Reserva Natural Absoluta Cabo Blanco

Took a trip to Reserva Natural Absoluta Cabo Blanco yesterday, the nature preserve that straddles the southwest tip of the Nicoyo Peninsula.

There are two walks, one an hour loop from the entrance, and the other a 4 hour trek that takes you through the plant-wrestling-match that is the jungle, down to a deserted beach and back. I got there at 11:00 and the last bus back leaves from outside the park at 3:20, so I was working my way through at as good of a clip as I could, sweat pouring off me like the water from the makeshift shower tacked onto my dorm room.

There were birds beyond counting, possibly because they were hopelessly hidden in the lush foliage. Howler monkeys did their thing overhead, and capuchin monkeys chirped and chattered back and forth, and at one point I startled one off the path who jumped up into the tree and stared at me from just over the path.

We’re just on the cusp of the wet season, any day now, and there is a thick layer of dry leaves on the ground. As I walk down the path it sounds like it’s raining. Picture a rustling of dry leaves in every direction, but no drops. Then add skittering motion as hundred of little critters run for cover at your approach.

Not lizards, although there are plenty of those too. Not leeches thank god. Not rats, snakes, or birds.

Crabs. Land crabs. Beautifully colored and ridiculously behaved.

As you approach, they skitter away, surprisingly frantically. The problem is that they don’t always know which direction is away, and often flee from you right down the path. It’s like the horror movie, when the person runs away from the killer truck…straight down the highway.

As you get closer they spread their claws in challenge/defense, which looks very impressive, but unfortunately alters their balance and they are prone to falling over backwards in a most undignified and panicked manner.

Their tiny crabby brains somehow manage to give the gesture some personal flair though. Some do it like professional wrestlers talking trash. Tiny crabby voices yelling “You want some of this?” Some remind me of low-riders, their carapace rocking down in the back, and bumping up in the front, arms swinging open like tricked-out doors. Others seem to just want a hug. Badly.

Walking along felt like riding a wave of pure crustacean terror. I made a game out of trying to match their timing, and must have looked perfectly insane to the monkeys overhead. Luckily I wasn’t doing it either of the two times I passed another hiker.

Does this remind anyone else of Tremors?

The beach at the end was gorgeous and utterly mine, not a soul in sight, just crowds of hermit crabs and a few hollowed-out lobster heads, neither of whom are particularly chatty.

When I got back to the ranger station I had time for a little yoga, coming up into cobra at one point to find myself looking into four perplexed little raccoon faces. Made it out to the bus in time to hang out with the driver for a bit, and he showed me these weird little green fruit things one of the trees is producing right now. Tasted pretty darn good.

Back to Montezuma with sore feet, tired legs, and an evening of hanging out with three excellent American chaps I met down here.

Gotta say it was a good day.