Puerto Big Wave Challenge Weekend

First stop on the 2016 ASP Big Wave World Tour: Puerto Escondido!

Friday, June 24, 2016

The much anticipated weekend of fireworks came in fast with people filling the streets all week long ready for some crazy surfers surfing some crazy waves. The night before the contest started, we were blasted by a huge storm walking down to see the sunset and ran quickly for cover downtown at a Restaurant we have't been to yet called "Sativa". There we witnessed the biggest storm of the year so far, lightning pounding all around us, thunder shaking tables and everyone's drink, and rain flooding through the streets like rivers. It was an amazing site and we were super happy to be under shelter. We sat down for tacos right next to a couple surfers and I quickly noticed I was sitting right next to Strider Wasilewski, a retired professional surfer and commentator for the big wave world tour event. Cboo and I quickly started conversations about the structure of the surf event happening in the morning, the surf in Puerto back in the 80's and 90's, and a grip of other interesting things about these surfers who have traveled around the world since they were grommets (young surfers). We shared some laughs, fish tacos, and tequila toasts for the upcoming swell in the morning.
The next day you could here the surf throughout the whole town it was so big. We scattered quickly down the beach to see a huge scene of people, cars, electronic equipment, policia, and 6 surfers out in the lineup. The waves were better down on the south end of the beach so we just parked it and watched the action. It was difficult to know the scores, which surfer was in what color jersey, and where the best waves were. It made it all the more fun because you had no idea what to expect on every wave. There was little consistency on both days of the contest with the shape of the waves. Some sets were completely closed out, while others sets broke down the beach, and then their would be cleanup sets where all the surfers would barely make it through or over the 30 foot walls of water coming towards them. Their was an amazing amount of water safety and help throughout the ocean, I counted at-least 10 jet ski's in the water patrolling every inch of a crash or a surfer needing a tow back out to the lineup. Many times it was impossible to paddle out without the jet ski assist. The surfers caught plenty of waves because the heats lasted i believe, 75 minutes long, which meant you can easily find a huge wave before the horn blows.
The first day was 24 big wave surfers in 4 heats, the next day had 3 heats with 12 surfers left; 2 semi-final heats and one final heat at the end. The second day we watched a spectacular final with by far the best surfers of the whole event. Every surfer was taking off on huge 30 foot walls of water to find the best score, there was little doubt of fear in the lineup because every surfers was fully committed to not only win the event and a $30,000 but to be on the top of the rankings for the start of the year.
At the end we saw the title go to Grant "Twiggy" Baker, a South African 2x Maverick's champ take home first place. He came on to the contest as an injury wild card replacement and decided to steal the whole show with a ten point ride in the Final (pictures below!) Congrats to Twiggy and to all these guys for putting on an amazing show and risking their lives in some of the biggest surf I've ever witnessed. No one was hurt or injured and In my eyes I feel like they all won something here in Puerto Escondido!

In cased you missed anything feel free to watch the event here:

Day 34 - Quick Stop in Tamarindo

Back to the old stomping grounds of Tamarindo, after 10 years.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

We ventured off from Nosara, on dirt roads heading north, to the town of Tamarindo. I had about an hour and a half in the car, with C-Boo already frustrated at me from the day, because I took up half the day to surf a left handed reef south of Nosara (which was amazing, and I scored 6-8 foot surf all morning ;) . I slowly and calmly reassured her that we had enough time to see Tamarindo, while I drove down the dirt roads filled with potholes, horses, lambs, and cows. We eventually made up, and decided to pulled into a great surf spot that I used to surf called "Playa Negra". This beach still had the same feelings and layout as before, with only one restaurant there. The North Gaunacaste Region was right in the middle of the dry season, there was little greenery, and much of the plains were dried up; they looked like our summers back home in Central California. It was a huge difference in landscape and jungle, from the Southern section of Costa Rica, which gets small amounts of rain even in the dry season.

Once leaving Negra, we hit a fresh smoothly paved 2 lane highway, which I had never seen before, that got us in to Tamarindo. It seemed like it took only a few minutes, after driving through poorly dirt roads for the last hour. While entering the town, we crossed through a small police checkpoint, passed multiple resorts and business plazas, and hundreds of cars and bikes coming and leaving the town. Tamarindo had a completely new face-lift since I'd been there, but it was still Tamarindo in my eyes. Yet money, locals, and even expats seemed to want to invest in some way, shape, or form to make a buck of each and every tourist. We drove very slowly through town, looking for our hotel, in awe at all the new structures; at the same time, I was trying not to hit people crossing the street in every direction. We found our small little hotel off the strip named "In the Shade", and setup camp for the night.

