Monday, January 6, 2014

Costa Rica: Tamarindo

After a week in the mountains of Monteverde and the Volcano at La Fortuna, it was time for a week on the beach. Since each trip to a different town seemed to take an entire day of travel I decided to stay in one place longer and see more in that place instead of trying to see more areas. When looking for a beach, Tamarindo seemed to be the popular one to go to, so I tagged along with three English guys in Monteverde and headed there. Along the way, I ran around the large city of Liberia to find a Western Union and made it back to catch the next bus to Tamarindo with minutes to spare.
Tamarindo, however, turned out to be not so Pura Vida (means Pure Life in Spanish and is a motto of the country and their generally relaxed way of life). Upon arrival in Tamarindo, the bus driver told us it would be one more stop and then drove us down a dirt road to the next town. We then had to walk all the way back with our large packs in the extreme heat on the dusty road. On top of that, I would soon find that drugs were not just prevalent, drug dealers down right hassled you to buy from them. Every few minutes someone would ask you to buy weed or coke. It quickly became annoying.
The main beer in Costa Rica is Imperial. It's a light lager, and like all light lagers it is flavorless and bland. Being a very experienced and snobby beer drinker, you can imagine my excitement when I finally found a local craft brewery. The one on the right is a red ale and the one on the left a tropical golden ale. The one on the left wasn't too bad. The one on the right was one of the worst beers I've had. Fail.
The town was certainly not all bad though. In fact, all the bad was simply a minor inconvenience. We were on the beach and it was time to surf!
 But first, a beach party. This one though had already had her fun and found a beautiful spot to nap the night away.

The impromptu DJ was playing some good reggae beats.

It was quite the festive atmosphere.

And the three English guys got crazy as the English do when they drink. Tons of fun!

Though not a big party, there were plenty of people for a good time.

As the night wore on there were plenty of dangerous stunts to be performed.

The Hamaca Surf Camp during the day.

It's a pretty awesome place to stay the night. For $20, you can either put up a tent or sleep in a hammock with a mosquito net in a large open area, right on the beach.

After a couple of nights, my good friends from Monteverde showed up! Yep, the same ones that were there for me in my time of need.

This sunset gave gorgeous lighting.

And here's a random peacock!

And a crocodile! These guys were quite common around here. This one hung out in this little pool of water adjacent to the aforementioned Hamaca Surf Camp.

This sunset yielded a good opportunity to finally learn how to play with my camera settings as the automatic scene mode was not capturing it's beauty.

This setting got a nice glow from the half set sun.

One great thing about this area was running on the beach at this time. Since it was usually low tide there was plenty of hard packed sand to run on.

This soda was extremely good and quite inexpensive. Best restaurant in town by far.

One night we went to a local rodeo where anyone could jump in with the bull whenever they wanted. No waivers, no worries.

Here is our group hanging out in the hostel. For $12/night, the Botella de Leche Hostel was pretty nice for the area, though it did require a little walk down a dusty, well travelled dirt road to get to the beach.

Overall, Tamarindo was a blast, but mostly because of the incredible people. There was lots of dancing, including one night on the sidewalk with a DJ playing early 90's hip hop, us trying to break dance, and each of us wearing a giant panda head that appeared out of nowhere. We actually had a crowd form and people stopping to film us with their phones. Really hoping to get hold of some of that video!

Also, the waves were pretty good here. And at $10/day for a surfboard rental (with a rash guard if you need) at the beach or $30 for a two hour private lesson, it was a relatively inexpensive place to surf. Which is, after all, the main reason to go here. I didn't see what it was like during high season, as I left a couple days before, but from what I heard every hostel was booked solid throughout. Which probably makes it a heck of a party town and a place with way too many people for my liking.

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