Costa Rica

We arrive in Montezuma around eight in the evening and the place looks really busy, but we soon get a feeling that the hippy village described in the guide is a bit misleading - the people we see in the restaurants and along the main road look mostly glammed up and not the environmentally conscious hemp-garb-dressed people we were expecting.

[caption id="attachment_2756" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from the ferry crossing the Gulf of Nicoya, Costa Rica. View from the ferry crossing the Gulf of Nicoya, Costa Rica.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2757" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from the ferry crossing the Gulf of Nicoya, Costa Rica. View from the ferry crossing the Gulf of Nicoya, Costa Rica.[/caption]

Very soon we discover why there are hardly any hippies left here - they simply wouldn't be able to afford to stay here - you almost need a mortgage just to buy a bottle of water.

We find a place called Montezuma Pacifico Hotel after a few unsuccessful tries with some of the other places we’d researched in advance. We’d sent out numerous messages to hotels asking for availability before leaving San Jose for the bus, but surprise, surprise none had bothered to get back to us – do hotels not want guests? This has been happening a lot all along our travels. After settling in we’re starting to feel a bit peckish and decide to go out to get some food. We’re a bit puzzled when we get downstairs to the exit and find a chair blocking a closed door... we find this a bit weird but put the chair to the side and go out, careful to lock the door after us of course. To our surprise the centre of the town that was very lively only about an hour ago is now almost like a ghost town. All shops, restaurants and bars close before 22:00 – even the ATM is closed at this time. There are two exceptions to this which is one bar and it’s attached minimart. No surprise then that these two establishments are raking it in when people want to drink more, and they need their snacks afterwards. We were looking forward to a nice meal after spending most of the day on the bus and ferry but our plans got instantly squashed when no restaurants were open anymore – we have to settle for some snacks from the minimart – it’s not got much choice and I end up with very dry pretzels in substitute for dinner – not ideal, especially bearing in mind I had to fork out a few pounds just for a bag of snacks.

When we checked in at the Montezuma Pacifico Hotel the very friendly man was continuously talking about the air-con and the fact it was OK to leave it on when we go out of the room. We thought it a bit odd that he was so obsessed about it but the next day we really started to understand why he was going on about it so much – it’s so hot here in Montezuma and it’s made even more noticeable as it’s on the coast and quite humid. Our air-con is on full all day long and it can just about keep up and give us a liveable temperature – the electricity bill in this hotel must be astronomical.

We have a few small excursions walking about in the area around the town but don’t venture too far due to the intense humid heat. We wanted to do a little bit time on the beach but the beaches right by the town are not the best for lounging and swimming – they are very rocky and because the sea is so rough there are some seriously dangerous undercurrents let alone the danger of being smashed over a rock by the waves. We hear there are much nicer beaches further along the coastline but we’d need some sort of vehicle to get there.

[caption id="attachment_2759" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Montezuma. Montezuma.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2760" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Montezuma. Montezuma.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2761" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Montezuma. Montezuma.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2762" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Montezuma. Montezuma.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2763" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Montezuma. Montezuma.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2764" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Montezuma. Montezuma.[/caption]

What we also discover on our walking adventures is the way some of the locals live in shacks by the beach just a few hundred metres out from the edge of the resorts. These tarpaulin huts where the poor locals live is in stark contrast to the several hundred pound a night tourist-places that you can find around here - it would seem the huge mountains of money spent by tourists doesn’t much benefit the local community.

It’s quite funny what the people can get away with when tourists have more money than sense though – along the main road through Montezuma (there is only the one road really) there are a few “hippies” with stalls selling their handicrafts. It’s ridiculously expensive – is it made of solid gold? I hear you say... nope, just a piece of string and a tiny trinket for which they demand £25 and they have no interest in haggling... similar handicrafts in Southeast Asia would probably go for between £1 to £2 – no surprise then that we just laughed at the top of our lungs as we walked off and down the road.

