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2008-02-12 - 9:36 p.m.
Thu 10/1: We were up at about 6am, expecting our minibuses at about 7am but it was closer to 8am by the time we left. Originally the tour consisted of a series of 4 public buses from Monteverde to Manuel Antonio, and we would have had to leave at 4.30am, but I imagine this proved so unpopular that they started offering an alternative for an extra $25 per person.
I don't think our alternative was necessarily more comfortable, and it was wrought with its own dramas. The stretch of road before we hit sealed road was horrendous, people were coughing violently, wearing scarves as dust masks. And then just after we passed through the first major town after Santa Elena (which was only 35km away but about an hour's drive) our bus decided it didn't want to work anymore (we were split between two buses). The second bus dropped half our tour at a roadside cafe type place, then came back for us, and finally back for our bags. We had to wait for another bus from Santa Elena, which was supposed to be about 40 minutes away but we weren't holding our breath. We started taking bets as to what time we'd get to Manuel Antonio- we should have been there by midday but it ended up being closer to 3pm (about the same time if not a little later than if we had taken the public buses- but I certainly don't regret that extra sleep). Once our replacement bus arrived, there were rival factions who just wanted to get to the beach ASAP, and why shouldn't they, it's their holiday and they had the agreeement of the other people in the bus; but we had Silvia on our bus and she wanted to stop at the Crocodile bridge and try to spot us some Scarlet Macaws, and I for one was happy to take an extra 15 minutes for some wildlife spotting. So Silvia wasn't all that happy that the other bus went on ahead- given that anything goes with those buses I can understand why she wanted us to stick together. So we saw big Crocodiles, and two magnificent Scarlet Macaws who decided to put on a show and fly for us (unfortunately before I could get a photo), and pretty much the only thing we missed out on was first choice of room at the Tico Lodge.
Manuel Antonio was magnificent. Tropical rainforest (which I explored in depth the next day) coming right down to the beach, passionfruit daquiris and the best sushi this side (or should I say that side) of Japan, and sunset over sea. Yes it's a big tourist strip, but it's worth it. I can't describe it any better than that- go check out my pictures.