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.

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