imageBy Vicki Barnes
While Montezuma is known for having some good surfing waves on the Gulf of Nicoya, we’d heard the waves were even better on the west coast of the Nicoya Peninsula…directly on the Pacific. Why not check it out, we thought. It’s just a short drive down the road.

Looking at the map, there were two options: 30 miles across on the gravel road or that 15 mile shortcut to the south. We double checked the map symbols and a solid red line denotes those paths that are only passable with 4-wheel drive vehicles. This road was a dotted red line.

What could that mean? Let’s find out!

The GPS is the soundtrack to our every adventure in this country with no street signs or addresses. Her soothing voice encouraged us along the dusty path out of town. The waves to our left crashed against volcanic outcroppings. To our right beige, dust-covered trees, swung peacefully alongside our path. A dirt bike, an all terrain vehicle, a motorcycle passed us…all of them and their drivers were the same shade of beige.

A young man, a beige bandana tied over his mouth, swept a portion of the road in front of his house like Sisyphus in Hades. The dust settled down in thick patches more quickly than they could be swept away.

“Turn right onto unpaved road,” GPS said.

To those of us used to driving on asphalt, the gravel road was unpaved. To the right, the road dropped and rose in thuds. Huge tree roots formed knotted walls on one side of the road, deep gorges, nearly invisible through the trees fell to the other side. Sometimes, tree stuffed mountains shot above our heads on that same side.image

To call the terrain unpredictable would be an understatement.

Suddenly, in front of us was a pothole, twice the size of the car, filled with thick beige water. It might have been an inch deep, maybe a foot. Large trees and rocks were piled up on each side, diverting the flow from a trickle of a stream.

This is the dry season. It is safe to assume that during the rainy season, this trickle is a raging torrent.

We checked the depth…a few inches though most of the puddle, maybe a bit deeper in others, a scattering of rocks throughout. While Steve backed the car up, his brother stood to one side to yell out warnings if necessary. I, of course, took a position just to the other side of the hole to videotape whatever mishaps might occur. We all must have our own jobs in a situation such of this. (Video coming soon.)

The drive through was fairly uneventful, though the car took on more of a wild look with splashes of mud like a Jackson Pollock painting along the doors. The adventure had begun.

Up and down, through hairpin curves, one lane then one and a half. We never saw two full lanes.image

Bump. Bump. Bump. Two more blocked rivers and unpredictable pools.

Finally and suddenly, iridescent blue splashed across the landscape to the left and then opened in front of us. Perfect swells rose up and crashed down. White sand invited us to pull over and cool off in the waves.image

We’d survived the trip, but the gravel road would be our path home. In distance, it was twice as long, but the trip took half the time.