Costa Rica

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Ocean Potion

The past few months we have been outside surfing and soaking up the sunshine.  Worried about wrinkles I was pleased to find Ocean Potion.  This powerful face sunblock (clear zinc oxide) protects against both UVA and UVB rays, is water resistant for up to 80 minutes and doesn’t sting your eyes when you are out in the water!

We bought two containers in Costa Rica, priced at about $5 a pop.  Since both of us have been getting maximum sun exposure an entire jar has already disappeared, however at home I think this little puppy would last quite a while. Ocean Potion is readily available in the US – I can’t seem to find a Canadian retailer but it is sold online here.

Caribbean Locals

Wanting to take a boat tour to Tortuguero we headed to Cahuita on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, unfortunately for us we rolled into to town to find it had been pouring rain on and off for days making it less than pleasant ‘boating’ weather.

Deciding against spending too much money on a rainy boat trip and running the risk of not seeing any creatures (saving our dollars for an Amazon tour in South America) we set off on an 8km hike through Parque Nacional Cahuita.

This small park (1,100 ha) is one of Costa Rica’s most visited parks. Located right next to the sea this hike is well worth it.  You can start at the Kelly Creek ranger station where you pay by donation to enter the park.  From there a lovely wander takes you through white-sand beaches and lush jungle where you are guaranteed to see all sorts of wildlife… we loved the little leaf cutters but we’re not so keen on the ones that bite.

Leaf Cutter Ants from Kels M on Vimeo.

Five river crossings south of Playa Negra Kelsey caught and rode her first real wave. It was blowing offshore and the swell was holding up a long time before breaking. I looked out to see Kels lining up a real beauty, a big left-hander, and her timing looked about right. I paddled over the top of it just as she was taking the drop and looked back to see her screaming down the face of the wave. It was real sweet—that ride took six months of repeated punishment and the smile lasted for days.

We camped in Guiones, Nosara for a couple more nights before heading to the Caribbean side. Got horribly lost in the tangle of San Jose after missing what turned out to be a crucial yet poorly signed turn off to Heredia. Everyone we asked said we were going in the right direction despite the fact that we were in fact driving in circles. We were saved by a man in a furniture truck who took the time to lead us through a maze of back roads and we both vowed to do the same if we get the chance.

The Caribbean side of Costa Rica is strikingly different from the rest of the country. Steaming jungle with abundantly rich wildlife line the Caribbean coast. We were lucky enough to see this guy, hanging out in front of our cabina—a two toed Sloth or Mono Perisoso, the lazy monkey. Leaves are the Sloths main food source but because they are low in nutrition, provide little energy and are slow to breakdown (sometimes the digestion process can take up to a month) the Sloth has to maintain a pretty laid back lifestyle—apparently they only climb down once a week do their ‘business’.

Sloth in Puerto Viejo from Kels M on Vimeo.

A Year on The Road

So it’s been one year, twenty thousand kilometers, eight countries and one hundred malarial pills since we left Calgary last February in that -21º snow storm. We put together a little slideshow of our trip highlights to date.

I open my eyes, turn my head and feel my muscles shriek as I attempt to roll off the mattress, my noodley arms are useless so I flounder on the bed till I manage to work into a semi-standing position. My neck feels like Andre the Giant stepped on it, I think my spine is crooked and my stomach feels like some sadistic trainer made me perform 500 crunches in a row. No, I haven’t been in car accident, I did not trip or fall down the stairs, and I am not following some insane work-out regime.

I am learning to surf.

This sport, which surfers perform so effortlessly, has been one of the hardest, and one of the most humbling, things I have ever tried to learn.

This is a rough idea of how I tend to surf: grab my board, paddle through the white water as it continues to hammer me, fall off, lose my board, get smashed by the white water a few times, finally arrive at a place where the waves can’t beat me. Face my board to the beach, look behind for a wave, paddle (again) to catch the wave while trying to time it so the wave doesn’t crash directly on top of me, if I manage it right, get pushed faster than I expect, try and stand up, lose my footing and perform a spectacular crash into the water, almost drown for a little bit, subdue the panic attack and with the last bit of air leaving my lungs, come to the surface gasping and spluttering, turn around only to find another wave preparing to land directly on my head, hang out underwater, do a couple back flips, wonder how my head can touch my toes like that, resurface, and repeat 4 or 5 times. Once the set has ended have a little cry and thank the heavens, Buddha, Vishnu whomever that I am alive, climb back on my board and REPEAT.

Catching a wave


The beautiful part is that very slowly you figure out how to stay on your board, being beaten by the waves is a little less scary, wiping out becomes humourous, and eventually the feeling of riding a wave gets addictive in an “I can’t move my arms but just one more” type of way. There are still moments of indescribable panic but somehow this lessens and I’m finding myself wanting more. I’m still a little scared that I could drown but Tom doesn’t want me to worry because:


“You won’t drown…your wetsuit floats.”


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