While most nations preach about sustainability but fail to follow through on the bulk of their promises, Costa Rica leads by example and has been doing so for decades. Long before sustainability was a trend, Costa Rica realized the importance of protecting its natural resources, in part because of their uniqueness. Costa Rica only takes up 0.03% of the Earth’s surface, but the small Latin American nation contains 5% of the world’s land-based biodiversity and 3.5% of its marine life. Since the 1980s, Costa Rica has taken the reigns and become a global leader in environmental protection and combating climate change. To find out how Costa Rica is Leading the Global Charge in Sustainability, continue reading below.
As surfers, we feel we must be as environmentally conscious as possible in all facets of life, including our business. Sustainability, however, goes beyond just one’s environmental impact. Sustainability in travel and tourism means not only being eco-conscious and reducing waste but ensuring our existence as a business doesn’t displace, diminish, or damage the local culture and economy. 2020 was a rocky year for travel, but we used that time to reflect on our core values as a business in Costa Rica and as surfers. This year, we aim to continue our sustainable mission through a commitment to preserving, protecting, and improving the natural environment of Nosara, its culture, and its people. To find out more about our sustainability goals for 2021, continue reading below.Continue reading
Our Costa Rica surf school is perfectly positioned for our guests to have a complete Costa Rica experience, both in and out of the water. Located in Guanacaste on a remote stretch of the Nicoya Peninsula, travelers in Nosara can experience Costa Rica’s abundant wildlife on land and sea. If you’re surfed out for the day or need to give yourself a bit of a break, head to one of the nearby protected nature reserves and see Costa Rica’s exotic wildlife. Nearly one-third of Costa Rica’s land is protected as national parks, nature reserves, and wildlife refuges. Additionally, since the 1980s Costa Rica has successfully reversed its deforestation by 200%. To say that wildlife thrives in Costa Rica would be an understatement. Costa Rica is home to exotic and endangered wildlife that once dominated the entire Central America region but has since but poached out of existence in many other countries. Sloths, Scarlet Macaws, Spider Monkeys, Howler Monkeys, Jaguars, and more all call Costa Rica home. If you want to find out how to experience Costa Rican wildlife on your visit to our Costa Rica surf school, continue reading below.Continue reading
As surfers, we spend quite a lot of time close to nature. It could be argued that there is no single activity that is as in tune with nature as surfing. Riding waves in the ocean that are created by storm systems thousands of miles away is about as close to nature as you can get. It’s surfing’s proximity to nature that drives surfers to protect the environment. The ocean is our playground, and it is heartbreaking to see it filled with trash, single-use plastics, and discarded fishing gear. As a traveler, your movement already weighs heavily on the environment. The carbon emissions from one long flight exceed approximately 14% of your car’s annual fossil fuel emissions. Additionally, modern traveling is ripe with wasteful single-use products. So, what is a traveler to do? Without giving up travel altogether, there are a few steps travelers can take to help reduce their environmental impact while on the road. If you’re visiting our Nosara surf school and want to reduce waste during your journey, continue reading below for How to Travel Sustainably When You Visit Our Nosara Surf School.
In December of 2015, our partner hotel Olas Verdes opened its doors to the public. Touted as the world’s first L.E.E.D. Platinum rated surf hotel in the world, the project has received wide acclaim for its innovative design and management approach. I spoke recently with General Manager Luis Pardo, who has been at the helm of this noteworthy operation since its inception.
What does ‘Sustainable’ mean?
It’s the ability to run an operation than minimizes the ecological impact, while creating a positive effect to the community and its economy.
“We kept 85% of the original trees, planted over 15 times the amount cut, and added near 3,000 native plants. We strive to furnish everything needed for the operation from local sources; supplies, food products, and employees. That’s not always possible, but it is the goal. We are very active with community organizations and invest a good deal of resources in training and development of our staff. We are proud of what we have achieved, but are conscious that it is a continual learning process and requires periodic reviews of our practices.”
Walking the Walk
“I lived in the United States for 10 years and worked as a manager for a popular casual dining chain restaurant. It was there I had a huge “epiphany” regarding the throw-away crisis our world is facing – plastic drinking straws! I saw that these straws came in huge boxes, and they were each individually wrapped in paper. They are used one time and then discarded. When I thought it through I pondered the foot print to manufacture, market, and ship them, an incredible expenditure of energy and resources, all ultimately destined for the landfill. This realization had a profound impact on me and inspired me to study and implement sustainable practices in my daily life.”
“Costa Rica endorses an ecological/environmental ethic in its developmental and operational policies. We protect our forests, wildlife, and natural resources. This instills pride and participation in our population. It’s cool to be green! The Costa Rica Tourism Boards states: The development of sustainable tourism must be seen as the balanced interaction between the use of our natural and cultural resources, the improvement of the quality of life among the local communities, and the economic success of the industry, which also contributes to national development.”
Olas Verdes – Model of Sustainability
“We are so fortunate to have owners who are dedicated to very high standards of ecology and environmentalism. From day one they insisted on building a state of the art sustainable hotel. It takes longer and costs more to do it right from the beginning, but it pays off! ”
“It all comes down to a commitment on a personal level. My employees purchase and use the same biodegradable products the hotel uses for their homes. There is a sense of pride and personal responsibility in being a part of this special operation. They understand why we do not provide drinking straws, iron the bed sheets, or have hair driers in the bathrooms. They want to leave the world a better place for their children.”
More details on how Olas Verdes is committing to sustainability.
The sustainability movement has truly come a long way in the last ten years. The stereotype of the environmentally conscious as a tree hugging hippie has long since passed with the rise of organic and pesticide free products in our everyday supermarkets. That being said, we still have an incredibly long way to go when working to make our earth a cleaner, better place and there are things we can all do to improve. One of the best guides we’ve found to living a sustainable life is Sara Gilbert’s The Imperfect Environmentalist: A Practical Guide to Clearing Your Body, Detoxing Your Home, and Saving the Earth (Without Losing Your Mind).
The author, who many know as Darlene Conner from the ABC sitcom Roseanne and more recently Leslie Winkle on the Big Bang Theory, is a lifelong environmental activist that has put together a fantastic reference manual on living green. The book is broken up into 10 parts such as clean eating, clean household products, and clean transportation and is great to have lying around when you need to find the most sustainable way of cleaning your couch or getting to work. Broken down by the level of financial ability from Donald Trump to sleeping on someone’s couch and living off ramen noodles making it easy for anyone to see what they can do right now to reduce their ecological footprint.
Living a sustainable lifestyle is all about choices and frankly, it can be just as easy if not easier in some cases to do what’s right by the environment. Some of the great tips Sara provides are to substitute chemical household cleaners with a cheap half white vinegar half warm water mixture in a spray bottle and to check the label for Low or Zero-VOC on gallons of paint before remodeling your living room. It’s these little decisions that when added up can help us do right by the earth. So tomorrow when you’re doing laundry or make the decision to run that last load on cold or reminding yourself to turn all the lights off before you go to work. There are so many ways that we can be green without going crazy.
The author of the book is Sara Gilbert, also known as Darlene Conner from the ABC sitcom Roseanne and more recently the role of Leslie Winkle on the Big Bang Theory.
Environmental sustainability is important to us and you don’t need to be an activist to do it.
The book is broken up into 10 parts such as clean eating, clean household products, and clean transportation.
The book is all about “doing what we can, when we can.” And is meant to be used as a reference manual for when we need to know what to do.
She breaks it down by the level of financial ability from Donald Trump to Sleeping on someone’s couch and living off ramen noodles.
Because of the paint we use, the EPA ranks indoor air quality among the top five health risks. Scan your paint label for “Low-” or better yet, “Zero-VOC”— that’s volatile organic compound to you … but it’s not the good kind of organic. VOCs include cancer-causing toxic contaminants.
You can substitute store-bought cleaners with a spray bottle of half white vinegar and half warm water to save money and ozone toxins.
It’s all about showing us that it is just as easy to be green as it is to not be and that we can make a difference by doing the little things.
The majority of the energy used when doing laundry comes from heating up the water, use cold water when you can over hot water.
The greenest thing you can possibly do is to use what you have instead of buying something new.
Look for clothing that is made with organic cotton as up to 25% of the world’s herbicides are used in cotton production.
Part 1 – “Sultan of Sustainability”
We are stoked to have Carl Kish with us this week! Carl is Safari Surf’s Director of Sustainability. Carl exudes a laid back confident stoke that is catching. We are hearing more and more these days about this word “sustainability”. I was finally able to learn from the man himself about this intriguing new direction Safari Surf School and surf tourism is headed. Originally from San Francisco, Carl graduated from San Diego State University with a B.S. in Sustainable Recreation and Tourism Management. As an intern for the Center for Surf Research at SDSU, Carl helped the Center’s director Dr. Jess Ponting develop the Sustainable Surf Tourism Certification Program and acted as a sustainability consultant for Tavarua Island Resort and the Hotel Casa Tucan (Safari’s former home). As Sustainability Director, Carl is developing Safari Surf’s Sustainability Management System which encompasses all aspects of our business: environmental impact mitigation, interpretation, wildlife conservation, cultural preservation, supply chain management, and community development. Carl is also the Affiliate Program Manager, contacting surf schools all over the world to form new partnerships and establish various opportunities for more people to discover the paradise that is Nosara. Costa Rica has long embodied a healthy attitude towards all things environmental. With over one quarter of its land mass preserved in wildlife refuges, reserves, and parks, the country is poised to embrace this new wave of sustainable tourism concepts. Carl serves as an ambassador and liaison in advancing this new culture with innovative practices.
Costa Rica’s Vast Natural Ecosystems and Biodiversity are World Renown
Q & A:
PL: Welcome back Carl! I remember when you first came on the scene here a couple of years ago, working with Dr. Jess Ponting on benchmarking the Casa Tucan Hotel for sustainability. Tell us how it all started.
Carl: I began my college education at San Diego State University in 2008. I was interested in working in surf tourism in some capacity. I enrolled in the school’s hotel management program, figuring this was the logical starting point. At the end of my freshman year I caught wind of a new major being offered in Sustainable Tourism and Recreation. This caught my interest so I investigated.
