BootsnAll Travel Network

Lost in Paradise, Montezuma, Costa Rica

I made the ferry with two and a half minutes to spare after miscalculating the length of the peninsula. It ended with a sprint to catch the boat as they were starting to raise the car loading ramp. It brought back a flash back to Sudan and almost missing the one time a week ferry to Egypt. Fucking bastard Police Chief who I hope burns in hell with his balls in a vise. Anyways, I climbed to the top passenger deck and sprawled out on one of the benches as there were not very many people on board. It took just a little bit over an hour to cross the stretch of water and to land on the Peninsula of Nicola and the gateway to my next destination of Montezuma.

Montezuma was probably the most talked about location on the backpacker trail. Stories about coves of secluded beaches, jungle walks to diveable water falls, and a real kick back mentality. I was a bit disappointed about passing up most of the Pacific coast locations as they just didn´t sound appealing having been heavily grinofied or rough and tumble with minimal accommodations. None of this would have been an issue had I had my own transport, but traveling by bus you are very limited in your abilities to get off the set track. There may be only a couple buses a day so getting off somewhere to just take a look could mean a full day of waiting or worse if it didn´t pan out. Finally getting off the Pan American and into the beach roads made it really bike friendly and would have made an excellent place to bop around on a motorbike and carrying a tent or hammock.

After a shaky hour bus ride (half of which was on dirt road) we spiraled down the mountain side to the hidden little enclave of Montezuma. Being such a world renowned place I expected a more developed tourist slant. It turned out to be still quite rustic with a short patch of paved road with the more tourist friendly facilities. I went to the edges of town which was still within a rocks throw and started hitting the little local guesthouses. I settled on one more in the jungle than along the beach.

The history of Montezuma was that it used to be a sort of hippie settlement back in the day and has slowly evolved to a major destination although keeping its low key vibe. There are still a batch of the hippie living trinket sellers setting shop along the main road and the lack of any multi story concrete block tourist hotels so it still has the feel of a local fishing village. The beaches out front were broken up with rock formations creating segregated patches of beach with surf and swimming friendly waves. What was of more interest to me was the jungle trek to the water falls. Al and the girls had talked about the falls as well as their diving adventures.
The falls walk was refreshingly an open to the public adventure with no one leeching an entry fee. The walk starts out walking through a mud path through the jungle following a small river. Once again I had imagined an almost roadside path smashed level by legions of tourists, but again it turned out to be a fairly hazardous trek. I fortunately decided against heading out in my flip flops and had brought my trekking boots. The track rolled up and down the side of the hill with the only solid footholds being the sprouts of tree roots which were both a help and a hinderance. Luckily I ran into an older fellow who told me a slightly better trail above the river line. Shortly later I pulled up to the first falls. Now, I have seen way too many falls on my trip including the tallest and biggest. There is however something refreshing about taking a cool dip in a pool below a waterfall. After a fairly hazardous scramble up and over a muddy hillside with the help of another older gentleman, we came to a second two tiered water fall. Basically, the two falls had independent pools with the second pool overlooking and feeding the first set of falls that I had come to. I ran into a Canadian guy who was staying at the same place as I and had been coming to the falls every day for a week. He spent most of the day there just relaxing, swimming, and doing a little bit of diving. The first set of falls were set up so that it was not possible to dive from the top. The top quarter was at a gradual descent so it would not be possible to jump out far enough to clear. I was told some of the local guys would climb down amongst the water a quarter of the way and then jump, but quite a few deaths had occurred from people trying to do it from the top. The second set of falls were 35 feet and was perfect for jumping off of. There were even different stages created by the rocks platform alongside the main water flow. I already knew what I was going to do so as soon as I got there I stripped off my boots and walked to the edge. The Canadian guy was there and he told me that he hadn´t quite had to do the top jump yet and that was the only thing keeping him from leaving. I said “uh huh” and jumped. Stuff like that is pretty much black or white. Your either going to do it or not so there is no use spending a whole bunch of time worrying and getting worked up. I landed partially on my ass and boy did it fill like a week in prison. I guess I was the first one to go that day and got a round of applause.

The second old man that helped guide the way over the hill was a retired Alaskan. He spent his winters in Montezuma and back home in the spring and summer. He had been coming back to the same spot for fifteen years and had all the stories that kept us occupied for the rest of the day. He knew about every death, injury, and astounding performance. He was a fountain of information for getting around as well as how Montezuma used to be back in the day. Later a gaggle of girls from Michigan and Ohio showed up and I got to watch the agony of defeat play over and over. It was hilarious watching them contemplate life standing there on the edge of the lowest platform. It was much better getting to heckle them with the support that I had already jumped from the top. One of the girls did jump but the other who had talked about this as being her reason for coming to Costa Rica stood at the edge on and off for three hours but still couldn´t do it. Once the girls left my Canadian friend set ¨fuck it¨and decided that it was time and I got a great video of him going off the top. Just before leaving a young British couple came and the guy had me take a photo for him as he jumped. The whole time his girlfriend was standing at the top peering down to the bottom. As I gave back his camera at the bottom of the pool I told him it looked like his girlfriend was going to give it a try. He just laughed and said no way in hell. I climbed back up to the top and she was still there staring over the side. She asked about how to do it so I told her she shouldn´t look down and to just jump if she was going to do it. She then started asking about how far to jump out, if it hurt, was it deep, etc. By this time the boyfriend started to think as well that she might give it a try so he went back down to take a photo. And there we stood, for about an hour. Man, it was like watching a slow speed wreck. Maybe a miniature war going on in her head. It was very interesting watching somebody just fall apart. At first she was coherent but later on she started getting fidgety and then here hands started shaking. Towards the end she was on the verge of meltdown with all the shaking and crying and finally the boyfriend had to slowly grab hold of her and force her away from the edge. It was just high tensile emotions. It was somewhat funny but always interesting. Now I knew why the guys spent so much time up there. The old man told me of an alternate route to take back so I spent the last of the afternoon slow walking it back looking for animals.

Montezuma was a really great place to hang out and get away from everything. I was really pleased at making the decision to go to the out of way place. Highly recommended.

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