Day 6: Playa Manuel Antonio

I am so exhausted, but I had to get so much off my chest before I could go to sleep tonight.  Today was a very fun “Paul day.”  Paul didn’t have to work today, so we decided to go on a day trip somewhere.  He decided to visit the famous beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park.  Most people fly to the city if they are in San Jose.  But not if you have to pay for 6 people you don’t.  So, we drove.

It took around 3 hours with traffic and construction delays.  It was a beautiful drive, so we didn’t mind i tat all.  I had the girls in my car and Paul had the boys in his.  Yes, we have two cars down here and they only sit 5 in each.  So we must take both cars with us if we ever want to go anywhere as a family.  Fun huh!

I actually enjoy having my own car to drive with Paul.  I feel more in control and it is great practice to follow him around, so I can get the hang of driving in Costa Rica.  They have their own special way of driving here.  It is fun but boy is it crazy!

Anyway, I digress, just like my Dad.  So, we arrived at the VERY CROWDED beach town and parked our cars.  We had to walk quite a ways to purchase the tickets to get into the park.  $10.00 for 12 and older = $30.00 for our family to get in.  Of course we were offered tour guides but they were $40.00 and not really necessary.  They carry around telescopes for you to see the animals high up in the trees.  So, if you remembered to bring your binocoluars that you brought all the way from Utah, then you could have done the same thing.  But of course, we forgot them!  That is so Paul and I!

But Paul did lug in our huge camera and used that to look for animals.  I was a bit disappointed the kids weren’t going to see any animal,s until right at the last hill of the hike into the park.  We saw a monkey, an iguana, two hummingbirds and a racoon.

We didn’t take this picture, but this is how we found the monkey we saw.

The kids were stoked!  So were we and just in time.  The poor kids were exhausted.  It was quite the hike and of course they don’t tell you how long it is.  So we just kept telling the kids, “We are almost there!  Just hang on!  We can do it!”  But we never were.  There was always another bend or hill or long road ahead.  It was also very hot and humid.  Our sunscreen kept melting into our eyes and running off our bodies.  YUCK!

We finally made it down the very long, steep hill to the beach and had been told that we could walk around the cove to our car and not come back the way we came.  So, we looked for a beach closer to our car but settled on Manuel Antonio beach.  There were several to choose from but this one was the closest and the kids were DONE!  So we stayed.

Manuel Antonio beach, lower cove. 

First we set up “camp”.  We lugged in our awesome soccer tent and put it up in the shade and got out some much needed lunch.  Paul and I were famished but the older kids hit the waves as soon as we said go!  The younger two didn’t know what to think and played in the sand first.  While Paul and I were eating, a Park Ranger asked us to please put down our tent.  They don’t allow umbrellas or tents or anything that can take away from the “natural setting” of the park.  WHAT???  Okay?  So we did.

We sat on it instead, which was nice but lumpy.  After lunch, Paul took off for the ocean.  NOT LIKE HIM, NOT AT ALL!  He is usally the last one into the water because it is usually cold and he freezes quickly.  Not today!  He claimed the water was so warm, he could have stayed in it all day.  The kids had a blast playing with him in the water.  Paul taught E how to go out far and ride the waves as they came in.  Paul also helped K learn how to safely body surf.  G was finally out in the water too, practicing his “surfing” (planting your feet firmly in the sand, while the waves come crashing in and the sand pulls at your feet.).  L stuck by mom and played with the beach toys. ,That was okay, I needed some company since I was feeling bad that I didn’t “feel” like going in the water.  I felt like I didn’t want to be sticky, wet or uncomfortable.  Party pooper, huh!  Or was I?

After awhile the waves really got big.  They were rushing in so fast and so hard that the kids were losing their footing while playing in the surf.  Then the tide came in so close I thought it might touch my toes.  Paul got out of the ocean and decided to help the girls build a “dirty hot tub” (L called it that).  He got the walls up and then raced back into the ocean.  The girls stayed and worked on the “hot tub” some more but a HUGE WAVE came rushing in and rushed over the top of both girl’s heads, washing away all their hard work.

