Costa Rica: Why you should go and immerse in nature...literally (Part 5 of 5)

A ferry and a-few-hour drive take us away from our moon fairy tale in Montezuma to our final most Southern destination in Costa Rica, the Manuel Antonio national park. Yet again - Costa Rican accommodation does not disappoint. Our little villa in Quepos is in the middle of a little green oasis and we have our own pool. Every morning when we wake up, we hear something, which sounds like a gigantic ape or a dinosaur, or something between these two, but the owner claims it is a little monkey (hard to believe, given the monstrously loud sounds IT emits!). But ok, it is a monkey until it is not...

You haven't experienced Costa Rica enough until you break a tyre

We decide to take it easy these last days and, hence, we plan to spend most of our first day in Manuel Antonio on the beach. Our 4x4 does not think so, as we wake up to a broken tyre. The tyre does not agree with us either.  (Simple tip: when you rent a car in Costa Rica, make sure you have the right tools to change the tyre of this particular car.) We walk  around some neighboring houses - no luck, no people. Jenthe heads out to explore for help. I stay there to keep the car and to sunbathe on the asphalt (why waste time...). A friendly old guy with a big moustache  and even bigger cowboy hat, barely speaking any English, stops and asks if I need help. By the time Jenthe is back, the cowboy-hat guy is already starting to put our spare tyre on. A good person with the right tools! 

He sends us to "the best tyre fixer" in the village "whose service station we cannot miss, because there is a big sign on the main road." We drive and drive, back and forth, until we suddenly see a hand-written sign, on an old iron sheet, hung with wires on a street lamp, saying "Quick mechanic here 24" .... Short, simple, clear, cheap - the perfect marketing approach. After 5 or 10 minutes, without being able to speak a word of English, the guy says something in Spanish with a big smile, shows his five fingers to sign for a 5-dollar bill, and we are out. Back home, this might have taken days and many more bills :)

The real magic is on Earth, in nature: the Mangroves

I have seen many astonishing places around the world, but the Mangroves are a top highlight for me. 

The Mangrove trees are something rather unique. They grow in coastal areas and when the tide is low or there isn’t much rain, they are rather exposed. However, they are usually flooded by the ocean water coming in. Their most unique feature is their entangled root system, which crates a beautiful root labyrinth above the water. A few special and little known facts about the Mangroves:

  • Mangroves are special because they mix fresh with ocean water and are a home to their own unique and very diverse ecosystem. One third of all marine species have been born in the shelter of the Mangroves.
  • But the Mangroves are a shelter to people as well. Due to their specific shape and resilience to disasters, they prevent the coastline from tropical hurricanes and can reduce the destruction by tsunamis by 90%. And their roots prevent the shore from erosion. 
  • Mangroves are special also because they can save our planet with their massive capacity to absorb carbon dioxide. They can store up to five times more carbon dioxide than a tree of the same size in the rainforest.
  • Despite their incredible resilience to nature, though, Mangroves cannot manage the impact of humans. Mangroves around the world are being deforested at rapid rates due to development of the shore lines and fish farming activities.
I wish humans could see that there will be no life without nature. What is more - that only in nature we can find who we are.
There is something mysterious and very beautiful, but also rather disturbing about this forest. The swampy river is quite wide in the beginning, not requiring too much skill to move forward but it quickly becomes narrower and starts requiring some maneuvering. Furthermore, due to the recent rains and the proximity to the mountain, the water flowing through the trees is rather dark brown, than transparent, so it seems like the perfect home for caimans. 

While Jenthe feels completely at home and is always ahead of the group, I am going through some hurdles, feeling completely out of my comfort zone (especially after seeing the other girl from the group fall off her kayak after 10 minutes in). After some situations of Kalina versus The Kayak, I finally manage to enjoy the experience.  

You can read the short story "Entangled" inspired by this day on my writing website .

The viper, the goanna, the sloth, the raccoon... and Us

On our last day we go to what is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the area - the protected beach of the Manuel Antonio national park. And it does not disappoint. We spot a sleeping viper, which the local rangers have kindly surrounded with protection to have undisturbed sleep and not to disturb people. We chill on the beach with a goanna. We see at least five sloths munching on leaves in the branches. And we get nearly robbed by a raccoon, interested in chips. It starts raining and nearly everyone leaves the beach, but us. 
We have the whole place to ourselves, just swimming and being showered in our own joy.  PURA VIDA! The simple life is the real life. 

Sneak into the rest of my boxes of memories here. 

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