Tuesday 26 June 2012

Robbed at knifepoint and other wholesome fun in Costa Rica

Following on from the last post, the Costa Rican immigration officers wanted to send Hector back to Mexico a SECOND time when he arrived back in the country (after being told he would have no dramas when he came back in!).. Fortunately Hec dug his heels in for a few hours and refused to board any planes until he'd spoken to the Costa Rican Head of Immigration (who could speak English which was a welcome change!) .. this guy saw sense and decided that Hector wasn't a threat to national security and let him into the country.

We met up at the hostel I was staying at.. Hector was a little worse for wear after almost three days in limbo!

Keen to get some waves and get the hell out of the concrete jungle ASAP we got a taxi then bus from San Jose to a place named Liberia. The excess baggage charged on the boards as we were loading them on the bus was a bit suspect but we bit the bullet and paid up ($$ probably going straight into their beer fund!). This ride would normally be around four hours but delays from roadworks stretched it out to a good seven hours..waiting in a line of traffic in a cramped bus in the tropics with no aircon = sweatfest!

Four of us from the bus teamed up and managed to get a ride to our final destination - Tamarindo - with a local dude who had a van. Tamarindo was not what I expected. It was fully westernised; banks, hotels, casino, countless restaurants and surf shops etc. They nickname the place TamaGringo for good reason. In the 1994 surf movie Endless Summer II they actually came to Tamarindo - back then the place was little more than a dusty road and some basic accommodation. I would've loved to be there back then.

We managed to find a dorm room in La Oveja Negra hostel which was a pretty laid back surf themed backpackers..they even had a surfboard rack in the room. Perfecto.

Finally we got some Costa Rican waves, a fun beach break with chest high waves. It felt so good to get wet again! It's definitely a party town in Tamarindo.. It seems every bar would have free drinks for ladies for at least the early hours of the night. Ironically the ladies nights seemed to have more guys there in anticipation of the hordes of anticipated females that never eventuated haha. I had to take it pretty easy in Tamarindo as I had a terrible case of man-flu which I'm still battling with as I type (ended up picking up some antibiotics for a chest infection). Pretty sure I almost died.

One night while I was in the hostel attempting to cough my lungs up, Hector goes out to check out the town. He's walking along the beach back to our hostel in the early hours and four guys jump him. They catch him off guard, knock him to the ground and steal his phone and a pile of cash. He cops a few kicks on the ground before managing to get up and drop one of them. The other three take off down the beach and he chases the bastards.. they re-group and he sees the glint of a shiny metal blade in the dim light. They're all holding knives! Shit, time to get out of here he thinks.. as he turns around to gap it one of them slashes him with his knife! Fortunately they only manage to slash his jean shorts and he escapes with a few bruises and a heavy story to tell! 

^Hector's arse rip!!

We go to the Tourist Police the next day and do the big report.. a word of warning to anyone who ever gets robbed in Central/South America.. make sure that the police report is signed, has a case number, and has the official police stamp on it. Heard of a few travelers who had their insurance claim declined due to a lack of these things!

Met some cool people here in Tamarindo but it was definitely time to move on. We cruised down the road to Playa Negra; a sleepy little town with not much going on apart from a few basic restaurants and some good surf breaks. We found ourselves out of water the night we arrived, no shops were open and we didn't trust the tap water so shimmied up a coconut tree and drank coconut water to stop ourselves flaking out entirely..Had a few surfs but the swell forecast was looking dismal so we decided to move on after a night at a little place there.


^puppies from the hostel @ Playa Negra

Hector had a spare phone on this trip, but it had a broken screen. He headed to San Jose to get it fixed so it could replace his stolen one, and I manage to get a cheap ride with three self described Canadian muchacha locas (crazy girls) to a place called Santa Teresa. They had a van with a legend of a driver named Carlos (or Carlido as he was affectionately known). 

Santa Teresa was epic. Super fun waves, beautiful beaches with rainforest right down to the beach, good food and the accommodation - The Funky Monkey - was awesome. There was a good crew of people there from all over, everyone was really friendly and made hanging there a real good time. Nacho, the resident chef, kept us all well fed with some epic food.. including the amazing almond pancakes drenched in maple syrup.


Went out to Tortuga island for a scuba dive day trip.. it's a really beautiful spot. 

The dive itself was pretty cool, the viz wasn't as good as it could be due to the rainy season resulting in nutrient rich water with a high plankton count. Saw some cool shit including a swim through cave which was loaded with big fish and a heap of white tip reef sharks. The highlight for me was the nest of ornate rock lobster. Despite not having a pair of gloves the hunter-gatherer urge was too strong - I managed to back one under a ledge and pull it out and simultaneously ripped my hand up on it's spikes! Worth it of course. With lobster successfully caught, I started having doubts and thought maybe it's a marine reserve. I let it go but kept a few stray legs that fell off in the tussle which I later boiled up. Turns out it would've been all good to keep the whole thing and I'd inadvertently let my dinner go!

Met up with Hector at a joint called Jaco.. it's another very touristy town, but some great food (I don't think I could ever get sick of burritos!) and it's a $3 taxi ride to some fun waves at the next beach, Playa Hermosa. Playa Hermosa is a punchy little wave, which breaks close to shore, with peaks breaking down a decent stretch of the beach to disperse the crowd.

I've seen a metric shittonne of wildlife so far. I'm yet to see a sloth or a toucan.. these are def on the hit list. Hopefully when I visit one of the National Parks I might get lucky.

The plan is to head south from here and bounce our way down the coast to a place called Pavones for the next swell. This wave is the gem of Costa Rica; a long long looooonnngggg left.. I've heard that you can get a two minute ride.. maybe a tall story.. hopefully we get to score it and find out!

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