We were sad to leave New York after it had given us such a glorious 10 days, but excited for what the next stage of our adventures would bring. Making sure to get what would probably be our last fast food luxuries for a while (McDonalds, Starbucks and Sushi), we had a 9 hour journey ahead, via Texas (why oh why do my routes keep bringing me back here!). An hour before we were scheduled to land, we heard a series of Spanish announcements that sounded rather important, but obviously we had no idea what they meant… It surmised that there was a volcanic ash cloud over San Jose (shock) so we would be landing in Liberia instead. The first challenge of our Central American adventures before we had even landed! Luckily the airline put us up in the Hilton and offered to fly us to San Jose the next day, but as we weren’t planning on staying there we decided to make our own way to our next destination: Montezuma.
Taking our first journey through a Spanish-speaking country was rather daunting. We found a nice travel agency man who, after we rejected his $250 cab offer, gave us instructions on the bus-bus-ferry-cab journey and didn’t make it sound too difficult. However being that he was the only English-speaking person we encountered, and it was the low season, the rest of the day was a bit of a struggle. We communicated with difficulty with various bus drivers and ended up at the port, however didn’t realise we were a longgg walk from the ferry so missed our time slot and ended up in a sweaty café drinking coke for 3 hours. The nice thing about getting a later ferry was watching the sunset across the sea which was beautiful! Too tired to haggle, we probably paid far more than needed for a cab that almost killed us, but hey ho, we got to our apartment and the lovely Carlos in good time.
Our first day in Montezuma it rained a lot, stormy and grey, which put a slight downer on the start of our Central American trip as we were worried it might rain the whole time! However we didn’t let it stop us enjoying the beach, sunbathing in the rain and even braving the stormy ocean which in hindsight wasn’t such a great idea – the one time I failed to jump a wave the force of the water held me under for a scary amount of time! Exciting though, obvs. We hid from the rain for a while, watching one tree hill in our room (don’t judge, it’s fabulous), and then ventured out in search of food. The little village of Montezuma literally consists of one main junction with about four restaurants, one bar and a few convenience stores. We discovered a really nice outdoor restaurant for dinner with a beach view, colourful lampshades and a lovely ambience. Bonus: they owned the fattest cat of life that waddled around all night for our entertainment.
Luckily the sun came out the next day which inspired us to hike it up to Montezuma falls. We started attempting to climb the waterfall ourselves but came across a few barriers i.e. big stretches of water with no obvious way across. So when a nice barefoot Costa Rican man offered to show us the way, we took him up on it. He also said we looked like native Costa Rican’s, lol. Don’t think the tan was that good. Careful stepping didn’t prevent us from getting drenched trainers, but we made it and emerged into the enclosure which looked amazing with the sun on it, and the sound from the falls echoing all around. Our waterfall expert man took some photos before departing, and we had a dip in the freezing (and very rocky) water! It was a lovely afternoon in the sun and a worthy respite after our hike up. There were more falls we could have climbed to, but we decided one was enough for the day..!
Our next (and last) stop in Costa Rica was the Monteverde Cloud Forest. The town of Monteverde felt quite mystical up in the foggy damp forest area, and slightly eerie given that it was a tourist location at a non-touristy time! The one place that was still busy most of the time was the famous ‘Treehouse‘ restaurant. It’s built around a massive tree which has a great effect, and lovely decor! I decided I wanted to open one in the UK then realised it wouldn’t be quite as practical… I actually really enjoyed exploring the little town, I had the best coffee of my travels in ‘Beso Espresso‘, and we found the ‘Monteverde Beer House’ which surprisingly served amazing Mediterranean food! Jack enjoyed a Shakshuka, which was a welcome break from the usual burger, and I had a yummy falafel wrap with the best homemade chips.
One of my favourite experiences of the whole trip was the canopy tour we did in Monteverde. We did ours with 100% Aventura because it seemed the best value for money; we got 12 zip lines across the cloud forest including the longest zip line in Latin America, a rappel, and a (mightily scary!) tarzan swing to top it all off. Most of the zip lines were quite short, but they got longer in the lead up to the epic one which was actually a superman zip line.
It was such an amazing experience, felt like flying across endless miles of green forest without any inkling of where you were going to land! I had a minor freak out half way as one of my strings was flapping about and I thought it had come undone so I was all ‘i’m going to die, i’m going to fall, oh my god, at least this is a good way to go’ and trying to keep as still as possible, as if that was going to help. When I hadn’t fallen after 5 seconds I assumed it was safe and went back to enjoying the views.
That experience would have been an amazing time for a GoPro but sadly we didn’t have one! Oh well, just means we’ll have to go back… I’m ashamed to say that I almost didn’t do the tarzan swing. I was giving all the excuses about back worries but really I was just being a pussy about jumping into nothingness. However I forced myself to do it and it was so great! Scary freefall but after you’ve been caught the swinging is great fun and hilarious! Jack even squealed when he did it, manly…
The other activity we did in Monteverde was the hanging bridges. This was more of a self-led tour, you were given a map of the route and just followed it round across all the different bridges. It was a very nature-filled experience, although we were sad not to spy many animals or insects! We definitely heard them though… Some bridges were really long which was amazing because you could see so much of the forest beneath, plus the different levels of trees and waterfalls!
Although we had some really fantastic experiences in Costa Rica, it wasn’t our favourite place. The tourism industry has definitely had an impact on the culture and feel of the country, and because of the low season the areas that catered to tourists weren’t fully functional which didn’t feel very lively! However Costa Rica definitely has some beautiful national parks and beaches, and I’m sad we didn’t get to explore more of them!