Day 5: Monteverde
Our first activity of the day was rappelling down 6 different waterfalls with a company called Emilio Modelo Farms- a small family owned and operated business.
After a short hike up to the start point we were quickly briefed about how to rappel, and descend the waterfall in a proper way. "We can help tell you where to put your foot but in the end you have to do it alone," was what our young guide so mischievously said. We fitted Chirag’s helmet with the GoPro and off we went! The first few rappels were easy just to get us acquainted, but even that made us break a sweat.
After getting a bit more comfortable we went to the biggest waterfall at 131 feet. Two other girls went before us, so we had to sit and stew about falling onto the rocks for about 20 minutes while waiting our turn. As my turn came- I got latched on to the rope, was told to lean back 90 degrees and take small jumps down. It was horrifying, because at the top, you couldn’t see the bottom until you take 2 steps to the edge of the waterfall. I did a pretty good job descending by taking small jumps until I lost my footing after getting overconfident and taking more of a leap than a small jump. I swung, rather- body planted right onto the rocks. It hurt. A Lot.
But- I was halfway through and there was no way out except by ploughing on. As much as that leap hurt, I was still having the time of my life. Chirag was the last one to go and honestly watching him rappel down at such a height was comparably scarier than actually doing it. He was a lot more daring with his jumps so he slipped a few times and almost had his shoe fall off.
Our last waterfall was slippery and they purposely gave us a short rope so at about 5 feet above the pool of water we had to lean our feet onto the rocks, jump off and let go. Five feet doesn’t sound like much, but it was! Chirag had no idea that the rope was short so when he did his last jump- midway he realized there was no rope left to hang onto, so there he went-splash! Right into the water.
The canyoning overall was fantastic, our guides were fun and very outgoing. It was windy, but we got lucky with no rain! And those water resistant pants from REI were well worth it :)
Once we got back to the hotel- we quickly showered and changed into Zip-lining clothes, and given that we were drenched by the time Canyoning ended, we had no choice but to change. The company we did Zip-lining with was 100% Aventura who have the longest zip-line in Latin America at 1.4 km long. The same process as with Canyoning- the first few were easy, to make sure we knew out to brake to save us from either ramming into the guide or Tarzaning into a tree. We had an excruciatingly long uphill walk to the longest zip-line, I was pooped by the time we reached. There were about 25 people in our group which went surprisingly fast. This zip-line was superman style. Chirag went before me and was experiencing a minor panic attack in his head. " What if the cord snaps?” "What if I fall to my death." Poor kid. But hey- I think we all were. I was the last to go, and wanna know why. Because I wasn’t heavy enough and they were worried that I’d get stuck midway. So I went with a guide who decided to do tricks while speeding through the trees. Such as turning upside down, and spinning me around in circles.
Our last activity with them was the Tarzan swing, where you walk onto a plank like suspension bridge, get latched on and then jump 150 feet. I went half way and totally chickened out. Chirag- was suddenly the adrenaline junkie so he calmly walked to the edge, got latched on and as soon as they opened the gates- without any hesitation he jumped! We then heard him screaming like Tarzan all the way down.
After checking out of the hotel, we stopped by a cute place for coffee and sandwiches at Stella's Bakery and picked up one of the girls we met during Canyoning, Juliette from Paris. She was backpacking in Costa Rica and had asked for a ride to Jaco. We were hesitant about it, but she turned out to be pretty cool.
3.5 hours later- (which could have been a 2.5 hour drive if our navigation picked up on the short cut) we reached. Half of our drive was at night which was pretty scary since everyone was speeding on a two lane highway with traffic going both ways and no sidewalks for pedestrians, who were nonchalantly walking on the edge of the road with no reflectors.
Villas Caletas was a huge estate and seemed to be gorgeous even at night. Unfortunately our room was heart achingly red. Walls, curtains, bed quilt and inside of cupboards and dresser- everything was red. But there was a Jacuzzi on our patio! It was pitch black outside, but the Bell Man told us the view from our room tomorrow will be gorgeous.
