Charging It!

Trip Start Oct 08, 2009
Trip End Nov 13, 2009

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Where I stayed

Flag of Costa Rica  , Guanacaste,
Wednesday, November 11, 2009

We have to back the truck up a little in regards to our opinion of
Costa Rica. We had really only seen one part of it, and it was unfair
to say that it sucked. Yesterday, we walked down the beach for about 20
minutes and then took a dollar boat across to Playa Grande. It was a
whole new world over there! Unpaved roads, untouched beaches, and lots
of peace and quiet. Wayyy more our style. We made our way to the Playa
Grande Surf Camp, where Teddy's friends Chelsea and Casey work. They
came down to Costa Rica for spring break two years ago, loved it, and
started applying for random jobs. They were offered positions as
managers/surf instructors at this hostel in Playa Grande. They had
never surfed before, but I guess you learn pretty quickly if you surf
everyday. We got there and checked into our little beach bungalow
(complete with mosquito nets - sweet!). Then, Chelsea asked us if we
were ready for our surf lesson. Seeing as I am probably the least
unathletic person ever, in addition to being a terrible swimmer, I have
never tried surfing before. But here was a free lesson, so I really had
no excuse. We grabbed surfboards (omg those things are ridiculously
huge, they make skis look easy in comparison!) and lugged them to the
beach. She told us the cool way to carry them was under your arm, but
when I almost fell over slash took out the fence like three times, she
told me ¨Well, you can just carry it on your head.¨ Awesome, I can't
even carry the darn thing. Now, however, I have way more sympathy for
all the silly tourists who come to Breck and can't even manage to carry
their equipment. It's like, how do you think you're gonna get down the
hill when you can't even carry your stuff? I understand thy pain,
gaper. I must say though, we did look pretty sweet carrying our boards
and wearing our little  ¨rashies¨ (this sweet neoprene shirt you get to
wear that makes you look like you're good even when you suck). But, I
was pretty terrified when we got to the beach. 

First, we practiced hopping up on the sand as if we were in the
water. All we could think about was that hilar scene in Forgetting
Sarah Marshall - if you don't know what I'm talking about, please stop
reading and go rent that movie. Now. Then it was time to tie on our
leashes and take our boards out into the water. Easier said than
done. What follows is my best attempt at explaining the ridiculous
process of surfing. You have to get your board out far enough in the
water so that you can actually catch a wave and ride it into shore. If
you are too close to shore, by the time you stand up, the wave dies and
you will immediately fall on your face. (If you think I sound like I am
talking from experience, you are right.) The process of getting it out
far enough was definitely our least favorite part of the whole
experience. Especially for me, since I don't like putting my head
underwater. (Yeah, don't ask me why I thought surfing would be a good
idea.) You basically have to push your board and your head under the
wave as it comes crashing down on you so it doesn't pull you backwards
and take you back 10 feet closer to shore, reversing all the progress
you just made (again, I may or may not be speaking from experience).
All the while, you are attempting to pull your surfboard along behind
you like a disobedient puppy as the waves try to take it away from you.
Even better, in my case, the shark fin thingy on the bottom kept biting
me (and I have the bruises and cuts to prove it). Then, finally, after
you've swallowed fifteen gallons of saltwater, lost your hairthing due
to be tossed about in the waves like a ragdoll (and thus look like a
moron with hair plastered all down your face like surfing Barbie), been
hit in the leg about a thousand times by your stupid oversized
surfboard, and are so out of breath from swimming you feel like you've
just crossed the English Channel, oh then, it's time to surf. What the
hell have I been doing for the past fifteen minutes?! Now, you wait.
You have to sit there, getting tossed about by the waves, waiting for
the ¨right¨ wave. You've gotta be kidding me, right? And the right
wave, at least according to our instructors, is the one that looks like
a frickin tsunami, going a million miles an hour and frothing with
whitewater. Then you turn around, with your belly on the board, facing
the beach. And start paddling.. away from the wave. Whoever made up
surfing was on a lot of drugs. Then, when you hear the waves crashing
behind you like they are going to consume you whole, you paddle faster,
and then when the wave starts whooshing down on you and pushing you at
the speed of light towards LAND, you are supposed to assume a push up
position, and  ¨jump up, replacing your hands with your front foot¨ and
then lean forward and ride the wave out. Haha. Yeah, lotssss of drugs
for Mr. Surfing Inventor.

