Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Monkey Balls & Pura Vida - Costa rica

I just got back yesterday from a week in Costa Rica with Mimi and I have to say that I am not entirely sure why I came back! I was staying near Tamarindo which is about 3.5 hrs away from the capital San Jose. Costa Rica is a pretty small mountainous island with good surf on both the Pacific and Caribbean facing oceans. Prices for food and gas was not too different than North America in urban areas. We were on the Pacific coast.

Here's the rundown:

Weather: 85-90 degrees every day, 80 degree water, sunny every day.

Animals: CR is absolutely dazzling, we stayed right next to an estuary and there were like 20+ different kinds of birds around. Black and Green Iguanas were around all day around the pool, they didn't seem to care too much about people. Little lizards are everywhere at night as are huge grasshoppers. Not too many bugs except a few mosquitoes at night. We each saw what seemed like huge Manta Rays in the water. Lots of Red Snappers churning the water and a few flying fishes were around. TONS of pelicans were hanging around in the air and water, vultures too on the road - they look like really ugly turkeys. We saw howler monkeys a few times during the week, the size of large house cats they sound like lions. They scared the crap out of Mimi.

The thing about these little howler monkeys is that besides howling a lot, the males also have HUGE white balls. You look up and there's these hairy little black beasts screaming at you with huge bald white balls - really quite a site to see!

People: The people in our hotel were mostly fat corn fed white yuppies and suburbanites, not very friendly. We got stuck at an all inclusive hotel which was really nice but mind numbing boring. In Tamarindo, people were super friendly and the locals were really nice. Every home and business is fenced up like a prison and in San Jose, the gas stations have guards with shotguns. I am guessing that crime is crazy high there. I have read that there is a big problem with illegal immigrants from Nicaragua. The biggest industry is computer semiconductor manufacturing and Intel, Microsoft, etc. all have big complexes there. That would explain a Ferrari dealership in a tiny country with horrible roads.

Surf: There are endless places to surf, beach breaks, point breaks etc. Lots of funky stuff though like thieves, crocodiles, polluted rivers etc. We mostly rode a beach left right off the Playa Langosta break, a river mouth break on volcanic rock. The beach break in Tamarindo was a lot easier but at least twice the ENTIRE lineup got cleaned up with a big (7+ ft) close out set on the outside. You can rent a board from almost any place in town for about $15/day. On the way back, we checked out the Boca Barranca break but didn't have time to find the break but did check out the area - very sketchy, you've really got to know where to go and be sorted out or you might find yourself in trouble. I suck, I was in such terrible shape that I didn't get to stay out long enough to really ride as much as I wanted to. Better than nothing though and I did really learn a lot. My summer long wake surfing will only help me when I can catch more and better waves. That's going to be a big breakthrough for me.

FYI: I am now officially in training for a spring trip, call me if you want to join me, maybe CR or Cabo.

Internet: There are tons of Internet café’s there and there is a big fiber trunk running into Tamarindo so bandwidth is plentiful. No Internet in our hotel though and not much sign of Wifi. VOIP is big at the café’s. Internet access is about a buck every 10 minutes. VOIP long distance is about 60 cents a minute. If you bring your own laptop and VOIP phone, you can actually get a 9 cent a minute rate with Viper networks, free from VOIP to VOIP phone.

Food: The all inclusive place we stayed at was ok on the first two days but then drove me crazy with the same boring "americanized" tasteless food. The best place in Tamarindo that we ate at was the "el aracife" near the main roundabout which was cheap and had AWESOME jumbo shrimp, the rice was un-freaking-believable, the second place was the Copacabana on the beach which was really good but a little pricier, much better than the classier place right next door.

All in all, I had an awesome time and I will be going back as soon as I can.
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