Montezuma, Costa Rica

Trip Start Jul 12, 2006
Trip End Aug 2007

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Thursday, August 3, 2006

Our Montezuma adventure started early. Really early. We took the bus from downtown San José (yes, early) Saturday morning, jumpstarting a long day of travel. It went a little something like this: nice, comfortable 2 hour bus ride, a bit of waiting... a 3km walk in the heat, a 1 ˝ hour ferry, and finally a terribly bumpy, sweltering, overcrowded 2 hour bus ride. It was totally worth it, though! Montezuma was beautiful. There was the ocean, incredible foliage, crazy bugs, a rainforest, waterfalls, snorkeling...and hippies. Not the leftovers from the 1960's (okay, okay, there were about 5), but rather tons roughly around my age, "living off the land" in encampments and selling beaded creations made of hemp on the side of the street. What it came down to was this: there were tons of ex-patriots, from all over the place, many taking full advantage of substance laws and leniencies. Whatever; some of the handiwork was pretty cool. We stayed at a little backpacker-type hostel ($10 USD a night) on the beach. It was relatively clean, with shared bathrooms/showers. While I'm using the plural form there, just to clear things up, there were precisely two cramped toilets and two showers (not heated, but refreshing)-for the entire place.
We went for a swim as soon as we checked in. We ended up crashing pretty early, due to the long day. I don't know what our excuse was the rest of the weekend, though, because we were asleep by 9pm almost every night. Sunday we went for a long walk down one of the roads (uphill, downhill, not paved, sweltering heat). We passed a waterfall, which we would later take advantage of, as well as multiple gorgeous little beaches. We saw a huge black and yellow spider on our walk, as well as these trees that are covered in huge, sturdy thorns...Elizabeth named them 'No Touch' trees. Between the spider and the vicious jungle trees, I have decided it is best not to EVER LEAN ON ANYTHING while in Costa Rica, without giving it a once, twice and thrice-over. We went for a hike in the rainforest, and saw some pretty neat stuff...a caterpillar much larger than a finger, Tarzan-esque hanging vines, spectacular trees (including more of the No Touch variety), red/purple ground crabs, and howler monkeys. Oh, did I mention it was a bit muggy? Never in my life have I been that disgusting. We were so incredibly sweaty it was unbelievable...the kind that begins on your upper lip and brow, beading there, and just staying. A layer of it all over the body, but still it managed to increase, trickling and smearing itself everywhere. Now, combine that with dust from walking, and mud from the jungle; we were just plain gross. It was awesome! The upside was that on the way back, we stopped at one of those scenic little beaches, switched into our suits, and went for the most refreshing swims of our life. The tepid saltwater scoured off the grime, and the breaking waves were pretty darn fun to play in.
Monday was snorkeling day; we justified it with the fact that Elizabeth was leaving soon and had never done such a thing, I was about to settle in to the classroom, and not have a chance to try it for months and months. So, snorkeling we went. We met up with the group at 9am; there were ten of us and a guide. We hopped in the little boat and went for a 45 minute zoom across the water to La Isla Tortuga. We saw a pod of dolphins on our way there-we knew it was a possibility, but it was still surprising to see them! There were some pretty incredible rock formations, and the beach where we would eat lunch was only home to picnic tables, tree awnings, palms, and one little lunch-resort area for people who wanted to pay too much money. Before we got to snorkeling, our guide took the boat around to various fishermen to try and get some fish for lunch. We ended up getting four big Snappers from a captain who really, really didn't want to sell us any; our guide was a good haggler. There were pelicans all over the place, and I'll admit... I tried to splash one. After we dropped the fish off at the island, we went on to our snorkeling adventure. I was a bit unsteady at first; I didn't care much for the feeling of not getting enough air, but once I figured out how to pace myself things went smoothly. There were all sorts of beautiful fish...large striped ones, small dart-fast-back-and-forth ones, abalone, small starfish, schools of tiny silver fish; even a moray eel! We think there may have been some tiny jellyfish, too, because quite a few of us were stung by something. Lunch was barbequed fish on the beach, with a huge platter of fresh pineapple and melon, and a cabbage-slaw salad. I fell asleep on the beach, and then we went snorkeling again. We ended up heading back around 4pm. We were supposed to stay until 4:30, but bad weather was moving in. Total cost of snorkeling fun? Cheap...oh so very, very cheap. I am a volunteer, after all!
Tuesday was a leisurely morning, watching the waves, followed by the bumpiest bus ride of my life. That title had previously been given to the same route on the way over, This one took the cake. I almost fell out of my seat. Repeatedly. The bumpy rides were completely worth all the things I saw and experienced...there were geckos, iguanas, hermit crabs all over the place, giant moths, and delicious fruit juices.
All in all, the weekend proved to be an incredible start to my stay here in Costa Rica. It was both exhausting and exhilarating, and I'm pretty sure I took in way too much sun for my pasty self. No worries though...I slathered up the sunscreen.
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