Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Pura Vida in Costa Rica

December 4, 2012
Pura Vida
After landing in San Jose I found a friendly taxi driver to take me to my old high school friend, Ed Fieramosca's house. The directions I handed over to the driver went something like this: "Take Rohmeisero Road south, after 5km look for the fruit trees and turn right, go 200m and look for the corner just before the Market". I was dubious, but at least the directions didn't instruct us to take a left at the speckled cow on the hill. We made it there without trouble and I found it a pretty nice neighborhood and safe, undoubtedly because the U.S. Embassy is close by.
I spent the afternoon with Eddie and his family, had a nice meal, and tried to follow some spanish TV. More difficult to understand than the language was why they were giving weather forecasts for North America?? Oh, and I managed to stay out of jail after a couple of polizia informed me that it wasn't permissible to have an open cerveza on the sidewalk.
In the evening I sat in on a business conference call with parties in Australia, Nevada, and Austria. Ed is in the business of building "Green" residential housing and is working on franchising the "Nudura" product in Australia. A very interesting product and building method which is essentially concrete builds with one catch. Normally concrete is poured into forms and after curing the forms are removed. Nudura is actually a type of Styrofoam and is used as the forms and left in place. The result is a super strong build which is water proof, sound proof, mold proof, termite proof, maintenance free, gives off no gases and is highly insulated. It goes together like lego blocks and after the recent 6.6 Mag. earthquake they had, it apparently can also take a pretty good shaking and not suffer.
The next morning 5:30 am came way to quickly, but it was time to catch another ride to the Nacoya peninsula. An area in the North West of Costa Rica which was new to me and also home to some of Costa's best reef and point breaks. There Eddie also happened to have a couple of projects in the works so I got to see some of the work in progress as well as being introduced to a bunch of his friends, both ticos and ex-pat gringos.
I was a bit surprised by the lack of development in this area. There is the new highway that gets you to the area, but after that it's all dusty dirt roads. In fact, in Playa Negra where I'm staying there isn't even a bank or ATM! There are a few homes, a few guest houses, a few restaurants and an approximately 200 square foot grocery store "oxy-moronically"  called Mini-Super Mercado. Not surprising, after my previous  visit, is that Costa is still really expensive, on par or more expensive than the U.S. in regards to food, fuel, land, homes, vehicles, etc. A third world mystery to me.
Somehow the locals make it work though and have kept their friendly disposition. It's a place where friends and strangers alike unfailingly wave and say hello whether walking, biking or driving. The intriguing new mantra which I don't recall in past visits is the constant uttering of "Pura Vida" (pure life). Q: Como Esta? (How are you?) A: Bien! Pura Vida! (Good, Pure Life!)  Maybe the Costa Rican government has started their own version of "Just say No!"
The first few days saw less than spectacular surf, but the last couple has seen the swell rise. My first session was good even withstanding the fact that I hurt myself more in one surf than I have in the last twenty years. Nothing big, a fin scrape on one ankle and a reef scrape on the other. To cap it off I took a left barrel and got pitched. Not wanting to dive into the shallow rocks I decided to skim the surface. Well, my board had the same idea and wacked me in the back of the head. Oh well, things come in threes so I figure I'm safe for a while. Except from the sun. Living in Florida preps you pretty good for dealing with the sun. Puerto Rico kicked the intensity up a notch. However,  the sun down here is downright wicked! Hades would feel like "Shade-ys" compared to here!
Today's swell was bigger and tomorrow's.... we will see!
Voy a ir surf! 
Pura Vida!