PL: Is this where you met Dr. Ponting?
Carl: Yes. Dr. Jess (Ponting)is from Australia and is now an Associate Professor (recent promotion) at SDSU! His vast travels in surf tourism zones around the world have revealed that without proper planning and management, severe environmental damage in the form of erosion, deforestation, and pollution were inevitable. Not to mention exploitation of the local communities which inhabit these surfing areas. Jess felt certain that carefully planned and managed sustainable surf tourism could be the driver to bring conservation and community development to thousands of coastal communities in the less developed world.
[Damage to Coral Reefs | Pollution in the lineup]
PL: And thus the Center for Surf Research was born?
Carl: Correct! Dr. Ponting went on to earn the world’s 1st PhD in sustainable tourism management and in 2010 began the Center for Surf Research, a nonprofit educational facility housed in the school of Hospitality and Tourism Management at San Diego State University.
PL: Wow, so this was exactly what you were looking for!
Carl: Yeah it all kind of fell into place. I changed majors end of Freshman year and graduated in 2012 with a Bachelors in Sustainable Recreation and Tourism Management.
PL: What does the CSR do?
Carl: Many things! We offer field-based courses in sustainable tourism management and provide opportunities for internships, study abroad, volunteering, and research. We foster partnerships with governments, the surf industry, and tourism developers and the development of an accurate and viable sustainability reporting process.
Education & Outreach!
Study Abroad Trips!
PL: This is all so fascinating and cutting edge. Great work Carl and press on!
Carl: See you back in Nosara soon!
¨Carlito¨ – You’ll never meet a more positive human!
Part 2: An inside look at Olas Verdes Surf Resort!
Starting on the 2nd Level of the Clubhouse!
The highly anticipated Olas Verdes Surf Resort is expected to open in April 2015. The facility will feature 17 upscale rooms with a large clubhouse and pool. The clubhouse will accommodate the hotel reception office and Safari Surf Schools office/operations center. The most impressive aspect of this project is the dedication to sustainability in all areas of the operation. “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Under the direction of Olas Verdes’ Project Manager, Carl Kish, the project endeavors to become the first LEED Platinum Certified Hotel in Costa Rica. In the United States and several other countries around the world, LEED certification is the recognized standard for sustainable design and construction. The LEED (leadership in energy and environmental design) green building rating system is developed to promote design and construction practices that increase profitability while reducing the negative environmental impacts of the building process. LEED standards measure all aspects of sustainable building sites: water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, landscaping, and indoor environmental quality. Carl took me on a tour of the Olas Verdes construction site and pointed out several of the sustainable innovations required for LEED certification.
Olas Verdes Sustainability Initiatives
The Olas Verdes Surf Resort is being constructed by Guanacaste Builders of Nosara. This will be their first LEED certified project to date, and serve as a model of sustainable building practices throughout Costa Rica. The building will be earthquake proof and will include two 7,000 liter rainwater collection tanks recycling water from natural precipitation and air conditioning units. There are three waste water treatment tanks that will convert black water to treated greywater for reuse through the resorts irrigation system and toilets. Only native vegetation will be planted, and interpretive signs will identify all plant and tree species in the landscapes. The resort will maintain an organic garden and compost all biodegradable matter. There will be solar water heaters and solar panels throughout the resort, which will result in 20% of the resorts total energy being supplied by solar. All construction waste is identified, sorted, and disposed of in LEEDS approved recycling facilities. There are many more sustainability initiatives in all facets of the construction, resulting in a state-of-the art surf resort.
*STAY TUNED FOR FURTHER UPDATES ON THIS INCREDIBLE PROJECT!
**NEXT WEEK – MEET THE MARSH FAMILY!
We want to give a HUGE thank you shaka to Safari Surf guest Kris Maichle, who brought down toothbrushes & toothpaste for local Nosara schoolchildren as part of our Pack for a Purpose program. Check out some pictures of Kris and Safari Surf staff members, including owner Tyler Marsh handing out Kris’ donation at a local school!
BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR COSTA RICA’S PREMIER SURF SCHOOL
Safari Surf School’s new headquarters to be developed using sustainable design practices.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 28, 2013
Contact: Carl Kish at 866-433-3355 or firstname.lastname@example.org
NOSARA, COSTA RICA – Safari Surf School, Costa Rica’s premier surf school and surf camp, will begin construction of its new headquarters — Olas Verdes — in November of this year.
The beachfront property is located on the edge of a 200 meter setback from Playa Guiones in adherence with the protection of the Ostional Wildlife Refuge. Local architecture firm, Prendas Loria, in collaboration with Safari Surf’s Sustainability Director, Carl Kish, will ensure Olas Verdes complies with internationally recognized sustainable design and tourism standards.
Safari Surf’s longtime base of operations,the Hotel Casa Tucan, and the surrounding property was purchased by the owners of the The Harmony Hotel, a local sustainable resort. While Safari Surf School’s owners, Tim and Tyler Marsh, are saddened to part with the hotel that has been their headquarters for over a decade, they are eager to push the envelope for sustainable tourism with Olas Verdes.
