After eating an early breakfast Saturday morning, everyone headed to the small bakery in town to grab some drinks or snacks for our hike through Manuel Antonio National Park. We set off through the park, walking the Sloth Trail (“El Sendero Perezoso”) and examining the rainforest around us. We then hiked up to a lookout, spotting a two-toed sloth, monkeys, iguanas, and lizards along the way. Some parts of the path were made of raised cement whose moss-covered surface made it incredibly slippery. Everyone was drenched in sweat by the time we reached the viewpoint but the view at the top was worth it. We looked out over a gorgeous bay surrounded by rainforest, with waves crashing on rocks and the coastline extending behind the peninsula.
We then returned to the trail head and took a different route down to one of the park’s private beaches. The beach was absolutely gorgeous and everyone had a great time riding the waves, swimming, having sand fights, or trying to save their food from the monkeys, raccoons, and iguanas. The park closed at 4pm so we gradually filtered out the last hour or so and headed back to the hotel to shower. I was staying in a room with Sam and Parul and when Sam and I returned, the power went out on us. There was no water, AC, light, or anything else related to electricity. Costa Rican power is notoriously unreliable but this was the first time we had had any problems with it. Everything came back on about 10 minutes later and it was fine.
We had planned to take the bus to the ATM late that afternoon but we missed it so we headed back down to the town to barter at the small stalls lining the road and see what souvenirs we could find in the shops. I then returned to take a nap (I was exhausted) before dinner.
Sunday morning, everyone got up early except Frank, Nohemi, and Professor Bic. Everyone else wanted to go river rafting and had to check out of the hotel and load our belongings on the bus before we left. After a quick stop at an ATM on the way, we went to Iguana Tours rafting office to get on “the magic bus” and pick up our equipment and guides. We then drove for about half an hour on the most pothole-filled road I have ever seen to the put-in. After a quick safety demonstration, explanation, and gearing up, we all got into our rafts for some quick practice before we headed down the Naranjo river. I was in the front of the raft with Jenny Chou, along with Indira, Gloria, Sam, and Brianna behind us. Our guide’s name was Orlando and we later found out that he was 17 years old and had been a guide for 2 years already.
The river was fun; class II-III-IV rapids. Robin Hood was my favorite rapid, it was probably the hardest I’ve ever done (I’m sure it was class IV), with a big drop. Everyone was instructed to lean in to the raft and even secure themselves inside it. I loved the rafting, but it was too short. There was only about 2 hours spent on the water, with a small snack break halfway through in which they gave us pineapple, cookies, and tea. Brianna fell out of our raft twice, but everyone was fine. Our guide even fell out once, and we had to pull him back in. Everyone had a lot of fun and we all took pictures before getting back on the bus to meet our bus back to San Jose at the rafting headquarters.
We stopped once to have lunch. It turned out to be the best meal I’ve had in what feels like a long time. It was usual Costa Rican fare but it was a really good buffet that included seafood soup, plantains, cucumber and tomato salad, and avocados. Everyone was absolutely exhausted (and at least a little bit sunburnt) and all but a few of us slept the rest of the way back to San Jose. The weekend was a great, but exhausting, success.