L was terrified, she hasn’t ever played in the ocean before.  K was just plain mad.  She worked so hard and now it was ruined.  While she pouted, I ran to L to help her out.  She was COVERED in sand.  I was going to help her wash it off when Paul ran up the beach and grabbed her for me.  He thought he would just dunk her in the surf and it would wash off quickly.  Well . . .  that is when the waves started CRASHING IN!

The first wave literally swept Paul off his feet and he landed with a THUD on his rear-end.  He still had L and she wasn’t hurt, but it definately scared her.  She was still covered in sand, as well as Paul now, so he tried again.  This time the second wave was GIGANTIC.  It actually scared me half to death to watch the wave crash ontop of them and not seem them for a minute.  Paul stood up, L was soaked from head to toe, gasping for air.  Paul looked frightened but I thought it was from the wave.

I came rushing out to help him and saw his leg was bleeding.  I thought he might have been poked by a stick or something. I grabbed L from him and he said, take her, I cut my leg open.  WHAT?!?!?!?  She was bawling, E and K were in shock when they saw the blood and Paul rushed back into the ocean.  What do I do now?  L is crying with fear and from the taste of salt up her nose and sand in every orifice of her body.  I didn’t know how I could help Paul with a cut but I knew I had packed the first aid kit this morning.  We would do our best.

Paul came running up the beach but his leg didn’t look cut, it looked gashed open.  There wasn’t much blood since the ocean water washed it away.  All you could see was the inside of his leg.  Now, stop for one moment.  I don’t know if many of you know this about me but I am a complete COWARD when it comes to blood, pain, trauma or hospitals.  I am known to faint too.  How the heck was I going to help my husband with an injury like this one?  I started to pray.  That was all I could do.

I rushed to Paul’s side, trying not to look at the wound and to assist him “fixing himself” (boy did I feel crappy I couldn’t do it for him).  The bleeding started in and we didn’t know what to do.  I rushed to a park guide/ranger and asked him for help.  He said he would call an ambulance for us.  In the mean time, I started packing like crazy and rounding up our stuff.  That is when the kids started to freak out.

I looked over to check on E and he was white/gray.  OH NO!  I know what that means.  He was going to faint.  So I rushed over to him, laid him on a towel with his head pointing down the beach and calmly explained to him that Daddy was okay and that Daddy didn’t feel much pain right now because of a “special chemical” in our bodies called adrenaline.  Heavenly Father gives us this special chemical to help us deal with these moments and to stay calm.  So E didn’t need to worry about Daddy.  All he needed to do was calm himself down and get some control.  That was all he needed to do to help.

Once I had E calmed down, K started in too.  I did the same thing for her and had her settled when another MONSTROUS wave came up the beach and soaked us all.  All that we brought to the beach was drenched in sandy water.  Poor Paul, here he is trying to prop his leg up, after bandaging it himself, and wait calmly for the ambulance to come.  Now he is soaked and even more sandy, the kids are crying and I have 7 towels and a picnic blanket soaked with sea water and sand.  HOLY COW!!

I dashed to get everything to higher ground.  The kids were bawling about being COVERED  in sand and I needed help, but from who.  People were aware of our situation but just stood there stunned.  Only 3 people out of hundreds asked if we needed help.  Only 1 actually tried to grab stuff.  I am amazed at how we all react differently to crisis’.  What would you do in this situation if you saw someone with 4 kids, scrambling to help her husband who had a huge gash on his leg?  I don’t know, do you?


Well, after we reached the trail (higher ground) Paul decided we would just start walking to the car since the ambulance hadn’t come and because the car was supposedly around the corner.  A Park Ranger happened to see his leg and asked him what happened?  Paul explained we were waiting for the ambulance but no one had come.  Paul told him it was okay because our car was just down the beach.  That was when the Ranger told us that we were wrong.  There was only one way in and out.  YIKES!  Up that steep hill and 2 miles of walking?  NO WAY!

