Published: March 26th 2012March 26th 2012
Tortuegera is a tiny little village located in the middle of a network of canals in the midst of the jungle. We stayed in a hostel on the black sand beach and had a massive room with 2 double beds and a single bed! We travelled there with a couple of French girls called Jessica and Marilyn. We had to make our own way as by trying to be organised we ended up being way too early for our connection bus. We got a good deal on a cab to the boat dock but then we were too early for the next boat so ended up getting a private boat taxi too! When it's a choice between saving money and saving time, the concept of saving money seems to go out the window! We were up bright and early on our first day for a canoe trip at 6am through the canals to search for wildlife. We spotted a family of noisy monkeys swinging through the trees, iguanas- one jumped/fell off the tree into river right beside our canoe making us jump, caimans (kinda like crocodiles) of all sizes (a couple of months ago a young boy got eaten
by one of the caiman in the canal). The guides have insane wildlife radars. They spot animals that are completely camouflaged with their background. We also did some unsuccessful wildlife searching ourselves when we went on hikes through the jungle singing Disney songs (don't judge - gotta make your own fun though perhaps the singing is what scared the animals off!). The evenings were spent having leisurely dinners by fairy light on the canal front listening to the water lapping against the wooden stilts of the restaurant.
Monterverde is famous for its ziplining, it started the craze and so there are now lots of competing companies. We booked it the same day we arrived and were sold by the superman and tarzan swing one company had to offer. On the way in the morning I was quiet in the minibus. We had met a Swedish guy called Grim on the bus up to Monterverde and so it was me and two guys going ziplining. Naturally boys being boys they were just excited to get to play being Tarzan for the day and I was very aware of what a girlie wimp I would sound if I kept
saying I was nervous (so I kept whispering it to Stef instead and got called a wimp by him anyway- but hey better than being called a wimp by both of them!) The instructor knew I was nervous as he made me step into all sorts of metal contraptions till I felt like a baby in a metal nappy and reins. He started telling me that it's ok he was nervous too as it was his first day on the job. Me being me, ditzy, baffled, miss gullible, blondie... And all the other names I've had.... Of course believed him and started saying to Stef that maybe this wasn't such a great idea. Yep you guessed right I got laughed at again. The instructor then informs us of how to break- where to place your arms and how to pull down on the wire to create friction, and what will happen if you don't do it right. "But don't worry", he says, "breaking is easy none of you will have any problems". Well I managed to very nearly rip by shoulder out of it's socket and strain my arm attempting to break by holding on to the wire behind me
as I flew forward. The instructors decided they didn't need a death on their watch so for some of the lines I went with an instructor or the one at the end would break for me. Ziplining may not have come naturally to me, in fact I think shopping is one of the only sports that comes naturally to me! But I still loved the experience of speeding over the forest canapy at 197 feet above ground for lengths of 800m, seeing treetops and houses tiny below. The superman cable was the best. You were harnassed around your stomach and feet so you are lying forward and fly through the air- supposedly just like superman. The instructors warned me that I will sway in the wind and may even stop middway or my wire may twist but no matter what happens I absolutely cannot grab the wire. I didn't trust myself to be able to follow such simple instructions so just shoved my hand together on my stomach so completely missed the point of spreading your arms out like superman so you fly faster. My helmet kept slipping down so I could only just see and wouldn't dare move my
hands to adjust my hat so I couldn't see when I was at the end untill a tree truck appeared infront of my face. But I still enjoyed the amazing views of all the jungle and hills and valleys. By now I had decided I wouldn't do the Tarzan rope swing which was a 295 feet drop with a rope harnassed round your waist though I knew deep down I'd regret it if I chickened out. Stef went first, he walked along a suspension bridge while we waited on land. As he jumped the instructor shouted, "stop you're not attached." So the whole way down stef thought he was jumping to his death and was understandbly relieved when the rope went taut and he started swinging. Apparently our instructor was just out to scare us all, I mean, make it more fun for us, ahem. When it was my turn I walked along to the end of the suspension bridge and could see Stef and Grim below. Everytime I let go of sides to hold on to the harnass on my waist I freaked out and put my hands back, so in the end the instructor just pushed me off.
I've never screamed so insanely in my life, I just didn't know what to do, well there's nothing I could do, but it did feel like I had been pushed to my death. When I was lowered down Grim was filming me and I was trying to talk into the camera while shaking. It definately taught me that you are capable of being thrown (literally) out of your comfort zone and coping. The next day we went on a hike with Grim. We found these tree trunks that grew together and created a ladder type of formation inside the tree trunks. You can attempt to climb up inside the tree trunk, and into the next tree. At first I just watched the guys in their element having returned to their youth. I'd been lucky enough to not see any of theses tarantulas I'd heard so many horror stories about and figured my luck was probably near to being up and the inside of a tree trunk in the middle of a forest would be a prime spot. But my
jealousy of their fun got the better of me so off I dissappeared into the darkness of a tree trunk.
