Our four nights in Tamarindo were breathtaking but undeniably touristy. With a few minor exceptions (a very loud snoring man at our hostel and Chris putting his teeth through his lip after a small surfing fiasco) we were able to relax, laugh and really enjoy our time. Early Saturday morning we started another long day of travel to Samara, a slightly more rural beach town on the pacific coast of Costa Rica. With less than 2,000 inhabitants, life in Samara is slow moving and people seem genuinely happy.
We are taking a spanish class here and had our third class today. Sometimes we speak in mimes and other times we nod and pretend we understand but we’re usually able to get our point across. With only six people in our class, we get the attention and practice we need. Although it’s a short class, we’re hoping that being immersed in the language will help accelerate our learning curve.
We also got lucky with our host family. We’ve been told that most host families choose to house students because they need the money just to make ends meet. It appears that we may be the exception to this rule as we somehow ended up in a large modern home with Doque, the family dog, 4 parrots (2 of which are more fluent in Spanish than we are), fruit trees, chili plants, hammocks, and our very kind mama tica, Sandra. We are greeted early in the morning with our choice of coffee or tea and a hearty breakfast. We’re on our own for lunch which we usually spend hunting for a new, affordable soda in town. We’ve become experts in finding massive casados with fresh fish and fruit smoothies (naturales). This afternoon we indulged in an empanada made by a lady selling them on the beach. Sandra cooks us dinners of meat, rice and vegetables and sits with us in her kitchen filling us in on her kids, grandkids, husband and love for gardening. We started out politely nodding but each day we’re more and more able to contribute with our limited vocabulary. We finally met Sandra’s husband, Mon, yesterday. He had been out of town tending to his sick brother. He quickly warmed up to us after Chris surprised him with his tolerance and love of Sandra’s homemade, extremely spicy chili and onion salsa. He invited us to sit and chat with him, his brother and Sandra over some whiskey. Their stories made it clear that this family never had it easy; they’ve dealt with their share of adversity over the course of their lives and their 32 years of marriage. They’re inspirational people and we are truly lucky to be in their warm and friendly home.
We spend the rest of our time on the beach, body surfing or walking across the small river to get lunch. We frequently run into free roaming iguanas, dogs, horses, cows and crabs. We tried biking through town on our host family’s bikes (made circa 1960) but Chris’ wheel popped after 2 rides. We spent one night in a hostel before joining the host family and sometimes return there to talk with other travelers. I lounge in hammocks with a beach view, we do our Spanish homework, lay under the fan in our room and wander the warm streets of this beautiful place. There’s not much to complain about here – pura vida as the locals would say.