung around this beach for a bit wading around the water and taking pictures (camera battery pending) and then started to head toward the exit.¬† The exit path went right¬†along another large and lengthy¬†beach portion that once again made me “tisk” at myself for not thinking to bring a suit.¬† Many tourists were lined on the beach taking in the sun and enjoying the water.¬† We even spotted some caper bandits (i.e. raccoons) going through some tourist bags that were left on the beach for some goodies they could eat.

All in all we had already spent about 4 hours walking around the Park, so each of us were ready at this point to exit and get something to eat and of course a cold brew.

When we reached the exit, we were greeted by a few men with little row boats.¬† Indeed the only way to exit the Park (unless you were willing to walk ALL the way back to the main entrance) was to cross a little river, too deep to wade through (another reason the suit would have come in handy!!) for $1.00 a piece!¬† With no other real choice we all paid and took the maybe 15 meter boat ride back to the “main land” and headed back to the hostel.

The rest of this day was spent simply relaxing, enjoying good food and of course some good beer on the beach!!¬† It was quite a nice ending to a fantastic Park day!¬† It was during this afternoon¬†that B, A and I shared our plans for the next day.¬† “A” had only a few more days in Costa Rica and planned to spend them in Montezuma (on the tip of the Nicoyo¬†Peninsula).¬† “B” opted to spend his remaining days in Costa Rica in Manuel Antonio, and I planned to continue heading South to Uvita.

Back to Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio National Park Pictures: