5:45 pm (PST)
Depart home and meet other two vanloads of surfers with group. Totally
Arrive Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), unload vans at Bradley
International Terminal and drive vans to long-term parking. Frustrated
with rain, idiots causing airport traffic jam.
Arrive on shuttle from parking lot, check in at Lacsa (Grupo Topa) airlines.
Getting excited again, especially as ticket agent
checks my passport. Yowsa! We're REALLY going!
Go to MacDonald's in terminal for sustenance. Go through security and
nap in waiting area for flight. Chicken Mac Nuggets...urp! Stomach already in a knot with total excitement.
Plane leaving only 30 minutes late due to another airline screwing up.
Hmmm, really big guy in seat next to me. Keeps
bumping elbow into my side. Flight attendants smacking my head and
shoulder as I lean away from big guy and into aisle.
9:20 am (CST)
Plane lands in San Jose, Costa Rica. Warm. Clear
immigration. Wait for suitcase and surfboard. Wait some more for
suitcase and surfboard. Suitcase comes....wait for surfboard.
Ok, here it comes, crammed through luggage shoot. Couldn't
sleep on plane. Had already seen the movie. Food not bad.
No screaming brats, thank goodness. Air temp is warm and sky is
sunny. Kowabunga, dudes, we made it!
Sky caps jumping on boards on roof of mini-van to car rental
place. They don't understand 12 boards won't fit on a Toyota.
But they make it work.
If the airline didn't ding my board, these guys surely
Arrive at car rental place. We've ordered three SUVs with
racks. Oops, they have only two! Well, the
screaming and yelling should stop pretty soon.
Somebody just turned in a Cherokee with a rack! Soon
we'll be on the way. Thank goodness for the
little cafeteria that kept me hyped with Coca Cola Light (Costa Rica's
answer to Diet Coke). I'm so hyped I'll NEVER sleep.
On the road to Tamarindo. Lost in some little village.
Back on the highway. Lost in another village. Stop for
directions. The night club here has the most
amazing urinal. Everyone decides it's time for a convenience stop.
Arrive at El Milagro Hotel. Well, two carloads do, the
third is MIA. Good food and a comfortable room
found! No sleep since yesterday morning.
Third carload arrives. Ferry's were NOT the fastest way
to go! Soooo tired. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Morning surf session before breakfast. Water is 80o
compared to the 58o we left at home! This
was worth the wait...quick, hollow lefts that took about an hour to get
Breakfast at the hotel. Hanging out talking about the
surf. Just a chance to reflect on our first
waves at Tamarindo.
While most of the group wanders in search of Playa Grande
nearby, three of us go back out to the river mouth at Tamarindo. INCREDIBLE...one
of the top ten sessions of my 40 years surfing! All
screamin'-screachin' lefts...nose rides, barrels, chest to shoulder high.
Dinner, a few beers, a walk on the beach. Downtown
Tamarindo after dark. Just a pleasant way to
spend a tropical evening.
Morning surf session before breakfast. Decent waves. We decide
to check out of El Milagro and Tamarindo for a couple of days and head to El
Coco to find a boat for Witch's Rock and Ollie's. This
is an easy day, just cruising through the winding roads, watching the
people. There sure are a lot of people riding bicycles here.
Don't know why, but there are a lot of mountain bikes and it looks as if
people ride them to work. Saw lots of people on horseback and a couple
of guys driving carts pulled by oxen.
Arrive in El Coco and check in to hotel. Rooms
are great and the swimming pool feels super. Walk around a bit to see
the town. Chef Peter fixes us his great barbecue chicken...all you can
Shuttle boards from hotel to shore boat to sport fishing boat
and head for Witch's Rock. Shoreline looks more
like Baja California than tropical Central America. Ride is smooth,
sunny and wildlife abounds.
Arrive at Witch's Rock. Wind is howling but we can't really
feel it until we paddle over to the break and try for the first wave. Spindrift
blinds me and stings my face. Bill of my surf hat keeps blowing down
in my eyes until I finally go geek and fold it up. Struggling to get
into at least one wave, but the doggone wind keeps pushing me out every time
I stand to take the drop. Finally I figure out that I need to push the
nose of my board down and move my feet farther forward to get the
weight/balance/resistance thing stabilized. End up with about 10 waves
before it's time to leave.
Boat pulls into Potrero Grande, a long bay.
Ollie's. In front of the boat we see only a small bit of white water
and it looks as if we've been skunked. Doesn't seem much swell running
under the boat as we anchor and watch the sea surface.
To quote Gomer Pyle: "Surprise...surprise...surprise!" Simply
awesome! Every wave has an exclamation point, every ride a whoop.
Maybe the third or fourth best session I've had in my life.
Crawl out of bed, aching from five hours in the water and
another three in the boat.
The front of my thighs are bright red from too
much sun. Even a heavy coat of SPF 45 didn't help after all day in the
sun. Even the painful sunburn doesn't dampen my
memory of Ollie's. What an amazing day: backside on overhead waves,
sharing with one or two other guys. Sure will build up my confidence
for home surf in San Diego.
Drive back to Tamarindo. We've decided to use it as a
base for the rest of the
week and surf the river mouth or drive to some of the nearby breaks we've
heard about. Along the way we spot a place where you can ride a wire
along the top of the trees. Some of us do...some of us don't. Sure,
it looks safe. No, I'm not
chicken. Of course I trust these "guides" who'll take an
hour and a half to get us along nine wires. Gee, sure seems like a
great day for photography. You guys go ahead, I'll snap some pics as
you kill yourselves!
Playa Langosta was a great wave, both off the river mouth and
rocks. Sean Schwab, John Pruitt, Colin Davis and Mike Neu got some
really good stuff at the river. Fred Witt, Jim Gildea and Jack Hoog
did well at the rocks, some fine lefts and rights. Great
day for photography! Got about a dozen shots I can use for my art.
Later in the day I did Tamarindo again. Smaller, but just as fast.
a lazy day around the hotel. Since the tide was higher at mid-day, we
slept in, walked into town for some photography and souvenirs and enjoyed
resting aching muscles. The down time was
important. We'd had a fairly intense trip and needed a break.
We'd done two sessions or one long session every day and it tired us
"ancient" ones. Cleaned by camera gear and took a nap.
My, what an exciting life I lead when traveling!
The last day to surf. Bummer. Got
everything I didn't need for the plane trip packed. Had to throw away
some more underwear so I could get the souvenirs in my bag. Drove to Playa
Grande looking for surf and stumbled upon Moro Hermosa. Better than
Ollie's for me because I had every wave to myself.
There's not much more I can say about that. The second best session in
my life was THE way to end the trip.
We left the hotel a little after 7 am and reversed our
Day 1 route. The four of us were pretty quiet, I guess each of us
reflecting on the trip. Getting back to San Jose Airport was a snap
after the difficulties on the way to Tamarindo. The plane took off on
time and we went home.
4:00 am (PST)
Arrived home in San Diego. Slept.