Monday, January 23, 2006

Move over, Michelangelo

I spent Sunday morning experimenting with pigment and resin because I'm so vain about my Cooperfish. It's been hanging on the wall for a couple of months since getting finned in Ventura. I also decided to fix a couple more dings I'd inherited from the previous owner (who took this picture of the board).

I knew these were dings I could fix, I just didn't want white spots all over this beautiful board. So, I mixed some resin and breathed in some toxic fumes and then put in the blue, yellow, and white pigments I bought. I'm pretty short on common sense when it comes to skilled labor, so I realized too late that I didn't need quite so much pigment as I used. It wasn't like I was trying to paint the whole deck of the board. Also, duh, mix the pigment first, then drop it into the resin paste. So my second attempt was much better.

But I'm VERY EXCITED about the color match. If I ever buy a digital camera, I'll document how brilliant I was with the pigment.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Snowsuit cold

I remember those days in winter when I'd wake up at 7am just to listen to the radio. Mom couldn't even start getting me to grumble anything back from under the covers before 8am usually, but if it started to snow the night before, I'd set the alarm just so I could hear the radio. And I'd wait patiently through the alphabet until it got to "Gale Middle School" and I'd feel such a surge of joy at having a snowday that I'd fling off the covers and go downstairs to see my mother shaking her head at me for being awake at 7am when there wasn't school.

Later on, when the sun had warmed up the air to 32-degrees, my brothers and I would bundle into our snowsuits. There'd be the puffy snowpants/overalls worn over thermal underwear with the two pairs of knee-high socks (one tucked under and one pulled over the thermal underwear) and the snowboots pulled over the cuffs of the snowpants if you could zip the boots up. The overalls portion of the snowpants would hook together over a sweater or a sweatshirt layered over a longsleeved thermal underwear layered over a t-shirt. You'd put on your gloves so that its cuffs would be pulled tight by the sleeves of the puffy snowjacket that you'd zip up over the scarf that you'd wrap around your throat a couple of times. It would be wrapped in such a way that your nose and mouth would tuck in and once you got your hat and earmuffs on, the only sliver of skin that the air could touch was around the eyes. My brothers and I, bundled just so, would be ready to waddle out into the snow and PLAY!

After playing and freezing, but having so much fun we didn't realize we were freezing, we'd come in. We'd stomp off as much snow in the garage and peel out of the layers, leaving poor mom to deal with the thawing, dripping snowsuits which she would hang up in the laundry room over the sink. There was always hot chocolate waiting and as my hands would wrap around that welcome heat of the cup, I'd notice how my fingers would be too swollen with blood and cold to bend and flex.

And this is what I thought of this morning after I came out of the surf.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Cold. Windy. Small.

AND there was a group of Christian cultists in white and purple embroidered robes headed out to the beach from the parking lot. They were carrying banners with biblical symbols. I decided it was safer for my heathen chink ass to stay out of the baptismal waters this morning. But I kept thinking that if the Christians were going to go into the water, God should definitely let them into heaven because it's really cold at the beach.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Costa Rica - Day Seven

Friday, December 23
Last full day. The board said we were going to load into the boat and go to Marbella. It's a great little 45 minute trip by boat (instead of two hours by car). You get to see how the shoreline changes. Unfortunately, when we got there, there was nothing to surf. The south swell had all but gone by this day and a north had started filling in, which was why Tamarindo looked so much better and bigger. We decided to head back to Tamarindo. What I didn't understand was why we didn't stop at any of the breaks in between Tamarindo and Marbella. There were unsurfed rocky breaks outside that looked fun... maybe they were too gnarly to be surfed? Most of them came off submerged rocks and reefs.

Spent the morning surfing in Tamarindo which was fine. Then did more lounging which I'd, by now, started to get used to. Also, I started using up the roll of film.

Room #25 at Hotel El Milgro. The placed I called "casa." (Note the 7'0" Guy Okazaki board leaning against the wall. I dressed the set, but didn't plan the nifty light flares and bleeds the camera would take on.)

