Here are some general notes we took about costa rica:
very clean hotels/restaurants/etc. even though most are open-air (esp. the bars and restaurants – even the bar in Puerto Viejo which had a sand floor was extremely clean).
paper napkins and toilet paper are thin. at the hotel la pradera that we stayed at in La Fortuna there was actually a toilet paper dispenser which released one sheet of paper at a time. pretty nifty and novel for us.
paper towels generally aren’t used in bathrooms etc. with towels being used and cleaned and reused again. the object in these measures being sustainability of the environment.
silverware in restaurants often comes in a small clean plastic bag though packaged plastic silverware is rarely offered.
restaurants and hotels can appear closed because of how dark they are but they are indeed open for business, only the lights aren’t being used unless its absolutely necessary again in the interest of sustainability but as this creates a more cozy and relaxed ambience patrons don’t mind. Some shop owners will turn on the lights and a/c when you walk in the door. I noticed this was a common practice in Mexico as well.
air conditioning is also optional, although much more necessary in regions with warmer climates, such as the carribean coast, than in more northern regions, such as monteverde.
Costa Ricans take pride in their establishments and their service so it’s been easy to come to expect the best here.
Okay so it’s been a while since we’ve been back and I want to get the rest of my stuff online so I’m just going to hook it up right quick yo. On day 11, we left Montezuma by boat and went back to Jaco (hell on earth). The car, miraculously was still there and not broken into. We hopped in and peaced out. This was a really cool trip down the west coast. Here are pics and vids:
The loud rambling racket of dump trucks traveling along the dirt road beside Hotel Lucy woke us up around 10 am. We had decided to sleep in and skip breakfast with our new friends in lieu of our previous night’s activities; however the sounds of the seaside town just beyond our open window motivated us to get moving. The conditions of the rooms we had rented in Jaco and now, in Montezuma, had caused Lauren’s right eye to develop a mild case of conjunctivitis (small bugs and dirty bed linens infesting your r.e.m. cycles will do that I guess) thus a decision was made between the both of us to get the hell out of there. We packed our belongings and quite literally hiked into town becoming sweatier and more haggard looking with each step we took.
Our intention was to purchase tickets for the next boat taxi out of Montezuma and then grab something to eat while we waited for it to come to shore so you can imagine our dismal dismay when the friendly amigo across the counter of the taxi kiosk informed us that the taxi for that day had already left at 9am. So glad we “slept” in. Faced with the proposition of sticking it out in Montezuma for another night, which after all wasn’t a bad village to hang out in so it wasn’t a bad proposition, we trudged down the main road keeping an eye out for an upgraded hotel to post up in. A sign advertising falafel enticed us to patronize an organic foods/vegan restaurant where the drinks and the air-conditioning were without a doubt the best things on the menu. Lauren ordered some kind of blackberry concoction while I opted for a lemonade with cilantro in it (hers was better ugh). We tried the veggie burgers at this place but they didn’t have ish on the ones we ferociously devoured in Monteverde. Though the food wasn’t really all that satisfactory the décor of the restaurant was so Lauren and I sat for about half an hour letting our meal digest while quietly conversing. We both agreed that the Costa Rican practice of employing the natural world’s beauty as decoration enough was supreme above the American mass-produced doo dads that hang on the walls of establishments such as Crapplebees and Ruby Doucheday. Some people just know what’s up and local flowers and artwork ARE what’s up. The time came for us to make moves, at least to our next destination: the Ylang-Ylang resort.
The walk was easy as we were hella motivated by the remembered images of the ocean front oasis that we’d seen the previous day on walkabout. As we approached paradise our steps quickened, the acceleration having something to do with the overloaded and mucho heavy packs we had straddling our backs and the central -American sunbeams beating down overhead. By this point Lauren was as good as broke so I foot the bill for a night of relaxation and restoration in one of the resorts bungalows which were “tent like” outdoor dwellings each with two twin beds or one king-size bed, running water, electricity, a fan, a mini-fridge, a porch, and a lighted pathway. There were well-kept community bathrooms for the bungalows which were as close to an outhouse as I’d ever prefer to get. After paying for the room we were told by the most gracious clerk that our tent had to be given a good once over by the housekeepers and that we could wait at the pool or in the hotel restaurant if we so chose. I was burning up and Lauren was rapidly melting into a pool of sweat on the ground so we dashed on over to the cool crystal waters hidden in an alcove to the right of the reception desk. Two hammocks, an invigorating swim, and a bat in the bath”cave” err room. Later our room was ready and we were definitely ready for it. We got down to business immediately, i.e. we napped out for about two or three hours then woke up and toyed with the free Wi-Fi for a while. Lauren sat on the porch and made a pseudo-effort at reading for her summer school course but gave up quickly and opted to shower instead (the better of the two I think).
