Manuel Antonio is the perfect destination for people who love resort-style entertainment. Here's a sample of ads in the monthly magazine Quepolandia
(a free guide to the area):
- Sport fishing and spear fishing
- Jet skiing
- Horseback riding
- Whitewater rafting
- Mangrove island boat tours
- Sunset sailing tours
- Guided tours to the park and other forests
- Surf boarding and lessons
- Canopy tours (zip-lining)
To help you recover from all that activity there are spas and yoga salons, infinity pools, beaches, bars, and restaurants. Of course MA isn't alone in offering all this, but unlike other resorts we're familiar with (Cancun and Ixtapa come to mind) they have done a good job of protecting their environment. No high-rise hotels hug the shoreline, and new developments must set aside some nondeveloped land.
Costa Rica is rightly proud of its green reputation, which supports a tourist industry that employs a great many people. I'm guessing that most of the working people in this town are connected in some way with tourism—not a risky guess since we see them going to and from work wearing shirts with the logos of hotels, tour companies, restaurants and bars.
We couldn't miss out on all this fun so last week we went zip-lining. A minibus picked us up at 7:15 a.m. and carried us out of town to La Foresta Nature Resort, 180 acres of primary and secondary rainforest reserve. After checking in at the office we met our guides, Luis and Ronald, and the fun began. (But not before visiting briefly with an Alaskan man with his foot in a cast. When we asked how it happened he said, "Zip-lining—but not here." Oh good.)
|All geared up and ready to go (and feeling a little nervous).|
|This is Luis, who got us started at each of the 13 lines. The longest was 1500 feet.|
|Ronald was the catcher, making sure we landed safely. Here I'm coming in from|
my first ride, a short, not-too-high one to get us started. That grin means it was fun!
|Here's Ray taking off. Though he's low to the ground here |
the lines definitely got higher. Sometimes a little too high.
|Luis instructs: Keep your (gloved) right hand away from the pulley|
and move it further back if your body starts to rotate out of control. Brake
with your right hand when told to. Keep your feet straight in front of
you and lifted as you land. Nothing to it.
|Here's one of the platforms. Sometimes climbing up to these was more|
frightening than the zipping.
|After the tour we sat down for breakfast, then took a walk |
around the grounds. I liked this tree.
|Here's Ray on a long suspension bridge.|
|The open-air dining room. We were lucky to be the only ones on |
the tour that morning and we could relax and take our time. After Luis reported
there had been forty people the previous afternoon, we realized how lucky.
|We took our after-activity relaxation a few days later and had|
breakfast at the Mariposa hotel, a lovely place with a more than
180-degree-view from the terrace dining room. (Rooms here start around $250.)
|The Pacific was calm and hazy with humidity.|
|The buffet breakfast was delicious, and the tables uncrowded. |
No one here rushes anything so we took our time and enjoyed the scenery.
|The peninsula is part of Manuel Antonio National Park. You can see|
that although hotels and homes are present, the view
is unblocked by high rise hotels.
There are a few more things on our to-do list but time is getting short. We're down to 12 days, and honestly, we're counting them. We're ready to get back to family, friends, and our new house; to gather up our belongings, now scattered across five towns, and to get started on the next chapter in our lives.
A few minutes ago Ray called me away for our late afternoon walk. We turned left onto the now familiar road and headed downhill, saying "hola" numerous times and patting many familiar dogs. I waited while he tossed a frisbee with a little boy and then we followed the U left, through the shady jungle trees and up the hill toward the highway. Just past the U we heard the calls of howler monkeys. We've never managed to see them, but we hear their calls—which sound like roar—often. (I can hear them as I write.)
Up the hill now, the road almost disappearing into graveled chaos; more "holas." There are the bantam roosters, here are more dogs to pet. We look for the leaf-cutter ants but can't find them. We stop to watch children kicking a soccer ball around the town field, then turn left again along the highway, cursing the diesel truck and a roaring motorcycle, searching for sloths in the trees near the bus stop, waving to hard-working Khang in his restaurant. Left again at the market, one more greeting from a now familiar Tico, and here we are at home.
There are definitely things I will miss about Manuel Antonio.