Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Montezuma: Day 1

Even though it's my day off today I got up at 4.50am... to catch a bus to Montezuma!
The first part of the journey was a 2.5 hour bus ride to Puntarenas. This was cool because I hadn't seen a lot of the countryside yet, having flown into San Jose directly from Orlando. I met a French guy, David, at the bus station and chatted to him in French for most of the journey - great practice for me!

From Puntarenas I caught a ferry over to Paquera which took about an hour. It wasn't as scenic as the trip through the Malborough Sounds but was still pretty and I got some photos!
Our ferry - the Tambor II


This is David who is traveling from South America to  Canada for 2+ months.

Not clear but that's a gull chilling on a floating board. Guess he got sick of flying.

This is the arrivals terminal!

After docking we jumped into another bus and got a hair-raising ride to Montezuma! The road was about one and a half lanes wide with drops on one side for the majority and we went careening around corners.We did arrive safely in Montezuma, if rather abruptly - you're driving through scrub/jungle and then you turn a corner and you're in the centre of town!
The ocean from the bus

A shaded area outside on the way.

These plants were used as fences a lot, simply by attaching barbed wire at intervals. Most of them seem like a kind of stunted tree and are still alive.
 Once we did arrive however it was clear the journey was worth it!
The beach, metres from where the bus dropped us.

 I walked back up the road with David, who is also staying at my hostel. It's called Luz en el Cielo which means 'light in the sky' and there are hammocks everywhere!
 After dropping off my stuff I headed back down to town (about 50m away, it's not a big place) for a quick dip after traveling and to grab some cash and snacks.
 This guy was just gathering some coconut juice in the shade - a smart idea as it was insanely hot at midday!

The coconuts were just lying around as well!

These are the main two streets - it's reasonably touristy with a small supermarket, a few tour operators, some street stalls selling trinkets and cafes.

In the evening some people from the hostel and I headed down to grab some dinner at one of the local sopas before moving on to an open mic night.
Most of us got casado which is a traditional Costa Rican dish with rice, beans, salad and a meat of your choice. It's delicious, filling and generally pretty cheap.
 At the open mic night the performances ranged from Bob Marley to Ed Sheeran to the Bare Naked Ladies to some local music. All of it was performed commendably and everyone had a great time.
The first we saw of the open mic night!

She sang a couple included a Disney one from the Little Mermaid

He had to have the Little Mermaid explained to him!

Our group - we kept getting additions though

The dessert I shared with Sarah - gelato and fruit! Delicious!
 Some of the locals got up to dance because "the music touched my legs"
 And of course we had to join in!

Guess which two got up and performed? [hint: not me!]

Sammy singing!

Marley singing!
As I'm typing this I can hear the howler monkeys, the crickets and the waves while little lizards are popping in and out of sight in the rafters. And on the walk home I saw fireflies for the first time! Fireflies! It's a little silly how much a periodically glowing butt excites me but there it is.

Tomorrow I'm getting up early yet again! But of course it's worth it - I'm going on a tour of the waterfalls, national parks and ecological reserves around the area. Oh yeah, and it's on horseback!

Monday, April 22, 2013

100 en 1 día San Jose

This translates to One Hundred Days in One and is a festival where the citizens of San Jose reclaim the city for a day. Throughout the day there is dancing, performances, art, music - just about anything that the citizens want to do. The police go easy on things that might usually be considered graffiti and people of all ages get involved.You can either organise a performance beforehand or simply start performing when the mood strikes you. One of the points of the festival is to make San Jose a better city.

I think that what the people need is a good adventure

Mauricio and I wandered up after work and had a look around. It was freaking awesome! There were two or three performances each block, some obviously organised and some spontaneous. Some of the art or music was there for the whole day, other things would come together before your eyes and then disperse once performed, giving the feeling that you were witnessing something special and fleeting.

This statue was given a beautiful dress. 

A microphone was set up so the citizens could give public thanks for anything they were grateful for. I thanked Costa Rica for welcoming me and got some applause despite speaking in English and turning about the same colour as my dress!
 These girls were belly dancing in a way I hadn't seen before despite doing it for a couple of years, maybe a Costa Rican variation? They dispersed once the music stopped and within minutes the area looked like a regular street.

These guys were just sitting and jamming in the middle of a pedestrian mall. They have some bouncy stilts lying to the right though I didn't see them get used!

This ballerina took to the streets en pointe using an advertisement as a partner when required!

For all the cat and art lovers there was treasure a plenty! Artists were painting throughout the day and hanging their work to dry when done.

I got to watch some traditional Tico dancing! According to Mau it would have been more authentic if the guys had white shirts, different hats and the skirts were brighter. I was still pretty impressed.

This is my favourite photo!

Another facet of citizens seizing the city for themselves was the expression of any political criticisms they had. This sign roughly translates to "RIP historic buildings". I'm not sure of the politics that brought it on but there were chalk outlines, danger tape and 'tombstones' adorning the pavement throughout the city. 
Venturing to Parque Morazan we found even more entertainment.

Some citizens had decided to stake claim in their city by setting up a slackline and engaging in some very impressive gymnastics.
This guy was also bouncing on the slackline with his shins (knees bent) and then popping back up again to standing!

We found ourselves in the middle of a Costa Rican fable by a famous local author, Carmen Lyra. It begins with a cockroach who finds a coin in her house and wonders what to do with the money.
 Suddenly the bull, dog and cock all want to marry her!
 She's not sold on the idea.
 Until she meets the smooth rat. Look how classy he is with his white suit and bow tie. Obviously she agrees to marry him.
 One day she puts some rice pudding on the stove to cook before she heads out. The classy rat is the kind of rat who likes to have a taste of whatever anyone else is having, so she warns him that it's hot and he better be careful. (The word golosear translates to sweet tooth).
 Of course her husband can't resist.
 So he dies. This part of the story had no words and escalated rather quickly!
 His cockroach widow is very sad.
 Because he died she cried.
 The moral of the story as far as I could tell was don't be a sweet tooth! But it was presented in a cool way with a web of string guiding you through the story between the trees. It was especially fitting as something Carmen Lyra wrote at the end of each of her stories was something along the lines of "now you have gone into the story and out the other end it is time for another" (as closely as I can remember from the description yesterday)
 This is out of order but explains that he fell in the pot.
 The crazy park gymnasts!
 Mau attempting to stilt walk - it's all in the positioning of the tongue.
 Me getting the hang out it. To be fair, I've had a few years practice though not with this kind!

 One of the bands just wrapping up.
 A unicyclist cruising about.
People could verse each other in battles of wit at chess tables.

Where is Morazan?

The drum circle:

Hoolahooping of course!

An obstacle course for those brave of heart

A bright sail to shade passersby from the sun

Everyone got involved once the salsa music started playing!

There were colourful ropes about the place in case the urge (or nostalgia) overtook you to do some skipping.

Look Ma, no hands! Some young guys showed their prowess and daring on BMX bikes.

A troupe of belly dancers could be found under the trees

As the day was all about the people, some took advantage to complain about 'Student's wWay' being renamed Chinatown (even though it features nothing Chinese). The sign says "This is Student's Way, don't be fooled"

On the way home we were treated to a reggae performance where members of the crowd got involved. Bob Marley was featured along with more local fare, largely songs from Limon province.

You can check out other photos of the day on their facebook page.

Anyway, Adios for now! I'm off to Montezuma!
(I actually wrote this yesterday but the internet was crappy so I couldn't publish it. I'm in Montezuma now editing from a hammock watching monkeys - updates soon!)