“What excites us the most is this entire project will be built with sustainability in mind. From the architecture, to the water reclamation, to solar, grey water systems etc. Our facility will be built with Sustainable Certification as a top priority from the country’s highest standard (CST), as well as certification from the Center for Surf Research.” — Tim Marsh, Co-Owner/CEO.
Hotel Casa Tucan has long been a central part of the growing surf community of Playa Guiones as well as Nosara, and has been a “second home” to thousands of Safari Surf School students who have come to Costa Rica to learn to surf and experience the Costa Rican “pura vida” firsthand.
Tim Marsh’s full story on the Casa Tucan and more details about Olas Verdes are available here: https://safarisurfschool.com/2013/05/28/ciao-to-the-casa-tucan/
About Safari Surf School
Founded by brothers Tim and Tyler Marsh in 1999, Safari Surf School is an official Billabong Camp and is Costa Rica’s premier surf school. In addition to surf lessons from ISA certified instructors, Safari offers complete vacation packages including a range of accommodations, dining, transportation and numerous other activities. The school is located at Playa Guiones near Nosara on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. Business and administrative operations are based in San Diego, CA, U.S.A. Specific businesses include Safari Surf School, Safari Surf Adventures, Safari Surf Vacations, and Women’s Surf Adventures. For more information about Safari Surf School, go to https://safarisurfschool.com/, https://www.facebook.com/safarisurfschool, https://twitter.com/safarisurfer.
Safari Surf & Hotel Casa Tucan – “The Story”
by Tim Marsh, Co-Owner/CEO.
I can remember my first time at the Hotel Casa Tucan in 1995…driving through Nosara on a mission to find surf, sun, and fun on my first visit to the “rich coast”, I stopped in to have a beer and ask directions. Little did I know at that time that I would come back years later and run a business out of this location.
Safari Surf School officially opened its “doors” in 1999 and from 1999 to 2005 the Hotel Casa Tucan was home to our surf program and the base of Safari’s operations. We were a small start up surf school, one of the first in all of Costa Rica at the time, and using this facility as our base of operations. We did not own the hotel but we had forged a good relationship with the manager and owner and promised her we could fill the place with traveling surfers and tourists.
From 1999 to 2005, Safari Surf steadily grew and had a solid “fan base”…word was getting out about this cool surf location, cool and unique surf program, and the unbelievable local townspeople, vibe, and just amazing aura that was Nosara, Playa Guiones. Hotel Casa Tucan along with its charm and mystique steadily became a meeting spot, a hub if you will, for traveling surfers and tourists alike. The rustic charm, the relaxed pura vida vibe of the staff was unmatched. It was so authentic you could taste it. People who could afford to stay at much more expensive lodging preferred to stay at the Casa Tucan due to its charm, its allure of pura vida, its relaxed vibe…it was perfect in so many ways.
In 2005, the hotel became available for purchase. We (Tim & Tyler) quickly knew something had to be done to make sure they could keep this little slice of nirvana. We reached out to a few previous surf school guests about the prospect of going in with them and purchasing the hotel, bar & restaurant. Within a few short weeks the funds were realized and the hotel & bar were now firmly rooted in Safari Surf Schools’ name and future plans.
From 2005 to 2010, Safari Surf school steadily rose to prominence within its industry…building relationships with guests one by one that will last a lifetime. Families, new found friends, continue to return year in and year out to visit Playa Guiones, Safari Surf, and Hotel Casa Tucan. So many faces have come in and out of Casa Tucan over the years and many to this day continue to come and enjoy the charm and serenity they have become accustomed too at their home away from home…Hotel Casa Tucan.
We have watched many of the families children grow over the years and every time they return it is like a long lost family reunion…something that cannot be forged, a real bond with people and place.
In 2010, the “other” investors preferred not to be involved in the hotel and bar side of the business so Tyler and I decided to lease the entire hotel to keep secure the environment we had created over all those previous years. To keep intact the vibe and aura that had become so renown to all its guests.
In March of this year (2013) we were approached by an investor who was eager to buy our property. So much so, that this investor offered top dollar for our entire property. Tyler and I being 1/3 partners were unfortunately not in the majority and a decision was made to sell the Hotel Casa Tucan. 30 days later and the hotel was sold. The new owners were nice enough to allow Safari Surf to finish out its current lease that runs through August of 2013. At that time the Hotel Casa Tucan, the memories, will unfortunately be no more.
This was obviously an incredibly difficult time for Tyler and me in many respects…but mainly, what were we going to do for our business, how were we going to move forward? Things transpired in lightening speed and the reality that Safari Surf did not have a home after Aug. was to say the least, a bit stressful for us.
It’s interesting how life moves…moves in ways we cannot predict. I believe things happen for a reason and that fate does play a role in our lives more than we recognize.
Not more than 2 or 3 days had passed once we had realized we were not going to be able to save the Hotel Casa Tucan than an aberration appeared before us…my wife Marsi and I had reached out to many of the local real estate and rental agents in and around Nosara inquiring about locations or homes we could use to set up our base of operations for our surf program, when we received a phone call from one of the agents informing me that there was an amazing property that had just become available and it was not currently on the market so no one knew of its availability.