Another day us three musketeers ventured out on a 7 hour hike up a mountain, it was so so steep my calves were on the verge of disowning me. We passed another couple on the way up who had to turn round as the girl couldn't manage it. My competitive side found it's voice and it just kept telling me she wasnt man enough to do it but I was. Grim got a little impatient of my stopping and starting and raced his way up with the help of his walking sticks. By the time we reached the top Grim had made himself at home in a man's house on top of the mountain and was tucking into a meal of rice and beans. Aparently the man was trying to sell him homemade friendship bracelets and Grim said all he was interested in was food. The man told us a different way down the mountain through the jungle as none of us had any wish to slip our way back down the steep way we'd come up. Through the
jungle there were many times the road forked and we'd decide which way to go on a whim. But as the sun started to go down and our path kept going flat, or at times up, when the only thing we knew was how high up we were and how it should be a steep path down, we all worried we'd be lost in the thick jungle and would be spending the night here. Our minds were thinking back to bear grylls survival tips and whilst in typical Rachel pattern all I had to help was food but the guys were prepared- blankets, head torches, drink. We figured we might be ok if the worst happened but thank god the boys sense of direction was good and we found our way, with Stef managing to step on a snake en route! I navigated the fallen tree trunks, climbed through fauna, ducked the spider webs, climbed up slippery rocks etc with no problems yet once we found our way out of the jungle and onto a normal path I then managed to take a tumble and cut myself up.
In Monteverde we also witnessed beautiful sunsets over rolling hills, had
the fun sleeping in bunkbeds (I never had the opportunity as a kid so found this rather exciting!) and enjoyed little local dinner places serving traditional meals of chicken or meat with rice, beans and veg. Every restaurant had a slighty different spin on it, different veg, different seasoning, all washed down by amazing fruit shakes.
The 'hotel' we stayed in was just disgusting;, dirty bathroom, no windows or ventilation, cochroaches, hundreds of termites :(We went on a volcanoe hike as the volcanoe is the main attraction in La Fortuna. Unfortunately it was a cloudy day so we couldn't actually see the top of the volcano but our guide for our hike had lots of interesting facts about flora and fauna up his sleeve. We learnt about medicinal qualities of different plant leaves and flowers and that monkeys can smell the pheromones women give off and have been known to take chase.Before and after the hike we went to Baldi hot springs. It consists of
26 natural hot springs each of varying degrees up to 125 degrees and has waterfalls, slides, tubes, swim up bars, and a massive jacuzzi.The area of La Fortuna didn't impress us too much and with the added issue of our disgusting hotel there was nothing for us to hang around for. Just after we'd booked our tickets onto our next stop - the seaside hippy town of montezuma we found out Will Smith was arriving the following day to film his new blockbuster called End of earth, so at least when that's released we can say been there! Lol
Montezuma is made up of literraly two streets and miles and miles of beaches broken up by waterfalls and areas of jungle. Montezuma is home to lots of artists, bohemians, and hippy traveler couples who had babies en route and must have just got stuck here and brought them up here which gives it a real chilled out vibe. Noone is in a rush as no-one has anywhere to go.
Our hotel was up in the
jungle yet with views of the sea and outside our room on the balcony there were beds for lounging on. We woke up hearing monkeys outside our room and dropping food on our roof and to the sound of waves crashing onto beach. Stef started feeding the monkeys with our biscuits to get them to come nearer to us so people could get some good pictures. The monkeys came up 8 at a time and got greedy, when we ran out of biscuits they came looking for more- one ran off with the empty packet and another started jumping trying to scare us. Stef got a bit near to a mum with a baby and the dad started jumping and hissing at him preparing to attack. In the evenings skull skunks came up from under the veranda and ran around the hotel looking for food. Stef saw them first; he had gone gown to the kitchen in the night to get a drink and was surrounded by them. The following evening I was making some food in the kitchen and heard Stef say "stay still don't move." I turned round to see them right behind me. We stayed still as
a statue so as not to scare them and spray us. Once they took their food findings into their hiding spot we slowly walked away not wishing to have to bathe in tomato juice to get rid of the stink of their spray.
In the evenings a bar showed films everynight that we went to watch when it sounded good. We watched a documentary film called "Thrive" and I really would recommend for you to watch it. It really is fasinating, whether you believe in what they show you or not, and led to some interesting conversations, it definately is an eye opener! Other nights we had a bonfire on the beach with 20 other travellers and went on to listen to live music or chilled with other travellers staying at our hostel. Funny enough when we arrived at our hotel the two French girls- Jessica and Marilyn that we were in Tortuguero with were there! We had parted ways in San Jose and gone different places but ended up at the same place. Unfortunately whilst we were there they had an accident on a quad bike and Jessica had to go hospital in San Jose so their time
in Montezuma was cut short.
We also hiked to a collection of waterfalls, and watched crazy people diving in from 15 feet up and jumping from rope swings. We had to clamber across vertical rocks that were wet from people clambering across after using the rope swing. I was fully clothed with a bag and got stuck half way across, everytime I tried to move my feet they slipped and I was convinced I would fall in. To make matters worse we had watched tour guide run across these vertical rocks. Even to get to the waterfalls in the first place we had to try and find grip on vertical rocks. I used to think I was a good climber as a kid but clearly my skills needed practicing to maintain them!
There are more photos below