Battling Raccoons in Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica
I haven’t written much about my trip to Costa Rica earlier this year. I think this is because I really needed to set aside a few months to absorb everything that happened.
This small Central American country bowled me over. The couple of weeks I spent there were two of the best I’ve had travelling, period. It definitely made up for the disappointment of our Cuban trip from earlier in the year and then some.
Towards the end of our holiday, we ended up in Quepos – a city that borders the Pacific ocean. This was cause for celebration, as it meant we could finally swim in the sea – something that had been denied to us when previously visiting the Caribbean side of the country (surf was too rough, very upsetting).
I was particularly excited when our guide told us that we’d been venturing to Manuel Antonio National Park to engage in some wildlife spotting, before chilling out at the pristine beach there. He reckoned it was the most beautiful beach in Central America. From what I’d seen so far, that was a pretty big claim. The whole country is bloody beautiful and then some.
The park was a short stroll down the road from the hotel we were staying in. Perched on top of a hill and made out of shipping containers, it looked out over the town of Manuel Antonio. It wasn’t a bad view, particularly around sunset.
The next day we were up at 5am (I’m wincing as I write this now, but I loved it at the time) so we could be at the park as early as possible. We paid the $16 USD admission fee to enter and walked in.
If you’re a wildlife nut, Manuel Antonio Park is the place to be. We saw insects, birds, crabs, monkeys lizards… even a mother sloth snoozing with her teeny tiny baby. A deer stumbled out from the forest and stared at us. Nonplussed, she walked across the path and began nosing around the nearby shrubbery, while everyone around her went mad with their cameras.
I kicked myself repeatedly for not taking my 7D with me into the park (am overly precious about my beloved camera and sand, since taking it into the Qatari desert). Yet, my G7X managed to do a somewhat adequate job. Somewhat.
After we’d had our fill (if at all possible, where animals are concerned) we headed to the beach.
The park boasts four beaches. We chose to set up shop at Playa Espadilla Sur. It was the closest, after all. Most Australians by nature will make a beeline for the nearest body of water, every and any time. Particularly those who have been living in London for longer than six months.
It was a good choice. As the beach is officially a part of the park, it is limited to only those who have purchased admission. As it was still earlier on in the day, we had the beach either to ourselves, or had to share with minimal other people. This was a lovely, lovely thing.
People’s reasons for beaching tend to differ, depending on how into water sports you may or may not be. Personally, I like to chill. Going to a beach armed with a good book in a hot sunny day makes me the happiest girl in the world.
At Espadilla Sur however, we had to remain on our toes. This was because if you turned your back on your possessions, chances were that a bunch of raccoons would creep up and attempt to steal your stuff.
I kid you not. One of us had to sit guard the entire time, armed with a sturdy branch. Not that that would have scared the little critters off – these raccoons were brazen.
They were more than used to the presence of humans and had long ago figured out that our being there, may or may not offer them the opportunity to score a little snack. All they had to do was sneak up when we weren’t looking and make away with one of our bags.
And these conniving creatures got close, on more than one occasion. It would have been to their detriment – we didn’t have any food on us, in keeping within the rules of the park.
Manuel Antonio National Park is a Costa Rican treasure. If you’re ever in the area, don’t hesitate to get yourself there. It’s worth every cent.