Manuel Antonio National Park, Quepos, Costa Rica

We had been through Quepos a few days earlier on the first leg of the trip when we had done the white water rafting, this time we chose the national park. Manuel Antonio National Park was established in 1972 with a land area of 1,983 ha (the smallest of any Costa Rican national park), it is the destination of about 150,000 visitors annually and well known for its beautiful beaches and hiking trails.

Although Manuel Antonio National Park is Costa Rica's smallest national park, the diversity of wildlife in its 7 km2 is unequalled with 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds. Both brown-throated three-toed sloth and Hoffmann's two-toed sloth are a major feature, as are three of Costa Rica's four monkey species — the mantled howler monkey, Central American squirrel monkey, and Panamanian white-faced capuchin monkey. Black spiny-tailed iguana, green iguana, common basilisk, white-nosed coati and many snake and bat species are also common in the park. Included in the 184 bird species are toucans, woodpeckers, potoos, motmots, tanagers, turkey vulture, parakeets and hawks. Manuel Antonio was previously Costa Rica's second most visited park behind the Poás Volcano National Park which lies very close to San José. Due to recent eruptions, Poas Volcano is closed indefinitely, making Manuel Antonio the most visited national park in Costa Rica.

Capuchin Monkeys.The word "capuchin" derives from a group of friars named the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, an offshoot from the Franciscans, who wear brown robes with large hoods. When Portuguese explorers reached the Americas in the 15th century, they found small monkeys whose colorings resembled these friars, especially when in their robes with hoods down, and named them capuchins. The Capuchin Monkey was invariably used by Organ Grinders while busking

On returning to the Zodiacs, we came across old United Fruit Company housing. The United Fruit Company was an American corporation that traded in tropical fruit (primarily bananas), grown on Latin American plantations, and sold in the United States and Europe. It maintained a virtual monopoly in certain regions, some of which came to be called banana republics, such as Costa Rica, Honduras, and Guatemala. United Fruit had a deep and long-lasting impact on the economic and political development of several Latin American countries. Critics often accused it of exploitative neocolonialism, and described it as the archetypal example of the influence of a multinational corporation on the internal politics of the banana republics. After a period of financial decline, United Fruit was merged to become the United Brands Company. And In 1984 was transformed into the present-day Chiquita Brands International.

The United Fruit Company (UFCO) owned huge tracts of land and dominated regional transportation networks through its International Railways of Central America and its Great White Fleet of steamships. UFCO's policies of acquiring tax breaks and other benefits from host governments led to it building enclave economies in the regions, in which a company's investment is largely self-contained for its employees and overseas investors and the benefits of the export earnings are not shared with the host country. One of the company's primary tactics for maintaining market dominance was to control the distribution of banana lands. UFCO claimed that hurricanes, blight and other natural threats required them to hold extra land or reserve land. In practice, what this meant was that UFCO was able to prevent the government from distributing banana lands to peasants who wanted a share of the banana trade. The fact that the UFCO relied so heavily on manipulating land use rights to maintain their market dominance had a number of long-term consequences for the region. For the company to maintain its unequal land holdings it often required government concessions. And this in turn meant that the company had to be politically involved in the region even though it was an American company. In fact, the heavy-handed involvement of the company in often-corrupt governments created the term "banana republic", which represents a servile dictatorship.

In Costa Rica most of the banana plantations went after a banana blight hit the plants, and eventually these banana plantations have become oil palm plantations

Click on any of the thumbnails to get a bigger version of the picture


On to next port - Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica

Silver Explorer Oct 2019