This was my assignment for a group of students who spent a busy March week with us here in Nosara. Group coordinator Jason Roderick, an administrator and school counselor at Providence County Day School in Rhode Island brought 15 lucky students on his annual ‘Spring Break Surf/Yoga Retreat’ at Safari Surf School. This was Roderick’s SEVENTH annual trip!
Jason believes that surfing can offer students a positive alternative stress reliever and explains, “as the PCD Wellness Coordinator, my goal is to offer students the opportunity to experience healthy and organic ways to reduce and manage stress. Furthermore I want kids to push themselves (in a safe environment) to experience a different place and people; to respect the local community and culture, and to learn self-sufficiency, as important tools to be utilized throughout high school, college and the rest of their lives”.
This year’s Surf/Yoga group was kept busy with surf lessons, zip-lining adventures, daily yoga and meditation sessions, a beach walk clean-up, and a spirited soccer game verse the Safari Surf instructors on the village soccer field. At the end of the day sleep came easily!
Needless to say everyone had a solid time…but, it wouldn’t be school without an assignment, right?
So we decided to come up with one…
Without exception surfing has a profound impact on one’s psyche – it’s fast and beautiful and fluid and dangerous all in one. A good time to register the impact surfing can imprint on someone’s demeanor is to catch them immediately upon exiting the ocean. This is when we asked students to pause and describe surfing in three words. The answers were awesome…here are some responses:
Whenever I meet a new guest I give them the ‘Safari Surf School Guarantee’:
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.”
Sustainable Tourism “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! ” Sustaining Sustainability “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.
As Erick and I sat down to chat, I was trying to explain to Erick the definition of “surf bum”. He had never heard the expression before. After a lengthy attempt, (“you know, a lazy, derelict ne’er-do-well beach bum”) Erick eyed me quizzically and replied dead serious: “I do not understand this”.
Erick comes from country-life roots. Born in San Jose, he grew up in Nosara. Skateboarding, surfing, and fishing grabbed his attention early on. So where did he get this ‘ambition’ for more?
“I have always been interested in science”, he shares. “Maybe it comes from been absorbed in the nature that surrounds us here. To me I see science, and I want to study it deeply”.
Not long ago I read in some trendy, uber-cool travel blog: Nosara Costa Rica – the perfect getaway to get your inner surf-bum on! And sure, at 1st glance a lot of Nosara’s surf elite seem ideal candidates for the ‘surf bum’ profile.I remember back in the day when long hair and surfing automatically enrolled you in this dubious category. But if you look further, you’ll be surprised at the many things they accomplish! Time has revealed that we surf-rats also went on to earn college degrees, have careers, and raise successful families.
All of Safari Surfs’ instructors have a serious introspective demeanor…and Erick is no exception. He set his sights on personal progress early on in his life. In 2011, he enrolled in Universidad de Costa Rica…
“I wanted to major in something involving nature and the outdoors. I have always loved science; chemistry and physics are my favorites. When I discovered the field of geology I knew it was what I wanted to study”.
Erick graduated in 2016 and now holds a bachelors degree in Geology.
So…what does he have in store next?
“My goal is to work on my Masters Degree somewhere out of Costa Rica, maybe in the states or Europe. Eventually I would like to have a career in the environmental sciences” Thoughts on Nosara (scientifically speaking, of course!)
“Nosara is growing rapidly and we need more regulations and controls on building and zoning requirements. Water rights and conservation needs to be carefully managed and protected. The Government needs to step-up its development of infrastructure here in sustainable ways; we need the main road paved. Let’s take care our paradise home”.
Here at Safari Surf, we are SO fortunate to have wonderful individuals like Erick…we are so very proud of him.
“Lead the life you love, love the life you lead” he says; THAT is Pura Vida!”…thanks Erick!
Here at Safari Surf, Christmas time is always a special time of year. We are in the middle of our busy season, which not only means there’s a lot going, we also get to see some of our favorite guests come back to enjoy some holiday “Pura Vida”!
So what do Safari Surfers want for Christmas this year?
We asked 12 of Safari Surf’s Christmas Elves what was on their list this year…
Pio “ Spending time with my family”
Marlon “ Surf trip to Witches Rock with friends spending all day in the green room”
Erick “ I really, REALLY want a NEW 5’8″ Firewire Surfboard!”
Jazz “ My very own house built with beach driftwood”
Luis Pardo “ All day private coaching session at perfect Velzland in Hawaii”
Luis ‘Gato’ “Perfect secret spot barrels with friends on Christmas day”
Alonso “Happy family, lots of work…and money, of course!”
Ali “Good health and prosperity in my restaurant…OH! And new shoes!
Helberth “Two NEW JS Industries surfboards…and to surf with you again abuelito!”
Maritza “I wish for peace an health, and big success for our restaurant…and a new watch :)”
Kevin “A new wine-colored Toyota Tacoma and a surf trip to Australia!”
Sebastion “I wish for a new soccer ball, shoes, and tambores (drums)”
There comes a time in every surfer’s life when the itch to surf different waves comes to a “peak”. These different waves can be down the road a bit, up or down the coast, or for those lucky enough to be able to afford it…jump on a plane and go search for that perfect wave. I was lucky enough to grow up in Hawaii…Oahu’s South Shore, where there are so many different types of waves to choose from depending on swell direction and wind direction…that is the bonus of living on an island, the wind is always offshore somewhere!
