Satan and Glowing Oceans
At 4:00 this morning, Amy and I awoke to a sound that we were pretty sure was Satan. Now, neither of us are really inclined to believe in Satan--the whole Hell/fire and brimstone package is particularly bleak for the gays--but at that moment, we were pretty sure Satan had taken the form of a giant, angry pig who was rallying his minions right outside our window. Quickly, we closed the heavy wooden shutters on our window and latched them shut. The irate pig/Satan noises continued until about 6 am. Welcome to the rainforest.
The last few days have been interesting. Two days ago, Amy and I took a 6 am bus from Monteverde to Puntarenas, where we followed a couple of people who were in search of the ferry that goes from Puntarenas to Paquera. For those of you who have not read the Lonely Planet's segment on Puntarenas, it is described as a port city of "polluted waters, seedy environs, and slow decay." Add to this delightful description the stifling combination of heat and humidity and the long walk carrying both my large backpacking backpack and my daypack from the bus drop off to the ferry (a local man insisted that it was 500 meters, a little over a quarter of a mile, away; his 500 meters turned into 500 liters of sweat that was pouring from my body, as I was wearing long pants and a sweater to keep warm through the chilly Monteverde morning and the walk was actually closer to a mile long), and you have my definition of Hell, sans the satanic pig, George W. Bush and a legion of his followers, and the Petula Clark song "Downtown" on repeat that would be necessary to make me truly miserable for all of eternity. By the time we were done following a local man ("only 500 meters!") and a fellow traveler from Colombia who had charmed this sweet but misinformed man into guiding us, I was drenched in my own sweat and ready to kill something. Amy alternated between laughing at me (she had a t-shirt!) and empathizing ("I know, it really is very hot"), while I schlepped down the smelly, fishy streets with my backpack on my back and my daypack on my front and repeated over and over, "I hate this place." I almost cried with joy when we finally got to the ferry and got a cool juice with the Colombian girl, Karin. I'm not sure that I made a very good first impression since the first thing I did was tear wildly through my backpack looking for a t-shirt and shorts and run my sweaty self over to the bathroom without introducing myself, but Amy must have done okay because Karin hung out with us on the ferry ride to Paquera, and then again on the taxi ride from Paquera to Montezuma. She even asked if she could share a hostel room with us (we said yes, only to realize that she didn't know that Amy and I were dating, so Amy gave me a look and I chased her down and told her before she paid for the room--fortunately, she was fine with it). Then came Amy's turn to make an impression. The first thing Amy, Karin, and I did after booking our room at Hotel Luna Llena was go to a lovely cafe called Organico to get dinner. Amy accidentally ate two bites of salad with honey on it and promptly began to go into anaphylaxis. The gentle, dreadlocked hippie man behind the counter kindly did not charge us for the Salad of Death, but did take his time writing out our receipt, while Amy wheezed in the corner. Fortunately, a couple of Benadryl, a Prednisone, and rest back at the hostel were enough to restore Amy's breathing capacity--we can save her epipen for other Salads of Death. Karin decided that she was going to go explore Montezuma on her own, LOL.
