To be fair, I'm at a hostel on the beach in Montezuma, with monkeys (vile little creatures) racing nimbly around the thick jungle canopy above, drinking a piña colada (happy hour special) while mosquitoes feast on my ankles, which I suppose is pretty exotic. But in spite of all this, there is something about Costa Rica that seems too... easy.
Maybe it is the 80 degree water, the 80 degree air, the Pura Vida spirit, the hoards of English speaking tourists, the lackadaisical local surf "instructors", or the ability to book a tour to the extent that one could go to the beach without getting their feet sandy, but my stay here has been serene and time seems to slip away without fuss or fight.
I arrived in San Jose after a quick plane ride from Lima and was taken aback at the 2.5 hour customs line at the airport. People were absolutely pouring into the country for the holidays from all over the world - Europe, Asia, the US, Canada - so I fit in nicely for a change. Speaking of not wanting to get my feet sandy at the beach, the place I was to stay in Mal Pais had arranged for a shuttle to take me to a hotel, pick me up the next morning and take me to the surf camp. I felt kind of guilty not figuring it out on my own, you know, being the intrepid traveler that I am, but it was too cushy to pass up.
After a shuttle, a ferry and another shuttle I was dropped off at the entrance to Mal Pais Surf Camp, my home for the next week. I fell in love with the place immediately. The restaurant/bar is also the front desk, as well as common hang out place. There is a funky pool table, ping pong, a baby swing for the little tykes, a small library, a couch and TV that constantly plays surf flicks. Paradise.
I was greeted by Doug, the owner, who showed me to my little cabina, which had bunk beds and room for absolutely nothing else. But it was screened in, clean and relatively bug free so I was stoked. After getting acquainted with my surroundings (drinking a beer at the bar) I set off to find a board to rent for the week. Mal Pais Surf Camp has a quiver of boards one can rent for half or a full day, but they are all pretty beat up (shitty) but there's lots of surf shops in town with decent rentals.
Mal Pais is located on the south west tip of the Nicoya peninsula. Why it is called "Mal" Pais I have no idea, but I would call it Buen Pais if I was going to name it. There are miles of long, white sand beaches lined with coconut palms, soft rolling waves and thick green jungle in the mountains above. Because it is the dry season the dirt road that runs through town is dry and dusty, and everybody rides around on quads or motorcycles with bandanas around their mouths and goggles on to keep the dust out, which gives it a Mad Max meets paradise kind of feel.
Although Mal Pais is typically a quiet surf town, I picked the biggest week of the year to be there - unbeknownst to me New Year's week is huge. Within an hour of being in town I was offered weed, coke and ecstasy, all of which I declined, but it made me wary of going out alone at night. Good thing my friend Kera was meeting me a few days later for surf adventures, and she has been my partner in crime.
Kera arrived a few days after me and we've had a great time surfing, eating delicious food (CR kills it with the food game), meeting cool people from all over the world, surfing some more, cooking in the communal kitchen, napping, surfing some more, drinking lots of Imperiales, and enjoying the Pura Vida lifestyle.
We spent yesterday climbing around h waterfall in Montezuma, which was fun and refreshing. My body was also happy to take an afternoon off of surfing. Montezuma has much more of a rainforest, jungly feel than Mal Pais, but no surf, so we only stayed one night. Today we head to Jacó for more waves and to meet up with an amiga I met in Peru. Jacó sounds like a bit of a shit show from what I've heard, but hey, you never truly know unless you go. And so, as they say here, pura vida mai.