Wednesday, February 24, 2010

To See the Monkeys

Another snow storm? I barely even flinched, honestly. It's almost cliche, after all, this year (at least around here... any of you in Southern Cal or other tropical geographies, no comment, but I think I've got something here that'll look good even to you).

As you might imagine, with piles of (black-soot-covered) snow as high as 5 feet in some areas (still!), my mind turns to thoughts of warmer (if not, monkey-friendly) places.

No, we didn't hear about the recent snowstorms snow and bolt... we actually found this sunshine long before even a hint of Snowpocalypse but only now did it actually become a crucial matter to break out these pictures - after all, every picture I've taken in the past month or so has had some element of snow in it so seeing a (couple hundred) pictures with no white stuff reflecting up was the perfect remedy. Consider me officially ready for spring (hint, hint).

But let's not ruin the moment. The one in which memories and a few pictures of our (not too distant) Costa Rican vacation boast enough sun and tropical weather for tonight's (pithy) 1-3 inch dusting (quit with the snow-complaining already, I know).

This was my first middle-of-the-winter beach vacation and it didn't take long for me to get why it's the high-season in Costa Rica, as in many other warm-weather spots. I'm a beach over mountains (read: snow) girl any day, as it is, but the vistas of majestic, lush, green mountains and beautiful expanses of sandy beaches, just further confirmed this.

And then the monkeys... oh the monkeys. At our first stop near the base of the Arenal volcano, Chris indulged me in a game of what I called "chase the tour buses"; I'd quickly gathered that if we followed around the vans packed with tourists, we'd be led straight to all of the exotic wild life including three-toed sloths, toucans, and families of quick-moving monkeys.

Not having a clue how prolific all of these animals would be at our next stop, I was (more than) a bit obsessed with finding each and everything that the Costa Rican land had to offer. Luckily, I had nothing to fear - after a (slow and steady) drive across the country (stopping for an absolutely amazing sunset break near Jaco Beach), we arrived in Manuel Antonio and to my delight, almost immediately saw a three-toed sloth, as if he was waiting to greet us.

But the real treat for me would lie in the Manuel Antonio National Park. Not only was the beach breath-taking (they say even disposable cameras take postcard-perfect shots here and it's true!) and the hikes full of interesting flora and fauna, but there were adorable monkeys everywhere. Throughout our trip, we were fortunate enough to experience Costa Rica's capuchin, spider, and squirrel monkeys... and we weren't far from a troop of howler monkeys if the noise was any indication. *truth be told, I think you'd be hard-pressed to go to this lovely country and not see your fair share of these cute animals

We were sad to leave such a unique and beautiful country but so thankful for the opportunity to experience the wonderful Tico culture. Everything from the people and their love of the land to their food and relaxed attitudes could not have been better (though, admittedly, the drivers could use some work).

And just in case this has tempted you to book a trip (do it, you won't be sorry... it's an extremely affordable and family-friendly vacation), I feel obliged to pass along the invaluable tip of buying the GPS option if you choose to rent your own (4-wheel drive, even in the dry season) car (big huge thanks go to Andrea for that one). There's no way to describe the roads and experience of driving in Costa Rica so just take our word for it... oh, and definitely hire a driver if you are afraid of heights.

So even if the weather here (or wherever you are) is anything but tropical, hopefully these pictures and monkey-filled adventures have provided even the slightest glimpse of springs and summers to come!


  1. Wow! I've never had Costa Rica on my radar, but now it is. I recently had a friend lose a baby pretty far along in her pregnancy, and along with another former roommate we're thinking about getting her away from things. This is affordable, you say? Would you email me some of the deets?

  2. Yet again - nice one on the pictures! My parent's friends (the Taylors) brought me a 6 pack of Imperial bottles. I haven't tried any yet...will wait for your trip to Chi-town to crack those babies :-)

  3. Krzysztof and I went to Costa Rica for our honeymoon over 5 years ago. We spent most of our time in the Manuel Antonio area, and we loved it! We also LOVED this resort called Xandari near San Jose. I can't wait to go back! We definitely had our fair share of Imperial and Pisen! It's crazy that they import Imperial now. That has only been for the last year or so. We had a driver drive us from the San Jose area to Manuel Antonio, but we took a flight back on a 4-seater plane. That was the single most white-knuckled, terrifying flight I have ever taken! The views were amazing though. Thanks for bringing back some memories. I have spring fever too! Enough of this cold and snow!

  4. oh...manuel antonio! dreamy! love the pictures of the animals and the food! those rolling green mountains remind me of the californian foothills.


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