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Nicoya Peninsula: A Montezuma Horseback Ride

Destination: Montezuma

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to pull myself out of bed at 5:22 a.m. Finding it effortless to relax in this tiny, quiet town, I had gone to sleep at 9:30 p.m. the night before, and as a result woke up before my alarm for the first time in weeks. I stood watching the sunrise; the clouds were thick and very few melted away. Perhaps I would have better luck taking photos at sunset.

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Vincent and I decided to explore the rest of Cabuya before our afternoon tour in Montezuma. At the area's first intersection we met a nice French couple that had been living here for some time. They advised us to take a left in front of the main bar/restaurant to investigate the nearby beach entrance, where monkeys are known to frequent.

While we did not find monkeys, we did spot a number of colorful flowers, playful puppies, and a campsite with handmade rabbit cages, half finished coconut crafts, and wood-carved projects lying about. Obviously an artist lived here, right on the beach, I thought. As we walked past the site on the way back to the car, I saw in my periphery a startled shirtless man in boxers rushing to put his pants on. I laughed and corrected myself: Lives here. After snapping some photos, we realized it was nearly time for our horseback riding tour in Montezuma.

Fifteen minutes and four miles later we were atop our own horses. We began the four and a half-mile beach trail to the natural phenomenon of El Chorro Waterfall, where freshwater emptied directly into the ocean.

Our guide, Melvin, asked if anyone was familiar with horseback riding. Nobody raised a hand. I told him that I had ridden quite a bit, but am no pro. Since no one else had much experience, mine was good enough for him.

He led me to one of the larger, stronger steeds, named Bear. Bear was a big, strong boy with an endearing but rebellious temperament. I secretly love galloping at fast speeds, but because of my lack of training, I have been far too afraid to ever attempt it. Bear could sense this.

Also a lover of high velocity, he begged and challenged me to race his friends. I couldn't say no, and 30 minutes after meeting we had our chance to fly down the seemingly endless Playa Grande. The experience was exhilarating, although I must admit that I did panic twice when our breakneck speed dawned on me. Bear intuitively slowed down immediately, with very little encouragement. We trotted until I regained my courage and granted him permission to gallop again.

I was proud of myself for overcoming my fear, and the next hour passed quickly. When we arrived at the waterfall, our guide sliced up a juicy pineapple and passed out large bottles of water. The horses we had ridden came outfitted with satchels attached to their saddles, making it convenient to tote drinks, snacks, swimsuits and towels along for the journey. Bear scratched himself against a contorted palm tree, reminding me of The Jungle Book's bear, Baloo.

I kicked off my shoes and climbed up a rock approaching the waterfall, marveling at the stunning vista before me: jagged cliffs to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the south, the cascading El Chorro Waterfall to the east, and an abandoned stretch of sparkling white beach to the west. Ironically, here, in this most isolated location, I had better cell phone reception than in the city center, so I snapped a photo and sent a picture-text to anyone and everyone in my address book who would care.

Some of our group brought swimsuits and splashed around in the freshwater swimming hole on the beach. I lay down beneath an almond tree to recharge for the journey back to society. As I closed my eyes, Vincent snapped a picture and sarcastically asked, "isn't life tough?"

Nicoya Peninsula: A Montezuma Horseback Ride in Pictures

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