Our friend Jamie was coming for a long weekend to stay with me whilst Wayne was doing the La Ruta bike race for 3 days, or so he thought. It was her idea to sign up for surf lessons and I’m glad we did. Jaco is extremely popular with surfers from beginner level up to expert, whereas Playa Hermosa, where we are staying a brief drive along the coast definitely has a bigger break and is for more advanced level surfers.
We were given 2 references for taking surf lessons from locals in Jaco. When we compared the numbers, it was the same person so we knew we would be contacting Mauricio. Jamie and I arrived at his shop and found that Mauricio had a leg injury, but he set us up with 2 good instructors working for him (Josh and Sam).
The lesson started with some basic land drills. We needed to jump to a standing position from a very awkward yoga-ish pose. Our backs were killing us! Luckily, we still had our shorts on when doing the land drills as we would later understand why people wear board shorts to surf. I think Sam, my instructor, saw every bit and piece of my parts. The water would pull down my swim suit every time I jumped on the board.
It was a perfect day for surfing, albeit we were pushed into each wave by our instructors instead of us attempting to make the decision as to when to try and stand. The tide was just coming in so the waves were not as high as at high tide, but they were still intimidating. The lesson lasted for 2 hours and that was plenty – by the finish we were exhausted and sore from fighting the waves, rip currents, and doing the blah, blah on the board.
Not something we should be doing on a budget round the world trip but Herradura is one of Costa Rica’s prime gateways to some of the best sportfishing in the Pacific ocean, and on top of that hiring a boat out of Marriott’s Los Sueños resort is normally reserved for the wealthy, something we are not! I have never been offshore fishing before so this was a first, and if 8 hours of sea-sickness ensued then this would also be the last.
We chartered with Costa Rica Dreams as they were the number one outfit in the resort, although we did go for the smallest of their boats, a 32’ custom Mako. Fortunately they took our names and available dates and matched is up with 3 Americans, also on vacation, which made for a reasonable day on the water. Danny, Casey and Keaton were a blast and we had a great time together drinking beer and waiting, and waiting…. After 2 hours we caught our first Dorado, or Mahi-mahi, which would provide us with ceviche and dinners for the next few days. Unfortunately this was our last catch of the day! We had a few more bites and other boats in the area did land the occasional Sailfish but our day was a relatively quiet one.
We had a couple of stops almost 40 miles from shore to swim and dive from the boat which was fun, along with an unlimited supply of Imperial and a filling lunch, before getting back to the dock around 4.15pm. Their boats are certainly not the cheapest but they are very comfortable with great crews and an accommodating shore staff. We had Woody as our deck hand / first mate and his brother was the boat skipper, both very confident on the water and a pleasure to spend the day with.
Los Sueños Resort
This was a very special Sunday as I had decided to treat Andrea to an afternoon at a local plush resort, a reward for managing to still be working whilst I’m off exploring and spending her hard earnt Colon’s. We headed the 11 miles north to Herradura, home of the Los Sueños resort, and yes we had recently been here fishing with Costa Rica Dreams. Unfortunately there is a barrier preventing random access into the Marriott resort which could have been a problem had they not believed that we were meeting friends for lunch. Actually this was a total lie as we had no plans to buy anything, just to use their facilities – sorry Andrea, you will get that Spa treatment pampering eventually!
So we spent the afternoon lounging around in their huge lazy river pool that meandered through a couple of swim-up bars, under bridges and through beautiful gardens within the property. To compensate them we did buy a couple of cocktails each which made Andrea feel far less guilty. I have no guilt problems!
All good things must come to an end and so it was time for us to say farewell to Casa Escondida and our caretaker friend, Ricardo. We had a blast on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, even though my La Ruta mountain bike race didn’t go as planned, and we only caught one fish on our fishing trip. We have many fond memories but its time to refill our backpacks and head south to Puerto Jimenez, the gateway to Corcovado where we were to spend the next week chilling out (what, more chilling out!), and hiking in the national park. We had already taken the mountain bike and unnecessary clothing to a friend in San Jose where we will eventually collect it on our return from South America in a few months time, or at least prior to La Ruta 2013.
This was to be our first use of the Costa Rican bus system, which I thought I had investigated thoroughly. With the help of the www.thebusschedule.com we had come up with a full day itinerary which would get us to Puerto Jimenez in around 9-10 hours, haha, the plan did not work out at all but we did manage to get to our final destination in 8 hours. The 3 buses we thought we had to catch ended up being 4 buses, so we went from Jaco to Quepos, to Dominical, to Chacarita, and finally to Puerto Jimenez. The distance is not so far but many of the roads are in a very bad state of disrepair and the buses stop frequently. It would have been perfect if we could have broke the travel up into 2 days and stayed in Dominical which looked like a great place to waste away a few hours.
Upon arriving at the bus stop, which I guess doubled as the bus station we were greeted by who we thought was the owner of Cabinas Jimenez, a scrawny looking Canadian with green string holding his sandals together, and doing a good job of making us think he was more than just trying to get anyone that gets off a bus to check into the Cabinas. This would be our new home for the next week.
November 18th 2012