My hike along the well kept, majestic trail in Cauita National Park contained a mix of spotting natural wildlife and watching the slightly less natural behaviour of tourists. While, I intended to go on a solo, peaceful and somewhat wild walk, sharing my experience with numerous others turned out to be quiet amusing and made my walk all the more exciting. The path began through the palm tree forest adjacent to the Caribbean coast. It was surreal to see park rangers sweeping the dusty floor, maintaining a perfect path for us tourists. It must have terribly upset the trails of the thousands of red ants carrying leaves thrice their size. Nonetheless, it made the walk easy and the abundance of rangers is surely a positive thing as they monitor and protect the almost pristine forest.
Spotting wildlife was made easy by clusters of people stopping staring, pointing and aiming their cameras towards the found creature. The first clustering of people showed me some spider monkeys. These black bodied and white faced agile creatures, swung from tree to tree looking down at the strange humans watching them. One decided to pee, so I swiftly walked on.
The next bunch of tourists were from France and showed me a curled up bright yellow snake bathing in a tree trunk hollow. The snake was sheltering it’s self from the intense sun. I witnessed different types of tourists, there were the friendly folk who were desperate to point out what they had seen, the quiet type who strolled along engrossed with their friends or family and then those who sunbathed and picniced peacefully. The thing everyone had in common, was the need to capture the beauty that surrounded us.
Throughout the entire walk I saw numerous crabs, walking along sideways. They held shells or bits of broken up rocks as a camouflage, hiding from predators. When they were exposed without their natural guard, they placed themselves tactically next to holes in the sand. If they felt threatened by tourists or other such scary beings, they would crawl into the shaded hole. It reminded me of the Nintendo kids game where you have to hit the beavers with a hammer when they appear on the screen.
A little way further I met a friendly Canadian couple, who were surprised that I was traveling alone. I reassured them that solo travel was in fact totally safe, fun and thrilling. We saw some colourful, large spiders that had masterfully created, intricate, beautiful and elaborate webs, aiding them successfully catching their dinner.
As I crossed a river and walked over some bridges I began to get away from all the people. I strolled along the stunning Caribbean coast, sharing the trail with less and less people. The white, soft sand looked perfect against the bright blue ocean. Waves hurled in with great force, palm trees stood slanting over the harsh but stunning sea. I sat under a palm tree, desperate for a bit of shade and read my book as I listened to the ocean roar. It shows that the further from the road you venture the more peace, quiet and solo adventure you find.
As I walked back into the tourist zone, I saw even more wildlife. A mother sloth cradling its baby hung high up in the tree. Each time the mother moved, it did so at such a slow pace. Stretching one arm, curling its long nails around the tree before moving it’s other arm. Watching this motion was fascinating if not slightly frustrating. Ingrained in me is the London city rush. However, this sloth had no reason to waste energy on speeding around. It was a plaid soul, content in just swinging from one tree.
Cahuita national park is a beautiful spot which is home to both mangrove forests and Caribbean white sand beaches. At first lots of tourists dot the path but the further you go the less people you see. It is the best of both worlds.