While eating dinner we had our first rainstorm and it was a heavy downpour. The rainy season had started just 5 hours shy of midnight on April 30th! I don’t think we went another 24-hour stretch after that without rain but it came at night or at mealtimes and since it didn’t affect our activities it was actually pleasant to witness some tropical showers. When it wasn’t raining it was mostly sunny.
Manual Antonio was a terrific place to relax and enjoy the beach. I definitely envision going back and would likely return to the El Mango Moon.
Here is the full set of photos for Manual Antonio:
On Sunday we headed north back toward San Jose and stopped at Hotel Villa Lapas (http://www.villalapas.com) which has been recommend by my aunt. Lapas is the Spanish word for the Macaw, which are native to the area. The rooms were smaller and more plain then the other hotels but adequate. The Reiffs had a funny story about getting locked inside their hotel room and needing to take the door off the hinges to get out. Since we were a little short on bedding for the Webster contingent I brought a pool deck chair into the room each night and returned it before breakfast in the morning. We heard multiple loud bangs in the night which turned out to be mangoes falling on the roof.
After dropping our bags into our room we headed off to find the Reiffs who were finishing up their 3-night stay and were heading off to El Mango Moon the next day. As I swung by the pool I startled a “Jesus Christ” lizard and he obligingly demonstrated how he got his name by running across the pool. I had a hard time convincing anyone that I was lucky enough to see this feat. We kept our eyes open the rest of the stay hoping another lizard might wander close by the pool and be coaxed into a repeat performance but to no avail. After connecting with the Reiffs we had a good time catching up and playing in the hotel pool. The highlight for the kids was watching Phil and then me jump off the rock waterfall into the pool. We had a good dinner at the attractive hotel indoor / outdoor restaurant. Phil then took the kids off on a successful exploration for toads. I had to call the kids to see if they wanted to come back to sample from the ice cream bar! They did and they didn’t mind that one of the ice creams was bubblegum flavor.
With only one full day (Monday) left we had a lot to do. In the morning we went to Carara Biological Reserve. Phil had gone the day before while Julia watched the kids so this morning Julia joined us. We hired a private guide Freddy and trekked through the forest off the main path. The guide led us to 3 large owls, which was the highlight for me and soon after to a pair of monkeys. We ended up at a lagoon with plenty more wildlife including birds and crocodiles. On the way out we tipped the boyscout who was assigned by the park to watch the cars. (Can you get a merit badge for this?)
When we got back from the park, the shuttle was ready to take us on our crocodile safari and we waved a final Costa Rican goodbye to the Reiffs. The boat trip was a 2-hour cruise on the Tarcoles River. I thought the river was really beautiful and the scenery was just what I imagined Costa Rica would be. We were given a bird guide to keep track of all of the birds we saw – at least 25 by Bevs accounting. We pushed into a small inlet and witnessed hundreds of crabs scurrying on the shore. However the undisputed highlight of the excursion is when the captain grabbed a chicken from the ice chest and hopped out of the boat (leaving the guide in the boat) to entice a crocodile to come over for a close-up. The crocodiles are not trained or docile and their movements were jerky and unpredictable. As the driver slapped the chicken on the water the crocodile follow him onto the shore right next to the boat. The camera lens could barely capture the full 18-foot crocodile just a couple feet away!