Day 10 – We discover that the national park is closed on Mondays so my husband and I decide to hike the private reserve located immediately north of our hotel, paying the $2.00 entrance fee to the desk clerk. The 45 minute climb through the rainforest rewards us with a view overlooking Manuel Antonio Park and the beaches below. At 9:00 am, the air is already warm and humid as we begin the descent, following the well marked trails lined with ropes to assist hikers. Very few birds or other wildlife are stirring in the heat except for two other hikers we pass on the trail. At the hotel pool we meet up with our Scottish friends who have spent the morning exploring Playa Espadilla and the vendors displaying their crafts. They recount how the local police set up a road block and forced the vendors to vacate the beach area, enforcing a local ordinance banning the selling of wares so close to the ocean.
At the pool we meet some of the local park guides who are enjoying their day off. In broken English and Spanish, we carry on some lively conversation about the wildlife, politics, music, and soccer! We also become fascinated with our bartender, Luis, who is an animated storyteller. He recounts how he recently saved a swimmer who ventured out to far in the surf and then tells us the story of the 1992 mudslides in the area that nearly killed him, his wife and family. Many homes, businesses, and residents were lost, swept away or buried in mud. As beautiful as this country is to us, we learn that it can be deadly during the heavy rainy season when the rivers overflow their banks. “When is that rainy season?” we ask Luis, who tells us that May through October the rain seems to fall nonstop.