Surf Bum

Trip Start May 23, 2010
Trip End Aug 31, 2010

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Puntarenas,
Sunday, June 13, 2010

Our trip to Montezuma was pretty eventful.  Rather than taking an expensive private shuttle, we opted for public transport, starting with a very decrepit and cramped bus that rattled its way over unpaved roads for 3 hours until we got to the port town of Puntarenas.  We arrived with minutes to spare until the next ferry sailing, so rather than wait 2 hours for the next one, a taxi driver who was Fangio in a past life sped us to the ticket office.  In a rather panicked 2 minutes , a North American girl at the next ticket kiosk asked if we could lend her some cash since she had to get her car onto the next ferry without fail but they wouldn't accept payment by card.  We felt sorry for her and lent her the money she needed, which turned out to be a smart move: she immediately offered to drive us from the destination port of Paquera to Montezuma and give us our cash back when she reached an ATM.  Result! 

We made it on foot to the ferry just in time and managed to find the bar where they were showing the first match of the World Cup (S. Africa vs. Mexico...unsurprisingly, the Ticos were cheering the latter).  Just as we neared port, we caught up with new friend with the wheels.  She was a Canadian surfer chick named Zephyr, who has been living in Costa Rica since she was 14.  We squeezed our stuff into her car and I had some company in the front seat: her little dog Culpita, who was rescued by Zephyr's boyfriend from a San Jose crack-head.  Don't ask.  The dog was a real princess, clawing at my hand if I dared to stop petting her!

We arrived in Montezuma a short while later.  It's a lovely, sleepy little town which has a real surfer vibe to it (lots of people with dreadlocks and no real jobs to speak of other than playing the bongo drum and selling bracelets they make themselves.  Or drugs).  There's an impossibly beautiful coastline, with thick, green tropical forest fringing a string of grey/beige volcanic sand beaches, dotted with rocky outcrops and scattered piles of driftwood.  There is an abundance of wildlife, too.  Sitting outside our hotel room at breakfast, we saw a type of red squirrel with a black stripe down its back, various butterflies and even hummingbirds in a courtship flight. We even had a resident gecko sharing our room!

Taken with the surf theme of the place (in a strictly legal sense) and wanting something to distract me from the dismal performance of England (esp. Robert Green's gaffe) against the US, I signed up for a surf lesson.  Em's ribs are still very sore from her fall, so she had to pass, sadly.

My instructor for the surfing was Mauricio, a man with a body so brown and gnarled with sinewy muscle that had he smelled of Marmite I would have mistaken him for a giant Twiglet.  We followed him on a 30 minute walk along the Northern beaches, which was an adventure in itself.  Along the way we encountered howler monkeys, waterfalls emerging from wooded inlets and an array of crabs with black bodies, orange legs and bright purple claws.  The latter tend to turn up in force when the rains come, and every night in Montezuma we had a heavy shower with accompanying thunder and sheet lightning.  After passing a beach made almost entirely of seashells, we found Playa Grande, where I would have my second ever surf lesson (the last being back in Australia in 2002).

Mauricio started by encouraging me to get familiar with the Pacific Ocean.  I did this by drinking a lot of it.  The waves were pretty high and with a strong undertow, but I was soon able to stand up on the board and was impressed with my ability, even if Mauricio wasn't.  I'll never be the next Kelly Slater but managed a few good waves (though my puny shoulders needed work for better paddling, apparently) and Emma took some cool photos, which you can see below.  Excuse my backside hanging out in some of them...board shorts are known as 'baggies' after all!

The walk back to the town took rather longer, it being high tide.  Driftwood came right at us in the waves and almost took Ems down at one point.  I nearly lost a flip-flop in ankle-deep mud, but Em did lose one a minute later to the sea.  Still, we made it back alive and celebrated by trekking to see the town's very own waterfalls.  And yes, we bought Emma some more flips so she didn't have to hop all the way there.

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