I got the travel bug early in my life and set out to find new waves and explore new cultures. I have located some of the dreamiest surf spots to check out for your next vacation, regardless of skill level.
Uluwatu and Kuta, Bali
Bali is a premier spot for surfers who are looking for a full tourist experience. Uluwatu is an insane reef break for those with advanced intermediate to advanced surf skill set. It’s set off a major cliff, with waves running down the reef as perfect as one can draw them on paper or dream them in their head…setting surfers up with impeccable waves. For beginner surfers, the beach of Kuta is ideal with its 5km long shore free from coral reefs or rocks.
Do know that both locations can get pretty busy!
Surfrider Beach, Malibu
For a sweet surf spot within the Pacific U.S., Surfrider Beach (Malibu) is the perfect place to catch some great long point break waves. Malibu Point creates perfect swells, and the heart of Los Angeles is just an hour away. That being said be prepared to share waves as there are a lot of surfers in the water there looking for that perfect long wave just like you.
Nosara, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a country loved by all who visit. In addition to being home to killer surfing spots, the country is full of beautiful landscapes and Ticos who live a simple lifestyle. The climate is ideal (80 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit year round), The water is in the low 80 degrees as well. Nosara is perfect for surfers of all skill levels. Convinced? Visit us at the Safari Surf School, and we’ll help you jump on a board!
Tourmaline Beach & San Onofre, San Diego
Both beaches are California favorites, as they are ideal for surfers across the skill spectrum. If you have kids, you might want to head to Tourmaline Beach, which is full of tide pools hosting many small sea creatures. San Onofre, also known as Old Man’s Beach, is part of the top five most visited state parks in California.
Surfer’s Point, Barbados Barbados is a Caribbean island with many shores catering to surfers, but Surfer’s Point is the perfect set-up for both beginner and intermediate surfers. Barbados is dedicated to tourism, so finding accommodations and a good meal after your ride will never be a challenge.
As a country that hosts surfers who have traveled far to experience the waves at beaches like Crocodiles and Killer Point, Morocco is a hotspot for tourism. Despite the high concentration of visitors, the country’s culture remains intact. Taghazout caters to beginners and experienced surfers alike.
Noosa – Point Break, Queensland, Sydney This list wouldn’t be complete without a nod to one of the many surf spots Australia has to offer. In Noosa, you will find one of the best longboard breaks in the world. The area is perfect for advanced surfers who know how to catch a ride, as well as beginners who just want to master gliding on a board.
We hope this list inspires you to reach your full surf potential and enables you to visit the surf destination of your dreams. Want more info on the world’s top surf locations? Check the links below.
“Team Building, as defined by Wikipedia, is the use of different types of team experiences and activities that are aimed at enhancing social relations and clarifying team members’ roles, as well as solving tasks, achieving results, meeting goals, and improving performance”.
I was surprised not to see the word motivation used in any of the team building definitions I read as I researched this subject. Safari Surfs’ recent trip to Nicaragua certainly motivated me in relation to doing my best. Safari owners Tim and Marsi Marsh have wanted to take the gang on a little ‘employee appreciation’ surf trip for some time. Everything aligned at the end of May, and we were finally able to slip away together for a few days. Our destination was the recently finished La Jolla de Guasacate resort in the wave-rich Popoyo region of southern Nicaragua. Safari Surf School recently launched a new learn-to-surf package in this spectacular location and we were all excited to see it. “La Jolla” means JEWEL, and man does the place ever live up to that description! I do not know if Tim and Marsi ever considered this getaway to be a team building experience, but from my viewpoint this little trip put fresh wind in all of our sails. As we prepare to move into the brand spanking new Olas Verdes Sustainable Surfing Resort next month, Safari Surf has never been more optimistic and stoked!
PETER JEFFRY TIM ALI AND MARITZA PIO JORDANI
The plan was to leave at midnight, get to the border crossing at 4am, and be in the water at 8am. Tim and I had both flown in from the states the same day and we knew we would be a more than a little fuzzy. I arrived ten minutes late at 12:10 am and the crew was all there amping to get underway. The boards were all loaded on top and we jammed into the very capable Safari van. Weird things happen when you have no sleep, you begin to “see things”. But we were adrenalized by the good vibes and energy surrounding the trip.
La Frontera (the border)
“One thing you learn here is patience” – Tim Marsh
Timmy’s wise words reverberated in my head as we approached the Nicaraguan border. I had visited Nicaragua before, but never entered this way (I’d flown into Managua). The first thing we learned was that the border crossing offices did not open until 6am. We watched as a line formed at the checkpoint. When we saw a crowded bus unload its passengers into the growing mob we realized we should be in line, not slouched out in the van. We were planning to lock down the van in a guarded parking area and Bob (La Jolla owner/operator) would meet us on the other side. The scene was chaotic and confusing, but we managed to park the van and join the line for the two hour wait.
It was about at this point that Luis discovered he did not have his passport. There was no way to sugar coat this dilemma; he had to take a bus back to Nosara. He called his girlfriend Laura to tell her the news and she responding by saying “no worries, I will bring it up to you”!
