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February 16, 2011 / puravida2011

Great day in Manzanillo

Today Chico and I took our rental bikes (two rickety, rusty, one-speed cruisers with baskets on the front) and headed down the road in the direction of Panama to Manzanillo, which is about 5 miles but took us almost 45 minutes each way, given bike and road conditions. The ride itself is quite lovely, not right along the beach, but passing through nice jungle with little shops and hotels on both sides.
As we neared Manzanillo I spotted a sloth in a tree, not moving at all, so really not terribly interesting to watch for long, but we stopped and looked for a short time. And there were some challenging hills on the road just before we arrived at Manzanillo, which required some good effort on these little bikes on which we cannot fully extend our legs. We arrived in a lather.
Manzanillo is picturesque, with a long, pretty beach, a living reef, and a good Jamaican vibe: the trees are painted in green, yellow, and black stripes and Bob Marley croons from the main eatery in town. We rented snorkeling masks and flippers, and headed for the water.
Snorkeling in somewhat choppy waters was quite different from my prior experiences in Jamaica and Mexico. It took me about 15 minutes to get my breathing under control. Every time a biggish wave would lift me up I would reflexively take a great gasp of air, in spite of telling myself to relax and breathe slowly. In calmer waters after the first few moments overcoming the natural strangeness of breathing underwater I have found snorkeling deeply relaxing, just floating and watching the whole world that’s living just under the surface. Today it took a long time for me to really relax. And the water is not super clear at this time of year, because there is more surf than during the calmer months in the fall. All the same we did see some pretty coral and plenty of colorful tropical fish. The reef is so near the surface that it’s possible to see plenty even when the water is not crystal clear. But it was a bit nerve-wracking to have the reef just underneath us with the swells in the water. A couple of times I found myself really too close to touching coral, which is not good for the reef or for human skin either. Skin heals faster than the reef. We paddled around for about 40-45 minutes, then returned the gear and set up shop on the shore. There was a gorgeous cool breeze and we both had a good time reading and soaking up some warm sun.
After a couple of hours of beaching we headed to Maxi’s for lunch, which was scrumptious. There was a soccer game happening between Barcelona and Arsenal, which Chico tells me is like Celtics v. Lakers. A group of Spanish tourists and ex-pats was gathering around the television for the match.
On the trip home we had the amazing experience of watching a sloth cross the road. It was just beginning its journey as we rode up, so we got to commune with it for around five minutes of arduous crossing. What a strange animal! It has little short back legs, great long arms, super-long toenails on all feet, and a smiling expression. Resembled a wizened old man. As he was going down the far bank he tipped over side-ways and it was funny to see him try to right himself. Of course we did not have our camera with us. One day we’ll go out on purpose to get some good pictures. In the meantime here’s a sloth from the web:

And now we’ll watch “Tangled” and call it a day. Hasta la vista!

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4 Comments

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  1. Carla / Feb 18 2011 7:35 am

    I did not know they had sloths in Central America!! Whaddayaknow?!

    Sounds like y’all are having a great time (minus the broken finger..). Which side of CR do you like better?

    Carla

    • Carmena B. Zimmerman / Feb 18 2011 9:13 am

      Would it be illegal to bring home a little piece of coral reef? I have a piece from Australia that Carolyn Horton brought me years ago- would be interesting to compare. The Carribean side is
      sounding warmer is it? We are having warmdays yesterday and today, but tv weather says dont
      get excited- a cold spell is on its way from Minn. I wonder if after you look back on this time in CR
      in years to come, will you remember the warmth, the food, or the exuberance of being alive to
      enjoy the present, the most? Love, Momz

      • puravida2011 / Feb 18 2011 6:28 pm

        Mom,
        We can’t break off a piece of coral, that is a no-no. Fortunately, the coral reefs in Costa Rica are still thriving, so not many “dead” pieces wash ashore (like they do in Jamaica). But we’ll keep our eyes open for a suitable piece as we walk the beach. I’m sure we can find something for you.

        I think that our overwhelming and lasting impression is going to be just the superabundance of flora and fauna here. So many colorful plants and animals, and we find new stuff everyday. Anyhow, I hear that MN has had a few unseasonably warm days lately. I expect there will still be plenty of winter left for us when we get back though.
        We’ll put up another blog soon; I think it is time to collects some of my butterfly pictures.
        Stay tuned.
        Love,
        Chico

    • puravida2011 / Feb 18 2011 6:32 pm

      Carla,
      The sloth experience was definitely a thrill, and kind of creepy. I could not have ever expected to get that close to one. We also had a pretty close brush with some toucans a few days back. Of course, these things always happen when I am without my camera.

      We haven’t come to a final judgment about which side we prefer. There are definite pros and cons to each. I suspect that this will be the topic of one of our final blogs, so stay tuned.

      Hope all is well in NJ.
      Love,
      Chico

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