Day 6: Jaco / Crocodile River Tour in the Tarcoles River
We woke up at 8am-ish and quickly packed our things. Saying goodbye so quickly to such a nice hotel was saddening, but we had places to go and animals to see ;)
We drove back to the Tarcoles river area where Jose was waiting for us in a blue SUV. We picked up a couple of other passengers, and in no time, the size of the group swelled to 25 people. It was a hot and humid day.
We learnt that crocs can be very territorial, and so Jose had named them accordingly. These crocs live up to 100-150 year and can grow to 23 feet long. We got to see an 18 footer!
The first one we saw was a young female. It was an amazing feeling to be so close! I couldn’t figure out whether we should be taking videos or pictures. In what seemed like a matter of seconds, Jimmy, the captain jumped out of the boat with some chicken to feed her. He would first get her attention by slapping the food against the water. Then she slowly began swimming towards him until she reached the shore. Jimmy held the food up high, forcing the croc to lift her upper body. After teasing for a couple of seconds, Jimmy rewarded her for her efforts and threw the chicken into her mouth. She then slowly retreated back into the waters, and visibly swallowed her lunch.
As crazy as Jimmy seemed, he topped it off by filming one of the feedings with one of the tourists’ GoPro. That must've been an amazing video, to be able to stare into the crocodile’s mouth! At the end of the tour we asked the couple if they could send us the video and they agreed. Hopefully they do! Either way we definitely got some NatGeo worthy shots on our camera.
Next we saw the 18-foot croc, Tornado. He was laying still, half in water, half on the shore with his mouth wide open; he was hunting. He was an enormous creature, and his scales were magnificent, leading Chirag to rename him Godzilla. Jimmy convinced him to give up his hunt and accept our easily obtainable chickens. He moved slowly, almost patiently, now that his meal was certain. Jimmy then daringly held the crocodile’s mouth shut and sealed the feeding with some dessert: a kiss! This was probably the highlight of the tour. I cannot imagine another place in the world where someone could see such a spectacle!
The last croc we saw was Osama Bin Laden, known for his tendency to hide underwater. We finally got him ;) The tour was capped off by seeing a baby crocodile. It was 4 months old and probably no larger than the size of our hand.
Although coming to see this tour meant a 4-hour detour, we felt it was worth every minute (not to mention every penny). It was a great thrill to be so close to the crocodiles and stare into their eyes from just a couple of feet away.
Off we were to the Oxygen Jungle Villas in Uvita.
Day 7: Whale Watching in Uvita
We stayed at the Oxygen Jungle Villas, way up in the clouds and by the time we got there it was raining cats and dogs. At reception, was an infinity pool looking out towards the ocean.
Our room was stunning! With outdoor seating, and the suite made up entirely of glass. We essentially slept in a gorgeous glass cube, with a mosquito net around our bed. After settling in, we decided to take a dip in the pool. Just imagine, a hotel in the clouds, swimming in an infinity pool with rain pouring down on us. Perfection.
We had some creepy crawly roomies that night. One irritating grasshopper, one cockroach, one spider that kept jumping onto our bed and an ant infestation near the ceiling. It sounds terrible, but the ants stayed in one place, and after we got over panicking and screaming about the others- it wasn’t so bad.
Our last adventure was Whale Watching and after going 2 times before, we were expecting something phenomenal in Costa Rica. Unfortunately, we ended up spending 1.5 hours looking at different beaches, and hardly any time looking for whales. We only got to see three in total, and due to Costa Rican regulations we were very far from them. In a way that’s good, at least they are taking steps towards protecting the wildlife.
Fifteen minutes into the boat ride, I started feeling seasick but luckily didn’t throw up. So to begin with I didn’t have a great time, but seeing Chirag so excited to see his favorite animal, my excitement brewed. After watching the mother and calf play around with each other, we turned around and headed to an area for snorkeling. I took a nap thanks to my seasickness (which by the way, I had no idea I had), and Chirag so sweetly sat next to me instead of jumping in the water.
On our drive back to San Jose, we stopped at Jaco to grab lunch and picked up 10 bottles of salsa at the grocery store. Of course Chirag- who is always up to some form of crazy, decided that he wanted to do some salsa dancing while I was busy trying to shop. There he went, spinning me down aisle 5. Admittedly- I had a good time ;)
We eventually reached San Jose, where our trip came to an end. Check out the next day was at 4am, and off to New York we went.