One of the fascinating things about living here is people watching. I am amazed at the women I meet who are traveling through Central America solo, carrying only a backpack. They speak multiple languages and seem to navigate what I call the ‘third world follies ‘with determination and no fear. Laura is from Australia and she does not speak Spanish, but somehow she threaded together three bus rides to reach the border, and she and Luis made it to La Jolla by 5pm – happy hour! The rest of our merry group trudged through the arduous and hectic border crossing routine and were met by Bob who had arranged for a large van to take us to the hotel.
I’d been to Nicaragua twice before, my last visit was in 2000. I was anxious to see what had changed in fifteen years. Nicaragua and Costa Rica share the Pacific Ocean and Spanish language, but that’s about it. I was astonished at the differences. The Pan American Highway is in excellent condition. The southern portion of Nicaragua is bordered by Lake Nicaragua which is huge, almost like a small ocean. The strategic positioning of the lake creates steady offshore winds which blow all day long.
Huge modern windmills dot the countryside, taking advantage of the gusty winds to create electricity. The cost of living is significantly lower than in Costa Rica; the price of land, goods, and services are a fraction of what we pay in Nosara. We turned off the paved highway and proceeded west on a good dirt road. Once we approached the beach region it was apparent how much it had changed. Dozens of private homes, beach hotels and surf camps, dot the coastline and hillsides. “Surf Colonization” had begun invading the surf zones about 12 years ago. The number of quality surf spots and cheap cost of living began to pull investors away from Costa Rica. In Nicaragua there is no discernable middle class; the rich and the poor coexist under the same sun. The Popoyo region is loaded with great surf spots, many accessible only by boat. Add in the round-the-clock offshore winds and you’ve got surf fever!
Stunning wave-rich coastline = Surf Colonization
La Jolla de Guasacate
The La Jolla resort is the brainchild of Tim Siviter, who also maintains some beautiful rental homes in Playa Guiones. After about a year Tim brought in a partner, Bob Eason, who runs the hotel along with his lovely wife Ditmara. I had a captivating talk with Bob about his experiences over the years in Central America. At one time Bob owned the very successful surfwear brand called Picante, but his heart was in Nicaragua and he eventually sold everything and returned to the simple life he loved. The La Jolla Resort occupies 50 acres of prime ocean view land. There are currently 11 fully appointed rooms with another 12 on the way. There is also a large, beautifully furnished private home that can be rented for groups and families. Additionally there are 114 lots for sale within an exclusive gated community, but hurry – 70 have already sold! The furnishings and amenities are modern and upscale. After our all-night jaunt and chaotic border crossing, we were all swept away by the special beauty and comfort of the place. Bobs heart has always been ‘for the people’ and he is very focused on taking care of the locals. “For 30 years these people have lived at subsistence level with no assistance from the government” Bob points out, “but they still have huge smiles on their faces”. The hotel website: http://www.lajollahotelnica.com.
Owner/Operators Bob & Ditmara Eason
Nicaragua has abundant, incredible surf. The coastline is punctuated with numerous points, coves, reefs, river mouths, and sandbars producing a variety of surfing conditions suited to all ability levels. Many of these spots are only accessible by boat. Each morning our ‘A Team’ explored by boat, while Laura and I set out in search of softer breaks where Safari Surf guests are taken for their lessons. Everyone came back stoked.
The A-Team in action at Colorados
Nicaragua offers a unique cultural experience in a wave-saturated ocean playground. The food, service, and cushy comfort level of La Jolla is off the charts. Non-surfing activities include golf, horseback riding, stand-up paddling, volcanoes, fishing, kayaking, and other custom tours. Grenada is a great day trip for exploring classic colonial architecture, sightseeing, shopping and dining. Bob and Ditmara are wonderful hosts and tend to every detail to insure your comfort and stoke level.
Safari Surfs ‘Nica 2015’ trip brought us closer together and filled us with inspiration.
When is the last time you sat around a table with family or friends sharing good food, talking story, and laughing out loud? Hats off and big thanks to Tim and Marsi Marsh for such a marvelous experience. As Tim said “when it comes right down to it we are a family” Life’s a trip, better pack your bags! We look forward to your visit.
Our May Early Bird Special ends April 1st!
Book any package for May from now until April 1st and save 10% off any standard package!
Our new surf instructor from Nosara, Kevin Monteil (pictured below), knows how good the conditions are in May! Or as Tyler says, “Early bird gets the waves in May… and a mango!”
The Safari Surf experience is about special people sharing the essence of Pura Vida.
Tim and Tyler Marsh knew that had found something special when they came here. It was about nature and waves, simplicity and clean country living, but especially it was the spirit and heart of the local people that really made a lasting impact on them. Costa Ricans are warm, helpful, friendly, sincere, and loyal to a fault. They love to share the joy they feel just being alive; they want to make you happy! Many lifelong friendships have been forged while on a surfing vacation here, and people stay in touch across the miles and over the years. In Hawaii it is known as “Ohana” – extended family. Here it called Pura Vida.
