While in Manuel Antonio, one of the things to do is to take a mangrove boat tour through the forests. We found out about this from our hostel, as the owner was one of the tour guides. He didn’t give us the tour the day we did it, but he did shuttle my Norwegian friends and I to and from the boat launch.
One of the things I made sure to do while in Manuel Antonio was to visit Manuel Antonio National Park. I’m glad we decided to pay for a tour guide because we wouldn’t have seen most of the wildlife we saw without one.
From Monteverde, my 3 friends from Norway and I decided to take a cab down to Manuel Antonio. It cost a little bit more than taking a bus, but it also saved us several hours on travel time. We stopped in Cocodrilo on the way to grab a snack and also to see a whole bunch of American crocodiles under the bridge (I counted 13).
After an exciting morning of ziplining, I decided to go on a tour of the coffee plantation of the largest coffee maker in Costa Rica. Costa Rican coffee is a huge export from the country, one of the biggest. Brazil and Colombia are the mass-producers of coffee, but Costa Rica competes not on mass-production, but on high-end, luxury coffee. The coffee they produce and sell at the plantation and export all over the world is not the same coffee that the average Costa Rican would drink because it’s too expensive (the tour was very informative). At this plantation, the Costa Rican coffee beans are grown, picked, 4 layers peeled off (each with its own mostly manual process), roasted, and packaged.
First, this is what they use to transport things around the plantation. Kind of old school I know.
Then, where the coffee beans are actually grown.
And the beans prior to going in the roaster once they’ve had all the different layers stripped.
Don Juan makes a light roast, dark roast, and medium roast (which is half light roast and half dark roast). The dark roast is left in the roaster just slightly longer than the light roast. We were able to try both a whole bean from both the light and dark roasts. I preferred the light, but both would have been better with a little sugar!
All in all, the tour was very interesting. The best part was that after the tour, we got to drink all the coffee we wanted, plus try other specialties like coffee liqueur and chocolate covered coffee beans (all of which were delicious!). I preferred the light roast over the dark roast because it a little less bitter to me. The coffee is so good that it barely even needs sugar.
I decided that instead of bringing home some lame souvenirs, I would bring home some packets of Costa Rican coffee. I ended up bringing about 2 kilos back. This was interesting when I was going through customs at the airport coming home and telling them I’m bringing back 2 kilos of anything! The customs agent just laughed, though. Too bad I’m just about out now, so I guess I’m going to have to order some more off their website.
One of the coolest things I did while in Costa Rica was a zip lining excursion in the Monteverde cloud forest. It was a blast! There were 13 different lines, ranging in length and speed, plus the Tarzan Swing and the Superman line at the end. This was before we were about to go.
And here we go!
It took a little bit of getting used to the first time or two, learning how to control your speed as you’re coming into the other end so you don’t crash into everybody. As you can see, you have to keep one arm behind you on the line to keep yourself straight. Otherwise, you would be spinning around the whole time down the line. Fortunately, they give you special gloves to wear to do this with. The other thing is that the lines are pretty much connected to the tops of two mountains and you are ziplining between the two, with a huge drop in between. It’s beautiful scenery, but definitely not for the faint of heart!