Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls… Or Jumping Off Them

I don’t know how many of my avid readers know already but Costa Rica wasn’t all sunshine and smiles for us. We faced a situation that we never would have imagined we were going to. I won’t give away any spoilers right now otherwise there would be no reason for you to read on but know that there is a happy ending. 

We left Monteverde bright and early to catch a bus, a ferry and another bus in order to get to Montezuma, a small beach town on the Peninsula de Nicoya. The town has a lovely feel to it, one that you could easily imagine losing yourself in for a few weeks. Our hostel, Luna Llena, was also one of the the most relaxed places we’ve stayed in. 
We spent a total of three days in Montezuma and the first consisted of very little. We visited the supermarket, took turns cooking for each other and visited the beach.

The dreamy beach in Montezuma

Then came Tuesday 6th December. The fateful day. The moment I tell you our plans for the day I’m sure you might be able to figure out what happens but hopefully you’ll stick with it. Our plans for that day were to visit the Montezuma Falls. 

It was a bit of a hike up the river to get there but you are rewarded when you reach the first towering fall with a refreshing break from the heat as the spray mists in the air. There are two more falls above and if you clamber up a steep hill face you can swim in the pool between the second and third falls. The last bit was a tough scramble so we were straight in the water. A few others and I decided to jump off the third waterfall after swimming around a bit. Before anyone starts to panic, this is the smallest! It’s no more than five metres high so just like jumping off a diving board. 

The daredevils of the group decided that wasn’t good enough so were looking at the second one, a much more intimidating 15m high. This is where things start to go downhill. Tom and Mac jumped off and were all fine but when Jesse jumped off (she would like me to point out that she actually jumped first!) she went in at a funny angle and came up with a sore back. We didn’t have too much time to consider this because when Amy was climbing back up after jumping, she fell back into the water and injured her ankle badly. 

I won’t go into the details of everything that happened over the next few hours but basically we split into two groups. Jesse, Lucy and I hiked back down to get Jesse some medical care because while she could still walk, she was in a lot of pain. You may be surprised that I didn’t stay with Amy as she is my partner but I would have been no use. It distressed me too much to see her in so much pain but I knew I could still help Jesse. 

The boys stayed with Amy and over several hours and with the help from an American couple from our hostel and the rescue team that turned up they got Amy out of the waterfall. Meanwhile at the bottom of the trail we waited for an ambulance that never came before I had to run back to the hostel, pack up some things and get picked up to meet Amy at the clinic because she was going to need to be flown to San Jose for treatment. 

Possibly one of my favourite pictures of the whole holiday (zoom in to see her smile, laughing gas is great)

It was a lot to take in but overnight bags were thrown together, plans made to contact all the relevant people and fingers crossed that everyone would be okay. Jesse and Lucy also need to fly to San Jose because of concerns over Jesse’s back so that night the four of us took our own personal planes over Costa Rica to the capital. Silver linings right? 

Still smiling (though I think the morphine might have been helping a few people in this picture!)

We spent that night in a private hospital in San Jose where Jesse was told she had fractured her T8 vertebrate (for those that that will mean something too) but thankfully it wasn’t displaced which would have meant surgery while Amy got away with a sprained ankle. 

They were given an attractive corset/brace thing, a boot and enough pain medication to let us start our own Central American drug smuggling ring and then both our invalids were discharged at the same time the following afternoon. The boys were amazing and managed to get all the bags for the seven of us from Montezuma to San Jose and were there to meet us at a hotel once we left the hospital. 

We spent three nights in San Jose, with our days spent at a mall doing some retail therapy, catching some films at the cinema and going out for a nice meal courtesy of Amy’s parents (thanks Paul and Penny, it was delicious! Also thanks to Hugo and Cathy Tristram, Jesse’s parents, for the meal they bought us a few days later!) 

This year’s Christmas card

Lessons learned from this experience – maybe jumping off a waterfall isn’t the best idea. Also, good medical cover is absolutely essential. The planes to San Jose alone would have cost $10,000, as Mac, our resident pilot-in-training told us. 

While everyone is fine now, it was a scary and overwhelming time for us, even the ones without broken backs and sprained ankles, and one we’re not likely to forget soon! 

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