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Manuel Antonio | Costa Rica

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Wednesday
The sun is shining so we spend our last mountain morning at the pool before embarking on the journey to Manuel Antonio.

We arrive at Si Como No in time to see the sunset overlooking the ocean from the open air lobby. We finish the day as we started, at the pool. This one provides a little extra excitement with the water slide. We share a few dishes at the hotel restuarant and call it a night.

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Thursday
We rise at 6am and enjoy the early morning sunshine over the ocean while we eat breakfast. At 7am a shuttle picks us up for a quick ride to Manuel Antonio National Park. Our guide, Fillipe, is a young Costa Rican with a keen eye for spotting camoflouged creatures. He sets up his scope to show us a bat. As we make our way down the trail we stop to see a lizard, a toucan, a couple of sloths, a couple more lizards and a troop of capuchin monkeys. The trail brings us to a shady picnic area at the beach where we stop for a refreshing fruit snack. I can’t get over how amazing the papaya, mango and pinapple are here! I don’t waste a single bite.

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After we refuel, we opt for a bit more trekking instead of a dip in the ocean…afterall, we came all this way to explore! Fillipe is excited because most people spend the remainder of their tour in the water, but he takes us on a trail that he hasn’t been on since he was a teenager. He talks about his father and how they used to come here. We hike up and down a steep, wet trail to enjoy new vistas and interesting creatures. By the time we get back to our shuttle, we are thoroughly worn out, wet and exhuasted from trekking through the hot and humid rainforest. We get some fresh clothes and walk to the Falafel place nearby. The warm chickpea balls and refreshing mediterannean salad were just the right choice to refresh and refuel.

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Shortly after lunch we make our way back to the pool. While ordering my Pina Colada at the swim-up bar (tough afternoon, huh?), I start chatting with another family who has just arrived. Coincidentally, they live about 15 minutes away from us back in Denver. Oliver makes instant friends with their daughter. Kayla and Kendyll are excited that he’s occupied!

For simplicity, we choose to eat at the restaurant that’s about 18 steps up from our villa. I enjoy the Quinoa salad for the second night (delicious) and the kids find some great pasta dishes. After all the hiking and swimming today, the dessert menu grabs our attention. We order some banana flambe which arrives with the sound of Harry Belafonte singing “Day O”. When the fire juggling, musical production concludes the whole restaurant applauds and we indulge in our highly anticipated dessert.

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Friday
The sun seeps into our rooms and we peel ourselves out of bed with no agenda. We start with food while we debate over beach then pool or vice versa. Tough choice. We land on beach first just in case there is an afrernoon storm…which works out in our favor. I play in the waves with the kids while David plays security guard at our rented umbrella. As we change shifts, we reminisce about the good old days (last week) when we were at the beach in Tamarindo with our belongings locked away at the surf shop. But I enjoy some quiet time under the shade…it’s all good.

Our stomachs start talking, so we head across the street in search of sustenance. I’m worried that these ocean-view restaurants are going to be over-priced, but I’m pleasantly surprised when I peruse the menu. The food is delicious, inexpensive and we enjoy a fresh ocean breeze…doesn’t get much better than this.

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We hit a few shops then head back to Si Como No. We spend another afternoon splashing and chatting with our new Denver friends until dinner time. We’re tempted to eat at the hotel again, but being our last night, we opt to take a taxi into Quepos and try something new. We walk down a couple of streets and glance at menus. Then David spots a sports bar full of locals cheering for the Costa Rica soccer team as they play in the Gold Cup against French Guiana. They squeeze us into the back corner at their a table that’s just been abandoned (maybe they were French Guiana fans). We are amused by the liveliness of the crowd while we enjoy “comida tipical”. David and I spend several minutes talking about how amazing our $27 meal was. We have a hard time dining out at home for less than $60…and the food was fantastic.

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Saturday
The party is over! We rise at 7am, which feels late with the 5:20am sunrise. We shove all the stuff into all the suitcases and walk upstairs for breakfast. David and I talk about how sad it will be to discontinue our new daily routine of Gallo Pinto, veggies, plantains and ridiculously tasty fruit. Maybe we should make this at home?! We savor our last few bites and sip coffee by the oecan until our airport shuttle arrives. Goodbye Costa Rica! It’s been real.

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