Oh, and one of these days in the afternoon, I forget which date, we went on a little estuary tour and hike. My pictures really didn't turn out, but my one purposefully taken shot of mangrove and reflection turned out pretty well:

Dinner that night was at Dragonfly - recommended by our host and by Captain America. It's down a dark street and the owner is an ex-pat American woman with two giant dogs - one being a German Shepard, tamed by begging for tasty Asian-fusion scraps from the dining table. The lady saw a need (the lack of good food for tourists with hoity tastes) and filled it. There's still room for more in Costa Rica and don't think I'm not thinking about it. I make a kick-ass jambalaya and fold wontons with the best.

Starter: shrimp tempura with a spicy remoulade $5 (and SO MANY SHRIMP - could have been a meal)

My entree: pan-roasted chicken with tamarind sauce over a bed of spinach $12

Miss N's entree: some kind of seafood fetuccini that was DELICIOSO

Dessert was going to be sopapilla, but they had issues so they comped us a hot fudge brownie with a side of vanilla ice cream (and ice cream is REAL in Costa Rica -- creamy, full of dairy and fat -- YUM)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Costa Rica - some pics

I used this camera to take pictures in and out of the water. I think it works best underwater. I took most of these pics at Witch's and Ollie's because the waves were small and I had to make my own fun.

Witch's - The Rock:

Flat day, waist-high. Note the beautiful untouched shoreline, though:

Proof that one of us was in the water with the Rock:

I told Miss N to get a picture with me and the Rock. What's missing?

When the waves are small and inconsistent, you do a lot of this:

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Costa Rica - Day Six

Thursday, December 22, 5:30am
Our dawn patrol at Langosta yesterday seemed to inspire the surf camp planners to send us off on a boat pre-dawn today. The boys (Tattoo Guy, Maryland Dad and Son) had gone to Marbella the morning of our Langosta dawn patrol and said it was great.

So, today, we were thrown on a boat with a tired-looking Flash and Chilo to take us the short ride to Playa Grande. I can't say we were the first in the water, but we were one of the few with waist-chest high waves coming inconsistently. Maryland Dad and Son went off toward the main peak, but Miss N, Tattoo Guy, and I drifted along at the second peak. Our guide Flash stayed, too, but I think that's because he had a little crush on Miss N.

I had some nice rides on the beach break as the sun started coming up. Tattoo Guy noticed I was on the 9'2" epoxy board instead of the 7'0". I told him I was on vacation and wanted a higher wave count for less effort! Flash told me my balance was good but I should start walking on the board more to keep speed going through the sections. Tattoo Guy suggested cross-stepping would be easier for me. I promised the next wave I'd try it. It started being a good day -- my wave count was high enough that I felt okay experimenting and flubbing perfectly good waves.

Then I did what I'm known for doing. I traded boards. Tattoo Guy and I were talking about various boards we owned back home and he told me of a classic longboard he had hanging on his wall. He hadn't surfed a longboard in a while. And that's my cue to offer to switch. He was on a 6'0" epoxy fish borrowed from the surf camp. I didn't really think I'd get any waves, but I'm always up for comedy.

Tattoo Guy took some long rides (after remembering how to turn a longboard again), while I fell in love with the 6'0" fish. I can't say that I did particularly well, but I loved taking off, turning, and trying to hit the lip. I'm not really keen on shortboards because I'm lazy and my pop-up is too slow, but for some reason, paddling into a wave and popping up on the fish felt like taking off on a longboard. Now I'm torn -- do I dream of buying a 10'0" board or a tiny fat fish?

We were scheduled to go to Playa Junquilla at 1pm, but Flash and everybody agreed that at low tide, it would not be worth travelling, so I spent the day lounging, reading, and shopping. But as the tide started filling in before sunset, we decided to get our boards and surf the beachbreak/rivermouth at Tamarindo. The waves were maybe waist-high, so I decided to try out the surf camp's 10'2" single-fin epoxy board.


