Monthly Archives: March 2014

Coasting through Costa Rica

The friendly car park attendant at Playa Avellanas helped us find a place to camp.

Chatting to our potential host, she pointed to the bathroom and said “el baño, por ppfffffffftttttt (fart noises)”.

I burst out laughing and replied “En la mañana, en la mañana”.

I looked at Mark “this lady is hilarious, we are definitely staying here”.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Me and the poochMe and the pooch

SunriseSunrise

We spent four nights in Costa Rica, surfing our way down the coast. Finally, we are in sync with the van. We drove for a few hours at both dawn and dusk, before the van started to play up. In the heat of the day, we spent time at Playa Avellanas, Playa Esterillos, Playa Dominical and Pavones. At this time of year they all had mellow waves that were great for learning. We had heard on the backpacker trail that Costa Rica is expensive and overrun by North American tourists. The van is great at helping us avoid these places more easily. In Costa Rica we were able to find cheap camping every night. At someone’s house, then at a campground, behind a restaurant and at a palm tree plantation.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Playa EsterillosPlaya Esterillos

Pulling out of Playa Dominical a group of pretty ladies walk past the van.

“That’s a sweet ride”

“That’s the only ride”

Mark doesn’t miss a beat, grinning at me “do you think they’re talking about me”.

“Haha yeah right”.Wax on, Playa Dominical.Wax on, Playa Dominical.

My favourite I think was Pavones, a fairly isolated spot down in the south. It was a beautiful drive to get there and is exactly how I’d pictured Costa Rica. Lush green jungle surrounds the bright blue water of the coastline. IMG_0545

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It was short Costa Rica, but oh so sweet.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nicaragua

I let out a deep breath as we left Honduras. We had no problems in the country that has the reputation for being the most dangerous and corrupt in Central America. No attempted bribes, and only one break in. This was entirely our fault though and at our request, Mark had locked the keys in the car.

Finally, we crossed the border into Nicaragua. Once again we had the border guards in stitches over our passport photos. They point at us, point at our photos and giggle. I think this might also be why we haven’t had any problems with any police or military personnel so far, they just don’t take us seriously.

Walking along the dusty road towards Gigante, I realized that this is exactly what I hoped to find in Nicaragua. There are no paved roads, farm animals run wild and we camped right on the beach at Playa Amarillo, with hardly anyone else around.

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Loving our $13 camp showe.rLoving our $13 camp shower.

Washing day at Amarillo.Washing day at Amarillo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACabin on the beach.

Gigante was the perfect place to hang out for a few days. The waves at Amarillo were too heavy for me, but we found an amazing spanish school, Pie de Gigante, and finally signed up for lessons. It was great to see such tangible improvements in our spanish, as we started to learn how to conjugate verbs in different tenses. I wish I could say the same for my surfing.

On the way to school, overlooking Amarillo.

On the way to school, papayas overlooking Amarillo.

The classroom.

The classroom.

Coming home.

Coming home.

Trying to learn to read waves better.

I think the waves are in spanish, because I still can’t read them.

Although the area of coastline in the Rivas region is relatively undeveloped, surfers have definitely found their way here. We camped for a couple of days at Finca Popoyo, the carpark/bar overlooking the popular reef break. The waves were much better here, so it was fun for me to get out of the white wash and try to catch a proper wave.

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It has been funny hanging out on the beaches, particularly in El Salvador and Nicaragua. Locals are often borrowing our surfboards or the computer, and the van is becoming a bit like our house in Edmonton – if a meal is being cooked, someone will probably pop over.

Fruit Loops anyone? We had to get them after seeing Toucans…obviously.

Of all the countries in Central America, I was most looking forward to visiting Nicaragua. It well and truly lived up to my expectations.

Breathing Underwater on Roatan

Gliding effortlessly along, I approached a coral head that was a little higher than the surrounding reef.  I took a deep breath and slowly ascended. As I moved over it I exhaled, and slowly descended again.  It was like flying, but underwater. This was our first time scuba diving and I can’t imagine a better place to have done it.  The water was amazingly clear and the coral reef is teeming with life.  It turns out that diving is all about relaxing.  The slower you move, the more you see, and the less air you use.  We swam through schools of bright blue fish and saw a massive grouper hanging out at a “cleaning station” as the little cleaner fish picked its skin clean.

“The fish look really happy down there”, this from Bec who, looked even happier than the fish.

It would be nice to have some underwater photos to share. But, personally I am content with the footage I have firmly imprinted in my brain, of Bec’s massive smile visible even behind her goggles and regulator, as she swam over the cliff like edge of the reef and stared past me into the deep blue sea beyond. She had just seen a sea turtle for the first time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe daily commute

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFeeling blue

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStudy hard. PADI hard. 

Although this is renowned for being one of the cheapest places in the world to do a dive course, it was way over our daily budget.  We probably couldn’t have done it if not for a little help from our friends.

Verity and Brett live on Roatan and run a sweet little cafe there.  They let us stay at their house, a sanctuary in the jungle just a few minutes walk from the dive shop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJungle sunset from the verandah.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStormy

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACafe Escondido.

It was great to spend some more time with Verity and her brother Digby, chatting about old times back in WA.  And it was great to hang out with Brett some more and learn all about how to live the sweet island life. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“You only live once. But if you do it right, once is enough.”

This was written on a whiteboard outside a cafe. We passed it on our walk each day and it seems to have stuck with me.  I thought I’d add it in because that’s kind of how I’m feeling right now.