We went with two other families to Nosara, Costa Rica. It is a town known for its great surfing on the Pacific coast.
The trip down was long and painful, including an overnight in Miami. The last leg was the van ride from the airport in Liberia to Nosara, about two hours. The last hour was mostly unpaved and very, very bumpy. But we had a driver who spoke excellent English and told us all about the area as we drove. I was expecting a tropical rainforest and the desert like conditions were a surprise. Apparently, April is the hottest month of the year, followed by rains that make things much more lush. Seeing as we were headed to the beach, it didn't matter much anyway.
We were warned it was a very casual place and not to bring anything "fancy." Indeed, paving of roads was spotty and bathing suits were perfectly acceptable attire everywhere, including restaurants. This was just fine with us. We stayed in a compound of three villas that shared a pool. Great because everyone had a home base, but we could all share the common area.
Our family fell into a routine of early morning walks on the beach, morning surf fun, midday at the pool, and a late afternoon return to the beach for swimming and sunset. Everyone went to bed early. It was great.
But these waves were unlike anything I had ever seen. They were great for boogie boarding or just jumping around.
The kids, all being much better swimmers than me, were constantly trying to give me a heart attack and be further out in the surf than I thought they should be. But no lives were lost. Well, permanently anyway. The first night, the kids beat us to the beach by about five minutes. We had told them they could go into the water together as we were right behind them. They were happily playing when we arrived. I monitored them from the beach as we were chatting with the adults. Suddenly, Eion was GONE. We were closing in rapidly on sunset and we couldn't find him anywhere. As I left the others to search the surf, I headed back to the villa, not even sure he knew how to get there. But happily, I located him along the way, having been found crying outside our locked gates by another American family. (Violent crime is little but petty crime is rampant.) That was as close to tragedy as it got. The rest of the week was smooth sailing.
There were all sorts of exotic animals everywhere. Lizards, crabs, and howler monkeys, just to name a few.
The howler monkeys let out a noise that sounded just like the Island Monster on Lost. After days of speculation about the noise's origin, a local put all the crazy theories to rest, saying it was just the monkeys.
On one morning walk, Tim and I even got to see two wee just hatched baby sea turtles make their way across the sand to the ocean. This was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. And it naturally occurred on a day, possibly the only day in my life, that I was not armed with a camera. But neat all the same.
The less desirable creatures were out there too. When we commented on the massive number of ants (indoors) that Eion insisted all needed murdering, the owner calmly remarked that it was "ant season." But soon we didn't need to worry about them as they were vastly overshadowed by the scorpion and the many cockroaches. If you went to the bathroom in the night, which was to be generally avoided since the water, seemingly to the entire town, was off from 10pm to about 7am, when you turned on the light, the roaches scattered, if you were lucky. If less lucky, they were hiding behind the toilet paper.
When the water came back on one morning, I turned on a faucet. Water came out but so did the dozen ants that had been hanging out in the nozzle. Such is life in the third world. Did I mention when we left the bugs behind, we went to this?
In the questionably desirable creature category were all the snail like things all over the beach, which endlessly fascinated the girls.
Morrigan definitely needs to be a marine biologist! She was also my resident translator. My background in French allowed me to understand many things but I speak not a word of Spanish. She, and to a lesser degree, Maggie, were cheerful interpreters all week, if a bit embarrassed when I would just use French words when I was stuck.
I was, happily, the team photographer for the week. My goal was 1,000 pictures, which I surpassed easily, taking over 1,700. Anyone who has seen me at work knows that I am all about volume to make up for talent in this regard. We ended up with about 450 after editing so you'll have to excuse this especially photo heavy post! [Any interested people (read: grandparents) can be sent a link to the full complement of photos on request.]
Nosara was friendly and safe and the kids enjoyed the freedom to wander around and go to the little market for sodas. By the end of the week, we were known to several locals, including Juan Surfo, Tim's surf instructor, and a number of beach souvenir vendors. Morrigan and I bought wooden turtles early in the week, haggling not at all. For a day it seemed they would be plaguing us with other goods to buy, but once they realized we were done shopping, they just smiled and waved and asked us about how we were enjoying our trip. It is just the kind of place that makes you want to be friendly.