We're considering hiring a quad-bike as it seems the preferred mode of transport among the tourists and locals alike and go to inquire about the prices. We almost fall off the chair we're not sitting on when they tell us it's a whopping 40 pounds for six hours... We're used to pay something like three to five pounds for 24 hours in Southeast Asia for a decent scooter/motorbike. We're curious about how much the price for quad-bike hire compares to the prices in Europe, so after a quick Google search we discover the rates here are up to twice as high for the six hours than for a 24 hour hire in touristic places like Ibiza/Spain, Greece, and Portugal – unbelievable.

Although it’s not the hippie paradise we were hoping –and expecting – to find, Montezuma is a very relaxing place. However it did stress us out a bit with how expensive everything is here. I believe if we had a large budget allocated and didn’t have to worry about the prices we would have been able to have a much nicer time here, and we would have been able to take part in all the various activities on offer. There were plenty of diving-courses and excursions, zip-lining, adventure treks and much more to be done if you were willing to part with your hard-earned cash.

[caption id="attachment_2758" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Cake and coffee, Montezuma. Cake and coffee, Montezuma.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2765" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art, Montezuma. Street art, Montezuma.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2766" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Montezuma. Montezuma.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2767" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art, Montezuma. Street art, Montezuma.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2770" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Montezuma, Pura Vida. Montezuma, Pura Vida.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2768" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hannah at the absolutely marvellous Restaurant Kalibo in Montezuma. Hannah at the absolutely marvellous Restaurant Kalibo in Montezuma.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2769" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The absolutely marvellous Restaurant Kalibo in Montezuma. The absolutely marvellous Restaurant Kalibo in Montezuma.[/caption]

In the evening of our last day here we decide to take a walk down to find the nicer sandy beaches we’d heard about – it’s about a half an hour to walk to reach these. First we have to go via the hotel to pick up our swimming-gear and leave all our other stuff in the room – there are many stories of muggings along the beaches here so we want to be on the safe side and follow the advice of not taking along any valuables. This turns out to be a little bit of a mistake as Hannah feels too knocked out by the heat and doesn’t want to go out again after feeling the lovely cooling effect of our hard-working air-con. It ends up with only me going for a little trek down to the very lovely sandy beach further up the coast. It takes a while to get there and it’s fairly heavy walking in sand most of the way. It’s well worth it when I finally get to this very long sandy beach which are only occupied by one couple – not another soul to be seen anywhere. It’s fairly late in the afternoon so I waste no time and go into the sea. It’s very rough and possibly very dangerous to go out far because of very strong undercurrents so I keep myself close to shore where I can stand safely and watch the sun going down in the hills behind the beach while being thrown around by the waves.

We book ourselves a VIP shared taxi-van for the next morning that will take us directly to San Jose airport for our flight to Guatemala. It’s an early start but it’s a nice feeling to know we’ll get to the airport in good time without having to stress with connecting busses and taxies in the heavy traffic of central San Jose. At the airport we use our spare time to look for accommodation for the night in Guatemala City and are very pleased when we get a very speedy reply from Hostal La Coperacha. They have a very reasonably priced room available and also arrange a taxi to pick us up from the airport – Happy days!

It feels very sudden, despite months of preparations, but it's now less than a day before we head off for what will be a very big adventure. Tomorrow the flight will take us to the first stop on our journey, New Delhi. We're braced for a bit of a culture shock but more and more excited for each hour that passes. A quick outline of our trip: India, Nepal, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bali, Singapore, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Guatemala, and Mexico. We've been trying to catch up with as many of our friends as possible before heading off. But alas, some we have not had the chance to meet up with. We'll be sure to get around to see everyone on our return in five months time. We're feeling very humbled by all the well wishes from everybody - and we had a most wonderful leaving-party (sorry neighbours). One of the highlights must be the cake by Lauren Absolutely amazing! We've been repeatedly stabbed by various doctors/nurses and injected with many concoctions to vaccinate us against what felt like every disease known to man... Everything (almost) is now packed and today we're sorting the very last details out. Soon we'll not have any more time for more details and what has not been sorted just won't be - tough luck... This reminds me I have to get started. We're off!!!