Monday, September 06, 2004


Quena has all her classes on Mondays through Wednesdays, so Lacey and I decided to use that time to take a short trip on our own and we headed to Montezuma. As far as the actual traveling involved, this was by far the most excruciating destination, with a route that went taxi - bus - taxi - ferry - bus. The first bus was 2.5 hours. The second taxi was unexpected, since the guidebooks had implied that the ferry was right by the bus station, which is wasn't. The last bus was an hour and a half over bumpy, twisty, hilly jungle roads, in small seats with piles of people crammed in the aisle. But we made it in the end.

We stayed at the Hotel Lucy, which was almost shut down a few years ago for being built too close to the beach. The water is literally just a few yards from the back porch. We were also a short walk away from the main intersection of town, where all the tourist shops and restaurants and other hotels are, so that was nice.

Just down the street from us was the first of a set of three waterfalls. (A bunch more were farther off in the other direction, and usually reached by horseback tours.) We only got pictures of the first one, since after that we went back for bathing suits and left the cameras behind, since we couldn't tell how wet we were going to get on the way to the others. The second and third waterfalls were the more vertical, picturesque kind, and took about half an hour of hiking and wading to get to. It was fun to swim in the pool below the falls and reach the point where I was swimming as hard as I could but being kept perfectly in place by the current.

For the one full day that we were there, we went on a day trip to Isla Tortuga, named for its turtle-like shape. Unfortunately, I never could find a decent map of it to see exactly how turtle like it really is. We started out by snorkeling around some rocks off the coast of the island. The visibility was really bad -- on the surface you could pretty much only see murky greenness. But as soon as you dive down a little bit, there are tons of fish all over the place. We saw angelfish, and damselfish, and colorful wrasses, and trigger fish (reminding me of the humuhumus in Hawaii), and we could swim right in the middle of a whole school of short-tailed grunts (great name, huh?). I even found a pufferfish, but didn't get him to puff.

After the snorkeling, we had a seafood barbecue lunch on the beach and time to explore the island, or just hang out on the beach. Lacey and I headed for a trail that lead up a forested hill to the top of the island. It was a great hike -- steep enough to feel energetic, but not so difficult that we couldn't do it in sandals and bathing suits. And there were some beautiful views of the island and the ocean along the way. Midway up, we saw what looked like the main trail heading back down, but also a smaller one heading farther up. So we continued on up, of course. The trail got steeper and a bit less well defined in some places, but it took us all the way to the very top. We actually did the whole climb twice: once before and once after lunch. I much prefer that kind of thing to just lounging around on the beach (though taking another snorkeling dive might have been fun, too).

On the way back from Isla Tortuga in the motorboat, we saw a couple of whales, humpbacks I think. It looked like a mother and calf but we weren't able to get very close to them. Then the dolphins showed up, though, and that was great. They were perfectly happy to just bounce along in the wake of the boat so we got some fun views of them, though it was hard to take good pictures.

Leaving Montezuma was as big an ordeal as getting there, and took a bit longer. But we had a day afterwards to rest up at Quena's place before we all went to Arenal.

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