The girls we met the day before kept talking about a waterfall about 20 or so minutes in the jungle out past the Hotel Lucy and with a couple of hours to kill before dinner would be served at the restaurant I thought it’d make an interesting trip. Lauren got herself together as did I and we took off with a burst of energy onto the beach, through the town, and into the jungle. We walked for about ten or fifteen minutes before reaching the first of two waterfalls, the second of which the girls must have been referring to. We clamored up the large rocks making up the fall and dipped our hands in the water the whole time enjoying the rushing sound of the cataract in motion. Lauren and I each chose a rock to perch on for a few moments while we took in the scene around us. Neither of us could help the feeling of euphoria beginning to wash over us. It was a culmination of having spent nearly two weeks in Costa Rica and being part of, if only temporarily, such a serene and primitive environment. I took some pictures and as it was beginning to get dark we both decided it would be best to forgo the second waterfall and head back to the resort for dinner. The walk back was peaceful and slow, both of us taking the time to really see, hear, and feel what was all around us. A mural was painted on the side of a sports enclosure, one of the late Michael Jackson’s songs was blaring from inside a bar, and people were riding ATV’s up and down the dirt roads weaving in and out of the throngs of pedestrians and occasional stray dogs.
We stopped at a convenient store in the middle of town and picked up some essentials: bottled water and chewing gum. I don’t know, when you’re hanging out unexpectedly in Montezuma all day and night what would you consider essential? Then, we sat. We picked out a stoop in front of a closed post office (I think, that detail is kinda fuzzy) and just sat there watching trucks and cars drive past on the main road of the town and people-watching. We talked off and on about this or that, but mostly we just observed. There were drunks with dogs and drunks with trucks and drunks with bracelets and earrings to sell but more so there were just people, same as us, hanging out not causing any harm. We damn near missed dinner because of all this looking and sitting, and because walking around in the heat and dirt will make you lose your appetite. We heaved ourselves up off the corner though and made our way back to the resort’s restaurant. And there we were seated at a white-clothed table, drinking wine, and covered in dirt sweat and sand. Nice. Lauren ordered a dish called the “Mermaid’s Purse” which consisted of a thin crepe filled with shrimp, potatoes, and beets all sautéed in a savory red wine sauce and tied up with some kind of sea grass so it looked like a little pouch. I had a seafood linguine of shrimp, scallops, and other various sea creatures served in a buttery sauce. We took down the wine and some of our food but were enjoying the atmosphere too much to worry about our hunger pangs. So, we asked the waiter if we could have our meals packed up as leftovers then took the food back to our bungalow and stored it there in the mini fridge.
After brainstorming for a little while about what our next (and last) activity of the day should be we came to the conclusion that it would be best to walk down on the beach and light a fire, not a big one relax. Lauren grabbed her I-pod and portable speakers and I rolled up a small fleece blanket and tucked it under my arm and then we were off. Shoes were unnecessary. Our soles felt pebbles, and dried palm fronds, and the cool sinking of the pressure of human bodies upon amassed sand grains. We were shadows drifting down an abandoned beach lit purely by celestial light. Eventually, we slowed to a stop amidst a small grove of trees we deemed a suitable place to build a fire. I put the blanket down flat upon a portion of the clearing close to a fallen tree trunk then gathered some firewood. Lauren sat cross-legged on the blanket tinkering with her iPod before choosing to play Iron and Wine. After a few unsuccessful solo attempts at brandishing a beach bonfire (humidified driftwood is NOT easily susceptible to flame) Lauren pitched in and some more brainstorming went down and, ta-da, just like that man made fire. <-woman too, duh-> Lauren returned to her spot on the patch of fleece and I joined her. Though the lifespan of the fire was short both of us continued to lie on the blanket, our eyes fixed on the tree branches and leaves hanging directly over us and the navy blue sky beyond. The rich green leaves grouped together in bunches began to take on different shapes in both of our minds and we discussed them as children discuss the possibilities of existence in passing clouds. We might have hung out on the darkened beach for an hour or so before growing tired, putting out the glowing embers of the fire, and packing up our things for the trek back. Along the way we paused and looked out over the churning onyx ocean contrasted only by the white crests and caps of the waves. It had all been a surreal lullaby which nudged us along back to our tent and, along with the nocturnal chatter of insects, sung us to sleep.
