Sun, sand and surf :)
My shuttle to Tamarindo left Monteverde Monday Aug 15 at 9:30am and arrived at 1:30pm. For the second leg of the shuttle ride I sat next to Katharina, a girl from Germany who had been in Costa Rica for the past 5 weeks learning Spanish. She had finished school a week ago and did some traveling around the country and was returning to Tamarindo to meet up with her school friends before flying home in a few days. She was very friendly and when I said I was traveling alone she invited me to meet her and her friends for dinner and then out to the "discotheque". We made plans to meet at 7pm in front of the Subway next to my hostel. The hostel I chose to stay at was called Blue Trailz Surf Camp. Nadina and Mayte (the LA girls I met in La Fortuna) were staying at Pura Vida but the reviews I read were mixed and it was 5-10 min walk to the beach. Blue Trailz didn't have many reviews but most were positive and it was right across from the beach. When I checked into my dorm room there was no one else there yet. I settled in and took a shower. Just as I was getting out the there's a knock at the door. I have a roommate. It's a blonde girl and she speaks English, YES! I find out her name is Hanna and she is from Sweden. She is also traveling alone. She is in Tamarindo for 4 nights and then heads up to Playa Grande for a week long surf camp. I had gotten a message from Nadia that they were going for happy hour drinks at a Nibanna so I invited Hanna along. We got to Nibanna at 6pm and I told the girls I had planned to meet up with Katharina for dinner. They all came along and we went to meet her. When she showed up she suggested we go to Nibanna for dinner! So back we went. After supper we were all too tired to go out so just ended up crashing.
The next day Hanna and I got up and shopped around for the cheapest surf lessons. I wasn’t planning on getting a lesson since I had gotten one last year in Hawaii but she really wanted one and I figured a refresher couldn’t hurt. Our hostel was offering a 2 hr lesson for $45 but we found one for $35 instead. Our lesson was for 3pm so we just chilled on the beach and at the hostel for the rest of morning. The lesson went really well. We both stood up on our first wave and most of them after that. We were going to try going out to the bars again but we were wiped from the sun and surf (and Hanna had 8 hours of jetlag) so we crashed early but not before seeing a giant rat, or so Hanna thought! We were sitting on the porch outside our room, both on our laptops facing each other. All of a sudden Hanna’s jaw drops and she picks her feet up off the ground. “OH MY GOD! IT’S A GIANT RAT!” and shows me the length with her hands. It’s about the length of my finger tip to my elbow. By the time I turn to see it’s gone. She retires to our room and as I was about to too my mom Skypes in. As I’m chatting with her I see the rat, it was big! I tell my mom and she says I need to get a picture but he’s already gone again. As I get up to get my camera he comes back and I see his face more clearly. I think it’s actually a possum. I did manage to get a picture of him but not until the night I left. The next day we got some new roommates - two Aussies (Niall and Warner), a Swiss girl (Annina) and a girl from Norway (whose name escapes me). They were moved into our room because the dorm they were in got rented out by two Asian Canadians from Toronto – Freddy and Andrew. These became the people we would hang out with for the next few days and nights along with Mike and Tom, two Americans staying in another room. As we were hanging out in the common area the subject of the giant rat comes up. Warner says that he saw it too. It woke him up in the night because he thought it was someone knocking at the door! The debate as to whether it was a rat or possum was solved by the owner Steve (who’s actually from Calgary! He bought the place 2 years ago). He said it was indeed a possum (Yay I was right!!) and they find him in the recycling and garbage bins all the time, having to fish him out when he’s can’t get himself out. They call him Possy. Haha!
I was having such a blast with all these people I decided to spend the rest of my time in Costa Rica here instead of moving down the Nicoya Peninsula over the next 5 days. Hanna ended up cancelling her surf camp too, deciding to stay in Tamarindo and take surf lessons here if she needed. On Thursday Steve gave us the suggestion to take a taxi to Avellanas, the next town down the coast. He said there was a Marriott Beach Club there where you can pay $20 to get in but then that goes towards food and drinks. It has a pool and access to the beach. He also recommended a great place to eat called Lola’s about a 15 minute walk down the beach. Sounded great so on Friday seven of us piled in a van and headed for Avellanas. When we got to the gate for the Beach Club they said it was closed. Gah! Really! We figured the driver had the wrong place so we just asked him to take us to Lola’s. When we got there I asked one of the servers where the Beach Club was and if it was open. He said yes and pointed which direction down the beach. None of us were really hungry yet so we all started to walk down the beach in search of the Beach Club. We found it and there was no gate from the beach entrance so we just walked in, put our stuff on chairs and jumped in the pool. We were kicked out shortly after as it was closed for a private party. Someone had rented out the whole place for the day. Just our luck! So back to Lola’s we went and on the way it started to rain, and it didn’t really ever stop. We ordered some food and drinks and when we were done we just called our taxi driver to come back and get us. It was raining in Tamarindo too so we just napped and read there until the evening. Hanna felt like checking out some stores so I said I’d join. No need for my camera if we were just shopping. BIG MISTAKE!! We ended up seeing the sunset in the middle of shopping. It was the MOST GOREGOUS SUNSET I’VE EVER SEEN!! I was sooo mad I didn’t have my camera. As I looked out onto the ocean the sky to the left was filled with bright deep reds, oranges and pinks. To the right was this giant dark rain cloud that periodically shot forks of lightning! It was unreal! The next morning I went with Hanna and Annina as they shopped around for day tours to do next week. They ended up deciding on a day tour to Nicaragua. The tours only ran on Wednesdays. Too bad for me as it sounded really cool and I would’ve liked to go but I was leaving at 3:30am on Monday. Turns out there was a group going tomorrow that we could join in on so we jumped on the offer! Around noon, Mike and Tom decided to try the beach club again and take some surf boards too to ride some waves down there. I went along, as did Giovanni - a local who worked at the hostel. The waves in Avellanas were strong and I couldn’t get very far out, so I just stuck close to shore in the white water. It was still fun and I stood up a few times on the new board I was trying out.
The shuttle to Nicaragua picked us up at 4:30am. An hour later we arrived at a transfer spot and location to eat breakfast. After eating we got in a new shuttle with five other people to begin our journey to Granada. It was a long drive and I slept most of the way. Our first stop in Granada was a cigar factory but unfortunately for us no one was working because it was Sunday. Next stop was a church that was restored after a fire. Here we could climb to the top of the bell tower and see a view of the whole city. We walked around the city for a bit and then took a boat ride to see at bunch of houses on islands and “Monkey Island”. Five rehabilitated monkeys live on this island. There were four spider monkeys and one white-faced capuchin monkey. We only saw three of the spider monkeys. The rest hid from us. We visited Masaya volcano after the boat ride. This volcano is still active but with gases not lava. It releases Sulphur so we could only be exposed for a maximum of 15 mins. It was still really cool to see. Our lunch in the town of Masaya was delicious. I had freshly grilled fish. We wandered around a market after lunch and I ended up purchasing a beautiful painting of a woman’s face. The market was the end of our tour so around 3pm we started our journey home. We got back to Tamarindo around 8:30pm. Time for me to pack and sleep before getting up at 3am to catch my bus to San Jose where my flight to Iguazu departed from.
Overall I had a blast in Tamarindo! Hanna and I hit it off from day one and now I’ve added Sweden to my itinerary! I’m going to fly to Stockholm for 10 days after my safari in Africa. As I write this blog entry I’m on an overnight bus from Iguazu to Buenos Aries. I will be there for five days and then fly to Johannesburg. Stay tuned for my next entry about Argentina!