Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Playa Montezuma days 2 & 3: Waterfalls, surfing, and a beach hut.

I'm already a few days behind, so I'd better write quick to catch up, before I forget it all. On Monday when I last left off, I was heading in from the beach to have breakfast. I made a giant meal of six eggs, fried peppers, a can of beans, and two long breads. I had half of that with a banana for breakfast and wrapped up the rest for lunch. By the time I finished eating, my friend Kim from Switzerland, whom I had met previously in Monteverde, had bused in from Puntarenas. We met at my hostel and he checked in. We immediately set off on a waterfall adventure.

A short walk down the road revealed a small path labeled "cascadas". We began tobfolloe the path which quickly let to a river characterized by a valley of large boulders through which cool mountain water trickled from alpine sources. The trail simply followed the water upwards, usually defaulting in rock scrambles on the boulders through the riverbed, with the water below. When the trail was not directly on top of the river, it ran along the sleet sides. Marked by the prints of those walking in front of us, and the shiny evidence of human hands wearing down tree roots and branches for support, not much other direction was given. Occasionally, the river made way for a waterfall, and to continue the hike there was an old rope or cord hanging from a root exposed above. This indicated that we had to scale the wall of the valley to reach the pool above which was feeding the waterfall.

The pools made beautiful swimming holes with wonderfully cool, clear water. We stopped to swim at each level, cooling off in the water, climbing the rushing falls and jumping from high ledges. One fall I jumped from was about 35 feel high; that was fairly terrifying, but awesome!

Lunch was a picnic by the falls, and we made our way back down and met my friend Adam, with whom we hung out on the beach (they swam, I napped) and walked around the tiny town.

That evening, we took some time to clean up and rest before preparing dinner in the hostel: the backpacker's special, pasta with spicy beans!

I was hooked by the stars and waves the night before, so we planned to head out there again with some beers, but our 6pack was taken from the hostel fridge...not cool! I was already running very low on colones and the town had no working ATM, so that meant water for refreshments. Anyway, we had a nice night, and I fell asleep on the hammock behind the hostel on the beach.

Tuesday was simpler. Waking up early on a tip we had gotten from an English surfer, we made our way out to Playa Grande, a beach 40minutes south of town. The walk there was beautiful and upon arrival I was taken aback by the huge stretch of largely unspoiled coastline. Waves crashing on the right, dense jungle on the left, and a wide beach of soft sand in between. The beach was probably a mile long, protected by natural jettys of rock (or dead coral) on the far sides. The water seemed muddy blue/brown from the shore, but was clear and clean feeling up close. It was the perfect temperature and seemed to cycle from cool to warm and back again.

We looked for a place to rent a surfboard, as the English guy had suggested and found a stand on the beach. Not a surf shop, the shelter turned out to be a sea turtle hatchery, with a load of babies set to hatch and be released in the next few days.

Without a surf board, and with the tide still out, we tucked in for a day of swimming. By mid day, I wanted to do something with my hands, and with the abundance of sundried driftwood, digging a big hole to sit in didn't seem to do the materials justice. So, I set out to collect the materials build a hut. I don't think he really saw the point to it, so as I built, Kim hoofed it back to town to find some food and water. We expected something to be sold on the beach (gringos on the beach and no one selling beer!? Unheard of!) but there was nothing to be found.

My design plan changed a few times, and I ended up with a teepee (tipi?) structure of sun-bleached wood, shaded with palm fronds. It was great, as the midday day sun really heating up I was already becoming a roasted tomato.

I went for another swim to cool off and scrape the sand from unholy places, then clambered into my hut to nap. It was at least 10degrees cooler inside with a nice seabreeze whistling through the driftwood. I awoke to Kim sticking a surfboard in the sand that he had carried all the way back from a rental shop in town...and there was even more good news, the jerks who had taken our beers replaced them! (admittedly, I had gone around the hostel last night warning everyone to label and guard their provisions as there "may be a theif among us!"). So, we enjoyed our lunch accompanied by our rightful Imperiales and then had an afternoon of novice surfing. I stood up on the board on my second try! It's a fun sport that I will totally try again.

At one point in the day, some of the turtle hatchery volunteers (Common wealth yuppy travelers) came by to nicely praise the shade structure I had built and then asked us to take it down when we were finished, as they can deter the turtles from laying their eggs. Apparently, a few weeks ago, somebody had built a shade structure and when mamma turtle crawled up on shore, it obstructed her route to her nesting ground and she turned back to the sea, likely dumping her litter underwater. So, sadly, but with an endangered species in mind, we took down the hut and headed back to town.

We cleaned up; I showered in cold water for an eternity to lower the temperature if my skin,  slathered my raw back with aloe gel and hydrocortisone, chased with a double dose of painkillers. After an hour or so, I actually felt pretty good.

That evening I met up with Adam to watch some street performers, and chatted with a Chilean girl for a while, until I was finally ready to call it a night.

Kim and I got up at 445am this morning to make the 520am bus for the 9am boat back to Puntarenas on the mainland. There we tool an 1130am bus to Liberia and switched to a 245pm bus to the border with Nicaragua at Pinas Blancas. The plan is to get all the way to Moyogalpa on Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua in one day. It's a crazy aggressive plan, but Kim had a time crunch, he needs to be back in San Jose to fly home to Switzerland on Saturday, 4 days from now. I was only too happy to have the motivation to get to Nicaragua already, as I'm spending too much too fast here in Costa Rica, Nicaragua should be a bit cheaper.

Well, anyway, we still have to get through the Costa Rican border, walk 1km through no-mans-land (international zone, whatever), bribe our way and get stamped into Nicaragua, then take a bus to Rivas, a bus to San Jorge, and a boat to Moyogalpa. I called ahead to a hostel, and hopefully they will save some beds.

Lets hope the line at customs is short and simple. In the meantime, Ticas love blasting their cell phone music for everyone to hear, so it's Gangnam style time..."heeeeey, sexy laday! Bam bam nam na na!"

Next time from Nicaragua!

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