Bill Blog Post Sept. 25, 2019
An unexpected holiday today gives me a chance to catch up on our latest adventures. Unexpected holiday because it was not planned in advance. The rainiest part of the “green season” arrived over the last weekend and into this week. Last night it started raining hard about nine and then continued all night with lightning and thunder in addition! Then early this morning the wind picked up as well. We did not know if the lower elevations were as affected or not. When our Whatsapp started exploding about 5:15 this morning it became obvious that the impact was widespread with many reports of overflowing streams, flooding, impassable roads, downed trees, and power outages. Within two hours we had received word of a two-hour late start and then eventually complete cancellation of school. The best news is (apologies if this causes some envy among other teachers) we don’t do makeup days so no coming back for extra days in June! Everyone seems safe and making the best of the situation. We are keeping our fingers crossed and are amazed that we have not lost power when everyone down below has! We have no idea what the road down to Nosara looks like and are quite happy that we did not have to find out in order to get to school this morning. With the rains over the weekend the road has been deteriorating and getting a little slippery in spots. Our neighbors have not been out yet today either so no word from them on what conditions are like. Our landlord Scott mentioned that he always carries a machete and a shovel in the car in September and October in order to be prepared for what he might encounter. I think we should do likewise. Wednesday is our usual cleaning day but the cleaners are cancelled for the day because they have to travel quite a distance on motos to get here and the road is too dangerous for them today. So here I am, up in the third story bedroom, looking out over the jungle through the cloud and writing the latest blog post. This bedroom used to be the office for the previous house occupants and it has huge windows with about a 170 degree view and in one of our favorite spots to sit and to eat if we cannot be outside. It will get very warm in this room in the dry season but for right now the temperatures are very comfortable.
Last weekend was our first trip of the year “off the island” (i.e. out of the immediate vicinity of Nosara). Jane has been talking about a specific hotel that she really wanted to stay at for almost a year since she discovered that Trip Advisor rated it the best hotel in the world for 2018-2019! I don’t know many of the specifics about how they determined this but I guess that means it must be pretty good. It is called the Tulemar Hotel and Resort and is located in the town of Quepos on the southern central Pacific coast. The town is known mostly for its location next to Manuel Antonio National Park. Manuel Antonio is the smallest Costa Rican national park but one of the most heavily visited due to the variety of wildlife and excellent beaches. Jane has just been waiting for the chance to take advantage of a green season rate and that chance arrived last weekend.
My schedule this year has me teaching all of my classes in the morning which meant that we could leave around noon on Friday. This worked out really well as it is a bit more than five hours to drive to Quepos and with the sun going down about 6:00 we did not have to do much night driving which is usually not a good idea in Costa Rica-especially during the rainy season. We still remember our first trip to Costa Rica and our several hours of driving along the coastal road in the dark to get to the southern Pacific coast. The road is in good shape but with no streetlights, rain, and many people walking or biking right along the road with no lights it was a very stressful drive. Our weekend trip involved less than an hour of driving in the dark which was still plenty! We ordered a pizza to go on our way into town and brought it to the hotel with us for our Friday dinner. Sometimes, as old geezers, we just have to marvel at technology. We were able to use our phone to find a well-reviewed pizza place, call ahead and order off the menu, use Waze for directions to the restaurant, pop out of the car and pick up the pizza that was all ready to go, and then continue on to the hotel! Our room on Friday night was actually a luxurious bungalow which was constructed to take full advantage of the jungle view and sounded a bit like we were in a tent. It rained pretty hard all night long (which is the pattern here at this time of the year- nice during the day and then rain at night) and we could hear the comforting patter of rain on the roof. I had a bit of trouble sleeping and I think it was just because there were some outside lights on all night long and where we are living now it is absolutely dark at night and I have gotten very accustomed to that. Saturday morning brought clearing and the end of the rain. We wanted to spend at least the morning in the national park. Though this is the least busy time of the year, we knew it would still be a good idea to get a pretty early start to avoid the crowds that arrive later in the morning. During the busy tourist season people are turned away because they have established a quota system that limits the number of people that can enter the park each day. Not a concern this time of year. We had researched hiking in the park and had a plan for the trails that we wanted to explore. Many people just stay to the main beaches and we wanted to get away from these areas as much as possible. We had visited Manuel Antonio during our first trip to Costa Rica when Daniel was a junior in high school which was eight years ago. We noticed that they have done a lot of work on the trails since then. It is great to see Costa Rica putting money into their national parks. The trails we hiked took us to a variety of ocean viewpoints, jungle terrain, and less-visited beaches. One of the big attractions of Manuel Antonio is the variety of wildlife and we were not disappointed. We saw howler monkeys (which we are pretty blase about at this point), squirrel monkeys (mono titi), white-faced capuchins, sloths, and scarlet macaws. We were especially impressed by the sloths. Just about all of the sloths we have seen in Costa Rica are pretty boring to watch as they are usually curled up in the fork of a tree sleeping and never move at all. The sloths here were actually moving along branches, looking around, and scratching themselves! One of the changes we noticed from our earlier trips was the emphasis on not feeding the monkeys. Bags are checked at the entrance and you are not allowed to bring any food into the park other than sandwiches and cut-up fruit. We remembered being here before and the aggressive squirrel monkeys who would get right in your backpack if you set it down. This time they all seemed to keep their distance so a big improvement in that respect. By early afternoon, we had hiked all of the trails of Manuel Antonio and headed back to the hotel. The hotel has its own private beach so we spent an hour there in the afternoon. It is a short hike from the main hotel area and they have beach chairs, towels, boogie boards and other amenities for hotel guests. We swam and did a little boogie boarding before returning to our room. We had decided to eat dinner at the hotel restaurant that night which turned out to be a great choice. Jane had great fish and I had jumbo shrimp that were very tasty.
Sunday was mostly about driving back to Nosara. We had to make the requisite stop in Nicoya at the Maxi Pali to do our shopping for bigger food items and the things we cannot get (or are really expensive) in Nosara. As we had done last year as well, we rented a car for the weekend rather than taking the Patrol. We don’t stress about it breaking down along the way and the gas is a lot cheaper.