Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I heart Dry Season Costa Rica part 1

                          The Walk.  It begins with a fresh breeze as we open our door.  A light pink sunrise dapples across the sky, remanent of the fushia that sprayed across it just minutes ago.  We set off with a slight pep to our step, heading up and out of our driveway onto the road, a nice two lane freeway that will take you to panama(right)  or nicaragua (left). Onward we stride, past the little market which is hours from opening, to the 'shanty town'  which boasts a rough patch of rocky dirt pathways,  a hammock, and a few dilapadated rusted wire chairs crowded around a wooden block,  where midday you can find locals playing cards, mothers braiding their daughters hair, or taking a siesta.  The very next set of buildings drastically change in size and construct. Gone are the corrugated metal roofs and walls, gone are the floors of dirt and crowded chambers - we now pass two and three story concrete hotels, restaurants, and bars. At the last building we veer off the freeway and away from its increasing morning traffic, onto a road that showcases Costa Rica's rugged beauty  That is, before carloads of surfboard toting people start wizzing by, powered by the local brew of coffee and energy drink, kicking up so much dust on their way that you consider dressing like a bandito in a bikini. (badana over your face, sunglasses and a hat. yep, kind of weird)
    Once the dust settles, we can see the stunning field dotted with grazing cows that stretches into the mountainous horizon - where the sun has already risen, much our dismay.  Within thirty minutes of sunrise, the land starts baking like an oven, rising at least 3 degrees with each passing minute.  The road remains straight as we plod along, the stretch of beach  to our right  catches our attention with a few fun looking empty waves.  We carry on because, while those waves are quite good, we have a group of kids to film a few miles up the beach, and unless the military lets us use their satellite, we're going to need to get a bit closer to be within zoom range.  Plus, the place we setup our station for the day, albeit two miles further down the path of infernal sun, has a long tide window that allows us larger window to fit in our surfs. 
    The road leads away from the coast about thirty five minutes into the walk, where we bid the racey dust bowling cars adue and carry on along the beach.  Another fifteen minutes (twenty on the high tide days)  we stumble into a patch of shade under a cluster of palms.  Even reyhdrating with jet fuel joe and cold water,  a slightly nauseus feeling remains. 
The Work Day
    Now, after all that, we get to officially start our work day  Depending on the waves, we sort out who surfs and who films first.  We're both exceedingly tired so this is a very hard decision.  Imagine going to the gym and pounding out a hard workout, taking a 10 minute break and then having to play a soccer game demonstrating your top performance.  Your legs ache and wobble, your so delirious its hard to even walk a straight line...performance is tough at this point. 
           But of course, really fun waves sucker us in and one of us is out there in a jiffy.  Wet sandy bikini, check.  Sunscreen, check. Crowd, check.  Wait, crowd?  Yes, after all that, the kids we film love to surf one of the more crowded waves on the six mile stretch of beach. Strange.  But, as mum says, ' a girls gotta eat'  So we trade empty waves and longer sessions for more crowded shorter surfs that put food on our plates. (we tried it the other way but it turns out that surfing goes hand in hand with eating)
the video can explain all that needs to be said about the waves, except that the black sand feels exactly like hot coals midday, the jelly fish (aka agua mala)  can be hallacious on incomming tides, and all those sick waves you see the boys catching aren't what every wave is like. this is crowded beachbreak after all. 
       Our film/ surf sessions last as long as the battery/water supply/ waves.  A crowded lineup has its perks too, and if we are lucky someone gives us a ride back (everyone has to pass where we live when they leave the beach) 
         If the waves are good, we'll stay later and each get an hour of uncrowded surfing to balance the spirit.  We do pay for it though, on the walk home.   Imagine a desert.  Maybe as hot as hell- this desert has black sand after all.  Now in this black sand deserthell you must walk for an hour with a twenty pound pack and surfboard.  This wouldn't be so bad, but you just spent the past 6 hours exhausting yourself walking there, concentrating on filming 500 million people, surfing and sprint paddling between waves to make the most of your one hour windows (which may add up to 3 or 4 hours on a good day) 
And your reward for this dangerous acheivement of desert crossing?  a quick cold shower, cup of coffee, and at least 5 hour of editing and computer work.  oh, did i mention that because we film 500 million people, somehow many of your best waves get missed? yep, fun stuff. 
enjoy the video, but remember, paradise isn't always what it seems... ;) (well...I guess it isn't so bad...)