Nicoya Peninsula Day 6: Frowning on a Waverunner
In his stand-up routine comedian Daniel Tosh once dared me to "try to frown on a wave runner." Today I learned that not grinning from ear to ear while ripping through the ocean at 60 miles per hour is a profoundly difficult -- if not impossible -- task.
In fact, it takes a mountain of self-control to keep from yelling and laughing. I was elated when our tour guide offered me an unplanned spin on his jet ski. He asked if I had ever tried it. I hesitantly replied, "once," omitting the fact that I had once, illegally, operated a jet ski. When I was thirteen, my father let me take the wheel in Panama City, Florida. The minimum age requirement was 16, but I had great hand-eye coordination and we both knew I would do just fine. And just fine I did -- until I crashed into someone head on.
Eight years later, working the wave runner was as easy as driving a car. I flew around Tambor's crescent-shaped Whale Bay at lightning fast speeds until Vincent flagged me in. Returning the machine to its owner may have been the most upsetting moment of my life.
Luckily, I wasn't sad for long. Minutes later I learned that my destiny is to own an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), or cuadraciclo. Today's tour left from the town of Tambor, about a 30-minute car ride east of Montezuma and 15 minutes west of Paquera.
The red four-wheelers were sparkling and new, like they had just popped out of the quad factory. I quickly found that they are called all-terrain vehicles because they can, almost magically, conquer nearly any topography thrown at them. We went through rocky rivers, over heaps of soft sand, pastures of tall grass, and long dusty trails.
There were times when we could hear the roar of nearby howler monkeys over the roar of our engines. An hour into the journey our guide stopped and passed out cold waters and Diet Cokes. We walked down a steep incline to one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country: La Florida. Three inviting tide pools and a rope swing begged us to rinse off. I swung from the rocks three times into the refreshing, but not bitterly cold, water. The place was deserted, and only on the way out did we see other hikers.
Driving back, we encountered a cow jam in the middle of the road. A cow jam is like a traffic jam but less predictable, consisting of three or more beasts blocking the street. In this case there were about 60. We made it through and continued past several small towns outside of Tambor, where friendly locals smiled and waved as though we were celebrities.
Today's ATV/Jet ski adventure was by far my favorite tour of the trip. We thanked our guide and checked into our next hotel, Casa Colores, on the outskirts of Montezuma. Each of the lodge's seven houses are lovely, brightly painted and hand decorated.
Family-run by a Swedish and Uruguayan couple, the cabins are quiet and child friendly, and I immediately felt at home. The owners' two affectionate dogs and four month old puppy also contributed to my happiness.
After turning the pool into my temporary office, my stomach started to growl and I asked the next door neighbors where I could find the nearest restaurant. Without hesitation they invited me to join them on their porch, and upon entering I found the owners of Casa Colores also enjoying the barbeque.
I stayed for about an hour, chatting and appreciating their wonderful Montezuman hospitality. For dessert, the lady of the house served a slice of carrot cake with lemon frosting, which was a culinary masterpiece. Stomach satiated, I returned to my office-on-the-go and got to work in peace and quiet, with nothing but the occasional bird or monkey to distract me.
A while later I began thinking about calling a taxi to meet up with Vincent downtown for my evening yoga lesson. Upon asking a local passerby for the number, the kind woman offered me a ride into town. People on the Nicoya Peninsula were certainly generous.
Dagmar's evening class was slightly more advanced than the one in the morning, and much more difficult. We flowed through several challenging poses and ended with a long, reflective cool down session that incorporated silent meditation. Focusing on our breath, our inhalations were deep and our exhalations slow. All participants were undoubtedly tired and ready for bed by the final "Ohm."
I am, what some might call, a bit of an air conditioning junkie. In the days preceding the trip I was nervous about going without for three days in one of the hottest places in the country. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I did not miss it at all. The houses at Casa Colores are well ventilated with fans, and I actually woke up once during the night with a bit of a chill.