Manuel Antonio y Tortuguero

28 Sep

Somehow I let three weeks slip by without doing anything with this blog.  It’s an unfortunate habit of mine; I’ll obsess over something for a while and then abruptly lose interest.  That’s how I wrote my book; working in great bursts of 10, 12, 14-hour days, ignoring it for months, and eventually picking it up again.  Anyway, since I have a bit of catching up to do, I’ll be sandwiching this month’s two weekend trips into one post.

The first trip was part of the Sol program, with my group of ten and our program coordinator, Maria.  It was an easy bus ride from Heredia to Manuel Antonio, with a stop along the way to see some crocodiles.

Manuel Antonio is a national park located in the middle of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast.  The small inland area of the park is unexceptional (our ‘hike’ consisted of a short walk along a gravel path to the beach) but the beaches are beautiful.  It’s a touristy, unexciting place, but it makes for a relaxing weekend.

Our second trip was to Tortuguero, a national park located on the Caribbean coast.  It’s one of the more remote places in Costa Rica; the only way to reach the park is by boat (after taking two or three buses).  I was lucky enough to sit next to a local who pointed out birds, lizards, caimans, and monkeys as we wound through the canals.

There are a number of tours opted in Tortuguero; ours were included in our package.  Sixty dollars bought each of us two nights at the hotel, two breakfasts, a canal tour, and a nighttime turtle tour.  The canal tour started out on the river and moved into stretches of water so narrow and overgrown it was like passing through a great green tunnel.  

The turtle tour started out well enough (we saw a number of massive green turtles dragging themselves onto the beach to lay their eggs), but ours was ruined when one of the of the turtles was frightened back into the water, leaving an unburried nest and a trail of doomed eggs behind her.  Our guide assured us that it was just bad luck, that the turtles rarely react to the tour groups.  I tried to take her word for it, but the guilt of frightening a mother from her nest marred the remainder of the tour for me.

That bad experience aside, Tortuguero is a great place to visit.  The town itself is small, but unique and full of personality.  A small number of locals live on a narrow (like, less than five minutes walking from one side to the other narrow) strip of land between the ocean and the river.  There’s food, drinks and souvenirs everywhere and a number of hotels and hostels, but so far it’s escaped the overdeveloped sameness that plagues so many tourism hotspots.  There are local kids and dogs everywhere underfoot, and the trail into the national park starts just at the end of the road.  There are also huge pieces of rusting machinery scattered around town, relics from Tortugero’s logging days.

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One Response to “Manuel Antonio y Tortuguero”

  1. scotcherry1 October 2, 2011 at 8:40 AM #

    Nice to see you back!! Love the photos Princess…. keep ’em coming, along with the updates.

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