The Pura Vida Files – part 4 (Monkey Business)

***After a long weekend and some quality cougar-watching time in the wilds of Retirementville, FL, the memories of this trip are becoming more and more gooey in my head. Trudge along with me for the finale.***

As with any exciting adventure, the fun is often interspersed with periods of boring (to read) down time. Everyone knows what swimming in a pool that winds through a resort like a grass snake is like, right? And over-priced, watered down drinks that typically require some sort of collateral if you plan on having more than one? Moving on.

Having had our fill of playing high-tech Tarzan, and seeing nothing of the surrounding jungle but green and brown smears, we opted for a crack-of-dawn trip to Manuel Antonio, apparently Costa Rica’s second largest tourist attraction. This time, we boarded a bus loaded down with folks from our resort who, like us, were lured by the promises of abundant wildlife and gorgeous vistas. On the long bus ride there, in which sleep was actively denied by way of the gracious and friendly tour guide who made sure we didn’t miss one single iota of information on the way to the park, we learned that the number one industry in Costa Rica is (ding ding ding!) tourism. However, the number two industry was something we couldn’t guess with our sleepy brains: technology. No, I thought coffee too, believe me. Or at least something jungle-related…whatever that might be. Because, you know, being a brief tourist in a location you’ve never visited before and didn’t study up on before you arrived makes you something of a self-professed genius on the topic.

Intel apparently has multiple factories and call centers in Costa Rica. In fact, we were informed by our rightfully smug guide, if you call for Intel support in the United States, you’ll get a Costa Rican call center. I suppose if I could stand to talk to people on the phone for more than 30 seconds in any given week, I could apply for a job there and be miserable in paradise. Seriously, don’t get me started on how horrible humanity is on support lines. Anyone who’s worked their way up the technology food chain has stories that would make you slap yourself for being of the same species as these…people (“It don’t work.” “What doesn’t work?” “IT don’t.” “Do you own a gun? Can you just shoot me in the face, please?”).

Once we arrived at the park, we were given specific instructions for what not to do, which pretty much amounted to don’t touch, breathe on, eat or cuddle anything you didn’t bring with you…and stick together. Our guide corroborated the tour desk’s assertions about this trip and told us that we would encounter many sloths, lizards, monkeys and macaws on this hike, and that we would take a break halfway in on a little secluded beach. What he didn’t tell us is that this is as close as most of the wildlife would be to us:

See him there? Framed poorly by me in the middle of the shot? Yeah. That’s a sloth. And our guide showed us several of these guys and gals through a telescope. He would also do anyone with a point-n-shoot camera the added favor of taking 5-10 minutes per person to capture images from the telescope to your camera. Fortunately for me, I have a decent camera with a cheap lens that didn’t work with that set up. After about six or seven of these remote viewing sessions, I think the entire group was beginning to not only feel that there had been some slight exaggeration of what/how we would see on this hike, but also a distinct need to distance ourselves from the numerous other people there with their own tours. I can’t imagine that there’s much wildlife, even in a park that big and protected, that feels comfortable with the stomping, chattering hordes of bi-peds all up in their junk. Except this guy:

We trudged along the winding path until we reached the midway point at the little beach. It was gorgeous, but the guide told us he would need to stand watch over our belongings because Nature’s little thieves would be looking to pilfer any edibles from our bags. I thought he was kidding until I watched several brazen raccoons steal an entire lunch from a family. I say brazen because they would not be deterred by any amount of yelling and fist shaking, and dashed ever deeper into the jungle with their loot when pursued.

(Bandit beach, as I like to call it.)

Once everyone had their fill of battling critters and soaking up sun, we moved on to the next leg of the journey, grumbling aloud that we were promised monkeys. No amount of Jesus Lizards or other reptiles would assuage our petulant frustrations.


I think our guide caught me mid-grumble with the announcement that we should have our cameras ready for some monkey action. Just as I was about to launch into a sarcastic and totally faked exclamation of all the monkeys I was seeing, they began to dash out of the deeper jungle and up onto the path and surrounding trees. As the strict rules leave no room for interpretation, English or Spanish, regarding feeding these guys, I couldn’t understand what was so urgent about their need to pace us and even jump ahead, from tree to tree, to wait for us to pass by. I figured it was so I could take my requisite 700+ photos of the same monkeys doing the same things for the next 200-300 yards…which I did.

(One of at least 20 pictures of this guy right here on this tree.)

(Thank goodness for technology that allows for the storage of thousands of pictures on one card.)

This went on for some time, with Achebeyo becoming more and more confused as to why I needed dozens of the same shot. It soon became clear to her, however, that what I was doing had merit when “Stumpy” showed up.

He may have been missing one paw (possibly for someone to make horribly misguided wishes with.), but he did not appear to be hampered in the least. He jumped, cavorted and ran with the rest of them, even going so far as to make an insane leap of faith between trees that I couldn’t catch on film. And then the reason they were pacing us became clear: they were hoping we’d discard something of value here:

(Stumpy at his finest.)

Deciding that he was better safe than sorry, Stumpy absconded with the mostly empty bag and hauled it up into the trees where he rapidly realized we hadn’t had the chance to put anything in it before he executed his heist. We left him and his fellows and exited the park by way of a boat ride across 15 feet of shallow water. Apparently the combination of potential ankle-moistening and invisible crocodiles made making the 20-second walk by 10-minute boat ride more feasible. We walked past an international beach volleyball tournament to our bus and were hauled off to a nice restaurant for lunch and the last stop on our trip. It wasn’t this place, but it was right across the street so we could see what we were missing:

(I have this same idea but with a submarine theme. Now to find the money and the sub.)

After a delicious meal and the long (this time quiet) ride back, we were ready to to simply veg out around the resort. We spent the rest of that day, and most of the next just relaxing by the pool or taking naps to the sound of the original Achebeyo playing movies in Spanish. Aside from an impromptu hike up an impossibly steep road to see what others at the resort promised us would be more monkeys, macaws and horses, the trip wound down and took us with it. By the way, I think if you hike anywhere on the promises others have made of what you will see, it’s only fair that you should get to wring out your sweaty clothes on their faces when you see absolutely nothing but a couple of randy horses. At least we burned a few dozen calories.

The trip back to the US was uneventful, save for the fact that we got upgraded to “keep moving past these first few rows, peasants” seats and got to live like moderately well-off travelers for one leg of the journey back. I was disappointed to find out I still don’t know how to effectively use my Hero2 camera above water, but at least the numerous videos of my hairy arm on the zipline tour were good for a laugh or two. And we also have a new place on our “must return to” list of countries…after New Zealand…and Thailand…and Barbados…we’ll get back there eventually.

Explore posts in the same categories: Me, Travel

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

5 Comments on “The Pura Vida Files – part 4 (Monkey Business)”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: