I lead an active and social life so for one day a year, on my birthday, I usually like to be left alone. I’m glad I changed my mind this year, and decided to do something special. With most of my friends getting married and having kids, I chose to go surfing; I spent my 30th birthday in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. You decide which sounds better.
I did keep it low key, and ended up travelling with just my amazing friend Colleen. She is so awesome and laid back it made for a great trip. I had never travelled internationally before, in fact, the only other country I had been to was Canada, which really doesn’t count. That means that this was my first stamp on my passport, and I was excited. It can be a little intimidating to fly internationally so I was glad to have Colleen with me since she had some experience.
I booked with Iguana Surf for a seven day surf camp, which was nearly all inclusive. We stayed in a beautiful two bedroom condo just two blocks from the beach. It included transportation to and from the airport, six surf lessons and unlimited surf board rentals. Basically everything but lunch, dinner, and going out at night. Each morning we woke up and had breakfast (which was included) at this awesome little café just down the street; it had one of the best breakfast sandwiches ever.
Lindsey Gaston, who runs Iguana Surf, was amazing. She gave us a tour of the town when we arrived and made us feel right at home. She even had a book with all the happening places and favorite spots to eat listed for us. She set up any reservations we needed or trips we wanted to take. We really felt like VIP!
The trip from the airport was interesting, the closer we got to the town the signs began to turn to English. The Costa Rica currency is Colones, but in Tamarindo most places took the U.S. Dollar. The weather forecast for the week was a high of 88 and a low of 72, with thunderstorms. (I assume they just put that up all the time so they don’t have to pay a weatherman). Thankfully, it only rained twice for a short amount of time the whole week. Otherwise it was warm and humid, but the water temperature was perfect. The prices for food and drinks were similar to being in the U.S. It was not expensive, just similar. Also, you can walk around town drinking beers like Las Vegas…only this place is way better than Las Vegas!
We had an awesome surfing instructor named Kike “(kee kay)” who took us from the basics to catching waves. It is amazing how fast you can learn with someone there to teach you and critique you. The problem with surfing two hours a day for six days is that your body gets beat up. Be prepared to have sore shoulders and neck from paddling and surfing. I consider myself pretty athletic, but I was whooped! I don’t think it helped the fact that the locals party every night of the week too. By the end I was wishing for a body that could keep up with all the fun to be had.
We didn’t just surf either. We also took a day trip to Avellana Beach where the famous Lola’s restaurant is. It is named after their pig Lola. Apparently, Lola used to roam the beach and lay on peoples towels when she was little. When we saw her she was in her pen staying out of the heat. She is also HUGE now. The food was excellent and the surf break was big! The whole atmosphere was just awesome!
We decided to do some other trips too. I had never been zip lining or snorkeling before. It was so much fun. Lindsey set the trips up for us; all we had to do was get up and meet the shuttle outside. The zip line crew was hilarious. It looked like they were having as much fun as we were. The ocean during snorkeling was on the volcanic side, so no colorful reefs. However, we did see some good looking fish.
The phrase in Costa Rica is ¡Pura Vida! You can use it to say “hello”, “goodbye”, or just say it because you are feeling great! It means Pure Life! I think it sums up the area perfectly. The people there move at a different pace. I never saw anyone with their heads buried in a phone or in a hurry to get anywhere. They enjoy life at their own pace. It was nice to have that change of pace in my life. I always feel like I am missing something or need to be working harder. I have some guilt at times for all that there is to accomplish. Sometimes you need to slow down to experience more.
Like Sir Francis Bacon eloquently put…