Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I miss Pavones ... an end and a beginning

We've been home 24 hours and I miss Pavones.  I miss surfing - that feeling seems to be imprinted permanently in me now.  I found myself daydreaming about surfing today.  I miss the people - Aaron, Jamie, Dean.  More than most of us, they know why they are where they are.  They cared for us and made us feel a part of their world in an easy and exceptionally kind way.  I miss the pure air, the crazy jungle sounds, the rocks under my feet, the hazy humid mornings, the feel of the water.  This is the end of this particular travel blog.  It was a magic trip.  But I have the feeling that this is just the beginning of my Costa Rican journey.

bits & pieces

the inflight magazine - happiness indeed 

does not do the waves justice ... at all 

pavones air force - dean's comment - LOL!

feet hurt just looking at this

my (hair) progression

Since the issue of what to do with my American blown out tresses was mentioned in an early post, I thought I'd share the progression of hairstyles from the first hour after landing in Golfito to the second day in Pavones to the final style option of the trip.  LOL.  Don't be surprised if I arrive at our next business meeting in braids :)


Most blogs will tell you that Tico food isn't all that interesting.  That may be true in places other than Pavones.  Not only was the Tico food at the Cantina really fresh and good but there was surprising array of really yummy dining options.  I may be the only person who goes on a surf trip and gains four pounds in the process.  From the thin crust filet mignon and shrimp pizzas at Castillo de Pavones to the fabulous vegetarian fare at Cafe Suerte to the sublime tortolloni with grilled prawns at the Italian restaurant, we ate ridiculously well.  We also found some favorite treats in the Mega Super that I'm hoping to order for home.  Great food - just one of the many wonderful surprises in Pavones.

my breakfast of choice - since i was always full from the night before!
we have a new appreciation for rice and beans

the. best. chips. ever. 

sweet and spicy - perfect on castillo's breakfast burritos

home via panama

From Pavones yesterday, we drove early with our wonderful hosts Aaron and Jamie (and the lovely - but hungry - Findley) to the Costa Rican/Panamanian border.

It wasn't a route we'd have taken on our own but seeing the border town was a trip - like a big flea market with one country on one side of the road and another on the other.

The slight detour had the advantage of putting us on paved and relatively smooth roads into Golfito.  Aaron drew us a map that I have become very attached to.  It's getting framed and hung in our house - better than any art we could buy.

In Golfito, which caters to sport fisherman, we had breakfast at a marina.  The day could not have been more beautiful.  And that made leaving all the more difficult.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Going Home

We're on our way home tomorrow - leaving really early.  We're traveling with the owner of Castillo, Aaron, and his family to Golfito via Panama.  Not entirely sure of the process for the journey but, like everything else since we've been here, trusting in those around us to help guide us in the right direction.  It's worked beautifully so far.  There is much yet to write about - haven't even touched on the truly surprisingly delicious food - but am exhausted beyond exhausted.  Will post anything of interest via text tomorrow and the rest once we're back stateside.  Good night.

the last surf

sunset in pavones january 22

We just had our last surf session of the trip.  Waves were about waist high and the rides were about 300 yards, which means 20 minutes of paddling to get back into position.  What an amazing experience this has been.

That said, starting from the top, my litany of war wounds goes like this ...
- neck hurts from looking up off the board at waves and up in the trees at animals
- nose and forehead are completely sunburned
- shoulders and arms ache and feel like rubber at the same time (an odd sensation)
- ribcage and hips are bruised from laying on the board
- elbows are bruised and have cuts on them (not sure why)
- rear end is sunburned
- thighs are bruised from hitting the rails of the surfboard as I fell off (often)
- knees have huge bruises on them from kneeling on the board
- feet have little cuts all over and are sore from walking on rocks

sunset in pavones, january 22

My husband is wisely making me a rum and coco lite as I write this.  And I wouldn't trade a single bruise, ache or cut for the world right now.

epic session

We spent three hours in the waves this morning and would still be there but for the fact that we have to rest a little so we can go back out in an hour.  The waves were small, about 2-3 feet, but perfect for me and, in classic Pavones style, very long.  

We got lots of great rides thanks to our surf sensei, Dean.  He's taken us out the past few days and been an amazing guide and teacher.  

He and his wife Ingrid moved here from Hawaii after driving from California and traveling across Costa Rica and Panama looking for the right spot to set up their surf camp.  The Web site is focused on women's surf groups but Dean shared that he's reworking the site and their focus will be on small groups (2-8 people) of all genders, ages and abilities.  

What I found great about Dean - besides the fact that he's probably one of the nicest people on the planet - is that he helped both my husband and me improve our surfing exponentially even though we're surfing at very different levels.  It would literally have taken me two years of NSB surfing to make the improvements I've made here in just four days.  

Still no pictures of us surfing - maybe this afternoon one of us will get out of the water to take pictures while the waves are still breaking.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha!  But here (and above) some snaps of the cove in which we've been putting in. 

dawn patrol

skies are clear - the stars last night were amazing.  

monkeys are howling.  

surf is up.  and we're heading out for an early morning session.  yay!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

my poverty prejudice

I've debated posting this as my own thoughts aren't fully formed yet.  However, it is coloring my experience and the journey so it's only fair to post.

As we drove from Golfito to Pavones, we saw some of areas of absolute extreme poverty.  While that wasn't unexpected, I kept thinking "How could these possibly be the happiest people in the world?"  

My husband saw a guy sitting in a ditch for no apparent reason and made a passing comment.  My retort was "Well, apparently he's happier than we are."  It's really hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that someone living with so little could be happier than those of us who have so much. 

I think we're brought up to believe that if only poor people were more industrious, more ambitious, more willing to put in some hard work, their wealth would increase and, thus, they would be happier.  Right? The current cover article in the Atlantic reinforces the fact that those of first and second generation wealth tend to feel that they have earned it purely by hard work, effort and intelligence. 

I'm not suggesting that the Happy Planet Index is the only measure of contentment.  But Costa Rica measures really well on a range of indexes related to perceptions of happiness as noted in this New York Times column

More interesting to me than the happiness of the Ticos was my own reaction to it relative to their lack of wealth.  I think we perceive poverty to be an individual failure that could be corrected if the individual would only buck up and get with the program. But I do know better. 

Programs like Grameen Bank have illustrated that, if you're willing to see people instead of poverty, there are ways to turn the paradigm upside down.  At the point we consider wealth and fortune to be solely driven by individual effort, rather than first based in the sheer luck of birth and opportunity of circumstance, we give ourselves permission to dismiss those who do not share in that same luck and opportunity.  We also then may tend to equate happiness with that material wealth and fortune - something that this population appears not to do.

Even knowing all this, it took the convergence of a happiness ranking, a drive through a poor country and a guy sitting in a ditch to make me really think about my own poverty prejudice. 

part of a surf excursion is ... not surfing

It's been raining steadily since last night and the surf is completely blown out.  So we're sitting instead of surfing.  That's fine. Per Rob Machado, "high expectations make poor travel companions."  On the other hand, Vanity Fair, my Kindle and the laptop are all pretty good travel companions.  Oh yeah, my husband too.  And there are far worse things than sitting in a tree house in the rainforest while it rains.

[update of photos 01/25/11)

But the best sign of all ...

... has got to be this one.  I mean, how long do you think it takes a momma sloth to cross the road anyway?!

Signs of Pavones

Almost every sign in Pavones - notable exception being the Imperial beer signs - is handmade.  There are varying degrees of artistry and professionalism.  Overall, it translates to a kind of kooky beach town vibe that is really cool.