Don’t get me wrong: I love farms. That’s where food comes from. But after three weeks volunteering at a raw vegan farm in Costa Rica’s southern jungle, I needed to get back to the world of cheese, coffee and cooked foods. You might say I was on the hunt for a destination where I could “retox” my freshly cleansed system. I wanted a location with some tourist infrastructure; somewhere with the opportunity to mingle with other travelers, frolic in the ocean and sample a few tasty culinary options. I opted for the Pacific coast, in the Manuel Antonio area.

In the last week of the Costa Rican leg of my journey, I dined on delicious and cheap home cooked meals (comida tipica). For example, five bucks got me a delectable grilled chicken Casado at Soda Sanchez in downtown Quepos. As an Internet-junkie, dipping into Café Milagro for free WiFi and a chocolate-caramel iced latte (made with 100% Costa Rica coffee) was a perfect pick-me-up after an afternoon at the beach. And because my thirst for adventure is always larger than my budget, I opted to lay my head at Vista Serena Backpackers hostel. I elected for a $15/night shared room with air conditioning and kitchen access. Watching sunsets from gently swinging hammocks was stellar, and the owner, Conrad, went out of his way to ensure guests had a relaxing stay.

But the top “not-to-be-missed” adventure was a stroll through the areas namesake: the much-celebrated Manuel Antonio National Park where monkeys, toucans, sloths and other exotic jungle creatures are the main characters in a ecological theatrical production where we humans, quickly become a wide-eyed audience.

In this second video episode of my 2011 journey, I introduce you to local guide and naturalist Henry Pizarro Espinoza, and we learn a bit more about Manuel Antonio park, what else to do in the area and why now is the best time to visit!

Daniel Baylis is spending 2011 traveling the world. Each month he’ll explore a new destination where he’ll volunteer his services in exchange for food and accommodation. Where will he travel next? Check out his blog, The Conversationalist, and stay up-to-date with his reporting via Facebook and Twitter.  

 See Daniel’s other videos from MarrakechCape Town, Buenos AiresPeru and New Orleans.