The road out of Monteverde might have been even more sketchy than the way in. It's only 33 km down to the Pan-American Highway, but its a pretty narrow and bumpy dirt road. It's a fairly steep decent also. On this day we would be going from about 5000 ft. all the way down to sea level. Our destination was the town of Mal Pais on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. To get there we would have to catch a ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera.
Once on the Pan-American Highway, we made pretty good time and got into Puntarenas a little bit ahead of schedule. We were a bit concerned about our chances of actually making it on board the ferry given the amount of vehicles already queued up, including a number of large tour buses. I waited in the car while Tim walked down to the bakery on the corner to buy the ferry tickets. Yes, the ferry tickets were sold inside a bakery. Why? I have no idea. Our fears of not making it aboard were allayed when we saw the ferry pull up to the dock. It was massive. Once all the cars from Paquera had driven off, the line began moving forward. Tim got out and walked on while I drove the Jimny below deck. If you look closely that's him leaning on the railing just above the "T" on the middle deck. The ferry ride itself was relaxing. We were treated to yet another perfect sunset over the Gulf of Nicoya. There was music and drinks and just that same general sense of peace and serenity that seemed to persist everywhere we went..."Pura Vida" as they say down here. Not that I ever had reason to think it would be any other way... but I did take a moment to reflect on just how much I was enjoying myself here.
I had some reservations about driving the road from Paquera to Mal Pais after sundown. This was based on some things that I had read and advice from a friend. As we approached the Peninsula it was getting very dark and there was no noticeable evidence of civilization. I began to discuss with Tim the possibility of finding a cheap place to stay for the night in Paquera, and making ti over to Mal Pais early the next morning. We decided there was no reason to not just feel it out and "play it by ear" as we had been doing for most of the trip already. After we offloaded and began driving away from the dock, we quickly decided to "be bold" and just drive all the way to Mal Pais. Despite our Garmin telling us otherwise, the road was mostly paved all the way to Montezuma, albeit riddled with potholes that drivers would often swerve into oncoming lanes to avoid. After that, it was bumpy and dusty. Some fellow travelers on an ATV flagged us down at one point. The headlight on their Quad had burnt out and they were scared of getting into a collision. We offered to let them follow directly behind us all they way to Santa Teresa.
On the way we had pulled out our Fodor's guide, and decided to check out a place called the Ritmo Tropical. A young local surfer greeted us at the front desk/bar and showed us an available bungalow, which were all just steps from the pool. We took the room, dropped our bags, and had dinner in the restaurant, where the same guy that checked us in was also our waiter. Woodfired pizza seemed to be the specialty. Once again, the food was fantastic. "Yeah," I said to Tim. "I think I want to stay here."