This week we feature a mother/son duo, Alicia and Luis. Everyone who has visited Casa Tucan over the last few years remembers Alicia. She worked in the restaurant there as a server/bartender and she is a consummate professional. I have seen her handle a full dining room with grace, unbelievable efficiency, and joy. Alicia is of an amazing caliber of server that can take an order from a table of 8 without writing anything down. She is a treasure and we are blessed to have her! Her 20 year old son Luis started surfing 8 years ago and had the benefit of being around the Safari Surf School operation out of the Casa Tucan location. He knew what he wanted to do! Alicia and Luis are true locals and have never strayed far from Nosara. There story is of a country life, farming, horses, pigs, and cows, and clean simple living. I sat with them to get this Inside Peak.
PL: Where were you born?
Alicia: In Nicoya at the hospital
PL: Tell me about your family and growing up here.
Alicia: I grew up in a big family, 6 sisters and 4 brothers. My father was a farmer and we lived on a big ranch just south of Nosara. We grew rice, corn, vegetables, beans, and melons. We always had enough food to go around.
PL: So you were a farm girl?
Alicia: Oh yes, I would milk the cows, sweep out the barn, and help at harvest time, the whole family did. We had horses, cows, goats, pigs, chickens and they provided our food. I love horses and was a really good rider at one time.
PL: Where do you live now?
Alicia: We have a house a short distance from the farm we grew up on. I have two sons, Luis and Sebastian, and my husband Quillermo.
WITH MOM AND DAD MOM WITH SON SEBASTIAN
PL: When did you start working in restaurants?
Alicia: I started working at the Harbor Reef Lodge in 2000. I worked there a total of 11 years, mostly as a waitress in the restaurant. Then I heard about an opening at Casa Tucan. I was ready for a change and this was a small cozy place. I loved it and made many good friends there. It also introduced me to Safari Surf School which was very cool. I worked there a total of 3 years until it was sold.
PL: What was your biggest tip?
Alicia: One night I got $100 from two different tables!
PL: Now you are at Safari House?
Alicia: Yes, it’s much more private and personal, like being home.
PL: Do you plan to work at Olas Verdes?
Alicia: Oh Si Si Si, I can’t wait.
ALICIA “WORKING THE ROOM”
PL: Have you tried surfing?
Alicia: Yes! I had some lessons with Tinis (Safari female instructor) and love it. The ocean is very special, very powerful. The big waves scare me.
Alicia: I love la musica romantica, I love to dance!
Alicia: Camarones (shrimp)
PL: Dream Car?
Alicia: BMW – black with tinted windows!
PL: Dream Vacation?
Alicia: Isla San Andres in Colombia
PL: What is Pura Vida?
Alicia: It means Very Happy, Better than Better
PL: Good answer! Thank you Alicia, now to Luis…..
Alicia: Oh I am very proud of Luis!
LUIS – ‘EL GATO VOLADOR’
PL: I am guess you were born in Nicoya?
Luis: Yes, I am 20 years old
PL: When did you discover surfing?
Luis: I started in High school 8 years ago.
PL: Your nickname “El Gato Volador” means flying cat, what does that mean?
Luis: Gato means cat, I inherited that from my grandpa. Volador means flying, so I am ‘the Flying Cat’.
PL: Does that relate to your surfing style?
Luis: I think so, I love to boost airs!
LUIS CATCHING AIR
PL: When did you start teaching for Safari?
LUIS: Well my mom worked at Casa Tucan, I hung out there. All the instructors were surfing buddies and I would watch them with students. I knew this is what I wanted to do.
PL: How long have you been an instructor?
LUIS: I think it has been a couple of years. I passed the ISA certification and Tyler put me on a “trial period”. I think I made it!
PL: What points do you stress when teaching?
LUIS: I start on the beach with lots of stretching, it is very important!
PL: Do you surf in contests?
LUIS: No I don’t like to compete; I guess I am a free surfer!
PL: Places you’ve been surfing?
LUIS: Only on the Nicoya peninsula, there are a lot of secret places around here that nobody knows about.
PL: Dream Surf Trip?
PL: Dream Car?
LUIS: 4×4 truck
LUIS: Not yet but I am saving for one. I do have a smart phone though!
LUIS: I love to fish and ride horses. My grandfather has a big finca (ranch) where there is a beautiful casacada (waterfall). We sometimes take Safari guests there on horseback.
PL: Describe a perfect day
LUIS: I think its Dec 24-25, Christmas time – mucho fiesta!
LUIS – “LIVING THE DREAM”
MAMA ALICIA – “VERY PROUD”
Nosara boasts some pretty great non-surfing activities and tours. One of the most popular and my personal favorite is the MISS SKY CANOPY TOUR.
The tour takes place in a series of coastal mountains around 30 minutes from Playa Guiones.
It is a perfect combo of exercise, adventure, nature, and discovery.
Their website description says it all:
Set amidst the unequalled beauty of a Costa Rican forest wilderness is the longest, most exhilarating canopy tour in the world. Traversing majestic mountain ridges and valleys, soaring high above multiple ravines, with breathtaking vistas of rivers, waterfalls and the Pacific Ocean. Comprised of 21 exhilarating runs, a stopover at the waterfall and river pools for a refreshing swim. Suitable for nature lovers, adventurers, families and all who wish to experience the ultimate canopy tour adventure; Miss Sky Canopy promises to be the experience of a lifetime.
I can attest to this, I’ve been on it ten times. The guides bring it all to life with great energy and humor – they love to play tricks! In the rainy season (May-Nov) you stop off at an amazing waterfall to swim. The tour takes about 4 hours and you will come away positively giddy!
