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Once and always a fishing village, Cabuya has maintained its small town charm while boasting incredible nature and tranquility. Our school is located just a few minutes walk from the beach and near Costa Rica's first national park, the Reserva Absoluta Cabo Blanco. Cabo Blanco is loaded with wildlife and many of them make the trek out of the park and into the trees which surround us on a daily basis.
Cabuya has 2 supermarkets, 5 restaurants and a few small businesses. Most of the population is Costa Rican and does not speak English, which complements our Spanish classes greatly.
Nearby is the Lajas River, which boasts an incredible amount of birds, the biggest waterfall in the region and a great surf break at its river mouth.
Just 4 miles from Cabuya, Montezuma has grown in popularity over the last few decades to become a beautiful, tranquil and adventure loving town. Today, it is home to a very international community. The make-up of residents is somewhere around 60% Tico to 40% emmigrant, giving Montezuma the unique ability to offer many of the comforts of home, with a stunning variety of restaurants and shops, with the ability (and sometimes necessity) to practice your Spanish during simple transactions or casual conversation.
The streets of the main drag are lined with artisans, trying to earn a living by means of jewlery, home-made cosmetics, hand-crafted journals and much more. They crowd the streets with their dread locks and hemp necklaces, holding impromptu jam sessions with bongos, flutes and guitars. Many times you'll see them passing the time away, juggling with fire or other equally entertaining toys. And that's just the center of town. The beauty of Montezuma really begins to take shape as you move to the outskirts of town. There are wildlife refuges both to the immediate north and south. Walk north through the Nicolás Wessberg Absolute Natural Reserve to find hordes of monkeys, red and black mo-hawked squirrels, toucans and more. A two hour hike will bring you past seven unique beaches, the highlights of which include Piedra Colorada, where a river makes a natural pool before it meets the ocean, rocks and tree trunks are balanced high atop one another and waterfalls beckon within view. The jewel of the last beach, Playa Cocalito, is the El Chorro Waterfall which plummets directly into the sea. Making your way to the Cabo Blanco National Park, to the south of Montezuma, you will find many rivers, secluded natural pools and spectacular waterfalls within a short hike. Take the long hike through the park to witness abundant wildlife and a spectacular, secluded beach overlooking a picturesque island.
One of the best things to do in this area is to go waterfall hunting. Hike up almost any river and you're bound to find one. The most famous is the set of 3 Montezuma Waterfalls where visitors swim, cliff dive and clown around on the rope swing. Those who are adventurous enough (and most aren't), may even happen upon the mythical white waterfalls where every rock and cliff is white and water cascades from every angle for a stretch of several hundred meters, ending with a natural waterslide into a swimming pool.
And all this fails to mention golf, hiking, kayaking, scuba, snorkeling, horseback riding, surfing, yoga, bonfires, beach parties, night clubs, bars, uninhabited white sand beaches and a whole lot more.
As a result of Costa Rica becoming the first country of the Americas to abolish its army, the government has been left with plenty of money to invest elsewhere. Thankfully, it has been used to improve education, to bring residents clean drinking water and to nationalize a healthcare program which extends to every resident as a birthright. Today, those residents hold a 93% literacy rate and boast the highest life expectancy in all of Latin America.
Although Costa Rica is the 3rd smallest country of the Americas, with a land area of approximately 20,000 square miles (about twice the size of Vermont), it has an enormous variety of topography, and subsequently a diverse array of climates. Only 10 degrees from the equator, higher temperatures are not only to be expected, but found. Surprisingly, high in the mountain tops, frost can be found as well.
The amount of rainfall and humidity varies with altitude, distance from coastline and regional winds, producing an unparalleled multiplicity of flora and fauna throughout the nation. Some of the highlights include 1,500 distinct types of trees and 6,000 types of flowering plants, including 1,000 species of orchids alone. Add to that 830 identified species of birds and countless mammals and reptiles and you can see how Costa Rica is believed to be the most bio-diverse land area on the planet.