Being on such a huge board amplifies the power of the wave, especially when you're five feet tall. Trying to turn a 10'2" board makes waist-high waves feel like they're head-high. Everything happens much slower and much earlier on a 10'2". I didn't get waves at first because 1) I couldn't turn the board toward shore and 2) the inertia of the board was so slow that once I got up enough paddling speed the wave was already past me. I had to sit much further back in order to be able to pivot the board around, and I had to start paddling much earlier than I would have on my other boards in order to get it moving. These are not lazy boards. I reckon I did more paddling that session than I did on any of my other boards that week.

I finally got some good waves and started realizing just how much I'd have to walk. To even get down the face of the small wave, I'd have to immediately start walking forward after I popped up. And of course I'd have to turn or pearl, so I'd have to immediately dart back to the tail so I could crank the thing around. Yowza. I loved it. Now I was really torn between fish and whale.

Dinner at La Caracola. Small outdoor restaurant on the circle. Eclectic decor. Live music -- which was a little too loud if you sat right in front of the stage as we mistakely did. Super fantastic dinner. Medium-rare steak served with a mushroom-wine reduction. We had passed many herds of cattle in our travels from break to break. I'm sure my steak was fresh.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Costa Rica - Day Five

First off, Little Miss N cannot hold her liquor. What a cheap date. My foodie self demanded some kind of tasty cuisine on Tuesday night so we took Tattoo Guy's suggestion and went to the gringo place Pasatiempo. While we were bouncing along in the van for an hour and a half (after bouncing along in the boat for an hour and 45 minutes) back from Ollie's and Witch's, Tattoo Guy described a brilliant macadamia nut encrusted tuna with mango salsa. I had to go. I was on vacation.

Funny thing happens in Costa Rica. Since dining is so comparatively cheap to dining in the U.S., your scale gets skewed. All of a sudden $12 for an entree seems outlandish and unseemly and you opt for the $5 entree place instead. But if you were to really think about it, the $12 I spent on macadamia nut encrusted tuna was a steal compared to what it would have cost me in the United States. It's like going to a garage sale when all of a sudden 25 cents makes or breaks a deal.

At Pasatiempo that evening, I taught a stray cat how to sit and lay down on command, and Miss N forgot how to walk at the end of the evening after her second mojito. This would go unremarked except that we had asked for a dawn patrol to Playa Langosta the next morning and Miss N woke up with her head still spinning.

Wednesday, December 21, 5:30am
It's still dark at 5:30am in December. I kinda felt bad for requesting such an early call time, making the poor driver Calin wake up with us crazy surfers, especially if there was nothing there and we'd make him turn around and take us back. But then, we pulled up at Playa Langosta in the pre-dawn light and trundled along the narrow path to the beach. We peered across the rivermouth to find shoulder-head high waves, and we couldn't get back to the van fast enough to unload our boards.

I'd decided the day before, after lots of paddling to get into waist-high waves, that I was on VACATION and that meant I shouldn't work so hard to get my waves. That meant I was borrowing boards from the surf camp for the remainder of the trip and today I was back on the 9'2" plastic board.

I cannot describe what a great morning I had. For the first 20 minutes, it was just Miss N and me out with the semi-consistent sets as the sun started to peak over the mountains. There was no wind, and the water was warm, so after my first three waves and paddling the long distance back to the peak, I was feverish in my short-sleeve rashguard and the sun wasn't even overhead yet!

Langosta is not a nose-walking wave and I'm not particularly good at that anyway, but I am pretty good at long carves on a longboard and this wave was perfect for that. Good power on the take-off that stayed evenly through the shoulder. I kicked out of nearly every wave until I decided I would hang on just a little longer on one wave. I realized I was right in listening to my instincts to kick-out all the previous waves because I was met on the inside with a good thumping... but that was fun, too!

