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Manuel Antonio, Costa RICA

What a country!  What a trip!  I love third world countries – Costa Rica has made so much progress since I was last there 20 years ago.  Fresh, drinkable tap water, enviable health care system, beautifully paved roads all the way from the capital to Manuel Antonio, social safety nets, thriving capitalism.  I was very impressed.

We went down to stay at my friend’s resort – the falls at Manuel Antonio.  What a gorgeous, amazing resort.  I couldn’t believe it.  Who would think I would know a guy that owns a stunning resort in the heart of that lush tropical paradise?  25 awesome, huge, immaculate rooms, great breakfasts, stunning garden with 140+ different plants and trees.  Yum breakfast, pool, hottub, waterfall, internet, bar…  Loved it.  We were going to stay two nights but stayed the whole time.  Right acrosse the street from “El Avion”, a bar/restaurant with a giant C-123 cargo plane left over from the Iran-Contra affair inside – massive place, all open-air, breathtaking view over the ocean and cliffs and beaches.  The weather was great, rain most days but not for long and never was inconvenient somehow.  Nearing the end of the green season.  Warm and wet is fine I always say, cold and wet isn’t so fun.

One day Richard, the owner (and my friend) went out to look at some property way back in the hills, took along three tico men and Lisa and I and we  went bombing way up into the mountains on this muddy two track, through rivers, around bridges that were out, up steep hills, through giant mudpuddles.  Got stuck at going around one steep uncompleted bridge for about 45 minutes, gradually enough villagers joined and we were able to push the landrover out after much futzing around moving rocks and gravel.  Took about seven tries to get it out, worrying about falling off down the steep waterfall to the right the whole time.

Walked through the jungle one day, had a guide, saw sloths, monkeys, leaf-cutter ants, deer, alligators, and a “Jesus Christ” lizard that can walk on water.  Gorgeous beaches and jungle, amazing.

Took a long bus ride the first day – goal was to spend under $300 to remind me of my 6 month trip around the world – and also to save money of course.  We went over budget but did pretty well I thought all in all.  Ate out at some very nice places, and also lunched at some ratty roadside grills, which I thought were equally delicious, if not better.  I love street food.  You can be pretty sure they aren’t loading it up with crap as you watch them make it.  Good times, love that stuff.  One of my most memorable street food experiences was in Cameroon Africa, in Yaounde, at about 11 at night we wandered to a main street and along the highway was an old lady who cooked little fish on a little grill for us and put them in newspaper – yum.

And the last day we surfed – so much fun!  And I sucked at it.  But tried and fell of repeatedly.  I for some reason always think I can surf – I used to live in Newort Beach and actually owned a surfboard…  and lived a half block from the beach… and I still suck.  Maybe one day I will be able to actually catch a wave.  Put it on the life goal list.  I left Lisa alone for about five minutes and immediately she had a Costa Rican out there helping her surf – I rented a board and got out there pretty quick to join her 🙂

We rented a car to drive back to San Jose.  Halfway there I was pulled over for speeding by a fellow standing in the road with a contraption that looked sort of like a hair dryer/flashlight combo.  He was acting very upset and told me I would get two tickets, one for no license and one for speeding.  He then told me I could pay him $40 right there or we could go somewhere and report it.  I told him “$40 es muy grande”.  He said, “twenty dollar ok”.  I said “Done!  Here you go!”  He was then very friendly and shook both our hands and was all smiles.  Off we went.

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