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Tuesday 17 Dec 2013
Quepos, Costa Rica

Kleptomaniacal Racoons

After a cooked breakfast at the hostel, a great deal for only $3, the five of us caught the bus down the coast to Manuel Antonio.  The entrance to the National Park was a bit of a gauntlet of people selling food, drink, souvenirs and persuading tourists to hire a guide.  The main roadway into the forest reminded me of the Kinabatangan river cruises in Borneo – there were so many guides that we could just move from one group to another and look at the things they had found, rather than needing a guide of our own.  We saw two sloths, clearly visible this time, but still too far away to photograph.  I finally saw a bright green tree frog – something I’ve wanted to see for years.  He was hanging off the inside of a banana leaf with his eyes closed, so well camouflaged that it took a while to spot him.  When I did, I was surprised at how big he was.  I was expecting something only about an inch long, but he was easily three times that.  We also saw a big red and silver crab and a tiny tree snake no wider than the vine he was wrapped around.

The boys led us up to the lookout trail for a gorgeous view across the sea and down the rocky coastline.  After that, we trekked down to one of the smaller beaches, narrowly avoiding getting mugged by the white-faced Capuchin monkeys in the trees.  We’d earned a swim, so left our bags with Andrew and waded out into the lovely warm water.  Snorkelling was impossible as the sand was so churned up in the current, so we just enjoyed the feeling of being swept around by the waves.

We walked along to the main beach in the next bay and found ourselves a nice spot under the shade of the trees to spread out and enjoy our picnic lunch.  We had been warned that there were kleptomaniacal raccoons around – they don’t have that Zorro-mask colouring for nothing, you know – but we really hadn’t grasped just how devious the little swines could be.  Steph and I had our lunch spread out between us – ham, cheese, tortillas and a bag of nachos – when we caught one creeping in across the dried leaves and undergrowth behind us.  He barely even flinched when Steph feinted throwing her shoes at him and only disappeared when Andrew stood up and took a few steps towards him.  To be on the safe side, we put the food away again, apart from the nachos.  Ten minutes later, we were lying down reading books, when Andrew shouted again and we both leapt up screaming as the raccoon came within inches of our heads to steal our nachos!  We tried to shoo him away again, but he just stared up at us, used his paws to plump up the crisp packet so he could get a better grip on it, then dashed off with it, leaving a trail of nachos behind him while we stared, dumfounded, at his stripy audacity!  The little b…

After that, we didn’t dare to relax because there were hoards of them patrolling up and down the undergrowth.  His friends came along to eat all the ones he’d dropped, gloating in our direction with each crisp they picked up.  We heard periodic shrieks from along the beach as they raided other unsuspecting tourists.  When we went in for another swim, Andrew again volunteered to sit with the bags.  When we looked across, he alternated between sitting down with his book and patrolling our patch brandishing a big stick.  I think he was enjoying it really.

The park closed at 4pm so everyone was herded back off the beach and down to the main entrance.  We found a bar near the town beach and took advantage of their two-for-one cocktail offer.  Unfortunately they’d run out of mint so I skipped the mojito and went for daiquiris, which turned out to be the sweetest, sickliest, most sugary things ever.  (But I drank them anyway.)  Back in Quepos, we got off the bus too early because Steph recognised a church and walked several blocks in a big circle before finding the bus station again, just as our bus reached it from the opposite direction.  We headed back to the hostel and saw the church again in a side street.  Had we turned the other way from the bus stop, we’d have found the hostel almost straight away.  D’oh.  I’m sure the cocktails had nothing to do with it…

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Zoe's Big World Adventure Part II - #2 Mexico, Belize and Costa Rica

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I met Christina in April. We travelled a bit of Australia together and both learned to dive. Now we're off to Mexico and Belize to see what the Caribbean and the Great Mesoamerican Reef have to offer, before I head down to Costa Rica for 10 days.

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