This property is right on the 200 meter line or as most in Nosara know…beachfront as you can get in Playa Guiones. There were 8 lots with one of the lots having a gorgeous 4 BR 3 bath home on it. This was the ideal location for an amazing surf school retreat.
I had to work extremely fast as time was not on my side. Once word got out to the other local RE agents that this property was for sale and it would have gone in a second. There has been a large influx of money coming back into Nosara and the fact that this was available would have been swallowed up by an investor quite quickly. You just don’t see this size of a property, with its location (and potential) available any more in Playa Guiones.
I quickly sprang into action and put together an investment opportunity and sent this proposal out to a few select people I thought might be interested. The long and short of it was I was right…there were interested parties and when it all came down to it the property was purchased and a new partnership came to life.
The plans for this new location are to build an office for Safari Surf School, a club house, kitchen / food service area, pool, commons area with BBQ along with 8 to 12 (2) BR units for rent.
What excites us the most is this entire project will be built with sustainability in mind. From the architecture, to the water reclamation, to solar, grey water systems etc. Our facility will be built with Sustainable Certification as top priority from the country’s highest standard ICT as well as certification from Center for Surf Research and other entities.
The name of our new location will be “Ola Verde” or Green Wave.
We have begun the architectural design phase and anticipate breaking ground this coming November 2013. Safari Surf will be putting together a blog to follow the progress of this amazing project from start to finish.
The one and most important thing we want to transfer from the Casa Tucan to Ola Verde is that amazing vibe, that relaxed surf theme. What made the Casa Tucan so amazing was ultimately the staff…and we will be bringing the majority of our staff with us…keeping intact the “real” pura vida vibe that made Casa Tucan and will make Ola Verde the place to be!
Top of the morning, afternoon and evening to you all and welcome to the Inside Peak.
As we move into the month of May (Already? I know, right!), our little coastal hamlet of Guiones continues to chug along at a comfortable, easy pace. After the craziness of a few weeks ago, client numbers at Safari Surf School and the Casa Tucan have also eased. While this means slightly fewer pool-side conferences, impromptu surf sessions and bar singalongs (I promise this actually happens) for those lucky enough to be currently visiting us, it also means more time for optimum relaxation and tranquility. And, there is still a whole bunch of good times to be had, both in the water and out.
Anyway, let´s talk surf.
Steady pulses of WSW swell from the southern Pacific has seen a continuation of the mid-range swells from the previous week. The rain storms have eased off somewhat, only really hitting late at night and early in the morning. This means that the wind has shifted back into its standard pattern of offshore until around 10am, followed by light onshores and an afternoon glass off. With the swell not getting too crazy, our students have been able to really get out and make the most of the conditions.
James at Surfing Nosara has again delivered the goods with his exclusive, weekly Safari Surf School video. This week´s edition also has some older footage from some of the big swells to hit earlier in the month, and it definitely worth a look if you haven´t seen it already.
Meanwhile, an awesome collaboration between Safari Surf School and our friends at HKTK clothing and apparel has resulted in a new range of SSS rash vests for our instructors that use 100% vegetable-based inks in the screen printing process. These inks contain absolutely zero environmentally hazardous or carcinogenic content, and the printing is done here in Nosara. Environmentally sustainable projects that support the local community like this form the core of what Safari Surf School is all about, so we are naturally incredibly stoked with the outcome!
Be sure to check out the HKTK Facebook page for more info on their products, and to support the local surfing scene in Nosara .
Now, for a slice of nature. Yesterday afternoon, my girlfriend and I were lucky enough to stumble across (almost literally) an Olive Ridley Turtle laying its eggs on the high tide line at Playa Guiones. This is the first time I have ever seen a turtle doing its thing this far south from Playa Ostional, but I am told that it is a relatively common occurrence. It was a real treat to observe such a rare and endangered animal in its native habitat, and it really does amaze when you think how much these gals go through to reach this stage of their life. The Olive Ridley Turtles are the species responsible for the Arribada, which is the mass nesting and hatching that takes place at Playa Ostional, just north of us, however obviously this particular turtle decided to go it alone down with us gringos at Guiones. Here are a few of the photos my girlfriend took (right when I had just pulled a backhand cheater 5 on my Robert August 9´6 in the shorebreak in front of her, mind you. But just kidding, I heart turtles).
Best of luck to all the baby turtles that momma left behind last night, and if you happen to have a can of radioactive goo poured over you and turn into a Ninja Turtle, remember that Casa Tucan makes the best pizzas in town!
And on that note, I will see you all next week. Surf safe!
Welcome to latest The Inside Peak Weekly Wrap Up.
There is no real point in trying to sugarcoat it – this has been a miserable week here in Costa Rica. Freak weather patterns have brought pouring rain and howling, onshore winds, making for terrible surf conditions at Playa Guiones. Meanwhile, the winds are sweeping in armadas of poisonous jelly fish, so that any person brave – or stupid – enough to venture into the surf is being rewarded with painful stings and skin irritations for their efforts. And to top it off the only alcohol truck servicing the town has blown a head gasket, meaning all of the bars have run dry. It can´t be too long before riots break out…
Just kidding…APRIL FOOLS!