In the next edition of Inside Peak don’t miss an up close and personal interview with the one and only, the irrepressible………
There’s a lot going on in Nosara, new stuff everywhere! The staff interviews will have to wait another week, my fin hit my leg and now I’m out of commission:
Welcome back friends! I had planned to continue with my instructor profile series this week but had an unexpected “anomaly” occur. I was surfing fun small cruising waves a week ago when I had weird accident. I caught a wave and upon standing I must have hit a slippery spot and suddenly proceeded to slide to the front of the board (both feet) at a brisk clip. I didn’t intend to hang ten at this point but found myself on the tip of my surfboard anyway. With all my weight up front, the board became unbalanced and suddenly flipped over and I was deposited right on top of the fins with great force. The impact nailed me on my lateral right thigh, and sent me to bubble land. Luckily it was a mellow day with super clear water. When I surfaced the pain was blinding, so I treaded water until it abated, and of course kept surfing. Upon exiting the water, as I strolled up the path to my vehicle I glanced down and saw the grapefruit size lump on my leg.
My wife diagnosed my wound as a hematoma, which required constant ice and elevation. I laid low for 4 days and followed her advice, and on day 5 thought I was healed. Therein I felt it appropriate to resume my pre-surf exercise regime of walking up and down our steep driveway swinging dumbbells. After that I decided to give surfing another go, and was stoked to find there was really no pain or restriction. Turns out I was the dumbbell. When I left the water this time the damn thing was badly swollen and black and blue. So I headed home and propped the leg up on pillows once again. My thigh was swollen and deeply bruised and the pressure of the hematoma impeded circulation to my lower leg and foot, which was turning blue. After a couple more days of no improvement the inevitable became apparent: bite the bullet and go to the hospital in Nicoya. Since we have our residency and associated social insurance there would be no cost, but no surfer I know wants to go to the doctor!
Costa Rica is known for its high standards of healthcare and all citizens are covered by the national socialized medicine system. There are also excellent private clinics and hospitals and people come from all over the world for dentistry, cosmetic surgery, etc. There are even programs called “medical tourism” where folks come down, have a facelift, and then go on tours around the country. But this costs money!
THE HOSPITAL IN NICOYA
The drive to Nicoya takes about 1.5 hours, half of it on bumpy dirt roads. Since this is a social security hospital the place is a madhouse; screaming babies, elderly folks, soccer players holding limbs, and on and on. Trying to navigate the admission process is mind boggling and it’s good to have a helper. Our Tico gardener was with me and saved the day. It took all day, but I got in.
I received excellent care and was released early the next morning. The staff was friendly, sincere, upbeat and professional. BUT there are NO amenities like we are used to in American hospitals. But I won’t go into that! You leave feeling like you were “of the people” and I like that. When we decided to move here we were looking for “a more interesting life”. Man did we ever get it!
Best thing – I will surf again!
BLACK SHEEP PUB
Many of our return alumni have had the chance to visit an original Nosara creation called the Black Sheep Pub. Located in the coastal mountains about 30 minutes from Playa Guiones, the pub is the creation of Joe and Helena Wygal originally from Boston. Joe travelled extensively throughout Europe in search of “Pub Culture”, collecting memorabilia from far and wide, and shipped it all here in a container. The pub is an amazing little working museum of sorts. They are only open for special occasions, New Years, 4th of July, St. Patty’s day, and anniversaries. They celebrated their 8th anniversary on Saturday. If you are here for any of these openings you should go!
Lots of Development Around Town
JADE – NEW SPA IN GUIONES
NOT SURE! – LOOKS LIKE AN OIL SHEIKS PALACE TO ME
FORMER ‘SOLO BUENO’ SURF HOSTEL – NEW RESTAURANT/SPA OPEN SOON
SURF ARTIST BOB LANGSTON JAZZES UP A FRIENDS GATE
OLAS VERDES CLUBHOUSE – PROGRESS!
BUILDING SITE ENTRANCE – TRUCKS MUST PASS OVER THIS ‘ROCK FILTER’ TO ENTER
ROBBIES NEWLY ENLARGED MINI SUPER ON “MAIN STREET” GUIONES
Pio Ruiz is a well recognized ‘fixture’ around Playa Guiones. He was one of the original locals to parlay his love of surfing into a career both with Safari and the Nosara Surf Shop. Pio’s positivity and innate sense of responsibility make him a very desirable employee. He has been an instructor with Safari Surf School since day one (14 years) and has been the manager of the Nosara Surf Shop for 11 years. He saves his money and owns a killer truck. Don’t talk to Pio about Ticos always being late and lazy, it makes him mad! I have always wanted to find out what make this upstanding, super-responsible surfer tick so here we go!
PL: Are you a Nosara native”
PIO: Yes. I was born in Nicoya in 1975, that was the closest hospital. Back then it was an epic journey to get there.
PL: Everyone calls you PIO. Is that your given name?
PIO: No my real name is Roger, it is actually a common name down here. My parents called me PIO because as a kid I loved to chase the little baby chickens around. They would make these loud non-stop peeps, “PIO PIO PIO”. True story!
PL: Where did you grow up?
PIO: In a little house by the river. I have 4 brothers and 3 sisters. Mom and Dad are still there, you should go meet them (I did!).
