Location: Manuel Antonio National Park

We awoke in glorious anticipation for a day at the beach but when we arrived it was quite the opposite, and we got a workout before any relaxation. After our bus ride, the guides took us on a 2-mile long hike. We marched on as best we could, but eventually, the heat and humidity drew us to the ocean. Upon arrival at the beach, we were greeted by lapping waves and a sweet, salty smell. We each eagerly dived into the ocean water while some stayed behind to watch our bags. Although even with this precaution a raccoon slyly made off with one of our lunches. The wildlife here was maybe too found of humans; even the white-faced capuchins would come down to sneak a peek at us. The only animal that would rather not be seen was the sloth, but we caught him napping up in the trees around lunchtime. With tired eyes and sun-reddened skin, we left the beach for Mono Azul, the best hotel around. We met the owner, Chip, the funniest, most outrageous person I’ve ever met, hands down. Even at 67, he acts more alive than many people I know. He also helped start a non-profit called Kids Saving the Rainforest that helps rescue injured animals. I was glad to be able to contribute to their cause before the day was spent.