Tamarindo – Costa Rica – 2015 – Day 5-7

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Farmers market – Tamarindo Feria. Local farmers market with local produce, handmade crafts, fish etc. That was the so called plan but when we made it to the area by the Backpackers Hostel, there was no market in sight except for signs. I guess it was closed for Easter. We walked the beach from Langosta back to our hostel then decided because it was only 930AM that we would do all day rentals and surf. We rented for $10USD including rashguards from Johan at our hostel and off we went. The waves were pretty tiny and not consistent when we got out unfortunately. The best I results for my ride was a slight crouch or riding on my knee. We surfed for about two hours then headed back since we got tired.

After lunch we stayed in for a bit to avoid the sun. Around 330PM we went back into town to grab groceries and when we got back Johan was actually leaving to head into another city to meet up with his family for Easter dinner so our surf plans got canned. We took another break from the sun for a bit before venturing to the beach to watch the sunset. Such a disappointing sunset that reminded us of the colour dot on old tube televisions. We bumped into Caribbean guy (sorry I can’t remember his name but ;et’s call him E). He was trying to convince us to go out clubbing and he convinced us.

We walked over with E and he filled us in more about his life. He was born on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, his brother lives there, he works in a surf shop, lived in Belgium with his ex girlfriend, learned English on the streets. We went to a bar club called Elbe! and his friend Mateo joined us. It was 2000 colones entry with unlimited drinks with your plastic cup. The music at the beginning was old, American and Euro music that no one should even dance to. It started to pick up when they dropped Blackstreet – No Diggity and that’s when the dancing started.

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One more full day to go with no plans. We went for a beach walk in the morning. The hostel has cleared out because everyone had gone back home after Easter except the actual tourists. It’s a ghost town now. I don’t understand how it’s so humid. Johan finished work we joined him to Playa Avellana to surf. He drives this sweet white land cruiser and strapped boards above. Playa Avallenas is about a 30-45 minute drive away from Tamarindo and also is where Lola’s restaurant is. It is a restaurant located on the beach which features Lola the pig. The waves are massive here and the beach is beautiful but a large portion has rocks at the base. Johan and Sarah surfed while I got out my waterproof bag and shot from the end of the last ripple in the water because the waves were aggressive and I can’t multitask shooting and staying a float. We stayed until sunset and Johan had some cool moves. But there was this one kid that was just killing it. As we got back to the car, Johan’s friends gave us these huge fresh coconuts that made it so much better. Good to make friends with locals.

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Woke up early to catch our tour bus. Today with Tamarindo Shuttle and Tours we did a 9 activities in 1 combo. $130USD for shuttle, activities such as zip lining, rappeling, rock climbing, buffet, horse back riding, tubing, sauna, hot spring and volcano mud bath. Gustavo was our tour guide who lives outside Tamarindo.

Some facts about Costa Rica:

-CR doesn’t have an army because they are a poor country so when they had a Panama president, he declared it’s too expensive to keep an army and put funds towards education.

-Nicaragua on the other hand has an army but education is poor but Panama has the canal thus economically they are better off.

-There are only two seasons in CR – rainy or dry. It actually gets more humid in rainy season. The caribbean side is very different from this side of town. Huge African population lives there so a much different culture, food, music etc and they speak patois.

-Coffee was the biggest income after tourism, 1820 is one of the best coffee brands.

-There are 4.2 million people on Costa Rica and 2 million of that live on San Jose.

-Guancaste is the province.

-Tamarindo is only 20 years old so they don’t have any schools there. The closest school is 4KM outside of Tamarindo. It’s now one of the most popular places in CR.

-Okinawa is the best place in the world for the longest living. CR’s Nicoya has the highest number of people over 100 years old. It’s hot here so they sweaty out all the toxins and live a simple life but even the 100+ people are still active.

-There are 9 major volcanoes with 5 active but there are many mountains and hills undiscovered so there are actually 121.

-There is one highway that if you go one direction, it will take 1 hour from Liberia to Nicaragua border and the other direction, 3.5 hours. If you go in the same direction to Nicaragua, 5000 miles to California. The roads are tough but they are building a highway to go 50KM both directions.

