Monday, June 18, 2012

Costa Rica–The Adventure to Montezuma

It was Father’s day and the first time ever that I was unable to talk with my father. It was a bit tough to swallow, but I did my best to concentrate on the amazing things surrounding me. I’d gotten up early to catch the end of the sunrise and journal some thoughts while I enjoyed some coffee overlooking the vast valley from our balcony. it was also my friend Gen’s birthday and having coffee outdoors is something she enjoys and so with each sip, I said a silent prayer for her.

Don and I took the carrito down for the last time to the restaurant. We loaded up on breakfast. Two coffees, banana pancakes, 2 eggs with hashbrowns, and traditional Costa Rican breakfast. That was probably the best Americano coffee I’ve ever had. It was so good, I had almost 3 cups.

Anyway, we bid adieu to our little romantic getaway and prepared ourselves for not only a journey, but another location that would be a bit above camping. A far cry from the luxury resort we just left. ha ha! Let me break it down for you:

We were going to travel from Liberia, south about 190 kilometers (gotta love the metric system) or 118 miles to Punta Arenas. From there, we will have to hop on a ferry with our car and travel an hour and a half to Parquera/Tambor. From there, we were to travel another 60 kilometers or 30 miles to get to Montezuma. We were told the trip to Punta Arenas would be about 2 hours and the drive over to Montezuma would be about an hour.

We left Liberia at 1PM. Sure enough, it took us about two hours to get to Punta Arenas. The road was well-paved, but because it was only one lane on each side, you were at the mercy of the slower lead cars. There were many, many times it was too difficult to pass. The drive over was filled with pleasant conversation. Great conversations was one of the reasons why I fell in love with Don, early on. We were both feeling quite content with the trip! And then, just as we were approaching the ferry, an older teenager jumped in front of our vehicle with a ferry sign. He proceeded to force feed us information about the ferry and where we were going, tips and tricks, that sort of thing. Then gave us a sob story about how this is his job to work in the heat giving information and that he wanted the 10000 colones for the time. We had yet to convert currency, so he jumped into the rental and navigated us over to a bank to exchange dollars. Then, when we finally got back to drop him off, he said, ok, 10000 colones…each! I just said, whatever and shrugged him off. We handed over the bills and afterwards, Don leaned over to me and let me know we just paid the guy $40. Then there it was, that nasty pit in my tummy. It could’ve been worse, right? Lesson learned, but it doesn’t feel great to be taken advantage of.

We had an hour to kill and found a steak taqueria to enjoy a quick lunch. Our server was an older gentleman from the Dominican. He was feisty and I liked that. I’d recounted the story of what had just happened to us and I could tell that he was physically getting a bad taste in his mouth. He was doing this grimace with a spit motion. I dunno, he was getting upset. He went on to tell me how in his 10 years of living in Costa Rica, he, himself has had similar experiences. But then he made a scrappy-fighter gesture, gesticulating heavily as if to say, “don’t mess with me, you don’t want none of this.” And that was the end of the story. I was slightly rejuvenated in my spirit.

We finished lunch, hearts of palm salad and fried yucca for me and grilled chicken, beans, tortillas, and fried plantain for Don. We went to the ferry, waited in line for a ticket, walked to the office to pay for the ticket, then drove the car into the hold of the ferry. We walked up to the sun deck to watch the journey.

While there, a small framed German girl sat next to me and we struck up a conversation. I’d seen her hop out of a tourism bus labeled as Montezuma. Turns out, her name is Klaudia and she is from Germany, living in LA studying to be a journalist. She will be staying at La Escuela del Sol for a month to learn how to surf and speak Spanish. In a few ways, she reminded me of our friend Toch, back home. Any way, there we sat, taking in the beauty of it all. We neared the port and while they were docking the ferry, the downpour began.

At this point, Don and I had to split up since they only allowed the drivers with the vehicle. I carefully climbed the two flights of stairs down in the rain, ever so grateful to my sister for giving us a wetbag to keep my cellphone and documents dry. I stood shivering in the holding area for about 10 minutes until Don appeared. Then it was chaos! With a strong prayer, we set on our journey, following a bus because well, it seemed it knew what to do. I remembered the boy mentioning going left when we came off the ferry, the same direction as the bus. In that downpour, we snaked along this incredibly winding road for about 15 kilometers before the bus pulled over and we had to keep pressing on. We knew we were going the right direction by the signs, until we came upon a set that didn’t have Montezuma listed. But, it did say Cobano and Don remembered the boy mentioning us to take a left to Montezuma from Cobano. So we pressed on in that direction. The rain had slowed to a trickle, but the road was effectively one and a half lanes. I said aloud, I miss lines painted on the road. I miss street lights. I miss reflectors. I miss sidewalks (because there were SOOOO many people and dogs walking in the middle of the road…at night…in the rain…in the pitch black). My hands were gripping the handle so tightly, they were cramping. My right leg stretched out, bracing myself. It wasn’t that Don was driving so fast, it was that the turns were so sharp and I wasn’t sure which side was the coast and which side may or may not be a valley for us to roll down. Again, no guard rails. I get anxiety just thinking about it all over again.

I kept counting down the kilometers from the odometer. I tried to relax a bit, but most of the relaxation came when the English music station played a song I was familiar with. I sang along and was distracted long enough for us to reach Cobano. Just 7 short kilometers to Montezuma. They were having some sort of festival/party in Cobano and on any other day we would have stopped. We kept going to Montezuma. After wandering around for about 10 minutes, we stopped and asked some locals for help. We found the spot and were so happy to be in our room. It was 10 minutes before 8PM. At 8PM is when Empanadas y Amigos welcome orientation began. We dined on the empanadas, said some hellos, listened to the information, and went back to the room. We settled in for a long day that began at 8:15 with Poi and Surfing at noon.

We were supposed to stay at the school until Sunday morning, but after that journey, we elected to forego that stay and head back closer to Liberia on Saturday. We just couldn’t chance missing our flight.

That night, we slept soundly as the rains continued to pour down for the next several hours.

1 comment:

E said...

Sounds like a great trip, if a little exciting and stressful, so far! I hope it finished up well.

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