Two Coasts and No Army, 10: Manuel Antonio Park, 3 December 2023

March 07, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

          Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio is the most popular of Costa Rica's national parks.  Months in advance, HL had booked a guided tour as well as our entrance tickets.  We had selected an early tour because we hoped that by doing so we might avoid the worst of the heat and the Sunday crowds.  

          Our guide was Josue, a wiry, middle-aged fellow who had been conducting tourists through Manuel Antonio for decades.  He assured us that the lengthy queue for admittance was shorter than it would be during the following week.  The park is thronged throughout the high season, a period of three months beginning in December.

         Manuel Antonio is home to several types of monkeys, including the agile, sociable Capuchins and the far larger, distinctly unfriendly, howlers.  The howlers' booming cries startled me every time that I heard them.

         I had been told that I was most likely to see the face of a sloth in Manuel Antonio, instead of just its back.  The three-toed sloth is the one that appears to be smiling.  HL managed to photograph a sloth's face, using his camera's long lens, but I was unable to do so.

         The sighting of an extremely venomous snake provided the day's excitement.  The Fer-de-Lance (from French, meaning an iron spearhead) is a pit viper so poisonous that it is responsible for more human deaths than any other snake in Latin America.  Its irritability and high venom production make for a dangerous combination.  The guide helped us to find the Fer-de-lance, which was so well camouflaged that it remained invisible to my phone's camera. 

         Even though the snake was a baby, the Fer-de-lance could be lethal.  The guides did not permit their charges to approach it too closely.  Josue informed us that the snakebite treatment, antivenin, had been invented in Costa Rica. If that were true, it was a fact that the Ministry of Tourism might choose not to publicize.  

         After the tour, Ava, HL and I went for a swim.  The waves were gentle, and the clear turquoise water was quite warm near the shore.  Being in the ocean simultaneously revitalized and soothed me.  I could have stayed in it indefinitely, had we not been obliged to take turns guarding our belongings from pilfering monkeys in search of treats.

An agouti, a common forest rodent

Heliconia flower

A male Capuchin monkey

Mother and baby Capuchin monkey
 


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