We hopped in the car on Day 6 and headed out early with all our stuff. (We did carry-on only for this trip, which included F's travel booster in one of our bags and we were loving having so little!). Although we were only travelling 300 km, it was scheduled to take 5 hours of driving time plus stops. The road only got up to 80 km/hr for a few short sections; it was mostly 60 or 40 as we wove through small towns and communities built right along the road.
|We crossed a river with crocodiles...can you spot them on the shore?
The further we got, the more affluent the houses looked, and the shops and signs started to look more touristy. We kept our eyes peeled along the route but saw no toucans or monkeys. Despite all the howling we had heard in Playa Conchal, we still hadn't had our first monkey spotting and it was highly anticipated.
We found a restaurant right along the route to stop at for lunch - El Caballo Blanco. If you're ever in the area, we'd highly recommend stopping there. The portions were huge (we walked away with dinner in our to-go boxes), the service fast, and the food delicious. Erin had the Carribean chicken thigh with rice and beans and fried plantains (yummm!!!), Craig had the breaded fish fillet, and Adventure Girl scarfed down the BBQ ribs and fries. :)
After what felt like an eternity (an 8.5 hour travel day), we crawled into our rental property in a small, natural oasis amidst the palm plantation monocultures. This was the last-minute place we had to book for two nights when our original host had disappeared. It was a little out of our budget range so we were really hoping it would feel worth it. It took about 20 minutes for it to exceed our expectations.
|Our own private sanctuary
The next morning we arose to an entre troupe of squirrel monkeys making their way through the trees around the property. We sat there, entranced, as they leapt from branch to branch, playfully pulling leaves down over their faces to peek-a-boo us. They were quiet, with occassional chasing along branches. It was made all the more magicial by the fact that this was the species of monkey that had eluded Craig and Erin on their first trip to Costa Rica.
When the family was mostly finished passing, we slipped quietly into the pool and enjoyed watching the last few pass us by.
A little while later, we readied ourselves and headed out to a nearby hike Craig had found that included canopy rope bridges and natural waterfall swimming holes. We were glad to have arrived early, with only a few others around us in the pools and no one in sight when we crossed the bridges. Adventure Girl lived up to her name as she led the way across one swinging bridge to the next. (You can check out her blog for her own recount of the trip).
We were a bit disappointed not to find any poison dart frogs but happy enough to have also avoided any snakes. A blue morpho butterfly, some neat lizards and a millipede were the wildlife highlights.
Back home, Craig got the wood barbeque going and grilled up some sausages for us to eat in the garden. We saw more squirrel monekys as we ate, along with a couple of iguanas, and a green basalisk. It was definitely worth the extra bit of budgetting and was a fabulous way to end a spectacular year for our family. Cheers to 2023!