In reality, Playa Guiones continues to turn on perfect weather and waves day in, day out, and thanks to some more liberal drinking laws applied to the Nicoya Peninsula this year, alcohol has continued to be served over Semana Santa (for those so inclined).
Yes, the good life ticks on like clockwork at Safari Surf School, Costa Rica´s premier surf academy.
After a solid two weeks of head high and larger waves, the past few days have dropped down to a more manageable waist to chest high. Winds have been light and variable, with a handful of days producing continuous offshores. The worst problem guests have been facing is deciding when NOT to surf, as it would be virtually impossible to catch every good session when there are literally no breaks in between.
And, our guests have been firing on all cylinders. Girls and guys, young and old (but young at heart): everybody has been ripping. Here is the latest video of Safari guests, put together by our friends over at Surfing Nosara:
Of course we have been getting daily photos too:
It has also been great to see the amount of fun our junior Safari guests are having with our Safari Kids Camp. This is an all day experience with our instructors, featuring surf lessons in the morning followed by activities such as board games, beach soccer, rock pool exploring and general hanging out. This allows the kids to make some great new friends, while Mom and Dad are able to enjoy a day to themselves.
You can get more info on our Kid´s Camp here.
On to the Sustainability side of things, our Innovative Biodiesel Project is now up and running, producing diesel to run Safari´s fleet of vehicles. On-site biodiesel expert, Ryan King, has also made a novel addition to the system: it can now be pumped using pedal power.
I was ¨lucky¨ enough to spend a few hours ´on the bike´ the other day, after I had been caught stealing one of Tyler´s surfboards.
In all seriousness, this novel innovation makes what is already an amazing project even more so. You cannot go wrong combining environmental sustainability with exercise! Expect some more updates – and exciting news – from Ryan and our Sustainability Director, Carl Kish, in the very near future.
So that is our weekly wrap, for now. With Guiones still in overdrive for Semana Santa there will be plenty more to report when I check back in. In the mean time, we will be surfing, eating, surfing and relaxing. And we may also throw some more surfing in there, if it is possible.
Safari Surf’s new Sustainable Surfer Package is already beginning to make a difference, thanks to generous Safari Surf guests like the amazing Sheila Canning! Sheila was one of the first Safari Surf guests to take advantage of our new Sustainable Surfer package, and she made a huge impact on the local community during her stay through our voluntourism opportunities and our Partnership with Pack for a Purpose. Not only did Sheila cross of a couple items from her bucket list and conquer her fear of water, she graciously took it upon herself to bring down nearly 40 backpacks full of school supplies and stuffed animals for local schoolchildren. AWESOME! We were blown away by her generosity and spirit of adventure! Sheila, you’re the best! If you’re interested in helping the community or donating, please consider our Sustainable Surfer Package, and check out the list of items that could benefit the local community on our Pack for a Purpose page. Here are a couple images from Sheila with the local schoolchildren. Read on for Sheila’s account of how she conquered her fears!
Here’s Sheila’s description of crossing items off her bucket list during her trip with Safari Surf and conquering her fears. Inspiring!
Bucket List: Travel alone, surf and zip line. Succeeding in all three – Triumphant!
My name is Sheila Canning and I am from Canada. I decided to take a trip to Nosara, Costa Rica because a friend of mine suggested it. She raved about the people, the surfing, zip lining and the beauty. I was a little apprehensive at first, for a couple of reasons. Surfing was definitely not on the top of my bucket list of things I wanted to do in my life journey. For me, almost drowning at the age of 15 gave me a fear of water, I don’t know how to swim and I have a right hip with no cartilage and a short range of motion. Zip Lining; the height aspect has certainly prevented me from partaking in that activity in Canada, so why would I do it anywhere else in the world?
My first day heading to the beach with the surf instructor, I had to tell him my story and hope that this was still possible to achieve. No worries he said, we will get you surfing. Determined was an understatement in thinking about learning to surf.
My first day, I did not even make a full standing position, my fear took over and I felt like I drank the ocean. As everyone knows if you panic when you fall into the water, your mouth is wide open. Talk about exhausting. The instructor was really good, but I don’t think he understood fully how much fear I carried with me. As we walked back to the Casa Tucan, he tells me I will stand and surf tomorrow, I agree, however in the back of my mind, I am thinking,” are you crazy?” I am not going back out there; I am exhausted from trying and choking on the salty ocean. It took me about an hour to get cleaned up and clear my thoughts. I did not surf the next day…my hip took a beating also with all the falling.
Day number three, I get ready to go surfing again. The voice in my head was telling me I was a sucker for punishment, and the stubborn me was saying, you can do this Sheila and you will do this. It helped that the instructor had blind faith in me. Deep breath, and remember hold your breath if you are about to go under. The first three or four times, I did not stand to catch the wave, but I did remain in the squat position, without falling off and rode the wave. I was encouraged to stand by the instructor and given step by step instructions on the fluent motion that will take place as the wave approaches the back end of my surf board. Here we go…get ready, the wave is coming, move your back foot into position, look straight ahead, lift your torso, push up with your back foot, swing around and pivot on your heal, keep the squat position, reach one hand forward and the other in front of you and keep your eyes forward. WOW! I did it, I really did it, I stood up, at that moment I thought I did it and now I’m done. Well now I have been given the boost of confidence I need. Let’s go again. I am so excited! A few more waves, well that turned into 9 more waves. Once you get your rhythm and the steps together fluently, the ride is so much fun!
