Day Five: 05.05.05 (make a wish!)
After being called down by the hotel's roosters to come and eat our breakfast with some apricot yogurt to help choke down the papaya, we went to the room to prep for our walk through the hotel's private biological reserve. We got about 2 minutes into the hike before we realized that the Espadilla Reserve had something the Manuel Antonio Reserve did not: mosquitoes. I went back to the room to apply the repellant liberally even though it was too late for my arms and ankles. We managed to conquer about 5 minutes of the hike before TP found out that these blood-suckers meant business. We returned to the room to allow TP to lotion up. Third time's a charm and we finally started up the hill completely coated in DEET and, soon enough, sweat. The crystal clear starry skies that were glittering and dizzying and fantastic as we walked on the beach the night before had given way to a thick, stultifying layer of clouds that held the heat and humidity close to the earth during the day. Farther inland than the National Park, this reserve received none of the occasional wafts of forgiving ocean breezes.

Although we kept our eyes and ears out for any parrots or squirrel monkeys (mono titi), the only life coming out in full force were the salamanders, bees, and crabs. The highlights of the strenuous walk were the incredibly quick hummingbird that flitted from flower to flower and the brilliant black and emerald poison dart frog who was too swift for me to photograph, but not for Tim, from whom I shall now steal:

The trial had a rope guide, but it was deliberately kept in a 'natural state' (which is code for completely unattended and unused). Leaves, thick and slippery, covered the path and made navigating the uphill and downhill portions tricky. Branches (liberally sprinkled with itty bitty bitey ants) and, at one point, an entire tree created obstacles to climb, crawl under, and yank aside. Keeping in mind Angelus's warnings about the Fer-de-Lance , we fashioned a sturdy walking stick from one of our obstacles which we used to pound the ground along the way to alert and hopefully scare away any potential snakes. Unfortunately, I suspect that we scared away everything else as well. Everything, that is, except the mosquitoes. Ten bites on my hands, ankles, and back (I forgot to apply the DEET to my clothing or else they flew up my shirt! Fresh!). And Costa Rica and I were getting along so well. Not so pura vida after all.

Upon our return, we peeled off the sopping wet hiking clothes, rinsed off, changed into resort clothes, and spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in lounge chairs by the pool and drinking pina coladas complete with funny straws, wedges of fruit, paper umbrellas, metal gears, antennae, and a GPS device attached. For lunch, we hit the Blue Marlin for some ceviche and tunaburgers and then walked along the street to see if there was any more to the "town" than what we had already seen. There wasn't. We returned via the beach and stopped along the way for some fresh, chilled mangos, agua de pipa, and a game of billiards (which was very pathetically played by yours truly and the only saving grace was that I still won).

Now, as many of you know, each travelogue comes pre-packaged with highlights and lowlights. Per tradition, each trip seems to include an awful, hideous, atrocious thing that often receives the most attention and glee. In China, it was the mephitic nastiness of the Hangzhou train station bathroom at the end of the day after being visited by countless travelers with their full bowels. In Scotland, it was the black pudding that Gojira seemed quite content to enjoy eating. Here, it was the white-nosed coati. Part raccoon, part R.O.U.S., this fuzzy, cuddly guy ought not have won the coveted "Travelogue Travesty Award." Even almost stumbling over a dead one on the beach didn't elevate the coati to that honored status. What did it was this: he was completely stripped. His fur had either been shredded by another animal or else loosened and separated by the ocean. The once fluffy creature had been transformed into a raw, puckered pink slab of meat. It looked as though the heat had gotten to him and he just pushed his furry sleeves and bared his arms and legs in order to cool off. After making out some of its features and determining what it was, we turned away to enjoy some more pleasant views: the natural rock formations, the sun setting on the ocean, the clouds blushing and darkening. When we walked back to photograph it for you fine folks, the coati was gone. My theory was that the tide took the body away. TP's theory was that the Ticos who came bounding behind us when we first discovered the coati took away to cook it up for unsuspecting tourists. Either way, we have a winner! Just so as not to leave you with such a gruesome image, here's a pretty one instead:

Next up: Bargaining at Brittania

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