Montezuma and Malpais
Leaving the relatively cold, very cloudy and quite rainy cloud, rain forest of Monteverde, it was really nice to get back down to the coast and it's summertime feeling!
In what seems to be the norm when travelling in Central America, the bus left at 6am - the only bus of the day that is -, meaning that our alarm was set for 5 am as usual. After a 3h bus ride, we made the semi-crazy decision when arriving in Puntarenas to walk from the bus terminal to the ferry. The approx. 1 km walk ended up taking us 40 minutes, as 1km in Tico term is more like 3 km in real term.
With our 13 kilos backpacks strapped to our backs in 35 degrees and strong sunshine. But as always we made it! And were rewarded with a one-hour long ferry ride through remarkably beautiful coastlines.
After another 2h long super bumpy bus ride (you know the kind where you can't even drink water from a bottle without splashing yourself), we finally arrived in Montezuma, to be faced, for the first time during this trip with a shortage of rooms.
As we have so far been travelling during the low season touristy wise, we have never had to book accommodation in advance (the only exception was for San Jose, but that was rather to provide us with a meeting point as we were arriving from different directions and at different times), rather there have been plenty of options and quite often even possible to negotiate down the prices due to the lack of people.
So imagine our surprises as we walked from one place to another, exhausted from carrying our backpacks in the sun again after the 40 minutes stunt earlier the same day, and many of them were full! And those that weren't full, where out of our price range with no possibility to negotiate down the prices. This was new stuff for us, but a good reminder of what will come once we hit the real touristy high season in a couple of weeks as from mid-December to sometime February, Latin America goes on holidays, and over Christmas, North America and Europe joins them.
This hot and stuffy day in Montezuma the reason was rather that we arrived at around 2 pm on a Saturday, meaning that not only had foreign tourists descended on the village for the weekends, but so had locals from San Jose, as well as foreigners working in San Jose as there are direct buses from San Jose to Montezuma every day.
So what happened. Well, as we were still in the first week of travelling, meaning still in the period of trying to get our travel paces on the same track, trying to go from independent travelling to couple travelling with all that entails, we went into a bit of a fight...
Being so tired, hot, exhausted and not used to having to take account of the wishes of anyone else, it was probably a given. To be honest, after the first few days of lovely, romantic, reunited joy, we ended up in fights almost every day for a week afterward. Fights over the smallest most ridiculous things. Fights rather due to the circumstances of being exhausted and having to suddenly take into account the wishes, sometimes very stupid in the minds of the other person, of each other.
So, I (Helena) stomped off in my usual, very mature way. Leaving the backpacks with Nuno. And luckily for the peace and mind of the day, I managed to find ok places within our price range in just a few minutes.
So we ended up in a cool place close enough to the water allowing us to be awoken by the sound of waves, and howler monkeys, in the mornings. With a hammock outside our room and 5 meters away from the absolute centre of the village, we didn't do so bad after all.
Lesson learned from the day? A lesson that we have used several time since then. It is so much easier that one person sits down with all the luggage in a shaded spot, while the other one goes from one place to another to find a good place for the night without being exhausted by the weight of the luggage. As we move approx. every 2 nights this is a very useful lesson.
So what was Montezuma like? It was lovely. A bit touristy, but with nature so close by it wasn't really a problem. A little village by the coast at the bottom of some hills that is
completely immersed in green jungle like forests and surrounded by
beautiful, wild beaches.
Nature is so close by that as we stopped for lunch, at the next door place, the tree was suddenly full of cappuccino monkeys, the thieves among the monkeys of Costa Rica. We got really quite excited, having not yet been that close to these kind of monkeys, and went over for some close up pictures. Another thieving animal, some kind of bird this time, then came up and stole food from our plates while we were eating. Luckily for him, and for us, he stole some pig meat that we didn't actually like. So no harm there.
We then walked to the really beautiful, and free, waterfall (the water fall we went to next to Arenal costing us 10 USD felt like a bit of a waste of money at this point), and on the way we came by some really cool iguanas sunning themselves on the top of a wall.
After a good while admiring the iguanas and taking pictures, making movies and just looking at them in awe, we walked on and started the uphill, or rather up-water, ascent to the waterfall. The whole climb upwards actually took place through the river, so we were very happy to be wearing our hiking sandals.
We bumped into some fishermen who were diving for huge shrimps in the river. They were having a lucky day as they had caught around 30 or so shrimps that day.
After perhaps 30 minutes, we finally arrived at the waterfall.
The water was really quite cold, or refreshing perhaps, but we dove in directly and enjoyed fighting the strong current for some time.
Nuno climbed up in all different places possible (I think he might be some kind of lizard as he never seems to slip back down), to then dive back into the water. He also made it up behind the actual cascade of the waterfall, and after some time more, I tried it out myself.
(Nuno flying into the water #1)
(Nuno flying into the water #2)
It was very noisy back there, and quite impressive to get the side-splashed of the water coming down. And fun to jump back into the water from there, even if I took the safe, boring approach to jump feet first rather than dive.
(Helena behind the waterfall)
(Helena jumping from behind the water fall)
A cool day all in all that we ended with a walk on the long beach in the sunset.
(a rainbow without clouds, just high moisture content)
From Montezuma we moved on to Malpais, about 20 km away that took 1h30 of bumpy roads to get there. Malpais is a surfers town, not much except for the beach and the waves that hit the coast repetitively.
The waves were nice, specially in the early morning and late afternoon and I (Nuno) went surfing twice. The beach was ok but not special. In the hostel where we stayed there was mainly young Americans moved by the surf, there was a communal spirit and there was even a yoga 'instructor'.
With too many "dudes" around, and little to do except for surf we didn't stay for too long.