I’m going to try to make this as quick as possible because I am behind on my own self-imposed blogging schedule. I’ve been so excited to work on this blog post because it’s a very special one! On my second weekend here in Costa Rica I headed to a famous beach called Manuel Antonio approximately 4 hours away with around 20 other volunteers. What made this trip extra special was that it was my first time ever staying at a hostel (eek!). The reason I have never stayed in a hostel is obviously due to safety concerns and preconceived perceptions that they are dirt-infested. Well to be honest I wasn’t that far off in my predictions about hostels but that’s not to say we didn’t have a stellar time. Let’s investigate!
So as you may have seen in my last post there was quite a time crunch between getting home and getting picked up to go to the bus station for 7:30pm. So it was all absolutely mental with a lot of running around. But we safely got to the bus stop and boarded our lovely coach bus. This was literally the best bus I have ever ridden ANYWHERE in my life. Let me explain…the bus had windows all around it beside every seat that opened horizontally. You could literally stick your head out and get the warm breezy air whishing through your hair. I felt like I was flying…literally *Cue R Kelly I Believe I Can Fly song*.
We arrived super early after only about 3 hours at 10:30pm. Only problem was that of course all 20 of us were way too excited to be going to the beach to have searched up how to get to our hostel, National Backpackers, from the bus stop. So there we were at 10:30pm, all 20 of us, with our bags just looking like a bunch of deer in headlights. There was literally only one guy on the street that ended up being a tour guide who led us in the right direction but trust me he was REALLY creepy. I’ll explain in a bit.
When we got to the hostel we instantly ran into our slightly intoxicated friends running around. The one thing that was missing was a reception desk or any employee of the hostel. So there we were, 20 people standing there wondering if we were all going to sleep in the hostel’s pool for the night or perhaps the outdoor washroom. Literally 45 minutes later the security guard appeared and just gave us keys to rooms that didn’t even match what we had reserved. So that room we paid for with a/c and a private bathroom…non-existent.
The whole thing about staying in a hostel though generally is that you actually only stay in it for a few hours a day. Following this trend, the moment we set foot in our rooms we were off to a reggae bar before I could even take off my glasses. It was called Bamboo Jam in Quepos, Manuel Antonio. It was crazy quiet but the band and vibe were AMAZING. The place shut down around 1 am so we decided to ask some of the bartenders if they knew anywhere good to go. Okay get ready for what happened next…
So we all piled up in 3 taxis and set off to a nightclub called Liquid. It only took us about 2.5 seconds before we found out it was a gay lounge. I think the drag queen was a dead giveaway. Please don’t be fooled though, the music was amazing and it was actually very very fun. Everyone was nice and all the clubgoers were spectacular dance partners 😉 The only thing that still has the group confused is why we were recommended a gay lounge…
When we got back to the hostel I hit the hay due to extreme fatigue. However, a ton of the others decided to go to the beach around 4 am. The good news is that they had a stellar time, the not so good news is that three of them had their shoes and towels stolen. Wait let me rephrase that, they had their ONLY shoes and towels stolen. We all had a debate about whether it was in fact monkeys who snatched their goods and the outcome was about 50/50.
The next day we embarked on a journey to the beautiful Manuel Antonio National Park. This is where we were expecting to see all kinds of animals, in particular Monkeys! The cost was around 10$ and the walk up to the private, sandy, clean beaches was around 45 minutes. It was quite a far walk but it was ultra naturesque, which made it well worth it. The funny thing here to note is that our friends that no longer had shoes came along as well. Yes that means that they walked 45 minutes on stones and sticks barefoot…MADNESS! As well we had to pass by the creepy tour guide from the night before who had decided to pass on our adventures from the night before to all the other tour guides. To provide you with a visual please imagine about 10 tour guides doing their best impressions of our confusion and worry from the night before…not impressed.
The beaches were so beautiful and clean. It was also quite empty on all 4 available beaches. I’d say it was quite a serene and relaxing morning/afternoon. The only disappointment for me was that I hadn’t eaten anything prior to getting to the beach and was hoping to grab a bite there. Little did I know there was literally ZERO restaurants or food options in the National Park area and unfortunately I just wasn’t feeling the 45 minute walk back just to get food. The only thing that would have made it mucho bueno would have been the option to sip on a margarita, whilst laying on the hot sand.
