Friday, August 23, 2013
Our first morning waking up at Casa Astrid was full of so many possibilities of what we could do, but what we were most eager to do was sleep in. We woke up to pouring rain and had no problem getting some extra zzz’s while we listened to the sound of rain for several hours.
The guy at our rental car place had mentioned that the one good thing about the rainy season was it turned the usually dusty dirt roads into muddy roads. Even after hours of pouring rain that morning, the roads were still not as muddy as one would expect. I could only imagine how dusty the roads must be in the dry season if they were able to dry out relatively quickly after hours of rain.
Waking up late that first morning we noticed the rocky, volcanic terrain that had previously lay hidden beneath the ocean by our beach house. I was glad we saw the bottom of this rocky beach before we had decided to surf on it.
Not having vacationed by an ocean before, the idea of low and high tide was new to me. I learned that low tide in Costa Rica happened late morning and peaked around noon time. It was amazing to see how far back the ocean crept during low tide. In fact, the tide goes so low in the late mornings that a small island less than a mile down the beach from us, called Cemetery Island, can be walked to.
Since it was hard knowing what to tackle on our first free day in Costa Rica, I made a list of some of the things we were interested in doing so we would have a starting point. These things included: hiking to waterfalls, sea kayaking, surfing, visiting the Natural Reserve south of Cabuya, seeing turtles, deep sea fishing, zip lining, and snorkeling. We had no idea if some of these activities would be possible because of the time of year or our location in Costa Rica, so we just decided to play it by ear.
After getting a late start that morning we finally made our way back into the town of Montezuma to figure out what we could do for the day. We decided that the first thing we could do was to hike to some waterfalls that were just south of Montezuma.
We found a spot where we could pay a few colones to park for the hike and a local man waiting in the parking lot immediately told us that the river flow was too high to hike across it without a tour guide.
Since we were still in our car talking to this man we could not get a glimpse of the river to see if the flow was really that bad, but we brushed him off saying we would be fine. Bryce and I have crossed a lot of crazy rivers so how bad could it be? However, the man still firmly insisted that we could not go alone.
As we continued talking with him more we discovered what his motive was. He went on to say that if we didn’t have a tour guide to go with us we could pay him a tip and he would guide us across the river because he was familiar with the safe spots to cross.
At this point we were unsure whether the river was really as unsafe as the man made it out to be or whether the man was just trying to scare us so he could take us and earn a tip. We also wondered if the river was just unusually strong for that day only since it had poured rain that morning and perhaps a hike on another drier day would be safer.
We decided to abandon the idea of hiking to the waterfalls for the time being and eat lunch first. A unique, fancy restaurant called Playa de Los Artistas that we had read about in our guide book was closed for lunch so we decided we would visit it for dinner another night.
For lunch, we opted for another restaurant in our guide book called Cocolores. Almost all the restaurants were located along the beach with amazing views and sounds of the crashing waves, so you couldn’t go wrong with your restaurant choice in Montezuma.
Cocolores was no exception. They had several seating options located underneath a thatched-roof patio. Bryce ordered a fish dish and I ordered a Carbonara pasta dish, thinking that I might not get a chance to eat a simple dish like pasta again from any other restaurant.
After eating a big lunch we walked back to the trail head for the waterfalls with the idea that we would just allow the local guy to guide us since it seemed like he wouldn’t let us on the trail without him bugging us anyway. However, the local guy was nowhere to be found. This was fine with us because we were still not convinced the river flow was as bad as the local guy had claimed.
The hike followed along the river (mostly in the river and not beside it) and contained several small waterfalls along the way, but the main waterfall, that is about 24 meters tall and cascades into a deep pool, is reached after about a 20-minute hike that involves a few river crossings on slippery rocks.
When we reached the area of the river that we had to cross, which was just a few minutes into the hike, we noticed that the river was indeed flowing pretty good, but not so much that it looked dangerous. Since the water was flowing quickly and it had just rained, the water was very muddy and brown, making it difficult to determine the best spots to cross that were not too deep. Normally, getting wet would not be an issue for us, but the backpacks we were carrying had our cameras in them.
As we attempted to very slowly cross the rocky river, we noticed a man sitting on some large rocks nearby watching us. We assumed this was just a man enjoying an afternoon at the river, but he didn’t watch us long before he began giving us unsolicited advice on how and where to cross the river on the rocks and waterfalls.
It became clear to us that he was just like the previous man we ran into at the parking lot and he was just hoping for a tip in exchange for his advice. While his advice was helpful in the end, we still believe we could have crossed the river on our own. He ended up helping us across the first two sections of the river and we gave him a tip before he abandoned us, probably to return to the beginning of the hike and find more tourists to help.
We finally reached the tall waterfall and although we wore swimsuits with the idea of possibly swimming, this turned out to not be a good idea as the rain had caused the waterfall to be very brown and muddy and cascade down with great force.
There is another waterfall above this waterfall that you could do a steep, muddy hike to, however, we decided to take pictures by this first misty waterfall and continue back to the trailhead.
We decided to take the rest of the day off after our waterfall hike and just relax back at our beach house. We enjoyed a few drinks on our back patio while Bryce read on a hammock and I played with the pups and tracked down crabs on the beach.
Later that evening we decided to walk back to Cafe Coyote. We had purchased a few fruits and vegetables from the cafe owner and wanted to return the crate that we had carried them in.
While we were there at Cafe Coyote, almost as a sign that we should eat there, the rain began to pour. With no umbrella in hand we took a seat in the, once again, empty patio. We shared a special shrimp and tomato pasta dish that was not on the menu, but the owner was already cooking for herself, which turned out to be very yummy.
The owner Jenni had mentioned previously that she could get us set up with any tours or activities we wanted to do during our stay in Costa Rica, but since we hadn’t known what we wanted to do yet, we had not utilized her help. That evening we decided that a snorkeling trip would be a fun activity, so Jenni made a call and set up reservations for us with a tour company in Montezuma.
By the time we had finished eating, the rain had dwindled down to a drizzle and we walked back home to our beach house in the dark. Since the sun sets so early there it always felt like it was late and time to go to bed when it was only 7 o’clock. Since we needed to be in Montezuma early the next morning at 8:45 am to leave for our snorkeling trip, we were okay with heading back to the beach house when the night was still young.
When we returned from dinner that night in the darkness, we came upon a small frog perched on one of the screen windows near the front door. We wondered if this would become a nightly ritual to be greeted by a new creature every time we entered Casa Astrid.