On my last day in Nosara, I had signed up for zip lining. Once I arrived at the meeting place, I met a couple of people who also had fears of heights. As I fought my fear, I decided to encourage these two frightened people to be brave and everything would be ok. Helping others is always reciprocated; it helped me forget I was so scared. Don’t look down though, the fear does come back. I did make it through 13 zips, the next was always more fun than the last. Courage increases as you make the journey.
My last week in Nosara with the Innovative Biodiesel Project was hectic – running all over town trying to tie loose ends and finish as many “innovative” pieces of the puzzle as possible before I left so Ryan wouldn’t have too much to tackle on his own. Read on to see what worked and most importantly – what didn’t!
Monday was the beginning of a long week with numerous setbacks in the “greasercycle” design. Also, the gale-force winds I described in the last post prevented us from working on-site Monday and Tuesday mornings:
We cleaned up the project site Tuesday after the winds died down (gathered a lot of dead twigs and leaves for biochar production) and prepared for our “field trip.”
Wednesday through Friday was a blur – going all over town for meetings with leaders in the community to facilitate my other projects as Sustainability Director for Safari Surf…along with trying to find remedies for our aforementioned issues with the system:
We tested our small batch of biodiesel on Saturday that we made by hand (due to the broken pump) to see how much more processing it needed before it would be ready.
We continued processing our small batch of handmade biodiesel while we waited for the welder to finish the bike stand on Sunday.
I tried to finish as much as possible Monday morning before my flight at 10am. Jazz (Casa Tucan) and I met Milton from the Gilded Iguana on Saturday to make a deal with him and his 3 colleagues who are getting paid by a biodiesel plant near San Jose to collect and send grease from Nosara. After explaining to him how keeping the grease in Nosara is better for the community and that we will trade biodiesel for grease instead of paying him in cash, he said yes! However, he still needed to talk to his 3 amigos and see if they could meet with me Monday morning before I left…unfortunately that didn’t happen, but Ryan and Jazz will still meet with them this week. Once we have a formal agreement, we’ll be collecting all the WVO in Nosara, providing jobs, and cranking out as much biodiesel as possible while reducing emissions throughout the whole town!
It was tough to leave the project with the greasercycle so close to completion as well as not having the biochar heat transfer system in place, but I know that Ryan will get the job done (I’ll be helping as much as I can through Skype and email). Ryan being bedridden the first week, “Tico Time,” faulty equipment from the hardware store, and limited access to basic supplies/tools (we’re in a small town in a developing country) definitely caused some setbacks, but we still accomplished a great deal and we’re not giving up, we are just taking a little longer than expected to have the “innovative” system up and running. The community is behind us, we have our staff, and now we have all the supplies – its all coming together! Keep following us for updates from Ryan here on the Safari Surf blog. Stay Greasy!
It’s been another week of good waves here in Guiones. Picking up from the tail end of last weekend’s solid swell, we saw some great chest to head high conditions throughout all of this week for the Inside Peak. The strong offshore winds have also stuck around, often blowing throughout the day. They have made for some excellent surf conditions, but have also resulted in the upwelling of some “colder” water to the surface.
However, it is important to remember that “colder” in Costa Rica means ‘refreshingly cool’ as opposed to ‘tropical bath’. Most guests actually quite enjoy the milder water temps, but I know a few of our more dramatic instructors were imagining they had just been surfing in 5mm wetsuits off the side of an iceberg.
On that note, the students were firing on all cylinders this week. Shout out to student Megan for scoring the bomb of the week:
And with plenty more swell – and a record amount of new students – due this week, there are sure to be a whole bunch of “bomb of the week” photos on their way!
As always with Safari Surf School, the action wasn’t just on the waves. Our Sustainability Director, Carl Kish, and biodiesel expert, Ryan King, have been working their hides off on our Innovative Biodiesel Project. The project is very close to completion, and is an absolutely outstanding initiative. You can read more about it in Carl’s blog here.
Always committed to sharing the good word of science and sustainability, Carl and Ryan took some time out of their busy schedule this week to show some grade 7 students from Nosara’s Del Mar Academy around the biodiesel project. The students were able to see the production process first hand, and with Ryan promising to follow up their visit with a classroom presentation in the near future, it won’t be long before we have a new generation of sustainability experts ready to follow in Ryan and Carl’s footsteps.
Also this week, Safari Surf School guests Megan, Tara and Dave took advantage of our Sustainable Surfer Package to check out the Barra Guiones Reforestation Project, a sustainability project created and managed by Costas Verdes. Through this project, land around Playa Guiones is being gradually reforested, after being cleared for cattle use decades ago. The Safari Surf School team is so stoked to be able to support initiatives that will have such a positive impact on the local ecosystem – and just as stoked to see guests like Megan, Tara and Dave that take such an active interest in these important issues!
