As i arrived at the resort-like resort outside of the famous countrywide car park, Manuel Antonio, the objective seemed to be to be able to just remain for just two evenings. An original approach seemed to be a quick stint from Are generally Estate Hotel to be able to check out the car park and acquire many sun’s rays. However would go to the within associated with Costa Rica to check out Arenal volcano as well as bathroom throughout their arctic springs. However, the look from the magnificent watch in conjunction with the charming staff as well as troop associated with frequently viewing monkeys received myself stretching the remain previous to I could help it become because of the swim-up tavern with regard to pleased hr. There seemed to be no way We seemed to be leaving behind this place…at minimum immediately after 3 evenings.
The view from La Mansion Inn into Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio
I was happy to have this little Squirrel Monkey as my furry neighbor!
This sink in my bathroom made me swoon a little too.
After a hearty breakfast of La Mansion’s version of gallo pinto (not as good as Irma’s in San Jose, mind you) I spent my first full day at a private beach located within walking distance of the hotel.
“Don’t leave your valuables unattended, and don’t lay under a coconut tree,” were the two bits of advice Robert, La Mansion’s gringo manager, gave me as he handed me beach towels. Wisdom you don’t hear everyday.
Playa Biensanz – just a brief walk from my hotel
I had forgotten how good I am at passing a lazy day seaside! I did nothing for hours but read, bathe, collect shells, observe hermit crabs and spend moments talking to passing locals (one moment may have been cut short when the local invited me to skinny dip…all of a sudden I no longer understood Spanish. Que!?).
Collected treasures. If I could have brought a hermit crab home too, I would have!
Post-beach drinks in the “Bat Cave”
A tedious day of counting hermit crabs called for a rejuvenating beverage at La Mansion’s “Bat Cave.” Carved from natural rock and resplendent with a chlorinated waterfall (apparently live bats too!), it is the only one like it in Cost Rica. To enter I had to fit myself through a Hobbit-sized door (uh, exiting after a few Cuba Libres could prove to be interesting). Erick, the Tico bartender, was an excellente mixologist. Ah, vacation!
Bright and early the next morning I visited El Parque Manuel Antonio!! My one wish?!To see a ranita (little frog). Let’s see if I succeeded (the title of this blog may have been a spoiler ):
White tail deer. Nice…but not a rana.
Baby Howler Monkey. Cute…but not a rana.
Motmot. Super cool..but not a rana.
A pretty fungus called “Wine Cups.” No ranas drinking from them
Colibri (Humming Bird). Amazing..but not a rana.
Mom and baby White Face Monkeys. Super Duper amazing…but not a rana.
A Howler monkey jumping from one tree to another…perhaps imitating a rana.
Pretty Mariposo. Orange is my favorite color..but its not a rana.
Many, many mischievous raccoons…perhaps also looking for ranas!
A pretty beach, but still no ranas…
A land dwelling crab…yet still no rana. My hope for spotting a rana was dying like all the leaves around this little guy.
Lizard…but no…well, you get the picture.
…and still no ranas on this tree. At. All.
The beach at Manuel Antonio village
My search for a little frog started with a roar at 7:30am and ended with a whimper at 12:30pm. I hunted the park from top to bottom (while abiding by the “stay on the trail” rules) with absolutely no luck. I could hear the evasive croakers at ever corner, but it was not in the cards for me to see one. I hate to say it, but even after all the wonderful, exotic, extraordinary animals I had seen all morning, I was a little disappointed a didn’t get to see a frog. Why, oh why, little rana did you evade me!
One of my new Canadian friends, Sherry, feeding the monkeys (note: we weren’t suppose to feed the monkeys but the hotel gave Sherry a pass…she was in the Presidential suite).
My spirits were raised once back “home” to find the squirrel monkey tribe had ascended!! About 30 of them came to hang by the pool and to charm my new Canadian friend, Sherry, out of a few pieces of banana. A “barrel full of monkeys” is exactly the amount of fun it was! In the above pic, Chris, our pool side bartender, is giving Sherry yet another banana for les monos (btw – DO NOT FEED MONKEYS…it really isn’t good for them).
A face to love!
Enjoying some of Sherry’s banana…(again do not feed the monkeys ).
A mojito made by Erick at the swim-up bar also eased the pain of not finding a rana.
The next day my new Canadian friends (Sherry, Lisa and Deb) and I headed into the village, Quepos, for a little shopping. Shopping turned into a lesson in cigar making…
My maestra, Victoria, teaching me to roll a good Costa Rican cigar made with Cuban tobacco.
Only time will tell if this new life skill will prove useful in the futuro.
Three Canadians and One American!
These wonderful and super funny Canadian sisters adopted me during our stay at La Mansion. They came to Costa Rica to get inexpensive dental work done (which is becoming a popular thing to do for us North Americans). After nearly a month worth of mouth work, they wrapped-up their time in Costa Rica in style. The unobstructed ocean view from their Presidential suite gave ample reason to flash their new pearly whites. They even let me enjoy a few of the suite privileges – free drinks pool side.
Lis and I in front of “El Avion.”
Our last evening we headed to one of the best places to go to watch the sunset in Manuel Antonio, a restaurant called El Avion. Seeing an old 1954 Fairchild C-123 on the side of the road did seem to be a bit gimmicky to me, but frankly it was darn cool. The history of the plane is also intriguing. Back in the 1980s the US government bought the aircraft for the Nicaraguan Contras. However, it never made it out of the hanger in San Jose’s International Airport due to events surrounding it that mushroomed into the Iran-Contra Affair. Check out the whole story here. It was bought by the current owners in 2000 for $3000 and brought over to Quepos piece by piece.
We arrived around 4:30pm to ensure a table next to the railing. And while the food wasn’t memorable, not many sunsets can create an impression as enduring as the golden sunset I witnessed that evening. Toucans bounced around in the trees beside us, Howler monkeys roared in the distant and the sky lit up in every warm shade of orange, yellow and amber God created. This is why I travel.
If I can’t see a rana, a toucan will do! So thrilling seeing this colorful creature!
Silhouettes of Toucans at Sunset
It was impossible not to feel incredibly lucky to be in that beautiful place at that moment.
Last night at La Mansion and last opportunity to squeeze myself through the Hobbit door into the Bat Cave.
Lobby of La Mansion and one of the friendly staff members, Felix.
Adios, La Mansion Inn! I hope to be back soon!
On the way back to San Jose we stopped to take pics of the sleeping crocs in the Tarcoles River (some are 25 feet long!).
Incredible place. Incredible stay.
I may have not have found my rana, but I did re-find the paradise that charmed me 15 years ago. Costa Rica has a contagious spirit, and I am proud that this small nation and its warm-hearted people have been part of the history that has shaped me. Their attitude of “Pura Vida” is one I try to abide by everyday as I endeavor for a joyful and pure life.
I hope it won’t be another 15 years until I return again, and something tells me it won’t be. I still have a rana to find…
Pura Vida! Besos!
P.S. I also found some lovely pieces for the shop too! There are some great artists in Costa Rica!