Another overcast day.
After eating breakfast and consulting our Lonely Planet book, we decided to drive to Montezuma and stay at least one night before deciding on where to go next. We took a different route out of Tamarindo that wasn’t paved but was in good condition without a lot of potholes. There were a few places where there were cattle blocking the road and we had to do some maneuvering around the stubborn ones who wouldn’t move after giving a few toots on the horn.
We made our way to Santa Cruz where we got back on the main highway and then down to the city of Nicoya where we stopped for gas. The gas station was like pulling into a pit stop at a race track. There were 2 guys who washed the front, side, and rear windows and another two guys who checked the tire pressure in all four wheels as well as filled up the tank. I tipped them 1000 colones (about $2) to split among themselves and then we made our way back out of the town onto the highway.
Heading south, we were stopped at a police check point. I was going a little fast and I thought for sure that I was going to get either a ticket or have to pay a bribe. The officer asked me in English for my driver’s license and passport, asked where I was coming from and where we were going and then told us to have a safe trip and enjoy our stay. After the main highway ended we ended up on more local roads that were a combination of paved and potholed dirt roads. The roads went through small towns and we saw lots of schools along the way. We always waved at the school children and they all would simile and wave back. There were lots of stray dogs on the roads as well.
After we passed Playa Narajno the road became REALLY BAD and in some places I wondered if we would even be able to make it through. There was mud and pot holes everywhere that limited our speed to a bit more than a crawl. There were also some very steep, muddy hills that required some white knuckle driving especially when it was pouring rain and driving down the muddy hills. I never had to use the 4×4 but definitely needed the higher clearance that the 4×4 offered. After getting to Paquera the road was paved fairly well with the occasional pot hole all the way to Tambor. From tambor to Cobano the road was mostly a combination of smooth dirt and pot holed road. From Cabano we turned onto the road to Montezuma and after driving down another very steep road we pulled into the small town of Montezuma. We parked the car and after consulting the Lonley Planet book we decided to see what the El Sano Banano Hotel had to offer.
When we arrived the hotel was pretty empty so they let us pick wichever room we wanted. Most of the rooms faced the back of the hotel and did not have a view. We chose one of the three rooms that looked out over the street and were surprisingly quiet even when music was blasting from Chico’s bar a half block away. The rooms had good air conditioning and satellite TV with some channels in English. They play movies on a projection screen in the downstairs restaurant every night and are free with dinner or if you buy a few drinks. They also have a sister hotel, the Ylang-Ylang resort, located up the beach where guests staying at El Sano Banano are able to use their beautiful pool.
Breakfast from the café downstairs was included with the room but some of the food was pretty average. The banana pancakes are good as well as the fruit with yogurt and granola. The mocha chiller drinks are awesome! There is also an internet cafe next door with a slow networked dial up connection. They can take your pictures from your digital camera and burn them onto a cd-rom so you can free up your memory card.
After settling into our room we took a walk around to explore Montezuma. The town is small and the main area is only about four blocks long with a super market, bar, library/book exchange, restaurants, a school, tour guides, and a few hotels around the main “downtown” area. Most of the other hotels are located on the other roads that branch out of town. We looked for a good place to get a late lunch and ended up at the El Parque café which is located right on the beach with a sand floor. We had some of the best guacamole with chips that I’ve ever had there followed with a meal of rice, beans, chicken, potatoes, and steamed vegetables all washed down with many cold cervezas all for about $14 for the two of us! At the restaurant we were approached by a stray skinny young cat that begged for some food. Naturally we couldn’t resist and gave him some chicken. Then another one came so we gave him some meat as well and before we knew it there were four of them all meowing and jockeying for position to get some hand outs.
We then had some beers at the lively Chico’s Bar in the center of town. It is the only bar in town and has a section on the street and another bar in the rear by the water with tables right on the sand. There are a few pool tables and a foosball table as well as a dance floor. After hanging out there for a while and drinking many cervazas (we had to drink so many in order to stay hydrated in the heat!) we decided on Café Cocolores for dinner. I had some of the tastiest pineapple chicken all very reasonably priced. We then retired back to El Sano Banano where they were showing the movie Ocean’s 12 in the restaurant but we were too tired to watch so we went up to our room and hit the sack.