Costa Rica

April 2007
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Saturday, April 14, 2007, Manuel Antonio
Natural fence

Today was a travel day. We took a bus from San Jose to Manuel Antonio where we stayed for the next three nights. Along the way we were able to view some of Costa Rica's beautiful countryside and made several stops to learn about some of the local plants and animals. One of the interesting things that was pointed out by our guide were the natural fences along the road. Instead of using wood planks or wire, farmers plant trimmings of a certain kind of tree that grows into a natural fence.

Daniel showing a guanábana

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Michael showing the insides of a guanábana

Our first stop along the way was at a fruit stand where our tour guide, Daniel, allowed us to see and taste some of the native fruits. One of our favorites, both to say and eat was guanábana. The guanábana fruit has small black seeds sprinkled throughout a white juicy pulp that has a somewhat cottony texture. Unfortunately the name guanábana reminded me of an old Muppets song, Mahna Mahna, which got stuck in my head for several days. It turned out to be highly contagious as after I started humming the song both Bill and Malori got the song stuck in their heads as well. Feel free to enjoy the video to the right from the Muppets singing the original version. Just don't blame me if you find yourself humming the tune for the next few days.

Further along the trip our bus driver got out and got a cashew for us to see. The cashew is very interesting. It has a large fruit called the cashew apple with a single nut hanging below. The fruit has a very pungent smell and produces an irritant similar to poison ivy so you have to be careful not to touch your eyes or mouth with the juice from the fruit.


At the next stop we all got off the bus and walked very carefully along a bridge to view several very large crocodiles below. The largest of the crocodiles seemed be over seventeen feet long. I'm not sure what it fed on, but I heard tourists were in season. Luckily we didn't stay long enough to find out.

Scarlet Macaws

Further along the route the driver quickly stopped and pulled along the side of the road when he spotted a large group of scarlet macaws. They were very high up but we were still able to make out the beautiful scarlet red plumage. These are the kinds of birds you see popularized as a parrot sitting on a pirate's shoulder.

The oh my god bridge

About an hour out from reaching our hotel we stopped for lunch. As we made our way closer to Manuel Antonio the roads became increasingly narrow and treacherous. We went over two bridges known as the "Oh my god bridges." We thought the first bridge was bad, but the second was even worse with missing planks. As we were almost over the bridge the car in front of us stalled out and the people in the car got out to push. It was a nerve racking experience especially being in a large bus loading with a lot people and luggage.

After arriving at the Hotel Parador we were able to freshen up and relax a bit before dinner. My luggage wasn't there when we arrived, but luckily it showed up about 20 minutes before dinner, so I was able to change in to some fresh clothes for dinner.

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