It took three buses, a taxi, a boat and finally two more busses to reach Santa Teresa on the south west coast of the Nicoya peninsular. Whilst making the ferry crossing from Punt Arenas I managed to bag a rare outdoor seat with a great view of the many small islands we passed, apparently only inhabited by birds. A massive pelican glided along side me for ages. He was massive and only a few feet away as he matched his glide to the speed of the boat.
My attention was suddenly diverted from Mr Pelican by two rotund old ladies who plonked themselves down on the seats next to me and were both chatting away in super fast Spanish without coming up for air. One of them produced a thermos and two white plastic mugs. They were chatting so much they weren't really paying attention to what they were doing. This resulted in one of the ladies missing her mug and pouring a few healthy glugs of coffee into the other ladies handbag. It took a moment for them to realise. The pourer then gasped and dropped the thermos lid, the other lady reached out to catch it and inadvertently poured her cup of coffee also into the bag.
They continued to drop things for the rest of the trip, cutlery, napkins cups etc. I helped them pick them up, partly because I'm a polite well brought up guy, partly because they were sharing a really tasty looking tart that I had my eye and my stomach on, most of which went on the floor. As I disembarked the boat they were still perched on their seats twittering away, I think it will be a while before they realise we had arrived.
Whilst navigating a couple of final buses across the peninsula I got talking to another lad traveling with a surfboard called Alex. He was from Barcelona and had been traveling down through El Salvador and Nicaragua to the north of Costa Rica. Turned out we were heading the same way as both of us had been recommended Selina's Hostel next to Santa Teresa's famous beach break.
It had taken twelve hours to get from Puerto Jimenez to Santa Teresa and unfortunately arriving after dusk, writing off an evening surf but perfectly in time for evening beers. Every cloud...
Selinas is as far from an authentic Costa Rican experience as you can get. Saying that, visiting only surf towns, I still don't think I know what one is and probably won't find out on this trip. The company have hostels all over South and Central America and know exactly what works. It occupies a grand pink building round a pool ringed by palms. An old American school bus has been converted into an outside bar and the little cafe / bar inside feels like a trendy boutique fashion store in east London. The reception is a polished up yellow VW camper and fairy lights dangle everywhere giving the place a summer festival vibe.
The hostel is a little way out of the town, however it's a two minute walk down a palm covered path to Santa Teresa's famous beach breaks.
Had it not been by the surf I think I'd have tired of it quickly as it was a super busy, popular place drawing a younger more party oriented crowd and all I wanted to do was to find quiet corners to drink beer, read and listen to music after surfing. Luckily the cafe / bar often hosted chilled live music in the evenings pushing the younger crowd off out to other parties around town. Phew.
Sitting at the bar on our first night me and Alex got talking to a stocky American who I could tell loved America and everything America has done and ever will do. The conversation took a turn for the worst when he got quite racist about Muslims. Me and Alex had to agree to disagree then slipped away when he wasn't looking. As we left I enjoyed a brief moment where he got the words for 'good morning' and 'thank you' mixed up. We didn't correct him. However I couldn't get too much on my high horse as I remember getting 'Bed' and 'Table' mixed up whilst talking to a waitress in Montevideo resulting in some strange looks.
The first morning I rose super early to take advantage of the empty waves. Annoyingly a lightning storm had blown in. I waited for a while under the smallest tree, then decided to use the early start to abuse the all you can eat breakfast. If there is one thing I can do very well in this world it is to make someone rethink their business plan of offering an all you can eat breakfast.
The breakfasts were my favorite thing about Selina's. Scrambled eggs, homemade bread, crispy potatoes, freshly chopped fruit, granola, yogurt and bottomless coffee made for a very happy slightly dizzy Will. Four breakfasts later and far too much coffee I went back to check the waves, however I was in no state to surf them and had a nap.
For the first couple of days the surf was pretty rubbish which resulted in a severe longing to be back in Matapalo. I grumbled a lot to Helen over WatsApp. I'm not sure why as there was nothing she could do.
One evening I sat by the pool next to a girl on her own. She looked at me as if she wanted to introduce herself and strike up a conversation. I on the other hand, really wanted to read my book. It's getting really good. Seeing she had been upstage by a battered old copy of Cosmic Banditos she left with a huff and didn't return. I forgot this is the kind of social place where you socialise. I again missed the simpler life in Matapolo where I saw as many monkeys as I did people in the evenings. I made a mental note to talk to more people.
This actually worked quite well. The following morning whilst surfing a beach to the south called Playa Carmen I made friends with two Brazilian brothers (Victor and Thiago) and their friend (also Thiago). It seems that Thiago's are like London buses, you wait a lifetime for one and then two come along at the same time.
They offered to give me a lift to some of the point breaks in the area over the following days. One of which is overlooked by an abandoned hotel that is slowly being taken back by the jungle. Unfortunately non of the point breaks were ever working but it was nice to explore the coast.
That night when I was half asleep and noticed a little blinking light in my field of vision. I thought maybe it was someone's phone charging. However suddenly the little blinking phone charger light bumped into my face with a buzz, only then I realised it was a firefly. I watched it circle the dorm a few times, it was actually quite hypnotic and sent me to sleep.
In the middle of the hostel courtyard is a twisted old tree which is home to a roughly three foot long iguana. I called her Alarna. Alarna the iguana would come out of her tree every now and then for a stroll and a cocktail by the pool. One afternoon she actually jumped in the swimming pool causing three girls to scream and me to chuckle.
Alarna was back the following day for a stroll among the deckchairs. Tiago threw her some mango, which she got all over her face. Silly Alarna. However I can't judge Alarna too hard as I still am yet to finish a mango without turning my beard more orange than it already is.
Les down in Pavones put me in touch with a surfer up here called Cameron. The plan was to meet for a surf or a beer or both. I grabbed a six pack one evening and met him and his wife at their house up in the hills overlooking Playa Carmen, half an hours walk south of Santa Teresa beach. Their house was amazing with a infinity pool over looking the jungle, beach and ocean all at once. Cameron is a graphic designer and his wife is a web designer from California. They moved down here a few years back as they can work remotely. Not a bad life if you ask me. To make their visa runs more interesting they have also bought a plot of land in Pavones near the famous point break. I think I'm starting to put together a new life plan! They kindly made me dinner and Cam dropped me back up the road on his quad. All in all a really nice night and I got the lowdown of a few more breaks in the area. Just a shame the swell is too small for them right now. Thanks for the introduction Les!
I thought having our wallet stolen in Capurganá was pretty bad, but today something worse happened. After a particularly long morning surf I jogged back up the beach spurred on by the fact I had half an avocado in the fridge. The first half was delicious and I was expecting great things from the other. However, no avocado was to be seen in the door or on the shelf. Not even a ransom note. I scoured the kitchen for clues, however whoever's dirty work this was they had covered their tracks well. There wasn't any evidence of green spoons in the sink or the stone and skin in the bin. This was a professional job. I was half tempted to call the private detectives from Panama City.
The swell finally picked up after a few days and on my last few sessions I got some pretty good rides. However I was starting to feel like I had been here a bit too long. This is when out of the blue, Victor paddled over and offered me a lift to Jaco and Playa Hermosa the following day. Jaco is the closest beach to San Jose and as I had to catch a flight from there in a few days this was an amazing turn of events.
The following morning after a really good 5am session of clean head high waves, we packed up the car and headed south. But not before getting our money's worth at the all you can eat breakfast !