(Pio’s hearty salt of the earth parents, the Good Book always present. They are soooo proud of son PIO!)
PL: How long have you been surfing?
PIO: 20 years, maybe longer. All the guys fished and that eventually led us to the ocean. It was hard to ignore those amazing waves, everyday there were waves.
PL How did you become interested in teaching surfing?
PIO: Back in the late 90’s I got a job at Corky Carroll Surf School, it was the only surf school here. I was the “shop rat”, cleaning boards, swept floors, that kind of thing. I would watch the instructors and what a fun life they had making people happy. I knew that’s that what I wanted to be! I actually drove to California and worked at their Huntington Beach School for three years. I had a Visa. When I crossed the border into Arizona I discovered a big mistake on the Visa – my date of birth was listed as 1875, I was 120 years old!
PL: Wow, from Nosara to Irvine and Huntington Beach, what was that like?
PIO: It was all new and exciting, paved roads, endless buildings, fast food! It was a great experience but deep down I missed home, I’m a country boy at heart.
PL: You have been with Safari from day one?
PIO: Yes, it’s been 14 years. Safari Surf School was originally based at the Nosara Surf Shop. Eventually Tim and Tyler leased, and later bought the Casa Tucan and operated the school from there.
PL: You are also the manager of the surf shop?
PIO: Yes I met owner Michael Rourke while working for Safari and we hit it off. I have been there since 2003. It all fits together well; Mike has always been supportive of my work at Safari and vice versa.
PL: What do you like about teaching?
PIO: It’s great because you are in the water, getting exercise and stoking people out.
Surfing changes people’s lives, I can say that because I’ve seen it, still do!
GETTING READT TO CHANGE CHAD & SARAH’S LIVES!
PL: Funniest thing that happened during a lesson”
PIO: This one guy just could not get it when I said “go right, go left” He always went the opposite direction.
PL: You speak English very well. Did you take classes?
PIO: NO! I learned it all just by listening and talking.
PL: You are a man of faith?
PIO: Oh Yes. That picture you have of mom holding the bible; that is how we were raised.
I belong to a great fellowship that includes lots of American surfers. We meet every Thursday and services are in English.
PL: Dream Surf Trip?
PIO: Indonesia. I already have the boards!
PL: Favorite Surfer?
PIO: Australian Mick Fanning “fanning the flame”, Mike even brought me a signed poster from Surf Expo.
PL: Countries surfed?
PIO: USA (Cali), Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua.
Pl: Biggest wave you’ve surfed.
PIO: Pavones 6 years ago, 20 foot faces. They were calling it the biggest swell ever.
PAVONES in southern Costa Rica.
“Rides over a mile, your legs give out”!
MEANWHILE BACK at GUIONES
PIO at SIZE
PIO: I like soft music, folk rock, and Christian.
PIO: Fish Casado (casado means “married” In food terms a casado is a typical Tico dish with fish, rice, black beans, vegetables, and salad all on one plate).
PL: Special Girl?
PIO: I pray for that every night!
PL: I think you’ll find her! Thanks PIO, I really enjoyed talking to you.
PIO: Pura Vida!
HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK – TIDEPOOLING!
This past week we experienced some very extreme tides – high highs and low lows. These “flood tides” are associated with the New Moon Cycle. During the low “minus tides” (below sea level) wonderful tide pools appear, great fun for kids, dogs, families!
This week on the Inside Peak, I begin a series of interviews with Safari Surf School instructors.
Since moving here I have long been fascinated by the amount of heart that our surf instructors put into their lessons. They take it all very personally, in the highest sense. They want their students to experience the same joy, inspiration, thrill, and spirit that surfing gives to them. The essence of the art of teaching is the genesis of Pura Vida. The nature of surf instruction is very intimate. People trust their instructors. Everything is very close, tactile, visceral and in motion. Its wet and salty, its warm, the sun is shining, and all around you are people stoked and hooting, feeling it!
To me you can’t put a value on the experience. I have seen surfing change people for the better!
This is the rhythm of the place, Guiones, Nosara, Costa Rica. It is about living the in the moment and finding your place in the ocean.
Alonso Aragon (Chumino)
PL: Everyone calls you Chumino or Chumi. Is there a story behind that?
AA: “Chumino” refers to having coins or ‘change’ clanking around in your pockets. The change here is clunky and heavy, it weighs down your pockets. When I was a kid, I always had a pocketful of change so they called me ‘Chumi’.
PL: Are you a local boy, born and bred here?
AA: I was born in Nicoya in April 1984. We moved to Nosara Centro when I was a young boy.
PL: When did you discover the ocean?
AA: I was introduced to the water at a very young age. I grew up by the Rio Nosara where we fished and went shrimping. The river provided so much food! I fell in love with it immediately. I began surfing when I was 15….I’m almost 30 now so I have been surfing full on for 15 years.
PL: What are your early memories of the area?
AA: Everything was simple and slow. We were very in tune with nature. People shared and helped each other. Lots of families, we were happy, I remember that. We always had enough to eat, a home, family and friends.
“Everyone fished, even the dogs!”
AA: My mom and grandmother are here. I have 6 brothers, 2 sisters, and heaps of aunts, uncles, and cousins. I live with my son Jay (7 yrs). His mother (Dunia) is my novia!
