The Internet has a knack for painting a picture that doesn’t quite live up to reality. This was evidence in proof upon our arrival to our house in Playa Guiones, which was our base for the next month. The house was very small, a bit tired and in need of some TLC. A gang of bats hanging from the outside wall was also there to greet us on our arrival. Our initial feelings were one of disappointment. Things improved however once we aired the place out and gave it a good clean, unpacked our clothes and filled the kitchen cupboards after a massive grocery shop. This was going to be home for the next month and we soon made it comfortable and although on the small side we did have an option for outdoor eating which was fine. Dinner outside also bought some wildlife to the table. We had regular visits from raccoons, a possum and monkeys in the trees behind.
The Nosara area is made up of three beaches, Playa Guiones, Playa Pelada and Playa Garza and a small township which is about 5km inland from the beaches providing the basic necessities. Our beach (Playa Guiones) was the pick of the bunch and with the house a short stroll away from the beach and right next door to a Gilded Iguana Hotel and Restaurant (which allowed us to use their pool whenever we wanted) the location couldn’t be beaten. Playa Guiones is a beautiful beach with perfect waves to satisfy all levels. The one downside was the stingray population which nestle themselves in the sand. We were warned to do the “stingray shuffle” when walking in the water. This maneuver would (should) keep us nice and sting-free.
Playa Guiones has it’s own little village (separate to the Nosara township). It is far from developed (ie no large hotel or food chains) but there is sufficient choice of small boutique hotels, cafes and eateries/bars. It’s predominately American whether they be permanent residents or just passing through and it was very noticeable on our arrival that we wouldn’t be needing to rely on our rudimentary Spanish at all while we were here. Over the course of the month we met plenty of people, most with young families. Some were travelling for the long-term. One family we met had been on the road for over three years, homeschooling their kids. It was great having a chat to people with really varied lifestyles and outlooks towards life and living.
We immediately set about getting settled in with a purchase of a secondhand surfboard for Dominic and a month’s rental of a mountain bike for me. That was our exercise taken care of and Trina had a nice, long beach to run along each day so we were all happy. Our other neighbor was a surf instructor, who had the fabulous moniker of Juan Surfo. The boys were very keen to meet this local surf legend so we arranged a lesson for Dominic for the next day. Once again, he impressed his tutor with his ability on the board.
Our days pretty much blended into one. The routine went something like this (subject to a change in order depending on the all important tides):
David off for a ride
Trina off for a run
Afternoon drinks at the Iguana pool-bar and walk to beach to catch the sunset
And on it went. It was a nice life! The bike riding was an excellent way to explore the surrounding areas. It was sometimes a dusty old ride though with the roads continuing the Costa Rica love affair with dirt. The local solution for the dust was to pour molasses (by hand, I hasten to add) over part of the road and upon drying you’d have a type of useable roading system. The downside of this policy was that during the drying process the roads were wet and sticky and not ideal for the jandal, which constantly got left behind in the goo.
Our first Friday night in town was rodeo night. This was a ramshackle operation with little concern for health and safety. In fact, the locals were encouraged to get liquored up and then hop into the ring with the single aim to touch the rump of the bulls. We saw one poor soul get smashed, much to the delight of Dominic and Callum. We stayed until the halftime interval but by then the novelty of carnage had started to wear off and because they didn’t start until about 2 hours after they were supposed to, it was getting too late for everybody. It was a classic case of Tico time.
Our social scene mainly involved heading to the Gilded Iguana for either a meal or a drink and listening to the live acts they put on twice a week. It is was a popular hangout and after a while we became quite the regulars. The boys were already well known in the area especially Dominic who had acquired plenty of admirers whilst out on his surfboard. Strangers who couldn’t believe that he’d only been surfing for a month and that he was only seven-years old constantly approached us.
Christmas was quickly upon us. Santa (clever man!) had found out that the boys had left New Zealand and delivered the required presents to the dark red house with no street address but beside the hotel. It was a nice change to have a low- key festive season. No Christmas carols in the malls, no advertising to be seen and no crazy rushing around. You’d be hard pressed to know Christmas was even on in Playa Guiones. A Christmas turkey dinner was had at a local restaurant and that was that. New Years Eve involved a band at the Gilded Iguana and a few drinks with Juan Surfo. The boys were wrapped to stay up to 12.30.
I’m not a fisherman but Dominic is always on at me to take him fishing. This was the perfect opportunity to hire a charter so we headed out for a morning on the water. The thrill of the catch was soon experienced and for three hours we caught eight fish. Unfortunately all of the trophies were not of the decent eating variety so were promptly returned to freedom. Success was just around the corner. As we turned for home we caught two Mahi-Mahi at once. That was dinner sorted for a few nights. Also on our sea adventure we spotted a pod of dolphins and a huge Manta Ray so a very enjoyable mornings work.
To throw a bit of variety into our day we rented a car and drove to the beach to the town of Samara, which is about 25kms from home. We were almost there when we came across a very deep looking river crossing. We quickly decided that our vehicle couldn’t traverse the waterway and turned around. Just as we did this we passed a car from the car rental company we used and he quickly showed us how to get across – talk about perfect timing! In a two-wheel drive we didn’t think it could be done but sure enough, we were over. Samara itself wasn’t a touch on Playa Guiones so we didn’t stay long.
Our second to last day and we took to the water for our last swim and surf. By this time we were pretty blasé about the stingrays and the treat they posed, so I started to stroll in and whack. A sting barb right on the foot – painful doesn’t begin to describe it. A quick dash home and into hot, hot water for 60 minutes and all was well again. Could have been a lot worse so I was lucky. A quick Google search highlighted much more serious effects of such an attack. I was also pleased that it wasn’t Dominic that had copped it.
Our month came and went quickly. We had two days to fill in before our flight out of Costa Rica so we headed north to Tamarindo. After spending the last few weeks in a relatively quiet beach town we were immediately struck by the amount of traffic and people. We had heard about Playa Conchal which was just outside of Tamarindo so headed there and weren’t disappointed. The sea was a perfect blue and had the added bonus of huge crashing waves dispensing a quite incredible volume of water. The boys loved getting smashed back into shore.
Comparing all the beaches we’ve stayed at in Costa Rica and the ones we had initially considered for our month stay, we couldn’t have chosen better than Playa Guiones. The area had a fantastic laid-back vibe to it. Yoga, exercise and surfing are the key ingredients here all washed down with a cold Imperial and a yarn – perfect.
After a leisurely five-hour drive to San Jose our time in Costa Rica had come to an end. Time to start making our way home, slowly.