Thursday, May 14, 2009

Punta Burica Adventure or Where is that Happy Monkey?

What I love about my “retired” life in Panama is that I can have wild and joyful adventures every day. That is exactly what happened the last two days on my second trip to Mono Feliz. If you want to follow along on Google Earth, go to Puerto Armuelles, Panama and follow the Burica Peninsula (go south) to Punta Burica. Fasten your seatbelts!
We (my guests Sherri Ann & Ken Bennett & I) left Playa La Barqueta at 8:00 a.m. in order to catch low tide at noon. To reach Punta Burica where Mono Feliz is located, you need three things: a high clearance 4WD vehicle with good suspension and a powerful engine, a lead vehicle (in this case provided by my great neighbor Ken Sample), and lots of adrenaline. Mono Feliz (happy monkey) is roughly 3 hours from my front door. This was my second trip to Punta Burica (my first trip was in January with friends Pauline & Bridget – see the January 3, 2009 Blog).
Timing and driving was perfect (only getting lost once in Puerto Armuelles), and we made it to Mono Feliz by 11:30 a.m. We didn’t see any monkeys right away, so we went for a beach walk. The Samples (lead truck) and their friends (in the third vehicle) had to return on the same low tide, so they stayed close to Mono Feliz and left by 1:30 p.m. Our beach walk was lovely. It was overcast and windy so we stayed nice and cool. We found many treasures (including one rare piece of blue sea glass). After two miles of walking toward Costa Rica, we reached Dave’s eco-hotel ( This was my second visit with Dave. Had we walked 20 more minutes, we would have reached Costa Rica. By-the-way, Dave is getting frustrated with the Panamanian Government and is willing sell the hotel, all buildings and 5 hectares of untitled land to an interested buyer for $1,000,000 negotiable. I’m sure he would take $500,000 or less if you have that kind of change lying around. Dave showed us his boarders: a very cute baby white-nosed coati, the older and more cantankerous margay (Sherri Ann was somewhat freaked out when she entered its cage to get pictures), and incubating black sea turtle eggs (a subspecies of the green sea turtle with the scientific name Chelonia mydas agassizii). On the return walk, we almost ran into the jaws of a baby Alston’s mouse opossum (don’t ask me how he ended up on the beach hissing at us). We returned to Juancho’s Mono Feliz by late afternoon and discovered that both the red-backed squirrel monkeys and white-faced capuchins had visited in our absence. They put on quite a performance for the Samples and their friends before they had to leave. Within the hour, thirtyish squirrel monkeys returned and put on a delightful show (see the video below). In the course of the afternoon, we met another group of adventurers: Costa Rican Mr. Rafael, surfers Amy and Emma (on vacation from Florida and California), and the Limones Police Chief Mr. Lopez. Amy and Emma finished up surfing after high tide rolled back in so it was too late for them to return to Limones. We got to know them as they waited for the tide to recede. Unbelievably, they made it back to Limones in the dark after a few cocktails!
We stayed in the same cabanas used by my group the last time I was here (perched above the crashing surf) and enjoyed a peaceful night. My 6:00 a.m. walk gave me several treasures including land crab pictures (above) and three species of feeding monkeys on the hillside trail. After breakfast, we did one last beach walk. As we were saying our good-byes, Rafael reappeared (minus the surfer-girls who had moved on or Chief Lopez who was back to his police work). He was there to take Juancho and his wife on a road-trip to his house located in Costa Rica (west over the Burica Peninsula from Limones). Lucky for us, we were invited to follow along… hence another adventure! First we drove along the ocean to Limones where we stopped at Rafael’s house (he has several). He loaded his truck with supplies for the Costa Rica house and we were off. Within 30 minutes, we were in a new country (at least for Sherri Ann and Ken, pictured above on Rafael's porch). We were treated to several views of playful chestnut-mandibled toucans before we had to leave ahead of the climbing tide. Once we left, heavy rains followed us home. We stopped briefly at the Frontera for some duty-free shopping and were home by 5:00 p.m. Sherri Ann and Ken summed up the adventure as a combination of Robinson Crusoe, Gilligan’s Island, Survivor and Lost!


Costa Rica Land For Sale said...


I am very jealous. I have spent many vacations in Costa Rica and Panama and it has always been a dream of mine to live there. My family situation does not permit it right now, but soon...

Anonymous said...

Awesome post, Elaine. I can't wait to retire, now. Only 20 more years!