Sloths. Perezosos. Lazy One. Sloths get kind of a bad rep about being slow. But, I know one member of the Ramrod Team that emulates sloths in her climbing technique. It is true that climbing slowly is harder than climbing quickly, but (depending on the climbing circles of which you are a part) climbing quickly is overall more impressive and highly valued. I usually get complimented on “cruising it” while climbing, not “slothing it.”
During my week in Manuel Antonio, I did manage to make it to the Manuel Antonio National Park , known for its pristine rocky Pacific coastline, preserved jungle, and lots and lots of sloths. I mostly went to the park because a man staying at the same condo as me was looking to go one morning, wanted company, and had a car. As I believe I have said before, Manuel Antonio is a very hilly area with absolutely no walking infrastructure, and so this combination of company and car was appealing to me as well as him. Thus, we set off at 7:30 in the morning to avoid the crowds.
The entrance to the park is a little confusing because you need to buy a ticket at a kiosk away from the entrance before handing your ticket off. The ticket office accepts cash or card but be aware that if you use a credit card, it will go through as a cash request. Credit card companies don’t really like being treated as checking accounts and so will most likely start charging you an high interest rate immediately on the withdraw. I suggest you pay in cash. $15.00 United States dollars, which is continually bizarre to me, that a foreign country is so imbued in the tourist industry that it will forego its own currency in order to cater to the people it wants to attract. It’s little things like this that tend to dilute the cultural experience that some of us might be looking for. Part of the pleasure of travel is the struggle to work with a foreign currency. But I digress.
We were approached by several freelancing naturralist tour guides as we apprached the entrance of the park, wanting to hawk us some tickets and then charge probably about $25 for a tour. We were not very interested in a tour, having faith that we would enjoy our walk without one. Plenty of other groups around us did buy tours, however, so we ended up weaving our way through various groups as we walked along the cement walkways of the park. There was even more infrastructure in this park than in Yosemite, the most catering National Park I can imagine.
We enjoyed walking away from the crowds a bit, listening to the quiet but lively hum of jungle sounds around us. When we made it back to the main trail, there were crowds of people all pointing up excitedly at a tree. There, high in the crook of the tree was a sloth, just sitting and enjoying the day. People were absolutely loosing it. I’m not sure what it is about sloths that sets people off, but they do go crazy for them. They are pretty cute with their huge eyes and rounded little butts.
We made our way out to the beach, where David decided to head back early. I opted for hanging at the beach and getting another accidental sunburn as well as explore as much of the park as I could. I paid $15 of my precious cash, after all, and had nothing else to do, so I figured I might as well enjoy it.
I was going along a beach walk, surprisingly devoid of other people, when I finally spotted a sloth not very far up a tree to my left. Unlike the other sloth I had seen that day, this one was making moves, and I mean big moves. It stretched out its long arms in a way that would have put Gumby to shame, and quickly yet precisely grabbed the next branch it was looking for. Efficient and precise is how I would describe the sloth’s movements, which is the exact way I would describe my ideal climbing technique.
The sloth and I regarded each other for a brief moment before it moved its way gracefully up the tree, probably in search of more solitude. I immediately texted Rachel to tell her the good news: sloths really are climbing masters.
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