We had arranged the night before to take a speed boat taxi from playa jaco to montezuma at 10 am and to be picked up by a taxi at 9:30am to take us to the drop-off point so woke up early, showered, packed, chris made a chicken terriyaki stir-fry mre for breakfast and we drank battery energy drinks. We left the rental car in Jaco – weren’t so sure a/b doing that but had mad faith.
We threw our packs in the taxi and popped in, two tatted girls were already in there sitting up near the front. Chris and I situated ourselves in the back seat; had a crap night of sleep and bugs bothering us so were in somewhat of a grumpy mood; drove to the shore and taxi driver dropped us off at bus stop; we hung out there for a/b 20 minutes or so and got to know the girls from the taxi a little better; their names were candace and heather from los angeles, california and they ran a travel agency – were traveling for only a week – had just arrived in cr, jaco the night before; we exchanged some travel stories and made friends w/ each other then the boat taxi and driver arrived;
We all had to put our bags/belongings into big trash bags provided gratis by the captain; carried our crap out to boat drifting off shore, climbed on, situated ourselves chris and I across from the girls in front of boat; chris and I ate sunflower seeds while traveling as usual; decided we’d stay at the same hostel as the girls as we had no lodging arrangements as of yet and that we’d hang out w/the girls while in montezuma; captain drove us past el chorro waterfall on beach a little outside of montezuma which was cool since we prob. weren’t going to go in search of it anyway;
got dropped off on shore of montezuma in crushed shell sand and warm water; ripped trash bags off of packs; ran after captain to tip him; after girls talked to the other tico who’d been on the boat to ask him about hotels in the area we made our way across the sand and various volcanic rocks and boulders to the main dirt road cutting through the small oceanic town headed towards the hostel Hotel Lucy; Hostel was just a short walk over a hilly road parallel to coast; looked at rooms and tried to get a breezier one upstairs but language barrier between chris and I and “Lucy” was insurpassable; ended up w/ a quaint room downstairs which came w/ a fan and bugs that crawled on your face in your sleep but was only $20 a night;
changed clothes then headed into town for lunch w/ the girls (had avocado salad, casados con pollo en salsa, and some of the best fruit drinks in the world – mine was blackberry, chris had guayaba fruit) food was fresh, plentiful, and cheap; chris and I then hit the beach w/ the girls and discovered a pathway to the swanky front beach Ylang-Ylang resort (Hotel Lucy was front beach too, but not that kind of front beach); the tide started to come in and walking was becoming hazardous on the beach littered with heavy driftwood and human refuse so we headed back into town; Chris and I hit up an internet cafe for the rest of the day; I picked up a six pack of Pilsen from a supermarket next door to pass the time and we also had paralyzers made by the friendly bar staff/waiters at the restaurant next door which was run in connection with the internet cafe, nothing like good booze and the ability to facebook stalk;
I attempted talking to a man I imagined to be an ex-patriate, turns out he was but not from the U.S., from Argentina; the girls eventually found us as we finished up gulping the internet and the rest of our drinks; we headed to dinner at hotel restaurant that was featured in our Foddor’s guidebook (Coclones?) and had calamari, rounds of imperial and pilsen, ceviche, shrimp, and possibly the creamiest best fresh bread in the entire world, possibly. Unfortunately a special guest at our table, fernando the fly, drowned in the ceviche oil and was put to rest in an empty imperial bottle – a fitting way for a local to be buried I think.
after a leisurely dinner in the candle-lit and open-air establishment we all began, in a somewhat inebriated state of awe, to explore the little town. Not long after emerging from the restaurant we came across a barefoot firedancer rythmically swinging chained flames to a lively drum beat. we watched, mesmerized, by her seductive feat then headed back to the hotel to clean up for some after dinner activities. Live reggea music was being featured at a local bar/club called Choco’s so we decided to check it out. After changing, a large group of tourists from Hotel Lucy made the decents and ascents of the hilly main road together until we reached the bar. Policia were outside which caused us to hesitate entering, but I shrugged my shoulders and charged in purposefully to get a drink.
The music, loud and inviting, started up shortly after. Chris and I had our first drinks on a porch area attached to the bar. I headed in for another but got sidetracked by the impulse to dance to the rich percusive music and sticky warmth engulfing the crowded dance floor. Candace and Heather were dancing also so I joined them. Free liqeuor candies were given out by barstaff and, after he sauntered in, chris and I savored the creamy coffee treats as we swayed back and forth. after another beer and working up a good sweat chris and I ventured to the lawn outside the bar and listened to the pacific ocean waves break while attempting a bit of a rain dance, we needed to cool off pretty badly.