I'm kidding, though. Mostly. Yes, the idea of surfing is
ridiculous, and it is very hard, but we had an absolute blast. Teddy
could stand up pretty much immediately (Mr. Athletic) and was loving
every second of it. It took me a little bit longer, but eventually I
stood up on the board as well. And let me tell you, it is a pretty
amazing feeling. Maybe because you just spent an hour getting to the
wave, but nonetheless it was really awesome. Chelsea was a great
teacher, and Casey stood on the beach and took a bunch of sick photos
for us. After about an hour and a half out there, we were beat. Surfing
is an insane workout. We went back to our cabana, laid by the pool,
then went and ate a massive lunch. The rest of the day was lazy (we
deserved it!), and was filled with Bocce ball and reading. That night,
it was turtle time! Or so we thought. We walked about half an hour down
the beach as the sun was setting to Main Playa Grande. It was really
gorgeous, and we saw all sorts of snail and crab tracks, and even
living sand dollars! We had to make it before 6 pm, as the beach is a
national park for the nesting turtles and closes after that. We got a
quick dinner and then went to register at the turtle place. We listened
to a lecture about the turtles, which was really sad. Back in the 80s,
they had thousands of turtles nesting here each year, and last year
they had under 30. Leatherback turtles are so cool, though! They come
back 20 years later to lay their eggs in the same place they were born
and lay something like 40 eggs 9 separate times during the season. And
they are huge - between 4 and 5 feet! We watched a video of the nesting
process, as well as a video of a baby turtle making its way to the
water. I almost died. Then it was time to wait. They herd you into this
room and you sit and wait for one of the park rangers to spot a turtle,
at which time they call the center, and we all get to go and watch the
turtle lay her eggs. The ranger warned us that the past 3 nights, they
hadn't seen any turtles, and the people had waited until 12:30 am and
not seen anything. It was, uh, 7 pm. We entertained ourselves for about
2 hours, and then Teddy got bored. To be fair, we brought the average
age of the turtle observing population down by about 40 years. We felt
like we were on an AARP excursion or something. Guess I am the only
backpacker who likes BABY ANIMALS. Seeing as I didn't think the chances
of seeing a turtle were high and I could see that Teddy was miserable,
and the fact that if we waited much longer, we would have missed our
ride and had like an hour walk home, we left. I know, very sad. I will
just have to come back someday. We then went back to the camp and hung
out with Chelsea and Casey for a bit before going to bed. 
Today we woke up early, made some breakfast, and then went back
out surfing. I had thought Chelsea had told me that the best time to
surf for us was between 6 and 8 or 10 and 12, but Teddy said they were
going out at 9, so we did too. Big mistake. It was high tide, and the
waves were massive. I thought I was going to die, and after being
thrashed about for 20 minutes, I went and laid out on the beach. Teddy
chose to stay out and got totes destroyed on a few killer waves, but
the ones he got up on he said were amazing. And he looked really good!
At about 10:30, I figured the tide was down far enough that I could go
out, so I did. And I had a blast. Very frustrating, but very rewarding.
One of the major differences between snowboarding and surfing (ok,
besides the clothes, the weather and the liquid vs. frozen water
factor), is that when you are snowboarding and you have a terrible run,
you have the whole chair ride up to relax, compose yourself, and think
about what you can do better. When you eat shit on wave, you then have
to get up and battle through a thousand pounding waves before you get
back out to the spot, only to be beaten down by several more waves
before you have found a wave that is ready to ride. My only big
complaint. Besides that, the weather's way better and a bikini tan is
far superior to a goggle tan. We had a great time and then headed back
to the camp to pack up. Sadly, we had to come back to Tamarindo today
to catch an early bus to San Jose tomorrow. We are staying at our old
hostel where everybody knows us and where we just let ourselves in with
our old key. Pretty great. In the early afternoon, Teddy went on a
booze cruise with Chelsea and Casey (see attached photo) around the
bay, and I laid out on the beach for a while. All in all, a great end
to a great trip. Tomorrow is one last travel day before I head home on
Friday. We are going to do one more blog entry reviewing the whole trip
in the next few days, so keep an eye out for that!
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