Saturday, July 14, 2007

Day 4: Journey to Montezuma

On day 4, we bid farewell to Manuel Antonio and Quepos. We hardly knew ya. Today, we headed to our next destination, Montezuma. The drive to Montezuma is not a direct shot by any means. It requires a 2 hour drive to the industrial port city of Puntarenas, from there a 1 and a half hour ferry to Paquera or Playa Najarango, followed by a 1-2 hour drive to Montezuma.

This morning, we drove to Puntarenas shortly after breakfast. About 20 minutes outside of Quepos, one of the several 1 lane bridges crossing the many rivers in the area was damaged. It caused a backup of cars for at least a mile in both directions. Alin and I sat, sweltering in the heat as we're biding our time, hoping to make our ferry to Montezuma.

After about an hour wait, the bridge was finally reopened and, of course, the cars from the other side of the bridge began making their slow crawl across the bridge. It took another ten minutes before we could continue our drive to Puntarenas.

About halfway through the drive, we were convinced that getting to Puntarenas on time for our ferry was going to be impossible. We stopped off at a gas station near Jaco and debated our next steps while we filled up. As we hit the road again, I glanced at my reciept and found that the time stamp was a full hour behind what our GPS was stating. Curiously, I decided to check my iPod and it also had the same time as the reciept. To our relief, we realized that the GPS had the wrong timezone set and we had magically regained an hour!

About an hour later, we arrived in Puntarenas, our stay here wasn't short enough. The town is a bit like the Tenderloin in San Francisco. You would probably never want to be walking around there at night alone, out of fear of being stabbed, mugged, or beaten.

When we finally got to the port, I hopped out of the car and began to orient myself. We were under a time crunch, considering we had about 20 minutes before the Ferry was due to leave. A young local who spoke English fairly well approached me and asked me where I was going. I foolishly told him I was looking for the Ferry to Montezuma.

He immediately asked me to follow him, which I did. He took me to the ticket office and put me in line. He then said, this line looks long, I'm not sure you're going to make it. If you want, I can get you to the front of the line to talk to the lady. I of course, said yes. Moments later, we were standing at the door immediately to the right of the booth.

A little old lady wearing a badge came out, he asked me to give her $20 US, which I did. Moments later, the lady came back with my ferry pass and my change. He then told me that he works and tips and the she should be tipped for helping me out. I gave her all the loose change, which was a little less than $2 US. He than escorted me back to my car and reiterated he worked on tips. I handed him $5 US and thanked him.

Moments later, we were driving onto the ferry and Alin and I were on our way. We bought the tickets to the Playa Narjango ferry because it left a full hour before the Paquera ferry and the distance only varied by a few KM, or so we were told.

What our little guide forgot to mention was that the road to Montezuma from our port was completely unpaved and poorly maintained. The poor conditions required us travel under 20 KMPH, which made our drive to Montezuma much more intense than we were prepared for.

After a drive that felt like forever, we finally pulled into Montezuma. It's a small town, with an open space in the middle, and small restaurants and Internet caf├ęs all around. 

We wanted to immediately check into our room at the Ylang Ylang resort. By the time we checked in and got our keys, it was nightfall. Alin and I were kindly escorted to our room, which was really just a plastered igloo by the beach. 

What they forgot to mention when we researched the room we picked is that there are no real doors or windows on the dome. On one hand, it's quite pleasant because you get a nice warm breeze floating by throughout the night. On the other hand, you're not alone in your room - you have the company of bugs, geckos, and frogs and god knows what else.

Fortunately there was a net over the bed, which meant Alin didn't have a complete melt down. 

After cleaning up, debugging our bed, and a change of clothes, we made our way over to the resort's restaurant. In the distance, you could see a thunderstorm rolling in. By this time it was night. Periodically, the night's sky was lit up with flashes of lightning. We even caught a few of them with our digital camera.

After dinner, we went back to our room and debugged our bed – again. Alin was delirious with the thought of sleeping in a bed with bugs crawling all over her. She couldn't stand it. I was partly amused and party sad for her. She was having a rough time in Montezuma so far.

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