Son Jay following in dad’s footsteps
Alonso and Dunia
PL: How did you become interested in teaching surfing?
AA: I was a waiter at Casa Tucan, Safari’s old home. It was a small hotel and great restaurant. It was a surf place. I could see how much surfing stoked people, especially the beginners. I decided I wanted to help people learn to surf, to share all the gifts the ocean has given to me my whole life. It seemed like a dream job. I have been with Safari now for 8 years.
PL: Did you have training for this?
AA: Yes. I had to meet all the requirements and standards for ISA (International surfing Association) certification. There is a tough final exam and swim test. I passed!
PL: What do you like about teaching?
AA: The people and the joy they have when they catch a good ride. It is very satisfying and rewarding to pass this happiness on to people. I also love the kids. At Safari we have a program called ‘kids camp’. It a full or half day camp where we surf, play games, make art, and eat together, I love it because I’m a big kid.
LEXIE – PERFECT FORM!
PL: I remember Prado (former Safari instructor) telling me that all the best local surfers in the area aspired to become surf instructors. He said there was a “code” amongst his peers that set very high value on “giving the best lesson”.
AA: Yes true, we all wanted to be the best. Everyone wanted to teach for Safari, that was considered the premiere place to teach.
PL: Any coaching tips, common mistakes, etc.?
AA: It is very important to always stay pointed out to sea. You don’t want to get caught “broadside”, that can knock you down hard. We do lots of beach exercises, pop-ups, that kind of thing. Proper stance, knees bent, back straight, hands by your sides. When we hit the water I am with my students at all times. We all (instructors) wear bright yellow rash guards so they can always find us!
PL: We hear a lot about your fishing accomplishments. Safari even has an activity called “Fish with Alonso” where guests can spend a morning with you at your favorite fishing spot.
AA: Fishing has always been a big part of my life. I just love it. There are huge Robalo (snook)
at the Boca (river mouth). These are excellent eating fish. I have heard these are illegal to take in Florida and other states. Not here!
PL: Favorite Food
AA: fried fish!
PL: Dream surf Trip?
PL: Biggest waves you’ve surfed
AA: 8-10 feet in Nicaragua. I love big waves. I would love to try tow-in surfing.
PL: Describe your perfect day
AA: Starts with early morning at the boca fishing, then surfing big hollow waves. After that I give surfing lessons at Safari. The rest of the day is for being with my family. And fried fish!
Singer-songwriter and pro-surfer Donavon Frankenreiter is returning to Nosara in November after a two year absence and will be performing a concert Nov. 8 at the Tropicana.
Frankenreiter will be in the local waters as part of the “Surf With a Pro” program sponsored by Billabong at the affiliated Safari Surf School. He and his musical partner Matt Grundy will offer an acoustic show featuring some songs from his latest CD, Start Livin’.
Peter Lewis, programs coordinator with Safari Surf School who is handling logistics for the local show, said “We are stoked that this is the second time they have chosen Nosara to bring down Donovan and his camp. I think Billabong likes what they see in Nosara, because it’s diverse and family oriented. His music is optimistic, and he has some kind of magical aura. It’s a very high energy show that people get caught up in. He brings people together.”
To add an extra dimension to the show, VJ and professional photographer Ray Moss will be presenting his signature TransceVisuals, a real-time liquid-themed computerized image show, which will be projected from behind the stage onto a screen. Moss said, “I’m looking forward to showing some underwater video imagery that I took from a trip to the Caribbean, as well as some liquid-themed imagery filmed at Guiones, including some video of Donavan surfing.”
Frankenreiter’s sponsorship as a ‘free surfer’ by Billabong allows him to surf while no longer competing in tournaments. Now 39 and based in Hawaii with his wife and two sons, his concert/surf tours have recently taken him to Australia and the U.S. East Coast.
Surfing the waters of San Clemente, California as a teenager, Donavan began his musical career at 17 and quickly developed a passion for it that equaled his love of surfing. In the mid ’90s, he joined Sunchild, a five-piece “good time rock and roll” band, which gained acclaim in Southern California for its laid back style, reminiscent of the late ’60s and early ’70s LA sound. During its time, Sunchild opened for The Doobie Brothers, Willie Nelson, Ben Harper, Social Distortion and The Descendants, and joined the Vans Warped Tour.
Frankenreiter released the first of a series of solo discs in 2002. According to his website, “Spurred by the coupling of his desire to say something original along with a new found musical maturity, Donavon boldly rode the wave into the world of the acoustic singer/songwriter.”
Local musician ‘Jungle Joe’ Davis will integrate the PA system with the Tropicana’s house sound system to fill the venue with sound.
Tickets cost $20 in advance and $25 at the door, and are available in advance at the Frog Pad, Harbor Reef Hotel, Surfing Nosara, Organico Mini-Market, as well as directly from Peter Lewis at 8911-4593.
His signature folk-rock style tunes can be sampled or purchased at his website, www.donavonf.com. Source: Costa Rica Star
Article by: Voice of Guanacaste
Welcome back to the Inside Peak, fresh from a short holiday to Panama to check out the Caribbean (it was nice!) and some much needed down-time (as life is SO hectic here) and we are back and ready to rip!