Old Woman’s Corner is the name of the volcano we visited. The legend from many moons ago is that only Indians use to live on this area and the princess fell in love with an older person from the enemy tribe and got pregnant. The chief (her father) threw the guy into the crater, when the baby was born, the princess was so love stricken she threw the infant into the crater to be with its father. The princess roamed the land collecting herbs for medicine.

There is an energy plant that harnesses all the steam from the volcano that powers the country.

We did a breakfast pit stop at Peri grocery store then back on the road for about an hour and half. Our first activity at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin was zip lining. It was fun but I truly believe Whistler, BC has this place beat. Along the course of lines (they were short) we had a chance to rappel down then climb up the wall. The best part of the zip lining was swinging upside down – spiderman style. During the tour, we met this lady named Olivia who was originally from Brazil who now lives in Los Angeles but is in Costa Rica with her husband who decided to go surfing so she took this tour on her own. She became our buddy for the day. Our tour bus had a few families from America but one particular family had two whiny, sensitive irritating boys named Liam and Max.

After the snake farm, we were taken by a school bus to part-take in white water tubing with another bus full or two of other people. We grabbed our huge tubes and walked down to the river. We rode the Colorado river which at this moment is at low tide making the whole thing take an hour and half instead of 45 minutes. It was so much fun except for two things: low tide means the water is low enough that when we hit the rapid, our bottoms hit the rocks hard and because it was so dry, the trees and forest caught on fire easily. Closer to the end of the tubing, the forest was on fire and we could feel the intensity of the heat as well as the debris of ash falling from above into the river on us. My hair smelt of a campfire. When we made it to the very end and had to walk up with our tubes, there were fires right beside us that we could touch or stepped on if we weren’t careful. If this was North America, this would for sure be cancelled for being unsafe. We got to the top and dropped our tubes off and literally the whole forest was white and ash by this point making it hard to breathe. The ironic thing is that as we were trying to escape, we were stuck behind a gasoline truck in the middle of this forest fire.

We had a buffet style lunch serving some Costa Rican food which was tasty especially the ribs in the sauce and star fruit juice. The chicken was tasty but slightly undercooked. From there, we ventured out on horseback. I got stuck with a dud house who didn’t go fast at all. The horseback riding was fun except for the fact that the wind was brutal picking up all the dust. That is one thing I especially hate about Costa Rica right now is that it’s so dusty and windy everywhere – my poor eyes. We got off the horses and went over to the natural hot springs. You cross this suspension bridge that can only take two people at a time. When you get down the last steps, you enter an area with a mud painting station and paint mud all over your body and then let it dry and stay on for 10 minutes. You can either use the river or the showers to rinse off the mud before going into the hot springs. Obviously I take the river to rinse off which was a little cold but refreshing however the rocks were slippery. There are multiple pools you can soak in and they vary in hotness. I actually finished off looking to the river for it’s coolness over the hot springs. Two hour ride back to Tamarindo. We made dinner – pasta with tomato sauce and tuna .

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Woke up on my own at 530AM. Took the only working bike out around 645AM to see if Tico Cafe was open to grab beans. I had read reviews about Tico selling the best coffee in Tamarindo and locally sourced and proceeds go back to the farmers. When I arrived, they had just opened before 7AM and I looked up to the trees and saw about 4-5 howler monkeys screaming. The shop is small but quaint and the staff was very helpful as she explained that Don Pupas was a local brand that made a really good espresso bean that was full bodied, creamy and hint of chocolate (6000 colones) and I also grabbed cashew nut butter 4500colones. The bike ride was so enjoyable with a stop along the way back to the skatepark which I wish I’d actually stopped by a few days back when there were skaters to take photos.

Got back and ate breakfast with Sarah and lexi the dog who is so friendly. Brought our stuff down and said quick goodbyes.

At the airport, we went to pay our exit fee of $29USD then fill out the exit form and proceeded to the check-in luggage line and were second and third in line because we came so early that the desk wasn’t even open yet. The security check was quick and easy and the airport is small. I wandered a bit and in the end probably spent more on snacks here than the entire trip on food but the coffee and chocolate are so good.

NOTE- BUY FOOD AND SNACKS BEFORE REACHING THE AIRPORT AS THE PRICES A SUBSTANTIALLY HIGHER.

In all entirety, I spent under $1300CAD this whole trip which is probably just a little bit more than a regular flight to Costa Rica.

Pura Vida.

