Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Logbook: Quepos - Manuel Antonio Park

QueposAbout an hour’s drive south of Jaco -- on a decent road that is only occasionally punctuated by terrifying and bone jarring bridge crossings -- lies Quepos, a small town of about a half-dozen streets each way, that serves as the regional center for recreational activity (especially sport fishing) and as the gateway to the Manuel Antonio National Park. On Monday, our van drove right through Quepos and on down the road for about 5km to deposit us at our hotel. Upon arrival, I was received a message from my good friend Greg -- that’s right, “Pumito” from “Los Viaeros”! -- informing me that he and his wife were in the middle of their own Costa Rica tour and were at a hotel just down the road. We arranged to meet for dinner at a nearby restaurant that has a novel theme -- it is built around an old C-123 cargo plane -- and has an excellent view. You can imagine the fun we had, sharing notes about Costa Rica, catching up on what has happened on The Voyage since we were together in Mexico and generally cutting up like we always do. True to form, Greg brought along one of his magic tricks and amused the entire wait staff with his antics. What a character! After a good meal and a great time together, we parted ways, thankful for our serendipitous rendezvous and vowing to meet again very soon someplace else in the world.

Yesterday morning, Kay and I caught a ride down the hill to the entrance of the Manuel Antionio National Park. The mass of small hotels, bars and restaurants that are crammed into a very small space gave us some concern about what we might find ahead, but we were quickly reassured when we entered the Park and found it to be a clean, quiet, beautiful environment that was relatively free of tourists. We enjoyed a very nice walk along a well defined path, looking for wildlife. We were unable to see any squirrel monkeys -- which the Park is famous for -- but we did see a number of iguana, birds and the like. We walked back along the beaches and stopped for about an hour in a spot that was truly tropical with a broad sandy beach, lovely greenery and a spectacular view of geologic formations thrusting out of the clear Pacific Ocean. On our way out of the Park, we stopped for lunch at a little cafe on the beach and enjoyed a quiet meal. The prices were still “touristy” but the setting was much more relaxed and enjoyable than we experienced in Jaco. I can recommend Manuel Antonio as a place you ought to visit if you travel to Costa Rica.

Last night, we had dinner in the hotel’s restaurant and enjoyed the typical experience of power outages every hour or so. It really is quite humorous if you don’t let it bother you, and the sense of routine with which the wait staff deals with it can make it downright entertaining. This morning we caught a ride back into the town of Quepos, walked around and found a watch shop that promised to have the batteries in my watch replaced within a half-hour. While we waited, we had coffee at the counter in a local eatery and enjoyed watching the women preparing food for the day. I was able to communicate to some degree and was able to get a laugh or two out of them. After that, we picked up my watch and found another little place for lunch. We each had a plate of “typical” Costa Rican fare which consists of rice, beans, salad, potatoes, plantain and a small amount of chicken, meat or fish. Finally out of “tourist zone” we also paid a “typical” price of about $3 per meal. After another little walk around town, we caught a ride back to our hotel for some time at the pool and an afternoon of relaxation.

In the morning, we will ride back to San Jose and have one night there before Kay flies out on Friday. We have had a good week checking out two of the beach areas on the south shore of Costa Rica. Jaco is a mess, but Quepos and the Manuel Antonio Park a worthwhile. Stay tuned for whatever is next on The Voyage of Macgellan!

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