After unloading about 10 pounds of sand each in our first warm shower in a week, Mary and took a short nap followed by dinner at an outdoor restaurant. Again not amazing food and even worse service, but great company makes that not matter at all.
We were all pretty much finished eating when the power went out to the entire city. The hum of generators ceased, street lights went out and all that was left was the sounds of the jungle. I had read at the hotel that outages are common due to the vast quantity of trees surrounding the area. The restaurant brought out bottles with candles atop and we continued to enjoy each other’s company by candlelight. It turned the fun trip to eat into a quaint little adventure of its own. An unexpected treat for sure followed by one of the most restful nights sleep I’ve had for quite a while.
We arrived at the hotel and loaded our luggage in. The directors were very sweet to give Mary and I a room together. Many other students were 4 to a room so it was nice not to be separated. After loading in we took a thirty minute hike through the Manuel Antonio National Park with Janiva pointing out birds and plants of all shapes and kinds. We saw a beautiful Toucan perched in the canopy above us. It wasn’t long before our hike through the jungle took us to a private beach. I wasted no time and hopped in and began swimming and body surfing. I was first and I’m told I looked like a little kid. It was fantastic. The waves were much more powerful than I’m used to in the Gulf of Mexico and the water was very clean. The powerful waves lifted me up and threw me around. It was like being a kid again. No one has been able to throw me around since I was little and the feeling was like flying. I didn’t want to stop.
Sand got everywhere, but we played and played. The national park had to close so we packed up and started hiking out. On the way we finally saw some monkeys – maybe about eight of them -climbing in the trees around our heads. Again, I’ve seen these in zoos, but when the bars aren’t there its a very much more personal experience. We were warned that they like to steal lunches and backpacks so the monkeys and I we were eying each other not knowing what to expect. They’re cute little guys.
We got an early start to Manuel Antonio National Park and Beach near Guepa. The three hour bus trip was broken up perfectly. Our first stop was a little shop on the side of the road with cold coconut milk straight from the coconut. Then we walked across the highway bridge and saw about 20 American crocodiles in the Tárcoles river below. They seemed to be waiting for one of us tourists to fall over the side. It’s amazing to see these in a zoo, but it’s quite something else to see them in their natural environment. Definitely not to be messed with. Janiva told us they can outrun humans in short bursts. That’s a lesson I don’t prefer to learn from experience.
After about an hour of stewing over our poor performance on the test we all gathered in a cramped but air-conditioned room for dance lessons.
Our dance instructor looked straight from Mary’s Zumba videos back home. This guy was built for speed. He did an excellent job of demonstrating the steps and making sure no one was left behind. Although I can’t say I ever really got that 4 step arm twirly thing right, I sure laughed a lot and after two hours of sweating, I certainly got enough exercise. As it turns out, Dr. Bell is an incredible Latin dancer and we all watched in awe as she and the instructor demonstrated the various Latin dances. They were both wonderful. I certainly am not so wonderful, but as I said – we all had a great deal of fun attempting to Cumbia, Meringue, Salsa, and Cha-cha.