Our first stop on the Costa Rican pacific coast was Tamarindo. I had been to Tamarindo years ago and was curious to see how much it had changed. Plus, it was Easter and I promised the fam that I would Skype, so we had to find internet. When we pulled into town I couldn’t believe my eyes. Tamarindo had exploded big hotels and paved roads. We pulled up to a parking lot at the beach and were greeted by a man telling us we had to pay to park. Welcome to the United States of Central America.
I left Jamie to figure out the parking situation and took a very insistent Reina out onto the beach to do her business. There were still a lot of people at the beach because of Semana Santa as well as reminanats of the party that had occurred the previous week. They had even set up a big inflatable slide for the kiddos. As soon as Reina was done we walked back up to find Jamie and the car parked in front of the famous Withes Rock Surf shop and Eat @ Freds Restaurant. As soon as I sat down with menu in hand Jamie came walking up explaining that he had found someone that might want to buy one of our stand up paddleboards. As much as we love going out for a paddle together we just weren’t using them enough to justify carrying them around. Even though we had talked about selling a board I was caught a little off guard and wanted to think about it over lunch.
After a yummy mahi burger, 3 failed Skype attempts and one failed camping mission we parked across the street from Freds at Kelly’s Surf Shop to talk with the owner about selling the board. Ten minutes and a little negotiating later we were down a board.
With the weight of the board lifted off of the Burro we “flew” (meaning we went 25 mphs rather than 20) south to a spot that Jamie wanted to check out called Avellanas. More specifically a surf spot called “Little Hawaii”. We had heard from some friends about a free spot to camp near the surf break. In order to get there we had to drive through the mangroves and all I could think about was how many mosquito bites I was going to get if we camped there. At the end of the road we pulled up to a house and spoke with the guard about camping. He explained that we could camp there for only one night and that we would have to be gone by 6am. The more we hung out there we realized that this spot just wasn’t for us, so we got back in the car in search of something better.
A few minutes down the road a man called out to us and asked what we were looking for. Were we that obvious? We told him we were trying to find a place to camp and as it turned out he had a campground right in front of our faces. It wasn’t the cleanest place on earth but it had a shower, bathroom and kitchen area, plus it was right on the beach.
After spending a few days in Avellanas we got a nice little routine down. Wake up with a morning surf session for Jamie and a run/workout for Reina and I. Then breakfast and relaxing until midday when we would head over to Lola’s for lunch and internet time. There are about 4 different breaks near Avellanas and all were walking distance from where we were staying. Lola’s is pretty much the only restaurant that was walking distance from camp and it was a little expensive but oh so delicious. Oh and did I mention the beautiful sunsets? Yep, right in our front yard. Never gets old. In a nutshell Avellanas was one of those perfect spots that we didn’t want to leave, but knew that we would need to in order to find the next one.
And find the next “perfect spot” we did; in Nosara, a little surf town south of Avellanas. Nosara is a cool town in Northern Nicoya full of surfers and yogis. There are a couple of good surf spots in the area and the famous Nosara Yogo Institute, the two main reasons people visit the town. With my mom coming to visit in June we had a couple months to kill in Costa Rica so we thought it might be nice to rent a place for a bit. After driving through Nosara we really liked the area and decided to try to find a rental there. However, finding a cheap rental in the area proved to be harder than we expected and we were stuck searching for a pirate camping spot at 3pm when we pulled into a soda to refuel.
The couple that owned the soda was super nice and it felt good to practice our Spanish with them. After lunch we were surfing the net trying to find a place to stay when the man asked what we were doing. We explained our situation and he told us that we could stay there. As it turned out they not only had a restaurant but they also rented cabanas and an apartment. We checked out the cabana and ended up staying there one night. The next day they gave us a tour of the apartment. It was two bedroom with a big open living area and only $300 a month. We asked them how much it would be for two weeks and started moving in.
It felt so good to move out of the car for a bit. We used those two weeks to get back into the swing of exercising and eating healthy. Fruit smoothies and salads or turkey sandwiches were staples. It’s difficult to make healthy choices on this trip. We want to try all the new and exciting foods but most of those foods include deep fried things, plus we always want to try everything on the menu. We also get caught buying more easy processed foods because we want to save money and have food readily available for those long driving days and border crossings. So, the house gave us a good excuse to start buying healthy foods and making many of our own meals. Actually, we only went out to eat once in the two weeks that we were in the apartment and it wasn’t even good. That’s what we get huh!?
Our apartment was technically in Punta Guiones, which is about a 10 minute drive from the beach where Jamie surfed. On a normal day we’d get up in the morning make a salad or sandwich to put in the cooler for lunch and hit the road to the beach for the day. The area where I would set up camp was a bit away from the actual surf spot so I didn’t get a chance to watch Jamie surf every time he went out. I would just watch for him to come walking back and that would be my queue to start getting lunch out and ready. One day I was sitting on my towel reading when I glanced up and noticed a guy walking down the beach carrying his surfboard under each arm. As the figure came closer I realized that it was Jamie and that his surfboard had broken clean in half. My dad had given him the board a few years ago and he surfed on it every day. It was his favorite, which made it all the worse. Once we packed everything into the car Jamie left the board by the trashcan and we watched as a group of guys walking by checked it out. It was hard to leave the board behind but there was nothing else we could do.
Over the two weeks we spent in Guiones we took advantage of the fact that the car wasn’t loaded down with all of our stuff and explored the area a bit. We pulled out of our driveway one day and pointed the burro south. There is just something about the open road and nowhere to go. I mean, we drive ALL the time obviously, but it is quite liberating when your not driving towards a location where you’ll have to find a place to camp for the night before the sun sets and its getting late. All we had to do was just…drive. We drove from small fishing village to small fishing village and turned around in Samara. Then we drove east past beautiful farmland and beautiful homes. We spent a day on a beach near Mel Gibsons Costa Rica house and a day in a town north of Nosara called Playa Juanillo, with one of the most gorgeous beaches we’ve seen on the trip.
The two weeks in our little apartment in Punta Guiones flew by and before we knew it we were emailing Marcia from Southern Tip Trip and making plans to meet up with the Sprinter crew at a microbrewery on Lake Arenal. After two “perfect spots” and minus two surfboards we’re heading inland and out of the heat. Get ready for a post on our beer-ific (too much?) stay on Lake Arenal and our try at the vaquero lifestyle in Sarapiqui.