My friend and I went on an adventure to Costa Rica without an itinerary per se. We both wanted to have a good time and play it by ear, so we rented a car and let the adventure happen. And happen it did. At Puntarenas we joined a snorkel trip by the ferry. It was wonderfully relaxing and I got to see some coral reefs and tropical fish. The next day, we took the ferry across towards Montezuma. My friend and I were extremely excited to see monkeys, we've been hearing them up in the high canopies, but had yet to see one.
We decided to stop at the Curu National Wildlife Refuge on the Nicoya Peninsula (Pacific side), go for a hike and maybe get lucky to see a monkey or two. We crossed paths with an older American couple and they were disappointed about not seeing monkeys but enjoyed the hike. Our hopes were slightly diminished but we kept on. When we entered the trailhead into the jungle, there were three other French hikers taking a keen interest in something right off the trail. We joined them and took out our cameras to capture a female Howler monkey about 10 feet up in a tree and 5 feet away from the trail. Howler monkeys are large and intimidating, averaging 2-3 feet tall with guttural vocals.
The French hikers politely moved on down the trail for us to get a better picture. The monkey suddenly swooped down low closer to the trail. We giggled nervously and cautiously but quickly began to move away, up the trail. Without warning, she let out a war cry and jumped on my back; ripped my hair-tie out, threw my sunglasses in the bushes and shuffled my hair over my eyes. She then proceeded to pummel me to the ground screeching like a banshee. My friend on the sidelines is also screaming, frantically waving her arms and yelling “BAD! STOP BAD MONKEY!” She said she wanted to but was afraid to throw rocks at it since she may have hit me instead of my monkey attacker.
The monkey, let’s call her Shera, was so strong! She’s only 3 feet tall but definitely stronger than me by far. She felt like a large boulder on my back. I struggled to slowly stand up in hopes she would jump off back into the trees, but she just beat me until I fell back down. I was extremely afraid of her biting me, and then the horribly experience of having to get a series of rabies vaccinations. The entire time Shera was on my back, my skin was literally jumping with dread at receiving her many sharp monkey teeth. I did not want my vacation to end after it just got started!
After Shera felt she had made her point, she abruptly clambered back up a tree like the world was an incredibly boring place. Luckily, she didn’t bite me but I was scratched, beaten and bruised. Not surprisingly, I had an acute fear of all things monkey from then on. My friend and I were both shaken but continued on our hike along the trail anyway. This random monkey incident would not stop us from taking our journey! Ironically, the trees were chock-full of different monkey species through the rest of the trail. We hunkered down and crab-crawled under low hanging branches armed with a heavy rock for any monkey that dared to get too close. We never wanted to see another monkey again. It seemed like Shera told all her monkey friends to start terrorizing us for fun, seriously.
That short hike was the most tortuous journey I’ve ever experienced. The vacation continued however without further incident. My scratches and bruises healed up quickly, and I enjoyed all that Costa Rica had to offer (with a unique story to boot)."