The relaxation did come to an end not too long after though. All I heard was a women’s squeal and as soon as I turned around I saw about 15 monkeys literally running by us less than a meter away. It is definitely at the top of my ‘coolest things my eyes have experienced’ list! The funniest part was when someone gave the monkey a granola bar and it took the bar and sat on a branch and peeled open the wrapper and ate it EXACTLY like a human would. AHHH it was flipping awesome!
If you’re stuck worrying about how hungry I was at this point while reading this, I am about to ease your mind. As soon as we left the National Park and headed back to the public beach, we settled at an amazing beach-side restaurant. I had the most amazing nachos that were ginormous, while my sister had a salad (typical).
The fun in the sun was nowhere near finished at this point though. We soon headed back to the hostel where we met up with some of the rest of our gang at the hostel’s pool. We also met a ton of Costa Ricans who were staying at the hostel (another common advantage of hostels is meeting tons of people!). We all splish-splashed and took tons of underwater pics. The locals also taught us the Costa Rican slang word ‘mae’, which none of us could pronounce properly. It is the common word used to holler at a friend. It is equivalent to the American/Canadian slang words bud or homie. There were also two kind boys we met one of which was a local and the other from Quebec, Canada. We kept begging them to explain to us how exactly they knew one another. Finally after a few beers the truth came out! One of them had seen a photo of the other on Tumblr and decided to reblog it, only to receive tons of reblogs on it, which caught the attention of the guy in the photo. They decided to contact each other and spoke for 8 months via social media. Their meet-up at the hostel in Manuel Antonio was their first-ever meet-up in person! HOW COOL, EY?
Based on the request of a member of the gang to go to a restaurant by taxi that he had seen on the bus ride to Manuel Antonio, we ended up eating dinner in a plane. Of course I’m referring to a plane-inspired restaurant but it was still pretty cool. I decided to go for a zucchini soup and ended off with one of the most textural apple pies I’ve ever had!
That night we just stayed in and called it a night so no wild stories to share!
The next morning, however, we were awake bright up and early for what was going to be a pretty adventurous day. The moment had come when I was going to force myself to test the waters (literally) and try out surfing. Of course we didn’t choose to get lessons because it was mucho expensive so we opted to just rent surfboards. Let’s take a moment of silence to pay tribute to what a stupid decision this was. I could barely get into the water without being smacked by the surfboard. The waves were bad out there on this particular Sunday! Lucky for me though, due to my charming personality and the lovely looking braid in my hair, the surf instructor decided to come into the water with me for free to help me out. Not so lucky for me, the waves were literally knocking me out left, right, and center. I did manage to get up on the surfboard though…if getting up on your knees counts….haha.
At one point everyone was ushered to get out of the water by a lifeguard due to something called a ‘rip’ happening in the ocean. This is when the direction of the waves is in a way that can suck you in. Yes it sounds crazy but I’m telling you the waves were CRAZY that day! Should have tried surfing the day before! But overall still a hilarious and fun experience trying to surf and having my bikini bottoms come off 293120 times from those darn waves.
Unfortunately the fun had to eventually stop since our bus was at 5pm. That didn’t stop me from grabbing some traditional Costa Rican Casado to feed my belly! Basically a Casado just has a whole bunch of different stuff in it that Costa Ricans like to eat such as tortillas, beans, rice, vegetables, potatoes etc. To put it even simpler it was pretty much a plate of carbs…YUM! Unfortunately due to an extreme time crunch and fear of missing the bus I jumped in and out of the outdoor shower and ended up forgetting my bathing suit over the curtain…erg!
Regardless, Manuel Antonio was pretty amazing. So there you have it, 23 mosquito bites and endless bed bug bites later, I returned to San Jose! My favorite part was 100% the monkeys. I did, after all, used to have an email address titled lil_chimp. Ya…let’s just not talk about that. Hasta Luego!
Be Healthy, Be Happy, Be Chic.
xx Neda xx