Today I left the homey and hazy beach town of Montezuma for the mountains.
Here’s how I got there:
First I took a minibus 1 hour east to the town of Paquera to catch the ferry. Our mini bus was constantly dodging potholes on the dirt roads. Then I took the 1 ½ hour ferry ride crossing the Gulf of Nicoya. From here I was to catch a public bus, but alas, it had departed just 15 minutes before the ferry arrived (seems like poor scheduling, no?). So I jumped in a cab with 3 other travelers I’d just met and we chased down the bus. I haggled with the cabbie for a lower fare and 20 minutes later we were on the “Express” bus to Monteverde Cloud Forest which was about 50 miles away. Three and a half hours later our “Express” bus rolled into the town of St. Elena just before the Forest. Once again, Costa Rica’s horrible roads slowed us to about 15 miles per hour most of the way here as we swerved around pot holes and dodged oncoming traffic while clinging to the side of a mountain blanketed in a thick dense fog. So combining my mini bus, ferry, taxi, and “express” bus it took me a total of 8 hours to get here.
It took me less time to fly to Costa Rica from Chicago.
But that’s okay—it’s all part of the adventure!
Plus, getting off the ferry and dashing into the taxi I met my first traveling partner who was also on his way to Monteverde. Marcel, from Freiburg, Germany, is traveling through Central America and Mexico for 3 months. With his new surfboard in tow, he had just come from a month of learning to ride the waves in one of the beaches on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. I was planning on staying at a hotel recommended by my book and also by a couple I met in Montezuma. Marcel’s budget was about $10 a night. I thought maybe this is it—tonight I will really take the plunge into hostel-dom and go for it. I’ve been a bit reluctant to give up my personal space yet and share a dorm room with smelly strangers, but since I’d have a friend in tow, I figured ‘what the heck?’ I needed that extra push to get out of my comfort zone. I could go with him to check it out and if I hated it I could always just go to my originally planned hotel.
As soon as we stepped off the bus from our LONG journey, we were bombarded with the ‘hotel hawkers.’ A group of about ten men and women with laminated pictures got in our faces shouting things like:
“Stay here get breakfast!”
“We have nice warm shower for you!”
I ignored them all and focused on retrieving my bag from the bus’s baggage compartment. My backpack is my number one priority. One woman had Marcel in her clutches and we decided to go with her and check out her place—if we didn’t like it we could always leave. Her and her husband drove us in their jeep about “500 meters” to their Cabinas. Surprisingly, it was actually very nice and VERY cheap. We have our own room with 2 beds and a private bath for…get this…$5 a night! Wha?? Now, that’s how I can afford this trip!!
Costa Rica you so cheapa!