So, besides this initial exciting day, Montezuma has been AMAZING so far. It is a smaaaall town composed primarily of expatriate hippies who either wear bathing suits or flowing articles of earth-toned clothing with no bras. It is a sleepy beach town where local artists sell their unique and macrame jewelry, over half of the inhabitants have dreadlocks, and marijuana is culturally, though not legally, embraced (for this, it has earned the nickname "Montefuma"). Upon originally arriving, Amy and I were excited (hippies! Feels like home), and then disappointed (surprisingly, the hippies weren't super friendly and kind of stared at us a lot. Perhaps we looked too normal? But I have blue hair. Maybe we should have taken our bras off...?), and now we are blown away again. Yesterday, Karin, Amy, and I went on a walk down the beaches of the Peninsula de Nicoya, the strip of land that Montezuma is on. We would walk down one beach, have a short jaunt in the woods when this beach disappeared, and then reemerge on a different beach. It was hot and we were warned by a local not to swim in the ocean if we had any wounds because a red tide had just come in. Apparently, red tides occur when a certain kind of toxic algae blooms in the ocean, giving the waves a reddish color. Because I had fallen down and scraped up my leg earlier that day, I was particularly paranoid that if I went into the ocean, my legs would fall off. But it was soooo hot and soooo humid and we had all this water lapping up onto the shore to taunt us. Fortunately, we found a natural fresh water pool next to one of the beaches to swim in. It was so cool and beautiful, and we spent a good amount of time there,swimming and watching the local hippies play with their unkempt packs of dogs. It wasn't until we read Lonely Planet later that we learned there are several dangers in Costa Rican fresh water as well, including leptospirosis and fresh water snapping turtles, who can take off a person's hand with one clean bite. Ooops.
After wandering away from the pool and back into the woods, Karin, Amy, and I were intercepted on the trail by a large, bright orange, yellow, and purple crab that was dragging a leaf across the path. We looked up onto the hillside and saw that there were hundreds of these crabs poking out of hundreds of holes on the dirt hillside. We spent a good deal of time trying to capture these crabs on camera, but it was difficult because as soon as we got close to them, they would rapidly retreat into their holes like neon tarantulas--if they hadn't been so scared of us, I probably would have found the lot of them downright creepy. There are so many exciting and beautiful things in this country!
The best part of the day, however, was actually during the night. Karin, Amy, and I had stumbled upon a beach resort/restaurant on our way home and stopped there to get some drinks and tapas. This resort (the Ylang Ylang) was right on the ocean and has a roof but no walls, so we had a clear view of the water from our table. It was from here that we watched the sky change from a sunny, clear blue to a stormy blue as the clouds rolled in for an afternoon thunderstorm. Suddenly, we were in the middle of a monsoon as the sky dumped enough water fill a second Lake Tahoe. The coolest part, however, was that because the restaurant had a roof but no walls, we felt like we were in the middle of the storm without having to get wet at all. The sky cleared long enough to give us a beautiful pink sunset, and then darkened into night, while lightning struck on the horizon; it was incredibly beautiful. After we were done at the restaurant, we walked home along the beach. At one point, we stopped to look at the waves and were stunned to see that they were glowing. Amy and I turned to look at each other with raised eyebrows--was the ocean actually glowing, or had we consumed a couple too many pina coladas? We sat on a log and watched the dark water as it rose and curled into waves, then turned a bright, luminescent turquoise before crashing down to rejoin the dark. We looked at each other again--perhaps we had a Montefuma contact high? Or perhaps we had been exposed to an unknown hallucinogen in the jungle? Either way, we both were both hallucinating the same thing, and it was BEAUTIFUL. Upon going back to our hostel, we read that red tides sometimes cause bioluminescence in the ocean, primarily the parts where the water is moving about a lot (i.e. waves). I had seen this before once in Puerto Rico, but it had been due to phosphorescent plankton in still water that only glowed when you moved the water yourself. This ocean was glowing all on its own, and it was amazing. It was like a light show that came to life every time a wave curled over itself; everything would be dark, and then horizontal streaks of light would shoot from one end of our vision to the other, like a train speeding through a tunnel. Very, very cool. Amy and I would like to go back tonight just to make sure we weren't hallucinating.
Also, the noises that woke us up this morning? Howler monkeys, in the trees outside of our hostel room. We could SEE THEM from inside our room! And there were babies!!! Costa Rica is an amazing place. :)
on July 8, 2012
from the travel blog:
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Kirsten and Amy your adventures are so amazing!! I can't wait to see you both soon :)
written by Sarah on July 20, 2012
You are an amazing writer, Kae! I felt like I was there. I'm longing to go back LOL
written by Amanda on July 21, 2012
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