I blogged about the lovely iguanas Costa Rica had to offer, but there was more than just large, scaly lizards to grab our attention.
Yours truly in front of a sign near the park entrance. That translates to Manuel Antonio National Park, but you probably figured that out. Incidentally, the shirt was a gift from my brother, who went to New Zealand and Australia on his honeymoon. It's a t-shirt with the outline of New Zealand on it. That's the closest he'll ever get to Costa Rica... but that's also the closest I'll get to New Zealand.
Anyway, the national park is part of several national parks in Costa Rica. The Ticos have set aside about a quarter of their land as wildlife preserve. One thing about the Ticos, they have quite a bit of pride in their country. You hardly saw any trash anywhere. They were very green down there with lots of recycle trash cans in several places we went. I guess when you have an awesome country filled with rainforests, you take a little more pride in them.
In this particular national team, there were several companies that offered tours. The tours weren't necessary - you can traverse the park yourself. But you won't see most of the animals we saw.
Such as this deadly snake:
It's an Eyelash Viper, and it was sitting on a large leaf about three feet off a path our group took. This picture was taken from our tour guide's telescope (they all carry telescopes so you can see stuff up close). One bite from this guy and you'd be dead in a matter of hours. That was a fun fact.
One of my favorites was the following groups of animals:
The above is a White-Face Monkey (who unfortunately didn't have his/her face turned towards us) and the one below is a Howler Monkey.
Monkeys down there all travel in groups, so when you see one you see lots. To see them, our guide said, all you do is keep an eye on the tops of the trees. If you see some shaking and movement, it's probably a monkey. It was crazy to see them hopping from tree to tree. Some of them had babies on their backs. They really didn't pay us any attention.
One thing we were warned about was this:
No Alimentar A Los Monos, Ni A LB.
Apparently monkeys and bananas aren't the greatest combination. Monkeys and people food don't mix either. Tourists are severely discouraged from feeding the animals, and we complied. We did, however, feed LB.
Another tree-dweller we saw was this:
A three-toed sloth! How cool is that?!? They move really, really slow. While monkeys zip from branch to branch and tree to tree, the sloth climbs up slowly and moves at a gentle pace. But they are also quite comfortable meandering through trees.
On the beach, there were dozens upon dozens of hermit crabs.
There were tiny ones to large ones, well, not that large. This was about as large as they got. But it was strange because you'd walk along certain parts of the beach and stop and you'd see the ground moving. There were so many crabs. Another thing the park discourages is for people to take seashells from the beach. Seashells could actuallly be crab shells, and hermit crabs go from shell to shell so if people take shells with them, the hermit crabs won't have anywhere to go.
There were several other animals we saw that I didn't get good pictures of: Blue-Morpho Butterflies, hummingbirds, grasshoppers, a Jesus Christ Lizard (named so because it walks on water), a large rodent... thing, and various forms of vegetation. I took pictures of them, they just didn't come out. See, in the rainforest, you can't use flash because it might spook the animals.
And you don't want to spook an Eyelash Viper, do you?