Tamarindo – Costa Rica – 2015 – Day 3 & 4

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This heat is killer. I decided to go for a morning bike ride for about 30 minutes then came back because I was a little dehydrated. It’s nice ride though because it’s so quiet in the morning. It’s a low of 24 with 63% humidity. It’s weird to say but I miss Toronto’s ugly March weather.

We stayed at the hostel for a bit in the morning then booked a tour for the day. Estuary and mangrove boat tour for $35USD. We walked into town as only one bike there was available. We went to check out prices for surfboards and rash guard rental and to get sunscreen. We rented from Kelly’s Surf for half day at $5USD including rashguards and lockers. I got a long board. I decided to leave my flip flops in the locker. Big mistake. The cement and sand were terribly hot and I burnt the bottom of my feet. I literally ran through the parking lot and beach to the water. I haven’t surfed since 2010 and I wasn’t that good to begin with. I struggled to even stay afloat at first but managed after a while. I did catch a few waves but I grabbed the tiny ones. Sarah ventured off further and did great. The waves here are barrels which don’t really go anywhere. There were some amazing waves I tried to catch but found I was always staring down a person who was in front of me in the water so I’d have to bail. It’s getting busy because of Holy Week and the waters are full. Holy Week is family time and hundreds to thousands come from San Jose to Tamarindo to have a mini vacation. I gave up after two hours because there wasn’t a safe path to surf. We walked back to the hostel but forgot again to purchase water. Ate lunch and hid from the sun for a bit. We met a group of 4 French Canadians who came down here to setup a hostel in Nicaragua and they drove all the way down from Quebec stopping over in Tamarindo to purchase boards.

We hid from the sun some more before making our way to the end of Tamarindo beach to catch our boat for our tour of estuary and mangrove with Emiliano aka Shaggy. The family that was suppose to take this tour cancelled so it was just us 3. He was a great guide who told us the history of the national park island and the mangrove trees. The white mangrove trees are the only trees the howler monkey’s eat because the the red are too salty. These monkeys are also vegetarians. Apparently they are around 69 crocodiles in the water we surf and swim in. We spotted a few more today. Shaggy guided us through the islands and pointed out other things then we arrived at our end destination of the monkeys. It was cool to see them but man the bugs sure love me and in this instance, wasps. We hopped back into the boat and Shaggy cut open a pineapple for us and we fed the little hermit crabs.

Overall it was a nice afternoon outing not directly in the sun. We made it back to shore in time to watch the sunset. We bumped into the 4 Canadians again on the beach and had a friendly chat before all of us went back. Power went out for a bit then we made our dinner -a salad with lettuce, chickpeas, avocado, corn, cheese and apple. We let our dinner digest a little then went back into town. We haven’t been able to stay up past 10PM so we went for a walk and explored a little more. This town is seriously all beach, surfing, outdoor activities and eating. I’m happy with our choice in hostels because it’s so quiet and away from the activity. So many people everywhere because of Holy Week. At night, the main area fills with tourists who want to party as well as locals here to have a good time. If you want to party every night, this place is for you.

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Got up at 7AM and biked to town to try to grab coffee beans at Tico Cafe which according to Tripadvisor had the best local Costa Rican coffee. I biked out and it was actually pretty empty in town in terms of the cars that lined the streets the night before. I made it to Tico to find it to be closed for Easter weekend – Semana Santa and will reopen Monday.

A very lazy day spent on the beach and hiding from the sun. I went back out around 230PM for a bike ride but the bike handle came loose so it was very difficult to steer. I decided to take a different path which led me up a hill to hotels and tennis clubs then beach down I went towards the main grocery store because I was hoping to catch a few riders at the skate park but nothing. Hung out some more in the shade then around 5PM we returned to the beach to catch last light and catch the sunset. Each sunset is different. A voice called us from behind asking where our surfboards were. It was Johan who we met earlier from the hostel. He had ended his shift and wanted to catch the last waves for the day and pulled out all sorts of tricks.

Johan started surfing at 13, has been living in Tamarindo for 13 years. He originates from a town close to the Panama border. Johan runs the tour shop for the owner who is Danish that only lives in Tamarindo for half the year. He works 26 days straight with 4 days off a month but when he finishes work, he is able to just cross the street and catch some waves. He introduced us to the Caribbean guy who is a surf instructor on the main strip who also lives in the hostel.