Friday, March 27, 2009

Blinding Frogs and Finding Tadpoles.

(Montezuma, CR - Dominical, CR)

Hotel Lucy in Montezuma is just North of town, across the beach and around the point. So it´s easy to walk back from dinner along the shore, avoiding the road, the dust, and the streetlamps. We thought we´d have a little romantic walk, look at the stars, and perhaps sit a bit on the shore listening to the waves crash against the black rocks. As we made our way toward the point, we noticed the sand moving, and as we ducked down to get a closer look, realized that there were Hermit Crabs everywhere. Of course we began to step gingerly, but we soon looked at eachother and said, "Nope, we can´t do this." So we painstakingly made our way up to the road and back to the hotel where we donned our headlamps and ran back down to the beach with our cameras in hand. Their little shells and legs were clicking and clacking against the rocks, and even with lights it was difficult to avoid stepping on them. Some were so tiny!
From Montezuma we made our way down the peninsula, took a ferry, then drove inland toward the mountain towns of Monte Verde and Santa Elena. Climbing to over 6,000 feet, we found ourselves in the cloud forests with cool air and a chance to wear socks and pants for a couple of days. We stayed at a great little hostel, Pensión Santa Elena which is near the center of town and whose guests are an international mix of travelers hoping to see two-toed sloths and signing up for crazy zipline tours.
These are also the reasons that brought us there.
We walked down the road at dusk and wandered through the Frog Pond. They handed out flashlights and we went searching through the different terreriums. We took so many photos, and not until the last tank with the red-eyed, green-legged beauty did someone tell us, "Oh, you´re not supposed to use the flash on your camera." Well, thanks a lot for telling us! We´d been momentarily blinding the poor little creatures for nearly an hour.
The next day we heading up into the Cloudforests of Monte Verde. Aptly named, the air under the jungle canopy is cool and shaded, here you can walk for endless hours on brickwork pathways, peering into the ferns and dark nooks of trees for frogs, bugs and birds. We walked for over two hours, stalking sloths, hoping to see exotic birds and monkeys. We saw three beetles.
That afternoon we did the Extremo Zipline Tour. As we hooked in for our second zipline, Adam and I doubling up for a long, high wire that tosses you out across a valley where cows are tiny dots below, I cried. I couldn´t help imagining the little line snapping and thus plummeting to my death. When we were off the other side, Adam hurriedly explained that with the double caribiner system was virtually accident proof, and with that logic in mind I calmed down and proceeded to attack with gusto the 14 ziplines total (with a seriously ridiculous and windy one to finish). I highly recommend this tour to anyone willing to try. I did skip the Tarzan Swing, but Adam did a monkey flip and we have him on video giggling as the 50 foot rope tossed him out and over a jungle ravine. I watched, absolutely not interested in trying it myself. I´ll do some crazy stuff, but there is a limit.
That night we went to bed at about 8p, and watched Transformers on our little iPod Touch.
Yesterday we headed back down the mountain to Manuel Antonio. As we headed out of town on the long, dusty dirt road toward the beach, I really had to pee. Now, usually I wouldn´t get into a story like this, but I just wanted to point out a big problem with being a girl, and having to pull your pants down. This was made especially difficult because the roads were lined in barbed-wire for miles and miles, so I couldn´t just run off into the trees. Also, there was enough traffic that I couldn´t just risk it for a quickie (add the riding pants and shorts underneath, and it is virtually impossible to be quick). After 31 years of camping, hiking, and travels to places where a bathroom is not always available, I have learned to rough it, and in some cases just hold it. Imagine, if you will, 45 minutes on a rocky mountain road on the back of a motorcycle when you really
Manuel Antonio was very touristy and overpriced, (by our standards, US prices!) but the beach is beautiful, and there were tiny spider monkeys with babies on their backs climing in the bouganvillea bushes at our hostel. Costa Linda Backpackers was just off the main street, and a nice little 4 minutes walk to the beach. Hard to beat $20 in Costa Rica for a private room with a double bed! The fan, though on high and seeming to work very hard, barely blew a whisper and I spent a long night accosted by mosquitoes whose giant, puffy bites in the middle of the night had disappeared by morning. Adam doesn´t believe me, as his turn into big red welts and last for days.
Here we are at last, in Playa Dominical. The one place I couldn´t miss on our Costa Rica adventure. It was in this tiny, laidback surfer´s town that I lived with a group of Orcas friends in the winter of 1996. Many things have changed, new businesses and hotels, but the town is still quite small, still filled with devoted surfers, with it´s lush jungle backdrop and the wide Pacific Ocean stretching out forever. We rode straight to my old house which is pretty dilapidated now, with giant dead leaves covering the yard, graffiti on the walls inside, and the paint beginning to fall away.
We had lunch at San Clemente Bar and Grill where I spent many nights playing pool and darts, and many mornings drinking delicious Costa Rican coffee and watching CNN for updates on home. The big news at the time was that people were offering $5,000 for the new Tickle-Me Elmo dolls.
Adam and I hiked to some nearby waterfalls, where we saw tadpoles swimming in little "tide pools" that dry season has left. There wasn´t much water, so we hiked for a bit, and then came back into town for our third cold-water shower of the day. It is so humid here that we are just wet with sweat all of the time. Needless to say it is difficult to stay hydrated.
We´re staying in a little room at Los Cocos for $14, the cheapest we´ve see yet in Costa Rica. We´ll dine at Thrusters tonight, where I used to eat pizza and play cards with my roommates from New Jersey.
Tomorrow we ride the long road to San José where we´ll get new tires for Peter (pretty girl), and try to find something to do in the capital. Then it´s off to the Southern Caribbean coast, and after that: Panama!
I need another shower, and the parrot over my shoulder is starting to caw and chirp too loudly to focus.
Oh, what is the difference between a tadpole and a pollywog?
¡Pura Vida! It´s a good life.

Click on the photo to browse our latest round of pics, WITH CAPTIONS!

P.S. Kyle, Bethany, Mike and Leigh put together a couple great slideshows from their visit. Check ´em out if you have time!
Kyle and Beth´s Guatemala Photos
Mike and Leigh Guatemala Photos


  1. San Clemente Bar and Grill is where I ran into random surfer friends from Nantucket and Thruster's is where I became obsessed with doing the very trip you are on. They guy that runs the hostel at the north end of the beach strip has a serious arsenal of fully automatic weapons. I seen em'.

  2. Xavier thought that animals on the ceining were alligators or crocodiles but then remembered lizards are smaller and we get to pet them. All through the monkey video he was waving and saying hi to you. He tells me that you're in Peporika.

  3. Hi Guys!

    Sorry for writing you so late but as i got home work catched me :-(
    Well, I see you had really a lot of fun and I'm deadly jealous...
    But I'm looking forward to a small holiday in may together with my parents and hannes. We will visit florenz in italy *Pizzzzaaaaa*
    Working on my dissertation goes slowlier as I ever thought and the books are boringer than you could ever think of!
    Hannes is learning the whole day (mostly) the other time we are still watching x files ( season 8 now! After that we will search for grace in the friends seasons *gg*)
    Nice greetings from a (now) sunny and warm ( 20 ° C) bavaria!

    Eve (+ Hannes)