Because of the heat in this area, we’ve made it a point to stay out of the sun from 12 to 2 each day. Tamarindo is crazy hot and walking out of an air conditioned place into the afternoon sun is like walking into an oven. If you’re out and about at an earlier time and stay outdoors (preferably in the shade unless you like to punish yourself) it’s not so bad. Just like the boiled frog parable, if you slowly roast yourself you won’t realize how hot it is as the day wears on but if you jump into a boiling pot (or the rolling heat in this case) you’ll quickly realize how much folly it is.
That being said, the few times we have braved the elements for the entire span of the day has been at a neighboring beach club. This one in particular is called the Langosta Beach Club and it’s about 2 blocks from our condo. It’s owned by a French company and everyone there seems to speak French, English and Spanish. They have a nice little pool, beach loungers, a few hammocks and one of the nicest stretches of beach (at least in my mind) right in front of the place. They also have a little bar and restaurant in the pool area and serve great food at somewhat reasonable (at least for this area) prices. Their bacon and avocado sandwich is quite delicious. Smoothies aren’t the cheapest we’ve seen but their strawberry one is heavenly on a warm day.
The condo we rented included pictures of the beach club in it’s ad and we foolishly thought that it included the use of it’s facilities. It turns out that it doesn’t. I want to be mad at Julius (the owner of the condo block) for including them but this place is pretty sweet for the price and Julius is actually quite a nice guy (from Montreal it turns out). The club charges $10 an adult in the low season and $15 an adult in the high season. Kids (or at least young ones like ours) are free. For $30 all in we have the run of the beach club from sunrise to sunset. Considering that most tours charge upwards of $100 a day per person for a day’s worth of activities, we’ve found the beach club to be a bargain. We usually get there around 10 and leave around supper time.
During the day we usually jump from the pool to the ocean a few times depending on the heat, the waves and the proximity to lunch. Around the pool there’s 3 large covered oasis’s of comfy chairs, couches and tables and if we’re lucky enough to nab one while we’re swimming around the pool in the morning then we get to enjoy them for lunch. There’s a bunch of chairs and tables around the pool but none of them offer shade so we usually go eat at the shaded tables on the beach. The kids love being down there so they can play in the sand and Cole can swing on the hammocks. It’s one of the only places we’ve found around here where we can let the kids really run around without constant supervision. Micki and I are always amazed how many hours they can play on their own when they have the right setting.
The last time we spent the day at the beach club we decided to buy a boogie board. After pricing them out across town we decided to buy a cheap one. A good quality board can easily cost $200 plus with a moderate board running from $70 to $100. Most places charge $7 – $12 a day to rent but then you need to go pick it up, drop it off, etc… Since we have no idea where or how long we’re going to be on this trip, Micki and I decided to pick up a cheap board at the local market. It cost us $13 and we figured that for that price we could use it a few times and then throw it out. Turns out we were half right.
Tamarindo is known for a few things out here but the biggest is it’s surfing. It has two solid breaks right in town and can pretty much guarantee you’ll see a few good waves every day. This makes it an ideal place to learn to surf and there are a dozen companies in town that will teach you how to stand up within a few hours. There’s also a dozens of “locals” that will teach you as well but it’s a hit and miss kind of thing in terms of their teaching skills. Micki and I are planning on taking a lesson some time next week. We’re both looking forward to it. Up until now we’ve been content with simply playing in the waves and lately, boogie boarding.
While we were at the beach club the other day we had the pleasure of enjoying the rising tide. We’ve found that low tide is the best time to play with the kids in the water and high tide was the best time to go in solo. The waves at high tide can get pretty severe (as well as the undertow) and that day they were the highest we’ve seen since we got here. To put it in perspective, I overheard one of the veteran surfing instructors say it was a horrible time to be teaching to learn and wishes he could quit and go get his own board. The waves were pretty intense. Earlier in the day when the waves were smaller Cole was becoming a boogie boarding master. With his little puddle jumper flotation vest he would swim out into the waves and ride the crest until he was standing on the sand. Once I saw him go so high up the sand that the wave was a body length behind him. It had pushed him so fast that he skidded across the dry sand. It might have to do with him being so light and the board being so big but it was sensational none the less.
Micki and I had gone out a few times around then as well and had a few good rides but as the afternoon wax and waned away high tide slowly crept in. At it’s peak the waves were way too strong for Cole and even Micki and I had a hard time staying vertical when they hit. It was a fun time to bring out the boogie board and we were quickly tiring out. After a particularly rough landing I decided it was Micki’s turn. She was a little apprehensive after watching a fellow boarder take a pretty nasty spill as she walked in but she was excited to get a turn tackling those monster waves. After a few good runs (and a few rough ones) she was ready to come in but wanted one last good ride. As she puts it she was still wading out when a monster wave formed in front of her. It was too big to let pass her by and so she spun into the wave. It was so big that as it curled above her she gained too much speed and did a massive nose dive. After a few tumbles in the wave she emerged unscathed. The board however was now broken in two. Our “cheap” board proved it’s worth and came up wanting.
I ventured out into the surf once Micki got in and tested the board to see if it was still usable but it was like riding a bucking bronco. I would manage a few good feet and then when I thought I was past the worse of it and starting to enjoy the ride the front would suddenly bounce and then dip into the water. On the plus side, I’ve never done such fantastic underwater cartwheels. I finally called it quits after attempting to ride one of the biggest waves I’ve ever had the fortune of being in the water with.
To me it was, as the surfers call it, the perfect wave. It started out far and gave me lots of time to get prepared for. When it reached me it still hadn’t peaked yet but had so much strength it pushed me with ease. I paddled quickly and was soon swept up in its wake. I was quickly gaining speed as the lip started to curl around me. For one brief second I found myself in a perfect tunnel. For that one brief moment I was the king of the sea and Poseidon himself must have looked on me with envy. It was at that moment that the noodle of a boogie board I was riding let me know I wasn’t in control any longer. With a sudden nose dive I was launched out in front of the wave and got to see sand, surf and sky before being mercilessly tossed into the sea. It was great regardless of the outcome and even though I was still scraping sand out of my ears hours later it was worth it.
In a sense, it reminded me of my life and even more so, this journey we’re now on. Sure, I continually have sand in places I’d rather not mention. Sure, I’ve seen a little too much sun. Sure, I’m a little lighter in the wallet than when I woke up but at the end of the day I have great memories that will last a lifetime and a sense of what might be if I let myself be swept up in the moment. Seize the day, enjoy what life has to offer and have no regrets. We only get one wave and all too quickly it will pass us by. Maybe not words to live by but something I think each of us should strive for.
Safe travels everyone from beautiful Tamarindo, Costa Rica.