It’s been said that Costa Rica is one of the greenest countries on the planet and after my visit there for a month, I would have to agree. And what always comes with a green environment? Wildlife! Animals and nature are a part of life here. Don’t be surprised if you hear odd clicking sounds in your house or hotel room at night. It’s probably just the geckos in search of some bugs to eat. The people of Costa Rica, or Ticans, live in harmony with wildlife, which is something we are definitely not used to in the United States. They also make money from the environment. Manuel Antonio is a national park located inside the province of Puntarenas where you can take a short hike to swim at a beautiful private beach. But where parks in the US are free, this one is definitely not. Our guide didn’t mention a specific price, but it was implied that it wasn’t cheap. The trip was completely worth the money, though. Upon taking a few short steps into the gates of the park, we saw a beautiful three-toed sloth that was in full view. We also saw white-faced Capuchin monkeys and heard, as well as saw, howler monkeys. It’s such a blessing to see these animals in their own habitat. While on the beach, our guide Eric was lucky enough to spot a “Jesus Christ Lizard” and shortly after, three male raccoons came quite close to us in search of someone’s snacks to steal. If you are animal-obsessed, like me, then you will be in complete heaven here.
As mentioned above, you don’t have to venture far to get up close and personal with nature. Almost every house has a pet. The huge majority of people have dogs, but I did see a few cats on my 30 minute walks to and from school during the week. I was blessed to live in a complex with three dogs and a small puppy. Gorda, a Chihuahua mix, lived in my house and was one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met. It was fun to sneakily feed her some of my scraps and watch my Familia Tica play and interact with her. I was also lucky enough to pass a field of cows most days on my walk to CPI. They’re much different from the Black Angus cows back at home and let you get super-close to them.
Butterflies, frogs, hummingbirds, and other types of birds can be seen anywhere at any time. I thoroughly enjoyed walking around the beach, my home city of San Joaquin de Flores or our hike down to La Fortuna because of the always-present creatures just within arm’s reach. This place is paradise to many people for different reasons but my reason would have to be the fascinating creatures living in harmony with all of the beautiful people here. Pura Vida!