Thursday, May 2, 2013

Montezuma: Days 2 & 3

My first morning in Montezuma began with a very early wake up and not because of my alarm. Without so much ambient lighting the rising of the sun is much more noticeable and when the forest starts waking up you do too - those howler monkeys are loud!

I wasn't worried though because I was going horse riding! I reluctantly pulled on some jeans after having been told to wear long pants despite the 30 degree weather. Then I had a quick breakfast and headed down with David to meet our guide at 7.30.
The morning that greeted me

Heading down to meet the horses

We got saddled up and began out 90 minute trek to the waterfall.
Our path took us past some biological reserves and national parks and over seven beaches. It also took us up some crazy inclines on pretty rough terrain that made me nervous!

The view from one of the crazy inclines

All those plants in the background are aloe vera as far as I could tell

Me and Chollo - my darling stead!

Some of the path was a little overgrown at human + horse height.

But the views were incredible!

We followed our guide on a short hike up to the top of the waterfall.

After I had a play in it that is!

And indulged in some delicious, juicy pineapple!

Looking back the way we came

On top of the world!

Selfies with Chollo - look what a poser he is!

This was taken by David and has some 'painter' edit on.
After some lunch and a lengthy siesta to avoid the heat of the day I reemerged and set off to climb to the top of a different waterfall - this one slightly more impressive and able to be swum in. The last was a nice change as it turned out to be a long hike, or should I say climb up a hill!

We walked to the other side of the bay then began the trek up the hill. This began rather eventfully with the first snake that I had seen in the 4 months that I've spent traveling through snake infested lands (excluding one in a cage at Disney which totally doesn't count). If you've met me in person you'll most likely know that I detest snakes. Like really, truly loathe them, have nightmares, am convinced they're out to get me despite the fact they're not necessarily capable of higher thought or, well, plotting and there aren't actually, ahem, any snakes in New Zealand. Hey, I never said it was a rational fear!
However, as I knew that I'd likely come across them at some stage in my travels I'd spent months mentally bracing myself. And it paid off.
To be fair, it was only a grass snake which is probably the least freaky kind, even by my standards but still. It was in the fallen leaves. It was near me. It moved suddenly. And I didn't die! Apart from a quick retreat and some shaky hands I was actually pretty fine and we continued up the path, though with as much avoidance of piles of leaves on my part as possible. 

Now, it's necessary to point out now that this was all in 30+ degree heat. I'm not sure of the exact temperature but it was humid, it was sweaty and I avoided going outside between 11 and 2. It's also necessary to point out that this entire trip was uphill on rough terrain. By the time we got the to first waterfall we were red-faced, sweaty and in dire need of a swim.

Luckily this waterfall, unlike the one from the morning, had a pool big enough for swimming at the base! Of course, we decided to continue further up to the third waterfall for some unknown reason. Especially as the path from that point on became so steep that we had to scramble on all fours, using tree roots as handholds and, at times, the rope that had been provided because it wasn't safe without one!

Once we got to the top we quickly stripped off and jumped in, had a swing on the rope and played around. Mainly we cooled off!
We met a couple on their honeymoon who wanted to visit NZ and asked me to just keep talking in my voice (I'm not sure which other I would have used!) It was a nice little country ego boost - something I encounter more than I would have thought traveling. People have one of three reactions upon hearing I'm from NZ: they've never heard of it/don't know where it is; they've heard of it and want to go/have heard good things; they've been and loved it and gush. This sounds like a generalisation but I think every exchange I've had about NZ has begun in one of those ways.

The bit where you actually climbed a rope
 Even in the most remote parts of the country you can buy jewellery from street-side vendors! And get hair extensions apparently.

Anyway, back to Montezuma. Having cooled down sufficiently we clambered back down to the beach, a trip that was thankfully devoid of further snakes. On the beach a reggae band was jamming so we stayed for a song. 

That evening our hostel gathered for a group dinner which was a nice send off and a relaxing night. We all cooked together (though I wasn't much involved in that to be honest!) then sat down to our bolognese - so Costa Rican, I know! The next day I did have a Costa Rican breakfast prepared by our hosts which included gallo pinto (a rice/bean mix that is often served for breakfast), banana, bread, eggs and coffee.

I had an easy morning with a trip up to some natural freshwater pools just off the beach and a dip in the ocean with some new arrivals. When I went back to grab my stuff there were monkeys! I had seen some earlier but hadn't been able to get a good photo. These ones were posers however so I snapped a few...
This is a Capuchin monkey I'm pretty sure

We had a visitor of another kind! Someone told me it was an iguana but another person disagreed - if you know what it is let me know!


Then at 2 it was on the bus back to San Jose. The ferry ride was beautiful as it was at twilight, it was a reasonable temperature (read not near broiling) and the full moon shone over the ocean. Very romantic!

I arrived home at around 9.30 and after a quick shower jumped straight into bed. And God, I slept!
Oh, and Eleanor - this is for you. I practiced some Spanish flashcards on the bus and look what popped up:

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