Our second day at the beach, we headed to Manuel Antonio National Park. In 2011, Forbes magazine named this one of the world’s 12 most beautiful national parks. All the wildlife is free to roam in their natural habitat, which includes 4 species of monkeys, 2 types of sloths, iguanas, birds, and many more creatures. We were told by EVERYONE to watch the monkeys when we got to the beach. They will steal your backpacks, shoes, lunch, whatever.
And I was worried about the folks on the bus yesterday.
We waited in line for a good while to get into the park because everyone else in Costa Rica seemed to have the same idea that day. At least we knew we were headed somewhere that was well-liked. We left Grant waiting in line and me and the kiddos headed to the ice cream stand next door.
When we got to the beach, I found a place that I thought would be good for relaxation and fun. Grant and the kiddos hopped in the water and I set up our lunch. I called the kids in to eat and Grant stayed out to help some other men get this huge tree trunk out of the waves that seemed pretty dangerous to be bobbing to and fro around all the swimmers. Me and the kids sat down in our peaceful corner with our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and apples and almost immediately after our first bite, the largest iguana I have ever seen appeared 3 feet in front of us. Not having any knowledge of the temperament of iguanas, I was scared to death. The kids wanted to pet it, but in my calmest voice I asked them to sit back down and don’t move a muscle. I felt like I was in a standoff with a bear. He wanted the PB&J.
We slowly stood up, food in hand, and moved to the right, out of his way. I guess he decided we had chosen a perfect place to relax, too, because he found rest on our beach towels and left me standing with all our belongings in hand and two giggling kiddos by my side.
All of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye I spotted something in the trees. It was a monkey. Of course. He wanted some PB&J too. Why not? I tried to get a good photo and not get peanut butter on the lens and by the time I lowered my camera the monkeys had multiplied. I turned around to get Grant’s attention–who was still working hard to get the tree out of the water–and other folks started gathering around our spot to see the spectacle. By the time I had turned back to the trees, there were at least 15 monkeys, NO LIE, staring at me and my children. I felt an enormous fear sweep over my body. I don’t know what iguanas do to humans, but I was sure in that moment that monkeys could do far worse. The fun and laughter my kids were having was not my sentiment. All I could picture was them attacking me for my PB&J, my camera, and my sweet children to take back to their Master Monkey and show him how good they did that day. Oy!
The last straw was when one monkey decided to hang from a tree by his tail and GRAB A WATERMELON out of the hands of a man sitting next to us. Did you hear what I said?? The robber monkey sole the man’s watermelon! I jerked up our beach towels and the kids and ran for the beach, screaming for my worker husband to GET.UP.HERE.NOW. All smiles, his reaction to my story was Oh! That’s cool! Cool, you say? Is that what you think? You think it would be cool if the monkey thief took your little girl like he took that watermelon?? Call it hormonal, call it overprotective, call it what you will. I did NOT trust the monkeys. Especially when they outnumbered us.
*And you may think he’s the cutest thing and it would’ve been the neatest experience (like my kids and Grant thought) but I had nightmares about the monkeys for days. Days I tell ya.*
After the monkey fiasco, we found another place to sit and I was able to slow my heart rate a little below 200. Grant and the kids enjoyed the water and I sat with the backpack around my ankles, taking pictures of my sweets playing in the water, soaking up every moment of this once-in-a-lifetime expedition.
The kids made friends quickly and I was so pleased when they would venture out to try their best español on their new friends. Asher would run back and forth and say How do I say…to my friend? His excitement was so much fun!
Despite the unpredictable iguanas and thieving monkeys, it was such a blessed day. I expect none of The Hinson’s will forget Manuel Antonio National Park.
Thankful to have made it out alive,