Splette's Travel Blog


One of the beaches near Tamarindo. No people. Almost paradise.It was the day of the 7.6 magnitude earthquake when we returned from Nicaragua to Costa Rica. We would spend a few more days in Tamarindo, which is a small surfer town in Guanecaste (North West Costa Rica). Tamarindo is much closer to the epicenter of the earthquake than where we were at that time. So, it wasn’t a big surprise to see some damage in the holiday home of Gabo’s grandmother where we would be staying.

A surfer at sunset at Tamarindo beach, Costa Rica

A surfer at sunset

After some cleaning up we headed out to the town in the old Toyota pickup truck of Gabo’s dad. Tamarindo is more expensive than it’s Nicaraguan counterpart San Juan del Sur. There are good hotels, shops, surf schools and many bars. The beach in the town is surprisingly nice (unlike San Juan or Puerto Viejo). And just a long walk or short drive away there are some really amazing beaches with almost no people. No comparison to the crowds of people you see in Europe at any half-way descent beach in summer…

This guy climbed up the palm tree to pick some coconuts while his friends watch from below.

Coconut climber

We bought some cans of rum&coke and enjoyed the beach. The water was amazing, too. Too bad it wasn’t the season for the leatherback turtles who can be spotted laying eggs on some of the beaches here.
As one can easily guess by the athletic young men with long hair (either blonde or dreadlocks) carrying surfboards, Tamarindo is also a popular surfer destination. I have always wanted to give it a try but unfortunately I didn’t take the chance. There are proper surf schools but also local surfing instructors at the beach that offer an hour or two for $30-40. But I was told it takes much more time to learn surfing properly.
The mosquitoes tortured me quite a bit. Living in the capital San José I am not used to them anymore. Apparently, there is also some other wildlife here. It’s not uncommon to find a scorpion in the house. Or a snake. A few years ago Gabo had a Beagle puppy here that decided to play with a snake that it found. RIP little Beagle…

Two surfers in Tamarindo

Two surfers at the beach

The holiday house of Gabo’s grandmother was a few kilometers outside town. Just like in Nicaragua there was no hot water here either. I hate to sound like a spoilt first-world kid but I really do appreciate hot showers. In the evenings we went to the town for some drinks. The tires of this old pickup truck had no profile. I mean really, no profile. Smooth as a baby’s bum. The fact that it was raining didn’t help to increase my feeling of security. I’m just not a huge fan of aquaplaning. Other people are scared about venomous snakes and spiders, I am concerned about traffic accidents. But just look at the statistics: 794 deaths from traffic accidents vs 3-6 fatal snake bites.

Another interesting issue here in Costa Rica is drink driving. It’s very common and socially accepted to drive after downing 3, 4, 5 or more drinks. When I mentioned this fact to a friend he said “I don’t do drink driving”. I said “Yes, you do. I’ve seen you driving under the influence of alcohol multiple times.” and he replied “Yes, but I don’t drive when I feel drunk”. Ahhhhh right…… that’s your definition of ‘drink driving’. Well, my understanding of drink driving is driving with blood levels of alcohol that exceed the legal limit but then again I’m just a rule-obsessed German who believes that some laws are there for a reason.

Then again, I love how there are pragmatic solutions for problems that would be a headache to solve in Germany. As we drove into Tamarindo at night with Gabo’s fathers old Toyota pickup, we managed to lock ourselves out of the car. As we found out, this car has different keys for the ignition lock and the doors. But Gabo’s dad only gave him the key for the ignition. By the time we realized that it was too late. Calling the dad. “Why would you want to lock that old car? Do you think anyone would try to steal it?” Ha funny, I thought. Wouldn’t people usually get upset if you borrow their car and don’t lock it at night? Either way, his dad also had a solution. Some friend of a friend in that town knows how to break into cars. We went to a shop to ask for that guy but the shop owner, obviously high on weed (hey, this is a surfer town), pretended to never have heard of him. Only after Gabo identified himself as the son of his father the shop owner became more cooperative and called this guy. Fifteen minutes later a boy in his early 20s appeared with some tools and wire and the three of us walked to the car. I couldn’t believe it but it works just like in the movies: take a wedge and but it between the glass of your window and the door of the car, form a hook with the wire and insert it into the crack between the window of the door of the car and and pull the lock to the open position. I was a little concerned that the security guy of the hotel next door might find it a little suspicious that we three guys are breaking into a car but Gabo assured me that ‘noone would ever care for something like that’ and it turned out to be true. Also other people passing by didn’t care a bit although it was pretty obvious that we were breaking into a car. Eventually, the guy managed to open the door after 15 min (what an amateur), I gave him $20 (too much as I was told later) and we drove off. All I can say is: Don’t try this in Germany!
A surfer in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

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1 Comment

  • Comment by Rolf — September 24, 2012 @ 12:45 pm

    Don’t try this in Germany? I remember when I was 4 or 5 years old (the good old days before the invention of central locking systems) we were on a vacation on the beautiful island of Norderney and my parents locked themselves out of our car. My father spread panic, but my mother just went to the janitor who came by and unlocked the doors within 5 minutes or so. He was Italian, of course! 😉

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