After our last Manakin Lodge breakfast, we hit the road at 7:30 a.m. We took a quick, more direct route to the Pan-American Highway, but the trip still took four and a half hours. We enjoyed a smooth ride before taking a break at a roadside food/restroom/souvenir/scarlet macaw spot. Across the highway, a giant bull statue stood with its rear to the road. It would have belonged at any Midwest barbecue joint, except it was a Zebu.
We made a pit stop in Liberia to grab snacks and supplies for a picnic at Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park. One of its trails meanders through a hot savanna sighing with sulfurous steam. It took us past a sickly, brown-yellow lagoon and white mud pits that coughed up melted rock and algae species endemic to just that part of the volcano. The ecotone in the park changes quickly between savanna and forest.
In the last stretch of the 3-kilometer hike, our guide heard spider monkeys. The canopy began to sway, and “cinnamon-colored” monkeys emerged. They dispersed, picking through leaves right above us. Time seemed to stop while we spent at least ten minutes watching them.
In all, the photographers took over 1,500 pictures and I took 16 pages of notes. We watched the sunset over the ocean. We arrived at our lodging at 7 p.m. and ate dinner in a dazed near-silence. There’s so much to tell, but not even enough energy among the five of us to begin describing the wonderful sights we saw and heard.