We decided to finally hit the town by foot, and grab some drinks while watching the sunset. Tamarindo's surf scene seemed bigger then ever, with surf shops on every corner. They were all trying to rent/sell everything from a grommet board (small surf board), all the way up to an SUP (stand up paddle board). It seemed hard to even choose a restaurant, because everyone had a happy hour special, and very expensive prices for food/drinks. I showed Christi the beautiful long stretch of beach that wraps all the way to "Playa Grande", and finally decided to choose a restaurant with a little bit of reggae music. We ordered two mixed drinks: vodka soda and a screwdriver. The waiter came back with tonic water, and what had seemed like a Sunny Delight drink with water. They were the worst drinks we'd ever had, with absolutely no alcohol. We said "no gracias" to any more drinks or food, because of the pricing, and took off on foot. Most people (tourists) in Tamarindo, at the time, seemed like prices weren't an issue for them, because of their limited time there; unlike us, who were still on a gnarly budget. We ended up walking through most of the main strip, checking prices on more drinks and food, but they were all the same.

We were so frustrated with our financial situation there, so we found a random liquor store, and decided on buying our own bottle of cheap Guaro. We walked back to our room, and continued our cheap path with dinner; hard boiled eggs w/ bread, slices of avocados, canned tuna, and a stiff cocktail of classic Costa Rican Guaro. Our room had a beautiful deck, where we watched the last bit of sunset, while listening to some howler monkeys. We felt like we were doing it right, by avoiding the town altogether! We ended the night with a game of "Rumy", some "Vampire Weekend" music (great for road trips too), and some toasts to our safety/travels thus far on our adventures. We were extremely happy to travel from the southern tip of Costa Rica, all the way up to the old and new town of Tamarindo, with minimal issues :) We ended up finishing all of the Guaro that night, and passed the fuck out.

Day 28 to 29 - Hot and Dirty Dominical

The land of expensive nothing.

Monday, March 28, 2016

I hate doing another blog, where I bitch about the surroundings, but Dominical is definitely a place that we did not fully enjoy. So be prepared for some more...haha. I'm also going to give you a heads up on our lack of images, and how shitty our pictures turned out from this place. It was so damn hot and miserable there, I think my brain melted.

We found a Hostel, that was recommended to us by a local surfer, and was pretty close to the sand. When we arrived, the kid that ran the place told us that it was $35, and showed us to our room. When he opened the door, we were greeted with an intense smell of urine coming from the bathroom, and a dark ominous closet of a room. I don't know why I went along with it, but it was the cheapest place in town, and I wanted to save money. There was no AC, which is very standard in Costa Rica, but there was a little fan that made it halfway tolerable. We also realized that sex was totally out of the question in this room, as nothing about it was a turn on. However, the hostel happened to have a pretty cool bar, so I assumed that we'd spend more time in there than our shitty room.

Nick had been wanting to visit the town, that he'd heard so much about, and supposedly had surf. We roamed the town and beach area, in search of something to grab onto our souls; what we got was dirty sand, hot ocean water, no surf, and expensive everything. It was so hot, that you could barely move; I don't know how people did it. I felt like I sweat out my body's entire water reserve, it just never stopped, and there was no escape. Our meals were always split too, as most of everything costed a fortune; this set the agitated tone of Nick's and my attitude, while being there.

Despite all of that, there were some good characteristics of Dominical. The people were mellow, and mostly young expats, so you felt like you were at home. There were a lot of women roaming the streets and running businesses; it made everything feel safe. Everyone looked like they loved it there, so it made you want to love it too. There were also parts of the beach that were very beautiful, and the town contained plenty of activities to do at night.

When we woke up the second day, we contemplated getting the heck out of there, and heading down to Pavones. However, we had work to do online, and it kept us using the wifi at the hostel bar. Reluctantly, we decided to stay another night, but I protested our shit box of a room. Luckily, we scored a deal with a place down the way, for just $5 extra, that had a nice clean room and AC! I didn't even want to leave the room, it felt so nice.

That night we grabbed a little bottle of Guaro, and went for a "Taco Tuesday" especial at an outdoor place close by. We were so excited, because we hadn't had any tacos since Mexico, and were totally jonsing. After ordering some food, we went to sit down, and Nick immediately started freaking out. He was grabbing his foot, cursing, and brushing something off; I'd never seen him so upset. I asked him if something bit him, but I guess he had stepped on a rock that was covered in microscopic fire ants. His face turned pail, and he was sweating like crazy; eventually he got them all off, and grabbed the Guaro to kill the pain. Needles to say, we changed spots, and kept our feet off the ground. Once we slammed down the mediocre tacos, we headed back to the hotel, and passed out.