We found out the ambulance WASN’T coming either.  Before panic set in, the nice Ranger called another ranger and asked him to please bring his truck down to the beach.  But we still had to hike to a safe place for the truck to meet us.  That walk alone was so difficult.  E had all the wet, sandy towels.  K had to carry the wet, sand and now heavy beach blanket.  G and L needed help to stay on the trail and not get distracted.  Paul had to cautiously walk out, so he couldn’t carry a thing.  That left me carrying: the nasty, sandy, wet soccer tent that I stuffed into its very small and tight bag, my mom’s roller cooler still filled with food and water (the kids never ate lunch) and our beach bag full of Paul’s leather sandals, the heavy camera bag, first aid kit, beach toys, etc.  You name it, I carried it out, all while holding little L’s tiny hand.

But you know what, even though my body ached, my heart was under attack with the stress that was mounting and my mind was working a million miles an hour trying to fix this accident or figure a way through it, all I could feel was CALM, UTTER CALM.  I still want to cry when I think about it.  Why did I bring that first aid kit?  We forgot K’s water shoes, our binoculars (we brought them for this day trip alone) and the jug of water, but I all of a sudden “remembered” to pack the first aid kit?  Paul also got an idea to fill a gallon sized bag full of ice for the cooler.  I had already made an ice block but he used the bag instead.  Thank Heavens, that is what helped him the most! So, even though I wanted to freak out, I couldn’t, because I SAW how blessed we were to have the things we NEEDED to get through this ordeal. 

After we made it to a safe place for the truck to come, just feet away from the steep hill, I started to tear up.  How was Paul going to get help after we got out of the National Park?  Where would he get stitched up?  That was when Paul said, “You know I am going to have to stitch this up myself don’t you?”  WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?  NO!!!!!  I CAN’T DO THAT! I can’t even be in the same room as someone getting stitches, how can I help him do it to himself?  That was it, I started to cry.

By this time we had gathered quite the audience.  Almost everyone was leaving after that last monstrous wave, so many were walking by in curiosity but not offering to help.  Until one man, walked up to me, wearing a BYU shirt and asks, ” Are you alright?  Do you need me to call someone?”  SERIOUSLY FOLKS, are you SERIOUS?

Not this exact one, but you get the point.

Out of hundreds of strangers at the park that day, I get the guy wearing a BYU shirt.  I just had to laugh.  I smiled at him, but still looking concerned, said that a truck was on its way.  He quickly said, “Okay!” and walked off.  I thought that was strange.  Why were you in such a hurry to leave? Until I saw him walk back to his wife, who had been the 2nd of the 3 people who had asked if we needed help.  I had turned here down, thinking an ambulance was on its way, but she was obviously still concerned and sent her husband this time to offer help.  Sweet family!  Way to go lady!  I don’t know if they were LDS or not but out of all those people there, they were the most helpful in just giving a darn to just ask than anything else!
Well, the truck was arriving and I was starting to get panicked again.  What if they only had room for Paul?  How was I going to walk out with 4 kids on my own?  I thought immediately of the pioneers and cried inside, “How did you do this?  How did you do this day after day after day?  I couldn’t bare it.  I am so weak compared to you!”  I just prayed we could get the help we needed too and we did!  The man asked the people in his truck to please get out so he could take this family to the entrance.  The passengers agreed and the 5 of us smooshed into the back seat of his truck. Paul sat in front with the man and our sandy gear was stowed in the bed of the truck.

The drive out was the most nurturing moment I could have hoped for.  Here is a man, using his truck to help a strange family leave the beach in safety.  He manuvered around the crowds of people and got us to the top without any more harm.  It was such a gift.  At first he parked at the entrance and I thought we would have to hike down to our cars, but he asked where we parked and offered to take us to our cars.  Again, WHAT A BLESSING!

We made it to our cars and got everything out of the truck.  The kids said, “Gracias” (pronounced: GRAW-shi-US) and the man smiled.  Then he looked at me.  I thought I was going to cry because his face was so sincere.  He knew that this was only the beginning of our ordeal and he prayed for the help we needed through his eyes.  I just smiled the best I could in return without crying.  I knew I had to be strong now but how?

