Sunday, 15 January 2012

We are officially beach bums

Paddle-boarder at sunset near Playa Hermosa. 
Photo credit: Chris Newman
A slow day of cautious eating and hydration lead to victory over Chris's food poisoning. We caught the 6am bus to Puntarenas the following morning, excited to meet up with Jill, Modest, and little Lauren. The first portion of the trip was spent winding slowly down towards the coast via the usual winding, treacherous, nauseating roads. Chris looked a bit green but the Gravol knocked him out before the situation worsened. Meanwhile, sunrise lit up the mountains and valleys... and the thick clouds of dirty dust that permeated the entire bus. I found myself trying to hold my breath until there was a stretch of shade and the particulates became invisible once more so I could pretend the air was clean. Ugh choke ugh.

After a 2 hour layover in Puntarenas (not super exciting... standard port city) we were on our way to Playa Hermosa. Modest had offered to pick us up from town, warning that the bungalows were a bit of a jaunt down a dirt road. The bus dropped us off a block or so from Modest's recommended pick-up point, the Backyard Bar; a local resto-bar at the south end of the playa (beach). After obtaining vague directions from a local, we found the access road to the bungalows and ventured a ways down before stopping to evaluate the remaining distance. It didn't look very far. And we decided it would be more fun to show up and surprise Jill and Modest than to call for a ride when it was only a few more blocks. With our giant backpacks. And daypacks. In 35-degree heat. Plus humidity. Like a scene from a movie, we walked and yet our destination refused to get closer. Insects and birds voiced an ominous chorus from the grasses to our left and the ocean waves sent teasing sprays of warm mist to burn our nostrils. My comfy sport sandals soon transformed into wretched, scavenging lizards, tearing tender strips of flesh from my poor feet with every grueling step. The dusty bus to Puntarenas was more like a hyperbaric chamber compared to the sandstorm now whipping clouds from the road into our faces. But we pressed on, stubborn or stupid, and made it to the bungalows alive, albeit sweaty and exhausted. I am still recovering from the blisters... Lesson learned: wear better shoes for the Inca Trail. Also, Modest doesn't ALWAYS exaggerate. Next time, call for a pick-up.

Anyway, we are now comfortably set up in the bungalow and have spent the past few days lounging and playing in the waves. We are oceanfront and Playa Hermosa is a popular surfing destination so there's lots of free entertainment to be had just by looking out the windows or sitting on the deck.

Our home for a few weeks. 

The kitchen.
The view.
Chris and Modest took surfing lessons one morning and have been out a few times since. They're having fun. I'm still not really up for giving it a go. For those who don't know, I have a weird phobia that often crops up when I look down into water (lakes, ocean, even pools sometimes) and see how things are distorted by the waves and light penetration. Rocks, sand dunes, plants... anything does it. Even just shadows. No idea why; I've never had a bad experience in water. I actually love water. But I've never been able to go snorkelling or swim out to the dock... at least not without feeling terrified 99% of the time I'm doing it. So yah. The prospect of swimming out avec surfboard and then waiting in the swells for a perfect wave just doesn't really appeal to me. Boogie-boarding is a whole different thing. THAT I can handle. Super fun! Went out this afternoon and had a great time!

Yesterday we hired a local guy to take us horseback riding along the beach and up into the surrounding mountains. It was amazing. Despite being pretty hot out (even at 8 in the morning...) we thoroughly enjoyed this little touristy indulgence. The ride up into the mountains afforded some spectacular views of nearby Jaco beach and our own stretch of playa as well. We saw white faced capuchins, toucans, and a giant spider along the route and enjoyed visiting with our guide who assured us that Ticas definitely like Americans and other northerners, si. Interestingly, he confided that they have lots of problems with Cubans, Columbians, and Dominicans. I read between the lines to understand they like the folks with money to spend here and not the folks that compete for jobs. And chicas. 

Surfer in the Playa Jaco Backyard Bar Surf Competition. 
Photo credit: Chris Newman

We watched a surf competition on the beach by the Backyard Bar. The surfers are incredible here! (Chris and Modest should be ready to enter in a few years - stay tuned...) People-watching was great too. And the competition music selection was decent. Arcade Fire are becoming as ubiquitous as Nickelback. Wait. What?? Mmm. Anyway, it made me remember something I forgot to blog about earlier. One bizarre thing I've noticed about Costa Rica is their love of retro music. Seriously. Every restaurant, soda, or cafe we've been to has had a playlist straight out of the 80s or early 90s. That means mucho saxophono.... which means unhappy Ange. Yah. Saxophone "music" is like fingernails on a chalkboard in my books. I also heard the massive Mr. Big hit "To Be With You" no less than 3 times in one week. Evidently it's a Tica favorita. Anyway, it's sort of strange. I wonder if Ticas really do like this music or if they think they're appeasing the touristas by blasting it in every venue from coast to coast. Not sure. But the Backyard Bar is certainly more with the times. Probably owned by gringos....

Tonight we are considering treating ourselves to take-out pizza. This, after two miserable attempts to master our "barbecue". It's an old-school one with brickettes (sp??) and no fuel hook up! What the what?? We've tried two different methods for heating up the coals to no avail. Well, we managed to cook hot dogs on it the one night. But really, that's not much to brag about when you can eat hot dogs raw. The small cows we tried to grill last night were an epic fail. Ended up broiling them in the oven, which resulted in a very smokey and hot bungalow. So, unless we get expert advice on how to use our barbecue, we will not be buying grilling meats again. And I think we will also try to avoid using the oven.

Alright, this is turning into a novel. And I'm tired of fighting with the formatting, trying to get the text to wrap nicely around the photos. Also, it's time to go watch Chris and Modest surf at Jaco beach. Tough life.

1 comment:

  1. Most BBQ coals now are soaked in fuel and start with the light of a match. Wonder if they sell them there. We have to use them in Phoenix as gas BBQs are not allowed in our complex. The beach and your bungalow look great. Wish I was there!