Sadly, our time in Dominical really made us start doubt Costa Rica. With the pace that we were spending money, it didn't seem like we were going to make it very far. I was hoping that the other towns would be better, and prayed that Nick and I would eventually agree on a place we liked, before going broke.

Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad

Day 30 to 31 - Solitude in Pavones

Off the map, to a tiny surf town on the south end of the Osa Peninsula.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

We enjoyed our time in the small surf town of Dominical, but knew it wasn't the end all be all. Dominical was extremely hot, expensive, and the surf for the last couple of days was so so. It was time to hit the southern tip of Costa Rica, in a tiny little town, on the bottom of the Osa Peninsula, called Pavones. We knew we were in for a long drive that morning but had no idea we were about to go through rich amazing jungle to long road construction waits in the plains, and then a dirt road with our tiny clown car for almost two hours. Our GPS decided to take us on a long cut so disregarding the GPS we pursued to ask locals who never even heard of the town Pavones. We looked on the map for other towns nearby and continued asking the locals which directed us with finger pointing for about and hour.

We finally found a split in the road, one way Golfito; other way Pavones! It seemed like hours, but we finally made it to the smallest town off the beaten path so far. It a was beautiful setting, with longest left point-break on one side, and lush green jungle on the other. It was so small, we knew we had to find a room, before we were stuck homeless backtracking down the dirt road. We walked through the town, asking for places to stay for the night. After failing probably about 5 times, we found an Italian man named Alejandro, who owned a hotel called "La Dolfita", which had a pizzeria and small rooms. He said "no problem" for the night, and gave us a key to a single bedroom, patio with a hammock, including breakfast for $40...we were stoked!

We decided to walk the town, after getting situated in the room, and grab our much needed water and fruit. Everything, once again, was fairly expensive; considering it had to be imported all by truck. We decided to walk down to the surf break, and ran into our friends from the Green Forest (Jewish Alliance), in Uvita. We caught up with them, and they were happy to show us their beach-front restaurant/hostel, plus the many surfboards they brought down. I was getting very antsy after looking at their boards, and the waves peeling down the bottom of the point. So I ran back up, looking frantically for a board, and found a stoner dude who owned a hostel across from the pizzeria; he was happy to rent me a board for two days at $25. I grabbed the board and wax, and started running up the point. Not only surf after 30 days off celibacy, but to surf the 2nd longest left in the world with a growing south swell. The waves were insane, with minute long rides with a couple people of out; best session I've ever had in Costa Rica. The air and water (Air Temp: 90F Water Temp: 86F) was so hot, that I could only surf for an hour without getting dehydrated. We were happy to get off the beach, because of the heat, and settled down for the evening.

The next day we had our amazingly standard breakfast: eggs, rice, beans, and coffee. We took a short drive to the top of the point, to see more empty beaches, and visit the beautiful properties along the way; the coastline was so green and alive. It was truly an amazing place, but we had doubts about living accommodations here. After all, there were only 2 supermarkets, and random hostels spread throughout the town. It was, at minimum, an hour from any town town that would have hospitals, clothing, or anything in the middle.

I went back out for another surf session, with the growing swell and low tide barrels, while Christi decided to hit up her tan on the scorching beach. Once again, an hour later we were way too hot and dehydrated. We decided to jump in a river-mouth lagoon, which emptied into the point-break. We were quickly relieved, after jumping in to the cool water, shaded by a canopy of jungle while macaws flew overhead.

That night we wanted to hit the so-called "nightlife" of the town. The only thing open at night, was a small restaurant/bar, which played old surf films alongside 80's music videos. The bar was semi-filled with the locals/expats, and the out-of-towners that were just visiting for a couple days. I ordered my regular "Pilsen" beer, and C-Boo ordered the watermelon vodka, which was more of a smoothie then an alcohol drink.

We had many serious talks that night, about what we wanted from a place, and what Pavones had/didn't have. There were many great things about the place: lush year round jungles, good vibes from the community, cheap rent, and of course surfing (at least at that time). But, we also weighed out many cons as well; such as crazy bugs (day and night), scorching hot (day and night), minimalist town, and Christi's fear the evil crabs trying to break in every night (one actually broke in the last night we were there). We ranked Pavones to other places we had already visited; it was pretty high on the list, but not quite what we were looking for. So, we decided to pack up, to try the next place on the map.