We were joined by a newbie on a too-short funboard. I don't think he got a single ride. Then two cutie-pie twenty-year-old Canadians came out with their shortboards and they ripped up those waves and made some impressive attempts at catching air and doing 360s. For another 20 minutes or so, it was the four of us trading waves. Then an army of surfers started to paddle across the rivermouth. I knew I would be looking for my last wave soon, because I didn't want to ruin my stellar session with grumbling. Langosta at dawn was the highlight of my surfing.

I did nothing else that day except laze around on a hammock, shop, check my email (and saw the crazy waves of Big Wednesday in SoCal), drink beer... and I finished that Geisha book. There was a small bookcase for book exchanges at the surf camp, so I traded. Instead of going for the easy Danielle Steele novel, I thought I'd try Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. (Really great, poignant, and strangely hilarious book. I finished it by the end of the week, too, that's how much of a vacation I had. I can't remember the last time I finished reading something in a week let alone two novels.)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

(Present Day)

I thought I was being all brilliant by walking the dog at 5:00am and driving from Valencia to get to Sunset by 6:15am in order to avoid the crowds. Only, I'm not the only one who was brilliant. The parking spaces were nearly filled up along PCH with people waiting. The swell which is exploding the beach breaks has driven everybody to look for a point. When I paddled out in the semi-darkness, there were already 10 guys in. I got my waves and left by 7:30am before I started getting all tense about the five-billion people in the water. Welcome back to surfing in SoCal!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Costa Rica - Day Four

So, the way the Surf Tour works is at 7:00pm the night before, you're supposed to check the board and see what the next day's schedule is. Depending on tide and swell, they plan your destination and means of transportation. After seeing my perfect dawn patrol wave at Playa Langosta, I was ready to bunk the next day's plan for my own thing, but then I saw the board: "7:00am WITCH'S by Boat." My dawn patrol would have to wait for another sunrise.

Tuesday, December 20, 7:00am
I found myself being bumped along in the van with what would be my golden crew for the rest of the week: Little Miss N, Maryland Dad and Son, and Tattoo Guy. I like to think that we made a nice team. Everybody could surf and no one was annoying -- and if he was annoying, he would be annoying his dad so it was okay.

On the long boat ride to Witch's, after the long car ride from Tamarindo to Playa Coco, Maryland Dad said to his son who hated rice and beans: "You lookin' for the potato chips, they're in the pocket of the backpack."

Maryland Son to his dad: "WHICH POCKET?! GAHHH!"

God bless teenage boys when they start rebelling against their dads. Makes you laugh and makes you cry all at the same time.

Really, though, he was a good kid. Goofy foot.

Tattoo Guy was one of the mellowest, most personable people I'd ever met in my life. And Maryland Dad was a straight-up kinda guy with a wry sense of humor.

Tattoo Guy: "I heard the surf camp has a program where you can bring your whole family and they take your kids surfing so you can have some time with your wife."

Maryland Dad, wryly: "Now, WHY would I want to be away from my kids?"

Me. Laughing. Crying. Same time.


Witch's Rock. The surf camp is named after it because they used to have a house at Playa Coco -- which is the launching pad for all the boats going out to the break. Now, instead of spending the night at house in Coco and launching in the morning, we drive an hour and a half to Coco, get a quick breakfast, and then get on a boat for 40 minutes to Witch's Rock (high tide spot) and another 45 minutes to Ollie's Point (low tide spot). The sea turtles were out swimming as we zoomed by.

What swell there had been over the last few days had started to die and we had heard it was going to die even further over the next few days. I am enchanted with the boat ride to Witch's, I am not so enchanted with the waves. Mostly waist-high up and over with a two-second shoulder. A surfer climbing back into another boat anchored there yelled over to us, "Sets were coming in head high! But that was two hours ago. Then it just DIED."

Glad I brought the camera. I designated myself surf photog for the session and made my own fun. Most of the waves to be had were VERY reminiscent to the shoulderless LA County beachbreaks... but it was warm water. That was the difference. That, and there was a giant rock looming out of the water.

After a less than stellar session, we hauled back into the boat and bumped along to Ollie's Point. Now, this place I loved even with the lack of swell energy. It's a hidden cove with a small beach and thick trees sprouting straight up into a hill and a mountain which all work together so you feel like you're being wrapped up cozy-like in someone's arms. When the wave energy enters the cove and begin to break off the submerged rock point, it's like a whisper in your ear when you take off. It's just... peaceful.

Of course, that was on a waist-high day. I can see how it would be different on a big day.

I was stuck with the wrong board all day. The other boys at the camp had gone to Witch's on Saturday and the reports were overhead and hollow. It spooked me enough to make me know I didn't want to go in with the borrowed 9'2" epoxy that responded slower than my brother to a question when he was watching TV. So I brought my 7'0" along. This board is NOT a small wave board for a lazy bum like me. I woulda rocked Ollie's with the biggest board in our crew at 9'2". Oh well.

We were the only ones at Ollie's. The other two boatloads were finishing up their sessions when we got there, so we waited for the tide to go lower and for them to get their last waves. Nothing quite like having only five people in the water at a haunting point break.

(Present Day)

Before I could rationalize myself back into bed, I put on my wetsuit and headed out with my pre-loaded car. It was lined out at the LA beach breaks today and I didn't want to finagle the crowds at the point (besides there being no time to travel before work and the one thing I learned in Costa Rica was that I get impatient if I have to search for surf). Just goes to show that you can rationalize even after you put on a half a wetsuit and sweat in it.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Costa Rica - Day Three

Monday, December 19, 8:00am CST
I tried for the breakfast again, but still was rushed into slapping together two pieces of toast around bacon. I was beginning to realize that service is pleasant but laid-back. My American sensibilities needed to calm down to the "time flows around you like a river" and go-tubing-with-a-cooler-of-beer thing.

8:45am CST
Surf guide: Ricardo. Driver: Leo. Surfers: Faux British guy and Tan Girl. Destination: Avellanas - 45 minutes of bumpy road. Beach break with rocks in one spot. Avellanas is the place with the big pig, but it wasn't there this day. Hot sand. Howling offshores which would have held up any waves if there had been anything breaking. There was a rock and a reef FAR down the beach which was breaking. About 8 guys were on the one peak breaking infrequently every fifteen minutes. It was pretty much a right-hand wave because if you went left, you were headed for the big submerged rock and if you made it past that, there's a shallow reef for about twenty yards to contend with. Longboarders were the most successful because the winds were pushing the shortboarders off the wave.

We dawdled for a while and Miss N played with the stray dog with short legs and a horsey head. I continued reading that Geisha book in the shade of the shrubs lining the wide beach. Finally, after the group of eight left, Faux British guy and Tan Girl decided to go out. I continued reading and lounging, but kept an eye out. Poor Tan Girl really should have taken a different option on the tour which included lessons because she paddled out right in the one impact zone. If she had known better, she would have realized that twenty yards to her left nothing was breaking. After ten minutes, Miss N came back and said she was just going in to get wet and I told her she'd probably beat Tan Girl out. I looked up and saw her get smacked again. I watched Miss N paddle out easily in the channel, then I saw Tan Girl head in Miss N's direction. Later I was to learn that Miss N actually called her over to help her out. How nice. She's usually not so nice.

The Geisha book was really pretty good, but I would periodically look up to see how my compatriots were doing. Not well. The off-shore was pushing them back. Finally, I decided I was getting hot, so I grabbed my 7'0" and paddled out IN THE CHANNEL. Zippy.

Warm water and hot offshores? Invigorating. The first wave I tried to take off on was completely denied as the wind lifted my board just as I popped up. It literally pushed me off the wave. Nothing I could do but laugh and enjoy the spray of salt water every time I tried to take off. After lots of no-success, I was motivated to take a shoulder-high left-hander (past the rock, into the shallow reef) when a horde of young Euros decided to paddle out at our one spot that was working. It was actually a pretty nifty wave until it petered out on me and I was left scratching my toes on a reef and paddling in.

Back to home base.

12:00pm CST
I decided that the bar and grill at Witch's Rock Surf Camp actually had pretty decent food for $5.00. (You know, I came to the conclusion that we gringos know how to do good food. Forget the cheap meal option of local places, spend a couple bucks more and be a tourist at the gringo-owned joints. Spices are a good thing.) I had chicken enchiladas and guacamole. Oh, and beer. Can't forget the beer. Miss N had some fruity rum drink the night before at the bar and grill that tasted like Robitussin. Ick. Stick to the beer.

3:00pm CST
Ricardo and Leo drove Faux Brit, Miss N, and I the scant 10 minutes through Tamarindo to Playa Langosta. After trodding down a little trail past deck chairs and lounging tourists, you had to cross a rivermouth. New experience! Most of the fun happens when the current takes you and you paddle desperately to save yourself from ending up downstream. It was never that scary because the rivermouth actually bends around this gigantic spit of sand and if the current were to take you, you would be released when the waterway widens around the curve.

What I found, though, at Lobster Beach, was a beautifully shaped wave. I mean an absolutely gorgeous head-high peak with power all the way through a long shoulder. It's the first time I'd ever seen a rivermouth break and I was an instant fan of the sand deposits that made such a beautiful wave. The main peak was mainly a right-hand wave with a shorter left into the river mouth. A secondary peak was less consistent and went right and left, but that afternoon there was a crowd of 50 guys sitting and spreading from main peak to second. I paddled out anyway with the idea that I wouldn't be getting any waves, but I'd be seeing some really good surfing.

After my usual whooping and loud chatting with Miss N in the deafening silence of 50 stoic surfers trying hard to ignore each other to grab a wave, I heard someone call my name. Eh? Who else could possibly be playing my "Be Loud" game and know my name? Captain America from Santa Monica! I knew he and his wife would be overlapping their time in Costa Rica with mine, but I didn't think I'd actually run into them. Small surfing world. I watched him take a couple REALLY nice waves and he gave us recommendations on places to eat - definitely welcome to this surfer foodie palate stuck in Gallo Pinto (b)Land.

Finally, weirdly enough, after about an hour of posturing and paddling and wishing I had a longboard, a super-keen overhead wave popped up right at me. It wasn't going to work for the surfers to the left of me and I stared down the ones to the right of me. I didn't do much with the wave except drop and bottom turn too low for any kind of real trim, but it was a great zoom and I took it to shore so I could watch the show silhouetted in sunset.

So my wave count for the day was Two, but that was my epiphanic day. I was surfed out... not in the sense that I'd paddled myself to death, but that I couldn't spend all my days in search of surf. I was a dawn patrol girl through and through and I'd just found the perfect spot for an early morning session.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Costa Rica - Day Two

Sunday, December 18, 8:00am CST
Since I had thirty minutes before my call time to get on the van to Marbella (south of Tamarindo), I decided to get desayuno (my Spanish was surprisingly not gone from 12 years of non-use) at the Witch's Rock Surf Camp grill since it was included in our tour package. Gallo pinto was much better -- I think because of the spices and the bacon on the side. The order took longer than I thought it would so I smacked the bacon inside two pieces of toast and wandered to the cage where I left my 7'0" Okazaki board...

8:30am CST
It's nice to have fiberglass under hand. It's so light when you're helping to heave it up on top of the van. Personnel: Javier, surf guide; Ulises, driver. Surfers: Faux British guy, Guy who knew Miss N from a previous trip (obviously the camp has a following), Tattoo Guy, and Maryland Dad and Son. Luckily, I was sitting backwards so I couldn't see the streams we were crossing until after we had crossed them. Unfortunately, I was sitting facing Miss N so I would see her eyes widen in panic when she saw what was coming up. Never sit facing Little Miss N.


