Thursday, 23 February 2012

Surfing and alternative entertainment

Our shortest bus journey so far down the Pacific coast to Dominical. A nice little one street town next to a beach.  With no room booked we tramped up and down in the hot sun and found a nice place on the beach. The beach was famed for it strong surf breaks and each evening at around six the local experts showed off their moves with the sun setting behind them (although still no green flash). During the day the waves seemed to be a bit more forgiving so we hired a board and took turns riding our own waves.
This was were we were staying for Valentines night and with no fancy restaurants I decided to take Katie for some live music instead.  When we arrived she must have thought i was trying to get her to join a cult. The venue was a yoga studio and everyone there was very new agey and alternative.  The band introduced one song by saying that it was inspired by a old guru who had come through their community to preach. Despite or possibly because of the alternative nature we had a great time and my one regret was that I was too British to get up and dance.
On the last night we knew we had to get a 5am bus so needed an early night.  However our hostel seemed to have other ideas.  While all the time we were ther Dominical seemed like a laid back town full of hippies, surfers and yoga addicts the beach bar at our hostel decided to put on a wet t shirt competition.  We could not believe it the bar was full and the music was so loud it felt like the man was sitting at the end of our bed shouting into his mike introducing the women to the stage.  With perseverance and wax plugs we however got some sleep before our early bus.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Natural wonders and natural disasters

After a early bus ride and ferry trip we arrived in Quepos at a hostel called the wide mouth frog. There was some confusion about our booking and they only had one room available for us which was more pricey than we wanted but as we were tired and they had a pool so we were happy to take the room for one night. After a quick dip in the pool we walked down to the sea to see the sun set and so that Katie could see the green flash. For years I have attempted to convince Katie that when the sun sets perfectly into the sea the last slither of the sun turns green just before disappears. Unfortunately not only was Katie not convinced neither was the the sun which stubbornly refused to prove me right.
The next day we went to Manuel Antonio a small but rather busy natural park. In amongst the crowds we managed to see sloths, monkeys, big spiders and plenty of birds and lizards. We also found a really beautiful beach where we could lie down in the sun and swim in the lovely warm waters. Unfortunately Katie discovered that we did not have the sea all to ourselves when she suddenly felt a sharp pain on her leg where she must have swum past a jelly fish. And no we did not try the famous and rather unpleasant cure for jelly fish stings.
That night to save some cash we stayed in a cheap local hotel. We were the only gringos there but were made to feel very welcome. Although the the owner did freak me out a little when the lock on our door broke and she brought out a large carving knife in an attempt to wedge it open.
That night however at about 5 am we were woken by some violent shaking as our whole room rocked side to side. Not really sure what to do in an earth quake I kind of wished for a minute we had stayed in the hostel which was all on one floor and we knew we could trust the door not to jam. However apart from losing some sleep all was fine.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


Now we're going to have some epic journeys over the next 5 months but this one takes the lead so far - four buses, one ferry, three friendly Costa Ricans and twelve hours later we made it to hippyville aka Montezuma.  Luckily we instantly fell in love with it so it was definitely worth it and we had surprisingly enjoyed the journey.  We are keen to make more attempts to improve our Spanish after one of the friendly costa ricans who owned a cafe gave us a lesson with his local newspaper and we're determined to buy papers regularly now.

Montezuma is a very relaxed beachside town with organic cafes, yoga, camp fires, musicians singing in the street and stunning scenery.  The hostel we were staying in was so cool - it was in amongst the forest so we would see wildlife all around such as a skunk who was so cool and looked like the cartoon charscter skunk, coatis, exotic birds and lots of monkeys.  A monkey gave us a fright one evening as we were having a beer and a snack but we foiled his covert mission so all he went away with were some olive pips.

Montezuma had a lot to do nearby so it's not about just chilling on the beach.  We walked to a nearby waterfall which was stunning and had a big fresh water pool for swimming and jumping in.  We then took a steep climp up to get to the top if the waterfall where it turns out there were two more pools and waterfalls with people jumping in and chilling.  This was probably our most relaxing day yet.

Another highlight was a 5 hour walk in Cabo Blanco nature reserve where we saw bats, lots and lots of monkeys and our Special friend long nosed bears.  Luckily half way through the walk we made it to a beach so were able to have a refreshing swim as it was soooo hot - like walking in a sauna.  We're certainly starting to get fit now!!  Another day we went on a long coastal walk.  We were only planning on staying in Montezuma but kept on extending our stay as it had such a great vibe there and we'd met some nice people who we'd got food with and chilled on the beach.  And luckily we did stay on as Jonty heard that there was a turtle hatchery on the beach and we headed there and discovered 11 turtles had hatched that morning.  They were so cute and were desperate to be released but the volunteers had to wait until it was lower tide and less hot.  At 6pm both Jonty and I were allowed to release one of the little fellas.  It was funny the volunteers had raked out an area to make it easier for the turtles to walk to the sea and to get used to walking and swimming but it looked like they'd set up a race track and we should place our bets on who we thought was the usain bolt of the turtle world.  But of course we didn't do that!!  It was a pretty special moment seeing the turtles make their way to the massive ocean and something I (katie) had been wanting to experience for about 20 years.  And it was great to see that these projects exist as there are some shocking stats about these turtles, who were olive ridley turtles, only 1 in 1000 survive!