To cap off the week, Casa Tucan played host last night to the HSBAcademy Nosara kid’s movie night. This is a little gig we throw every few months to raise money for the Academy. Families come along to watch some great movies on a big projector out on the lawn, and we organise the pizza, popcorn and soda – with all money raised goeing directly back to the Academy. Last night was another success, with a bunch of happy families enjoying the beautiful weather and a great movie. I had taken what I thought were some nice photos on the night, only to upload them this morning and realise that I needed a lot more flash in the dark settings! But needless to say – or display – an excellent evening was had by all, and we can’t wait until the next event. We will keep you posted for details!
That’s a wrap for this week. Remember to keep your eyes peeled for our daily Facebook and Instagram posts, and I will see you all back here in the near future for some more word on the Guiones streets.
We have a roof over our heads and we’re ready to make biodiesel! Read on to see what the IBP team accomplished this past week in paradise.
Previous posts: Week 1 & Week 2
We presented our project to Nosara Sostenible – a committee of like minded individuals (business owners, teachers, etc) in the community who are dedicated to making Nosara a model for sustainable development for the rest of Costa Rica. A couple more restaurants are interested in joining the program and Jessica (teacher from the Del Mar Academy) will include our project in her talks to the community about the new recycling center and to include their used cooking grease when collecting/sorting their waste! Tuesday was hectic at the Casa Tucan. Channel 7 News, one of Costa Rica’s national tv channels, filmed their latest story about the thievery issue in Playa Pelada (Nosara) at the Tucan and tons of people from the community came to be interviewed. There was also a major plumbing issue at the hotel so Rigo and Ivan couldn’t help with the construction of the shelter. Ryan and I went to the hardware store and purchased two clear 50 gallon drums (one for ethanol storage, one for biodiesel storage) and a 120 gallon wash tank (the last step in filtering the biodiesel by washing the remaining particulates out of the fuel).
Wednesday was a productive day: we finished the roof; started the ethanol fermentation; collected more grease; received our biochar stove; and made the greywater filtration system.
I made our greywater filtration system, which is fairly easy. This is where the water from the wash tank will be deposited after its been used to filter out the last of the particulates in the biodiesel:
Tyler flew to San Jose to have surgery on his knee Thursday so we watched his house for a few days.
Rigo and Ivan worked on the garden at the Tucan so Ryan and I made a trip to the hardware store to buy copper tubing for the biochar heat transfer system and the bubble coil in the wash tank. I began permanently securing all the pieces of the system into the ground with rebar and cinder blocks (we only had to buy a few more cinder blocks, the rest were old ones we collected from the Tucan and on Tyler’s property). Friday, we finished stabilizing all the parts of the system with rebar and cinder blocks while Ryan continued to work on the pump with the water heater, the methoxide tank, and the WVO tank.
Rigo built a desk and a shelf with all the scrap wood lying around Tyler’s property and what was leftover from the construction of the shelter.
We dug the trench for the underground copper tube that will transfer heat from the biochar stove to the WVO tank through a coil system. On Saturday, Ryan said he a needed a day to himself without any distractions (construction, hardware store visits, miscellaneous hotel issues) to finish testing and making the first batch of biodiesel the old fashioned way before we start to add the “innovative” parts to the system. Ryan tested the water heater and the pump with a 5 gallon pechinga of WVO and wrote 5, 10, 15…30 gallon marks on the tube that feeds into the water heater tank so we know how much WVO is being mixed with the ethoxide before we start pedaling the greasercycle.
We went to the rodeo that night in Garza (one beach town south of Playa Guiones) to experience the local cowboy culture and have a break from work. Check out Safari Surf’s new blog series “Inside the Peak” for more photos and stories from the past week thanks to our new social media man behind the scenes, Nick.
We woke up to destruction Sunday morning as unprecedented gale-force winds had ripped through Nosara. The Casa Tucan had a few fallen trees and the power was out so I walked down to the beach to see what the offshore winds were doing to the waves.
That afternoon, the wind died down a little bit and two clients that had booked the voluntourism package I created for Safari Surf, called the Sustainable Surfer Package, wanted to see the “Innovative Biodiesel Project” and Ryan and I wanted to make sure it was still there! Megan and Lauren were impressed and Ryan and I were relieved to see that everything was still in tact – it was just covered in branches and leaves thankfully. If our shelter and biodiesel system can withstand the strongest winds to ever hit Nosara, then we are in good shape. However, the news says this wind storm will be here for two more days and we have a lot to get done so hopefully it doesn’t slow us down too much. Ryan’s batch of biodiesel that he started to make Saturday has been pushed back another day due to the harsh winds on Sunday and the Harbor Freight drill pump failing to pump the methoxide into the water heater (even though the pump is supposed to be resistant to chemicals, it seized up so we’ll have to use the red hand pump). Come back next week to see the “Innovative Biodiesel Project” complete! Rigo’s friend who is a welder is helping us put together the greasercycle system. We have 7th graders from the Del Mar Academy coming on Tuesday to learn about the whole process. We will finish enclosing the shelter with a fence and a door and the appropriate safety signs and we are tossing around ideas for the plaque so we’ll have that up this week as well. (People expecting post cards as a “perk” for donating – you should have them in the next week or so!)
Jump to “Week 4.”