Okay, maybe it was more like an hour and 45 minutes, but with the bumpy and the dusty and the facing five stoic men who don't know each other, it felt more like three hours...

We arrive at this stand of trees that looks out onto a wide stretch of beach. We share the piece of shade with a scantily clad young couple lounging beneath a sheet hung between two trees. On the sheet was a pirate's skull and crossbones. They'd been there for a while, as evidenced by a trash pile, some unused rations, and a firepit that looked like it had been lit and put out several times. Oh, and there was a fierce little Jack Russell terrier that guarded it all like it was his own. Javier shook hands with the young man and we milled about, looking at the waves chopped up by the onshores at 10:30am.

The tide was supposed to come up more, maybe make it better. Miss N and I wandered up the beach, not a surfer in sight for five hundred yards. One spot was working. Choppy, but there was something to surf. Instead of waiting, we were antsy to get in, so we headed back to the van. The boys had the same idea and had already brought our boards down. Bonus on carrying a 7'0" five hundred yards down a beach? It's lighter than a longboard.

I can't say that I had the best rides of my life at Marbella, but I was happy to have no problems taking off and the infrequent head high set waves were chopped up by the wind so they were mushy and I had absolutely no fear. This made me rather kamikaze on my wave selection, but I figured if there's not going to be clean waves with shoulders, you might as well take bigger waves with steep drops. The beautiful thing about this break is, well, the beauty. A beachy shoreline ended in a thicket of lush green. It was almost empty of people so even the sound of victory at sea was quiet and peaceful.

We were supposed to stay there all day and surf a second session because the camp had packed lunches for us, but nobody thought it was going to get better so we trucked it back to Tamarindo.

Costa Rica - Day One

Friday, Dec. 16, 11:00pm PST
Little Miss N and I stood in no less than six lines from the moment Mr. Me dropped us off at LAX. It would be seven lines if you counted how long we taxied on the tarmac.

Saturday, Dec. 17, 8:00am CST
We hired a porter to help us with our boards and baggage to walk from the shiny new San Jose International Airport around the corner to the smaller regional airport. Tourists, pilots, porters lounged in the warm morning air like there was nowhere else they had to be. Flying in the prop plane was fun. The landing in Tamarindo, on a short gravel strip, next to a field with grazing cows, was more fun.

12:00pm CST
The van rambled on a dusty road (one of the better ones I was soon to find out) to town where Little Miss N introduced me to the people of They gave us an orientation and I got a beer (first of many). I heard Miss N's name called out and we turned to find Joe - the owner of the program. Miss N's done this thing four times before.

3:00pm CST
After a nap and a walk, we gathered at the Surf Camp for our first trip. They boated us out to Playa Grande, which was only a 10 minute boat ride northward from Tamarindo. I chose a 9'2" epoxy from the camp. I've never boated into a break from behind. What this does is completely mess up your idea of how big a wave might be. We found choppy waters, but there was enough power for shoulder-head high stuff that popped out of rough waters. I enjoyed taking steep drops that would mush into a shoulder with the heavy 9'2" board.

Evidently there's a bunch of locals at the main peak of Playa Grande who don't take kindly to tourists. An Italian developer bought a bunch of land there and sells units only to other Italians, so if you find yourself being cursed in the water, it's going to be in Italian.

Along with our guide Flash and boat driver Chilo, we had three other people in our group: Maryland Dad and Son, and Tan Girl who might have benefited from a lesson or two. She ended up with a fat lip when her board smacked her in her face.

7:00pm CST
Dinner. In search of Costa Rican cuisine. Started to realize that Costa Rican cuisine is kinda bland. I like rice and beans (the dish is called gallo pinto), but I also like spices with my rice and beans. So, I ordered another beer.