Friday, June 8, 2012

Beachbreak, Bug bites, and Fireflies, Oh My!

danielle ciminero surfing costa rica
    Each step took a severe amount of focus, the sun had set nearly thirty minutes ago and the last light of day dissipated rapidly as tendrils of darkness wove around me.  It wouldn't have bothered me so much if I weren't in the middle of a mangrove swamp stumbling along a board walk so old that climbing across the swaying trees might have been safer. The wood slats had decayed with such severity they bent in every which way. It felt like a Mario Cart track with the pieces coming unstuck and falling with a Plop into the muck beneath.  Fifteen minutes later I wearily waddled off the bridge and onto sacred solid ground.    
    Darkness had truly set in now, but before I could whinge about it the path lit up with a series of dazzling flashes. Lightning bugs!  Never had I seen so many clustered together over such a long stretch of land- the exploded like tiny fireworks all around me. For the next fifteen minutes earth had a little less gravity as I meandered through this galaxy of fireflies to my room. 
    When I reached my humble abode hunger set in with rampant magnitude.  After devouring a bowl of rice and beans I collected a cup of gritty cowboy coffee and plopped in front of the computer for a few hours of work.
     Rainy season had begun to rear its head in Costa Rica, and with two surf comps coming up on the Guanacaste it was time to leave behind the big Hermosa dumpers.  This time of year brings large south swells that sweep through Playa Hermosa with a fierce rage.  A few boards are broken daily and the truth is only a handful of the waves are worth the potential sacrifice. Most of them are just big ol' closeouts.  (Though the ones that are worth it, are really worth it)
    Onward and upward we went to a stretch of coastline I hadn't yet had the opportunity of exploring. A place famed for its offshore winds, white sand, pristine blue water, and dirt roads.   No one ever mentioned the bugs. Swat. Splatter. Scratch. Scratch, Scratch.  (Someone should have really mentioned the bugs)  Anyway....
    If we hadn't started the journey from Hermosa at nine pm it's possible we wouldn't have ended up in a river bed around midnight some where off one of the zillion dirt roads winding the Nicoya Peninsula.  What used to be our shortcut to the coast had become part of one of Costa Rica's many temper riddled rivers. It had been raining giraffes and hippos for a few days, something we failed to give thought until we were staring at a waist deep water flow.  A lovely extra two hours on another dirt road, one so demented by potholes I almost lost my dinner, and we arrived at the coast.  Still being one hour from the contest site, we decided to pull over and take a nap.  (Just for the record, there are NO shortcuts in Costa Rica. Ever.  Find the longest route possible to your destination and take that, for you'll surely get there quicker than any 'shortcut')
    Awakening to the sound of a large gorilla growling in your face can be a bit unnerving if you're not familiar with the howler monkeys of Costa Rica. They are quite small actually, but their vocal chords lend a notion that something the size of King Kong has come to eat you for breakfast.  Groaning at the inconvenience of having slept for only 3 hours, I awkwardly forced my feet beneath me and got the girls moving.  We arrived at the contest site a little late, but with enough time to suck down some coffee before the first heats.   
    Surf comps are normally long hot days in the sun - and sometimes you luck out and get to surf really fun waves with only two or three others in the water.   On this particular day the beach was onslaughted by windy storm surf - nauseating to watch while sleep deprived. 
     Most of the day passed in a blur, with the contest horn blaring every 15 minutes and flashes of orange, green, yellow, and red rashgaurds being traded between competitors.  At some point after dark I was called on stage and deliriously accepted a trophy and free surfboard.  It took a few minutes for the win to sink in. My brain kept going - hooray! sleep hooray! sleep.  Sleep finally won.
    For the next few days we posted up on a super special stretch of beach - with a left point break, beachie, a frame, and right point break all along a fifteen minute stroll. This is where you found me wandering the eerie boardwalk and being dazzled by fireflies.
     Day one was really gosh darn fun- a little overhead with minimal crowd- followed by an east coast like flat spell. (Well maybe not quite that flat)  Too soon, another surf comp corralled us onto the pothole riddled dirt nightmare. We spent two hours bumbling by cows grazing in lime green pastures, locals huffing it on bikes (more like three locals on one bike), and the occasional chicken crossing the road. 
    Like a desert oasis, the next stretch of beach break looked rather dreamy with its peeling waves and light offshore winds.  With reggae tone blaring on the stereo in true Costa Rican contest style, I lavished in the light cloud cover, a treat you come to appreciate after days in the scorching sun, and caught a few fun ones for three heats in a row. 
    Winning again that day paled in comparison to the stoke I got filming these two groms, ages four and two, racing toward the shore with boogie board and finless surfboard in tow, so positively excited they wiggled and wriggled all the way to the waters edge.  With the "grown up" stuff in life cluttering and clouding our vision - the beautiful art of Just Surfing can disappear.  And with crowds, conditions, performance, etc taking the stage we forget how amazing it feels to just ride along a wave and be a part of its energy.  We forget how blessed we are to even have the opportunity to ride waves and be near the ocean. How pure and fun and simple it is - how life should be.   Those groms spent the next few hours in pure joy - a joy I hope  to one day find a way to share with everyone - surfers and non-surfers alike. 
    Life doesn't often dole out second chances, but as the sun set I noticed the bushes went ablaze in a familiar light show.  Fireflies!   This time, instead of hurrying back to my work station I slowly drifted along the paths laughing in the glory of being surrounded by this galaxy of bugs once again.  I reached out my arms, soaking up every moment as if I were a child playing in the fields of summer.  
    Once I arrived at the room I still had to plop in front of the computer for a long night of work, but I did so with a rejuvenated energy that inspired me to do the tasks with ardor instead of moderate resentment.  
    Those groms were a powerful lesson in enjoying the pure moments when they arrive, and using the joy to get us through the dullness that can come with being a grown up.
With so much to learn, I am off to see the Wizard....
Till next time,
Pura Vida ~ Danielle

(check back soon for this Blog VIDEO!)