In fact, a whole lot of Guiones has gone into shut down mode over the past few weeks. The bars and restaurants have been relatively empty, as have the crowds in the surf. Even the usually bustling Casa Tucan has been quiet and relaxed, and we have only had a handful of students taking lessons from our expert instructors.
But while things have been slowing down on land, it seems somebody forgot to let the ocean know it could have a break too. The surf has been, again, continuously pumping for the last week, with well over head high conditions on the outside breaks being the norm. Once again this is thanks to big south swells being generated wayyyyy down in the southern Pacific Ocean, somewhere between Auckland and Antarctica. These swells travel thousands of miles across open ocean before they hit our beach, and by that time they have sorted themselves into the well groomed, long interval peaks that we know so well.
But we aren´t the only break in the world that turns on in these swells. Waves across literally half the globe have been lighting up over the past few weeks, from Fiji to Tahiti to Hawaii to Mexico. Here is how the swell looked in Ala Moana, Hawaii…
…and Teahupoo, Tahiti…
Now, not quite as large but no less exciting, check out some pictures and videos below from Safari Surf School guests making the most of conditions at Playa Guiones over the past few weeks…
That´s all for the Inside Peak this week. My apologies for the shortness of the blog post, but watch out as things ramp back up again coming into Summer! As always, keep an eye out on our Facebook, Instagram (safarisurfer) and Twitter accounts for daily updates on the Safari Surf School World.
Hello again, Inside Peak followers.
Yet another week has passed down here in Guiones at Safari Surf School, Costa Rica´s premier surf academy. As we march through the month of April there is still no sign of the first rains of the wet season. We have experienced two or three days that were tantalizingly close to opening up, but it seems that every time the clouds pass over the mountains and head towards the coast they lose their mojo. With the water levels at dangerously low levels for some rural parts of Nosara, the rains really cannot come soon enough.
However, a crack team of SSS Instructors, (led by our resident Englishman Owen who hails from the witch capital of the world, Cornwall) have been performing nightly rain dances in the hopes of enticing the storm gods to release their bounty, so we expect to see some results soon. I wonder if a “Sustainability through Paganism” initiative could take off?
While the weather gods have been uncooperative in the precipitation department, they surely have been smiling on us when it comes to the surf! It seems like every week I am writing something along of the lines of “…and the swell just keeps on coming at Playa Guiones” because, well, the swell DOES just keeps on coming at Playa Guiones! Storm cells in the South Pacific – which produce the strong southerly swells have been experiencing – have been particularly active. We are entering week four of continuous quality swell, and it still shows no real signs of abating.
As always our clients have been right in the thick of it, with beginners to intermediates to advanced all giving their best – and having the times of their lives in the process. While some of the extra big days have made conditions hazardous at certain times and tides, we have made sure that our lessons have been situated at the optimal hours for client safety. And if moving your lesson to 6:30AM means that you get to catch the sun rise while you surf, it is really a small price to pay!
Check out a few of our more recent client shots below:
Our Kids Camp has continued in full swing, with the eager little grommies absolutely eating up the fun conditions on the inside break.
On top of these great photos, you can check out this video put together exclusively for Safari Surf School showcasing some of our students and instructors in the second half of March:
As I mentioned last week, some of our instructors, and more advanced students, have been taking some trips up and down the coast to search out some of the other quality set ups in this area. I have personally surfed two breaks here in the past week that I never knew existed, and have scored some absolutely world class waves in the process. I will post a few teasers below, but keep your eyes out in the next week or so for some quality photos and footage. The surprises this place can throw up never cease to amaze me!
And on that note, that is a wrap for this week. As I said, be sure to follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts for more exclusive photos and footage, as well as all the latest happenings from SSS.
Hola Inside Peakers
Apologies for the break between my last blog post and now – some technical difficulties involving a missing passport, travel arrangements and computer access on my end have kept me away from the keyboard. I know the Safari family – and the surf industry at large – had been missing their bi-weekly hits of The Inside Peak. In fact, just yesterday I was talking to Hollywood star Ethan Hawke* at the Harmony Juice Bar, and he was saying how ticked off he and the rest of the A-listers currently visiting Guiones are for missing out on featuring in my posts.**
But fear not, I have returned. And I am sure you have all been missing me as much as Ethan has, right?
Moving on, you will be happy to know that life has continued on at its glorious place here in Guiones. We have had non-stop surf for the past two weeks, with dozens of happy Safari campers scoring the waves of their lives. Check out some of the action in the video below:
The weather has been warm (surprise!) and the town is close to jam-packed with Spring Break and Semana Santa revelers. Casa Tucan is still pumping out good food and great vibes, our sustainability initiatives are still redefining the sustainable tourism industry (more on that soon), and our surf instructors are still the best in Costa Rica.
In short, visiting Playa Guiones is still like visiting paradise, and as always we have the VIP seats.
Be sure to keep a lookout on the Safari Surf School Facebook and Instagram accounts for daily updates, and if all goes to plan I should have my regular weekly wrap up ready for viewing sometime on Monday morning.
*I did see Ethan Hawke, but we did not actually talk.
**However I am sure this statement is still true. FYI, other famous types spotted around town in the last week include Julianne Moore, Gislle Bundchen and Tom Brady, Leonoardo DiCaprio, and, most excitingly, 1980s Hawaiian amateur surfing pro, Tyler Marsh!