Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Costa Rica: The pilgrimage of a surf-addict

At 6h30 pm, everyday, on time like a Swiss watch, nature offers the most beautiful show on earth: the sunset. Tamarindo is facing duewest and the sun goes down like a giant basketball, with colours ranging from fluorescent red to crazy pink and warm yellow: simply magnificent.
The village is quite civilized and well built, and, despite being now one of the major surf trip destinations for hordes of Americans, has not yet exploded under the tourism pressure and maintains the atmosphere of a village. From the beach, no hotels pollute the view of the incredible forest that surrounds it and there is only one paved road, the main one. Tamarindo beach is long and the surfers are concentrated on the north side of it, to the river mouth. A more progressive and advanced beach break, Praia Grande, lies on the other side.

On a couple of occasions, when the tide was not too high, we crossed the river (hoping the crocs that live on it, would be busy with their dinner elsewhere), to enjoy some totally uncrowded surf on 4 ft waves of absolute beauty.
We even went for a couple of surf trips, the first one a few hours drive from Tamarindo, on a volcanic beach (black and very, very hot sand!). The surf was the best I had in my life, with easily 8 ft waves, long rides and no hammering at the end of it! With the water temperature comfortably over 25 degrees Celsius, no wetsuit is necessary, hence the paddling is much easier and the movements are much simpler. Each surf session is normally only interrupted because of dehydration or heat, never (!!!) because of fatigue:. give me a floating picnic bag and I can surf all day!

We had also the chance to stop at a local Soda, the classical roadside bar, that normally looks like an abandoned shack until you knock on the wall and the owner emerges from the relax of his hammock and starts preparing the chevice, the most dangerous of the South American fish based snacks (marinated raw fish and seafood!). Cold beer and some rice were always at hand and big smiles immediately appeared on everybody's faces.

During the week we were surfing there, we had the chance to meet the great surfing hero of Costa Rica and the man that started the international passion for this small Country. Robert August lives in Tamarindo, in the Holiday Inn he owns (forget the stereotype of the surf bum living in a shack on the beach!) and is part of the local folklore.

Robert August, for the non surfing-fanatics, is the protagonist of the original Endless Summer film (by Bruce Brown) made in the sixties. He appears again, and still in Tamarindo, also in the sequel of the film (Endless summer 2, 1994). He's an icon, elegantly tall when he walks and even more elegant when he surfs. He has surfboards labelled after him and also runs a surf & turf competition (surf plus golf contest, to collect money for charity). This event actually took place while we where there and some great longboarders showed their skills during an entire day.

The swell didn't really show up properly during our stay there, but we've heard reports, stories and legends of 10 to 12 feet perfect waves hammering the beach line. Nonetheless the surf was still good fun, with 2-3 ft waves rolling gently into the bay everyday.

After a week of surfing your body, not used to it, asks for pity and needs a break but your brain is not able to switch off and, as happened to me, I kept dreaming of Tamarindo waves for at least a month after leaving Costarica!I crowned my dream, but I definitely got the surf bug…now it's time to put the head down, work hard and save money for the next trip…maybe Brazil, Japan or even New Zealand!

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