My birthday (May 25) often falls on a holiday weekend back in the States, and it did again this year. However, not being in the United States, there was no holiday coincidence. However, that doesn’t mean that we didn’t get a chance to celebrate. Read on to hear how we used our “weekend” to celebrate my 31st.
We started our Workaway on Monday, May 18 (more to come on our workaway experience in a future post), which meant that we would get our scheduled “weekend” on Sat/Sun, but since my birthday fell on Monday, we decided to “work” 6 days in a row so that we’d get Sun/Mon off instead. Once we had that squared away, we had to figure out what to do. Jenny asked me what I wanted to do, and I told her I wanted to hike, explore, and eat something we haven’t had in a while. We researched the area and our options, and settled upon going south via bus to visit Manuel Antonio National Park and surrounding town.
We had a couple of choices for bus departures from Jaco, and we know we wanted to leave early to make the most of it. Instead of taking the 6:30am bus on Sunday, May 24, we decided to workout in the morning (Jenny on a run, me in the water surfing) and take the 8:45am bus out of town. It’s always great to start you day with a workout anyway. So, we caught a bus for a few bucks heading south to Quepos, then caught another local bus for a dollar to Manuel Antonio and walked to our hotel. Here’s where the fun and surprises really begins.
Before heading out to the National Park, we decided to cure our craving for Lebanese food and eat at a highly recommended spot appropriately called Falafel Bar. WOW, what a way to start the weekend. It was only 10:45am, but the falafel on a pita was amazing. The accompanying sauces and veggies made this sandwich top notch, and the ginger/blackberry smoothie was fantastic.
Full and ready for adventure, we took a taxi to the park entrance and started exploring. This park is well known and one of the most visited in the country, and for good reason. We hiked for an hour and a half, around “Cathedral Point” that you can see in the photo above. Along the way we made some friends with the locals and went for a much needed swim in the pristine waters. It was raining at that point, but who cared?! It was still in the 90s.
After our swim, I was still in the mood for some hiking, so I convinced Jenny to do another hike to a few “miradors” or lookouts. The “trail” was hardly that, it was well maintained wooden stairs and walkways – this park gets a lot of visitors, I think I mentioned that already. But, the path was worth it for the couple of miradors we came upon, and we had a surprise of seeing two wild deer in the forest on our walk back down. Finally, on our way out of the park, we were treated to a sloth climbing and eating right above the path! How cool!
Surprise, it’s your birthday!
Jenny organized the hotel and she had a few surprises in store for me. She hinted at something earlier in the day, but I didn’t know what to expect. The first surprise was that we were upgraded (for free) to their penthouse suite that included a lovely living room, jacuzzi bath and a fantastic view from the balcony. Then, while I was getting ready to go out for dinner, Jenny went to “scope out the pool” and instead had to hotel bring us a bottle of delicious champagne and fresh fruit! Again, that was complimentary! The bottle didn’t stand a chance, it’d been a while since we’d had champagne and on ice it tasted delicious.
Bubbly gone and stomachs hungry, it was time for dinner, my choice. I wanted something I hadn’t had in quite a few weeks. It’s one of those things that once you get a hankering for it, it doesn’t go away until you have it: wood-fired pizza and beer, of course! We had seen a local spot earlier from our bus seats, and double checked TripAdvisor to make sure we weren’t being fooled into going. All signs were a go! We split a half veggie / half Hawaiian and a couple beers, what an amazing birthday dinner. Post-dinner we craved some sweets, and the answer was to go an airplane. Not just any airplane either, it was a historical plane that was shot down over Nicaragua in 1968! Learn more about it here. They disassembled, shipped, and re-assembled in its current location. Chocolate cake sitting under the tail of the plane was a great ending to a fantastic day. We’d love to say we stayed up all night and hit up some of the fun bars, but we totally passed out by 9pm exhausted from a fun day of adventure.
The day of my birthday was our “Sunday” on our “weekend.” We decided to visit a small local beach before our breakfast. Jenny did a circuit workout on the beach while I meditated and swam out in the wonderful bay. As I was floating in the water, I was looking at the trees and thinking “it’d be so cool to see some monkeys from out here.” Not two minutes later my wish was fulfilled! White-faced capuchin monkeys started climbing a fruit tree right above Jenny’s workout! They’re so playful and enjoyable to watch, especially from your back, floating in the ocean. They stuck around for long enough to snap a couple pictures and a video. In addition to the capuchins, we saw some cute squirrel monkeys on our way, too.
Workout complete, breakfast done, it was time to request late checkout and hit the pool. We lounged and read for a couple hours, and once the swim up bar opened it was time for a birthday drink! A Curaçao margarita, coming right up!
In the afternoon we decided we couldn’t leave without having that amazing falafel pita again, so with our bellies full, we boarded our buses and made for Jaco. A short surf session in the late afternoon was going great until I accidentally rode a wave directly into Jenny’s head. OOPS! We did some examination on Jenny and we were glad when she didn’t show any of the warning signs for a concussion or major head injury – so it was just ice and Tylenol for the rest of the day. Phew.
Despite the little knock at the end of the day, it was an amazing weekend that wouldn’t have been half as special if my lovely wife hadn’t been there with me. Jenny, thanks for the fun, adventures and surprises for my birthday! I Love You!
We’re still in Jaco doing our Workaway, and we’ll share about that experience in our next post. Until then, keep adventuring!