I once read somewhere that Costa Rica is the land of “no artificial ingredients.” After my visit there, I must admit I have come to agree. Not only were the sights and sounds of nature in Costa Rica some of the most beautiful and authentic I have seen, but I meet, in particular, one interesting character along my journey that took me into another world. He didn’t say much-he was a sloth after all-but he left a lasting impression of that visit for years to come.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
We came upon each other in the Manuel Antonio National Forest, where I was hiking with my family. On the central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, the Manuel Antonio National Forest is a small national park and conservation area that offers visitor dreamlike white sand beaches surrounded by an evergreen forest. Even the hot and humid weather of my June visit was barely noticeable as the beauty of my surroundings took my breath away.
Walking through the forest with my parents and younger brother Christian, I heard some rustling up above my head. I glanced up to see one of the oddest creatures I had ever seen. I wasn’t quite sure what I was even staring, looking at for a few minutes. In my “normal” life, I only see something like that at the zoo. My mom said that he was a sloth, the most darling sloth even though he was probably the only sloth we have ever seen, and I have to admit that I completely agreed with her. Immediately, we decided to knick name him Harry. He stared at me with a look as if he was daring me to come play with him.
I later came home and read that sloths don’t move too much; only when necessary. I was relieved, because I had sure thought that the adorable creature was just plain lazy As he relaxed high in the treetops, Harry posed for me as I took picture after picture, waiting to see what adventure he would take me on. Unfortunately, I ran into one adventure I wasn’t expecting; as I was hanging out with Harry, a group of momma monkeys and their babies were scampering overhead from tree to tree and they all pooped on me! I swear I saw Harry laughing!
Some people might laugh that bonding with a sloth is one of my favorite memories that I took away from my whole experience in Costa Rica. I live in a big city where nature is considered urban planning. The forest in Costa Rica took me to another time and place, where life moves a little slower, especially Harry, and taking time to enjoy what’s around you becomes more important.
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