After 5 nights and one hostel change, as the town was so busy, we were finally ready to tear ourselves from Montezuma and begin another adventure at our next stop Quepos/Manual Antonio.  Adios Amigos, Katie and Jonty xxx

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


They say that one of the most important part of travelling is to experience different cultures. Well in that case in our visit to Tamarindo we have experienced the authentic cultural experience of an American beach resort. It is known as TamaGringo as it is full of American tourists looking for waves to surf and a place to get drunk.
We decided to embrace the whole cultural experience by going to a superbowl party cheering on the new york giants, who i am sure were inspired by our un informed chants to win a glorious victory.  We also tried out the local surf paying a guy on the beach to rent a board between the two of us. Katie showed me up after getting some tips from a guy who said he had been surfing for 50 years. Although after she shared her tips even I managed to ride at least one wave all the way in.

As well the cultural experience we also checked out the local wildlife. We booked a night tour of a beach where we were told there was a 90 percent chance of seeing turtles nest. We were very pleased to see two turtles coming in to nest. It was lovely but our guide did his best to ruin it by being as equally uniterested in us as well as the turtles.  We did however meet some nice Canadian girls who joined us for an 80s party dancing to MC hammer.  They also joined us for the all important experience of eating nachos as big as your ass as advertised in a local bar. They must however have decided we were quite petite as the nachos were not that big.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Head in the clouds...forests

First full day in Monteverde, home of the cloud forests, was a good one and a long one.  Up at 5.30am to catch the first local bus to the cloud forest and meet our guide Riccardo. Turns out Riccardo was as fascinating as the wildlife we'd come to see as he was from the original quaker family who bought the land and then set about protecting it and the local area.  Riccardo was a bird expert and tracked down the quetzel, the famous bird of costa rica which seems to be the one to see, but we preferred his mate the orange chested trojan.  The forest was incredible with tarzan type vines winding down through the trees and huge strangling figs.  After our tour we decided to walk some of the trails we hadn't had a chance to - across a hanging bridge and up to the continental divide which had stunning views.  Day was rounded off having food in a local bar with the footie on and some very excitable supporters who converted us to being Liga supporters by half time!

Had a lazier start to the next day with a visit to the hairdressers but the hairdresser in question was Jonty.  Can't believe it's taken only a week to get into a true traveller mentality but i was already a bit sick off having so much hair!  And i must say he did a good job.  If we run out of money perhaps we could tout out Jonty as a hairdresser although the cut is slightly lopsided but barely noticeable!! ha!

Headed off mid morning with provisions for a walk to a waterfall.  it was a beautiful sunny day and hot - surprisingly as the area isn't known for its heat.  After an hour we began our descent through fields and forests to the village with the waterfall.  It was great preparation for macchu picchu as it was almost a 4 hour walk there but well worth it as the waterfall was very impressive.  It was probably a couple if hundred meters high plunging into a pool and we had it all to ourselves.  After a picnic we began the walk back but had to get a taxi part of the way back to make sure we were back for our evenings activity. it was amusing ordering the taxi as we were in the middle of nowhere but came across a guy in a booth manning the area and with my minimal spanish asked him if he could call us a taxi and then chatted to him for about 20 mins in spanish as we waited for the taxi.  it's amazing what comes back to you and was really fascinating hearing bout his life.  We're both determined to learn a lot more spanish whilst we're away.

Made it back in time for a night wildlife tour of one of the parks which was pretty special and exciting.  We saw tarantulas in holes, leaf cutting ants building massive colonies, fireflies a possum and the showstopper a sloth having a night time snack.  The sloth is pretty  impressive animal with its ability to sleep for 20 hours a week but it does have one expedition a week where it has to climb down the tree and go to the toilet and then bury it. That's it!  But, they're not stupid the reason they climb down the tree and bury their business is to avoid predators sniffing them out.  We had been wanting to see a sloth for ages and it was great to finally see it with its crazy mullet hairstyle!  This was one of our favourite tours as we had such an enthusiastic guide and it was fun trying to spot creatures with our torches.  luckily we didn't come across any scorpians.  The day was finished up with food in a restaurant with a giant tree in the middle - very cool.  We were a little sad to leave Monteverde as we were staying in a funky hostel with a very chilled out communal area and the forests are just stunning.

I'm writing this from Tamarindo a beach resort but we'll fill you in on that in our next installment.  Lots of love, Katie (written by) and Jontyx