We’re staying at the doorstep of Cahuita National Reserve, so after a good but fly-infested breakfast we head for the park. The majority of the family lounges on the beach as my dad and I hike, a little paranoid after warnings of poisonous snakes. We don’t see slithery killers but do encounter much more friendly wildlife, including a sloth that fell out of a tree and more than a barrel’s worth of monkeys. I pet the sloth, which isn’t much of an achievement considering it has enough flies on it to rival breakfast and you have to stare at it for a good while to be sure it’s actually breathing.
Much cooler is playing with the monkeys. We see 5 literally on top of each other, wrestling for and rubbing themselves with fruit probably left by some overly fed tourist. I touch one’s tail, but only after it nearly pees on me. A monkey at the end of the trail makes all other wildlife pale in comparison: I walk up to him and he actually shakes hands with my finger! He climbs away after I pet him, so no helper monkey yet…
We see a boat emitting tourists at the trail’s end. One short discussion and large deposit later, I’m running through the woods to gather the rest of the family for an impromptu snorkeling expedition. They’re all game and the boat waits for us, allowing a coral-reef-exploring adventure. No sharks or other really scary stuff, but some cool fishies; my favorite was a little black one with almost luminescently bright neon blue lines that you had to be right next to him to discern. The boat doesn’t spring a leak and we all agree that this is much more enjoyable than our previous snorkeling attempt.
Looking for a bank discourages me and probably many other tourists from wanting to live here. We have to drive to Bri Bri, a town 15 minutes from Cahuita, to find a debit machine. This one’s out of money or otherwise broken down, so we’re basically out of luck: the next ATM is an hour away. It’s paradise, just don’t run out of money, get sick, need to communicate too modernly, or expect many conveniences…
Dinner’s no problem, provided that we don’t try to communicate with the waiter too much. A Jamaican guy who’s too chilled out to devote his life to following Phish or riding waves, serving food’s not his forte: all queries result in “no problem” as the answer. This is O.K. for ordering another beer, but becomes annoying when we’re asking whether anything comes on the side of a dish. It’s all good, though: dinner and the day are, appropriately, no problem.