The poor kids were drenched in sticky, wet sand.  They NEEDED a shower.  The parking lot owners came up to see what was the matter and saw Paul’s leg and the state the kids were in.  They quickly offered their showers for us to rinse off.  Sweet Paul sat in the car while I showered all 5 of us as quickly as I could and in such a primevil manner.  The showers were a nightmare but they at least help make us comfortable for the 3 hour drive we had ahead of us.  The owner didn’t even charge us the 500 colones a person for the showers.  Another kind blessing!

While we were showering, Paul made a plan to go to the local Farmacia (10 miles away) and purchase what he needed to temporarily hold the wound and the supplies for stitching it himself at home.  I just smiled and said okay, but feared this wasn’t a good idea.  Due to the weather, many were leaving the park at the same time, which made the roads seriously congested.  We made it to the pharmacy and Paul took care of his leg himself.  While he was doing that, he told me he had called a local friend of ours, Dave Petty, who told him of a hospital clinic at a Marriott Resort only an hour away in Jaco.  We jumped in the cars to get there as quickly as we could.

The roads were awful and took alot of patience on our part, but we made it. Our friend had called the clinic, alerted them we were on our way and was standing at the door waiting when we arrived.  Paul hopped out quickly.  The kids and I smooshed into my car and while they watched a movie on G’s ipad, I took a much needed nap.  An hour went by and Paul appeared bandaged up and looking MUCH BETTER!  (He had turned every shade of white, gray and ash at the park.  It was good to see him with color back in his face.)  We thanked the doctor and left for a nearby restaurant in the resort that the doctor had recommended.

Marriott’s Los Suenos resort near Jaco, Costa Rica.  Wish we could stay there!  GORGEOUS!

The restaurant was perfect, just what we all needed!  A great American dinner of 1/2 pound grilled hamburgers, french fries, chicken sticks, quesidillas and sea bass for Paul and I to share.  We all left filled emotionally, physically and mentally.  Now for the 2 hour drive home.  Do to it being so late, there was no traffic, so we made it home in an hour and a half.  Paul went straight to the room, took a bath/shower, re-bandaged his leg and fell fast asleep.  I was left to get the 3 sleeping kids to their beds, undress them, beg the oldest to help me unload the car and then convince him to shower before he went to sleep.  I also had to take the sandy towels out back and shake them off, hang them up to “dry”, change the wash waiting for me in the washer (started by our maid today – another story) and run our swimming suits through cold water to get the salt and sand out of them.

Needless to say, I AM EXHAUSTED but . . . I am alive, I have all the members of my family present, Paul is fixed up and fast asleep and I am able to count my MANY blessings.  Actually, putting L to bed tonight helped me think of how precious she is and how quickly things could have gone from bad to worse had she been hurt by the rocks as well.  Or what if she drowned because Paul couldn’t hold onto her like he did.  I owe a HUGE thank you to Paul!  Because he focused on protecting her, he put her first and did all he could to keep her out of the water as best he could.  That is when his leg HIT a rock and just burst open.  It wasn’t a cut.  The doctor said that when his leg hit the rock, it was just enough force to break his skin open.  CRAZY!  But all is well now, really Mom, we are going to be fine.  This is life!  We can’t control it, we can only let it happen, handle it the best way we can and then learn from it.  That is what we plan to do.

If anything, it was a great way to see how emergencies are handled here and how much they cost ($260.00 to stitch Paul up).  You don’t know until you have the opportunity to learn.  Right?  But one thing?  Could you all PLEASE say a prayer for Paul and us tonight?  Even though we got through today, it will still have its residual effects for the next few days.  I would really appreciate all the help we can get with this experience.  And being so far away, a prayer would fit perfectly in our hearts!  I love you all.  Thanks for reading, Wendi

  1 comment for “Day 6: Playa Manuel Antonio

  1. August 8, 2012 at 12:09 am

    Oh my gosh! Scary!!! Glad Paul is okay! You are amazing and so strong. I hope he is healing okay and the rest of you are recovered now. You’ll be in my prayers. Miss you guys!!

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