Friday, August 19, 2011

{Costa Rica 2011} - Day 7 - Montezuma

Time to check out yet another part of the country! I had heard good things about Montezuma but it's such a long drive to get there that we weren't sure we wanted to make the trip. Tony hadn't really spent any time that he recalled in that part of the country either so it was a chance to go somewhere new for him, too. It's on the Nicoya Peninsula and the drive, depending on weather and traffic, can be anywhere from 6.5-10 hours each way. That's an entire day of vacation lost in the car. Not a fan of that. So, we booked a baby plane ride to get there!

NatureAir is the first carbon neutral airline in Costa Rica and it seems to be run very well! The check-in process was super efficient (even though we had to climb on a scale with our carry on and get weighed) and the planes are clean. The pilot is the one that walks you to your plane and the cockpit is open so you can see what they see if you want.

There was room for 18 passengers on the plane and we were all a little nervous about riding in such a tiny plane over the mountains and water!

No need to worry, however! Our 25 minute flight (yes, 25 min vs HOURS) was nice and smooth and we had a nice aerial tour of the country on the way! The windows were nice and big so we could see out easily and we were low enough that we could see the waves crashing on the shores and all kinds of other cool stuff. Just look at the colors!

Just look at the colors!

As we came in for a landing we got our first glance of the Tambor "airport". The landing strip was most of it and the rest was a bench to wait on and a scale. Oh and a security guard. No Starbucks to blow my money on waiting for a flight here!

After our flight we picked up our rental and were off to Montezuma! Thankfully we picked a 4x4 because the roads were not good. When we rolled into Montezuma we found ourselves in a cute little surfer town!

Surfing is the thing to do in Montezuma. The water was scary looking and I'm not a strong swimmer so I opted out of surfing! We wandered around for a bit and headed to the beach. On the way we found what I'd been waiting for in terms of shopping. Local, hand-made jewelry. These two vendors were set up on car hoods and one guy had his "office" on a table perched by a rock right as you enter the beach. Really nice and talented people. I didn't get anything from them, but I did buy something from a family friend later that I'll show you.

The weather was getting a little rough looking and the water was stirred up to match it. There's something hypnotic about these rough waters and ominous looking sky, though.

I could have stared at it for hours.

We tried to hike to a calmer beach but the path to it was closed due to high tide so instead we hurried back to town and had a snack at a restaurant called El Sano Banano. They were the only place with wireless in the whole town so I used it to upload a couple of quick pics to make people at home jealous. :)

Then we got settled in our hotel. We stayed at Hotel Los Mangoes since they have a yoga studio that came highly recommended to me by one of my favorite yogalebrities, Sadie Nardini. The main instructor, Dagmar, is apparently amazing and I was hoping to catch one of her classes. Unfortunately, we arrived too late to catch a class on the first day and the second day was her partner. It was a great class regardless given the ocean sounds and the monkeys outside!

The hotel is situated right across the road from a rocky patch in the ocean and the sounds are amazing. The hotel itself was very simple and had no A/C, only windows and a fan but it turned out to be perfect.

I liked the view from the rocking chairs outside of our room!

Later that day we met up with Marie Claire who is the daughter of one of Tony's mom's good friends. She lives in Montezuma with her husband and little boy and she makes the most amazing macrame jewlery. She models them after species of butterflies that are found in the area and combines them with local stones as well. It takes her six hours to make these after she's designed them. I couldn't decide what I wanted but knew I had to have one. We met up with her the next day and I made my choice.

Marie Claire also introduced us to some other local artisans and showed us some of the work her husband has done in the town. Lots of talent in one small place!

That night we went to dinner at a restaurant that I'd heard only amazing things about. It's called Playa de los Artistas and it's easy to miss. What a find. I'm so glad that I did my research before going to Montezuma because this one is tucked away enough that you might just miss it if you aren't looking for it. This rustic, outdoor dining area is next to the ocean and is beautiful. The tables are made of huge slices of polished tree trunk and there are lamps and candles on the tables to provide light but they're dim enough to keep the atmosphere cozy.

There are hundreds of hermit crabs crawling around the base of trees and there are six resident kitties that roam the dining area and will come and visit if they think you're feeling generous. This one sat behind Lucy for a while. It's pretty much a mainstay of Costa Rican dining, I've found, to have a resident cat or dog and I love it! :)

We all raved about this restaurant for the food but the atmosphere contributed to our lovely dining experience. Hearing the waves crash on the rocks and actually watching the water until the sun sets is pretty great dinner entertainment. The menu changes daily so we could have gone back, but had to hit another restaurant with good reviews the next night.

After dinner we went back to our room which was right across the road from the restaurant. We were all just kind of lounging around chatting about dinner and before you knew it we were all fast asleep. At 8:30pm. And we slept clear through until 8am when the howler monkeys woke us up. I've decided that Montezuma is like Ambien. It's a laid back town that gets super dark at night and the waves lull you to sleep. It was really quite nice to have a relaxing day without a whole lot planned. We'd been running around so much already that it felt good to just sit back and take it all in.

Luckily I had set an alarm on my phone because I had yoga the next morning! Not that I needed it, the howlers are an excellent alarm clock. :)

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