We spent more days indoors than any other country.
We spent more money on food than in any other country.
We saw more wildlife and crossed more rivers, than in any other country.
We caught the biggest and longest waves of our trip.
1 month and 9 days. It was the second longest time we spent somewhere.
Ticos really are nice. It is true. Pura Vida. They kept giving us stuff: mangos, fish, a place to crash, assistance with Spanish, tips on surf spots.
I remember one the first nights we arrived in the country. I walked down the beach, right after sunrise. It was so beautiful. I am not even sure how to convey the beauty, or what specifically made it more “beautiful” than the 100 other beaches that we have visited. I came back to camp and said to Dean, it cannot be denied that Costa Rica has really amazing beaches. They have a sense of life and health. There is that.
I must admit that we had a little bit of a bad attitude about Costa Rica (or perhaps it was just some resistance). We had been there before, and we knew it would be more expensive and commercial than the other Central American nations where we have traveled. And it is. But it is difficult to have a bad attitude when you have plentiful surf, kind people, familiar faces, and monkeys.
Day One. We crossed the border amped for our adventure to Witches Rock. There was a silence in the car, both caught up in our daydreams about the famed spot. It is known that if you camp there, you are able to surf (alone) prior to the arrival of the boats, which make day trips from CoCo Beach. We really wanted to camp there. So there we were, driving that 51 km from the border for Santa Rosa National Park. We see the sign, hang a right, roll up to the guard station, open our window, smile…and to our complete surprise…we are…DENIED. No mascotas. huh? This possibility hadn’t even entered our little brains. We were dumbfounded. Silent. Smiles turned upside down. It can’t be? What about? Can we? No, No, No. And No. A young, serious Costa Rican police officer with a buzzed head and mirrored sunglasses looks back at me straight-faced as I attempt to smile a little bit more in my final attempt to cross the line. No. Lupe sits on her little platform. Her expression is the same as it has been for her entire life. We turn the Taco around and the 3 of us spend the next 2 hours brewing in a silence of disappointment. I guess we go to Tamarindo? It will have to do for the night. This was our first day in Costa Rica.
In Tamarindo we camp in the parking area for the town beach. We are cheap and Tamarindo is expensive. It serves the purpose. A couple of drifters roll through. A drunk dude passes out near the truck, claiming to be checking the surf. Women in brightly printed cover ups, and children in sun shirts stare as I attempt to to find el bano de la playa.
Then there is Marbella for a night. We camp at a killer spot on the beach, shaded by trees with the expansive beach on display in front of the Taco. Dean splits his rail and I play in whitewater (that wave scares me). Lupe makes a boyfriend (aka Old Sport).
There is Nanci’s house. She takes us in, feeds us delicious meals, provides us with beds and showers. And how about that caramel corn? We surf some local waves, have good conversation, and enjoy the company of a our new friend.
Juiquillio, Playa Negra, Playa Grande, Avellenas, Santa Cruz, Nicoya
Santa Teresa, Manzanillo. We return to a spot we had been 3 years earlier. A landing in front of a rocky beach with tidal pools. I am really happy to be back in this spot. I have fond memories of a previous trip to Costa Rica in which we stumbled upon this little gem and spent the day frolicking in the water. It is real nice until we put it together that this “landing” maybe acts as a toilet to locals who party at the beach. Let’s get out of here. Our second campsite is beneath the palm fronds. A couple slow days of swimming, beach runs, yoga, spearfishing, cooking over fire and chatting with locals.
Mal Pais. 10 nights. We have a local crew at our campsite: David, Camila, Jake, the french dude who went drunk swimming in the rough surf at 6AM. Playa Carmen, Banana Beach, La Lorna. The owner of the campsite, William, is a kind man. He is an ex-Costa Rican futbol player. He cooks paella on my birthday. We spend time with our friends Marcos and Carlos, whom we left in Popoyo. We make dinner together and hang out at their hostel. Carlos gives Dean a tattoo.
Samara. We reconnect with Will, whom we met in Mexico through our friends George and Rachel. There is Pablitos, surf, tours of local beaches, and some good catching up and hanging out with our new friend.
Playa Camronal, Playa Barigona
Nosara. Playa Guinoes. Dean’s mom visits us along with her friends Cindy and Lois. It is a week of family, quality time, love, nourishment. A nice break. We are replenished, spoiled, and appreciative for all the attention.
Puerto Jimenez. Kaylor, the owner of the local surf shop, takes us in for a night. Dean had painted a mural at his shop a few years ago. We sleep in his garage.
Pavones for 12 days. 6 days camping at the point. It is hot! It rains. We cook over fire. It is hot! I am grumpy. I take out my crankiness in the water (and on Dean). We love the wave and trade time in the water. I practice. Get frustrated. I enjoy the challenge, but grrrr! We watch the waves from our campspot. Dean surfs until he can’t move.
Chinos for 6 nights (pavones part two) We are under a roof, have a bathroom and kitchen, and are in town. We reconnect with a bunch of fellow travelers whom we had met earlier in the trip. Familiar faces are so awesome when you are traveling. We eat hamburgers. I continue to practice. Dean surfs until he is “surfed out”.
Semana Santa is over and we decide that it is time to move on. We will meet Dean’s cousin, Cara, in Panama in a week. Me, Dean, Lupe, Carlos, and Marcos pack into the Toyota and head to the border.
Here is some footage of our drive down the Pacific Coast of Mexico…
Once we departed the ferry from Baja we blazed down the central coast. Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding area is a full blown tourist zone with overpriced everything. So far camping in Sayulita has been the most expensive campground since we left Jersey. We decided to head South South South, more and more. We spent some nights here and there looking for a quaint spot to set up for a bit.
We checked out Playa Pascuales, which is know for its tubes. Traveling surfers from around the globe flock here for world class waves. The swell rolled in just in time to witness some real surfing. These dudes are no-nonsense surfers who know what they’re doing, and do it well. If your unsure of your surfing ability (which I am) its best for you to stay out of the water with the rest of the jokers.
About an hour, or two,South of Pascuales is the small Mexican Indian Village known as La Ticla. The wave at La Ticla is not as heavy and dangerous as Pascuales, but since we arrived there has been a consistent Southwest swell producing anywhere from chest to double over-head waves every day, all day. The camping is cheap, the village is minimal, and the locals (as well as the surf tourists) have been welcoming and generous. We have been here for about a week and plan to stay through Christmas (possibly New Years). There is big surf every day (all day), bathtub warm water, tamale ladies strolling through the camp, and Mexican surf tourists from the big cities telling stories.