Friday, December 4, 2009

Costa Rica - Montezuma and the Beach

I still have my sunburn from Costa Rica, but everything else about it is fading fast. I love traveling, so much, and was planning on doing a day-by-day recap here but I don’t know if I can recapture all those moments in my head. Even looking at the pictures (which I will post soon), there’s a certain level of bliss that just can’t be called back by my memory.

And little things, too. On my second-to-last day in Costa Rica, I suddenly realized my perpetually clogged sinuses had cleared. I hadn’t wore up with nasty sinus-snot mouth, nor was I blowing my nose throughout the day. All this despite the developing world-standard exhaust I was inhaling everyday, plus the occasional cigarette (since they’re supposed to relieve nausea and Eric was smoking some).

My favorite part of the trip was Montezuma, which is on the tip of the Nicoya Penninsula, on the inland side, so it doesn’t have the big waves and accompanying surfer crowd. When we arrived, we were tired after a 6am Tico bus, a two-hour 11:00 Ferry, and another hour and a half Tico bus (read: local, cheap bus. This was the only day we took the Tico bus but I would do it again if I had more time, since it just takes slightly longer and a knowledge of where you’re going), all after a night with virtually no sleep thanks to my choice to stay at $30/night Pension St. Elena (you get what you pay for). I was busy using my phone card to try to figure out a place to stay when Eric walked into a real estate office and found this great woman there. We ended up renting a house—really a rustic cabin—on the beach for just $80/night. It was amazing. There was no road behind the house, as we initially thought. People came and went literally by driving on the beach in 4X4s. Awesome. We hadn’t rented a car, but we were able to walk to town in about ten minutes, perfect for dinner and trips to the Montezuma Supermercado.

After getting all of our things settled that afternoon, we headed straight for the beach to cool off. The water was like bathwater. You just walked right in. There was absolutely no adjustment time at all. Perfect. The waves were pretty intense, and required some dedicated diving beneath them to get to a comfortable floating place far enough from shore. It just reminded me how much I love beaches, and how every time I am near one I want to live there.

We showered off, had some drinks, mango juice and rum courtesy of Eric’s mixology, and Imperial, the beer of Costa Rica (the other one is Pilsner).

The town itself is kind of like Berkely, California. A little hippie, a little upscale. There was the expensive smoothie place Organico that we ended up never going to, though we did buy some vegan granola from them to have for breakfast. The nice restaurant, Cocolores, which actually ended up being pretty well-priced for the "most expensive" place in town. The night we went there I had this mahi mahi (THREE huge filets...I couldn't finish them) with banana in curry sauce. The banana was SO good. I love sweet preparations for meats, and this was so original. Mmm. They also had a quesadilla-type place, and then our favorite, Cafe Buen Provecho. We ate there our first and last night there. We were totally bummed out on casados, which is Costa Rica's national dish. We tried to eat local, but let's be honest: Costa Rican food is not that exciting. A casado consists of some type of meat, generally grilled and greasy but somehow dry, rice, red bean (which were always cooked perfectly every time. I LOVE beans), plantains (good) or mashed potatoes (bad), and salad. The good ones were topped with local cheese, which is salty and has the consistency of feta with a more neutral, cottage cheese-y flavor. Anyway, after eating all this local food, we were thrilled to have the most amazing bread salad ever at this place, some delicious sangria, and filet mignon with this awesome cilantro/parsley dipping sauce. So, so good. The last night there, we made friends with the owner (who used to live in San Fran) and her boyfriend (a Tico). We also liked the waitress, who was from Ohio. They were so nice, and we talked about food and how it really fit our palette. It turned out they had only been open for a couple of weeks. The general friendliness with random people happened throughout our trip. It really happens naturally, but I also have to thank Eric for being more out there and willing to exchange emails, facebook, etc. with people. Our camera battery died when we were ziplining and we got this Belgian and French guy to take (HD!) videos of us ziplining. Now we just need to see them :).

That night we went back to the place, looking forward to our "quiet, private" place, especially after a night of hearing motorcycles all night. Instead, there was blasting salsa music coming from the resort which was around a rocky corner, a few hundred yards away. I was having none of it. I decided we should investigate rather than try to go to sleep and listen to hours of music. We had seen a wedding earlier on the beach, so we thought it might be the reception. We were right. We asked the waiter when they thought it would be over, they said 10 something, but thankfully Eric went ahead and talked to the head guy, who told us 11:30 and gave us free drinks. We hung around for awhile, awkwardly on the fringes of the (small) wedding. Closer to the beach, they were building a huge tepee fire, which was really beautiful to look at. You could see upstairs, and some other people at the resort were taking a break from their dinner and dancing. We went back, so tired the music didn't bother me as I drifted to sleep.

It started to rain in the middle of the night. Eric was complaining of bugs biting him. We had a "charming" mosquito net to drape over our bed. I was fine...or so I thought. I woke up the next morning, and on my way to the bathroom I could tell something was wrong. I had four or five bug bites around my eye, on my cheek and my forehead, and one of my eyes was swollen, deforming my face. This has happened to me exactly twice before, once at summer camp and once in NYC, and this ranked between the two of them. In all my pictures, if you look closely you can tell, especially when I'm smiling. One side will have no undereye crease at all because it's so swollen. Thankfully it didn't swell up from my nose side--that's what happened at summer camp and I looked like a chipmunk. The arm that was poking from the covers was also COVERED in bug bites. At least 30 on my upper arm. I had another 10 or so bug bites over the rest of my arm. Eric, on the other hand, was fine. All of his bites had "healed" overnight. Lucky bastard. Needless to say, I covered my body in carcinogenic DEET for the next three nights.

With the rainy weather, we didn't get around to beach walking until late in the day, when we found Playa Grande. Because there are periodic rock formations jutting out to the sea (Eric said they were volcanic), there are trails through those sections. After walking for quite some time, since I wanted to climb all through one section of the rocks, we found this amazing beach, probably at least a mile long of just sand. And no people. It was so beautiful. The waves had these incredibly long breaks. We swam for just 10-20 minutes, because it was getting to dusk, and vowed to return the next day.

The next day I rented a boogie board and we headed to Playa Grande. It was really hard to get out there with the board. It would take five minutes of HARD work to get past all the waves. Then some rogue ones would come up and give you more work to do! When I finally did catch a wave, I had one of the longest rides in my life. It was amazing, though I have to say I'd rather have shorter rides with an easier time getting to the reset position. The waves were also really strong, and it was hard to find one big enough to take you all the way to the shore that wouldn't just injure you instead...

Ok, I don't think anyone is going to read anymore than that. All for now!!

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