Our trip began in Tamarindo, but we heard that it was a prime destination for locals to go for New Years so we decided to come back for round two. We boarded a bus in Nicaragua and headed back to Costa Rica.
We didn’t spend any time with Matt Cain this time, but it was an interesting way to spend a couple of days. Because it’s such a hot spot for New Years, our hostel options were slim. After a long hunt, we stumbled on a hostel in Playa Grande. Playa Grande is the next town over and where we spent most of our beach days the first time we were in Tamarindo. It was quieter, prettier and just a short walk through a shallow river to Tamarindo. We figured it would be easy enough to stay there and still spend New Year’s Eve in Tamarindo.
There are boats that cross the aforementioned river during the day and we were lucky to catch one when we first arrived. As we later learned, backpacks in the river are difficult to carry. The boat dropped us off and we walked about 15 minutes along the beach to our hostel.
Suzy stayed with us that night and planned to move to a hotel with two friends in Tamarindo for the next night. We figured we would cook dinner, but the supermarket in Playa Grande was really lacking. Luckily, we scored the very last bag of pasta. Unfortunately, the last bag was awkwardly large paccheri noodles which are meant to be stuffed. We cooked with head lamps because the kitchen was outdoors and there were no lights. It was very camp-esque and the dinner left a lot to be desired. The raccoons found it in the fridge that night and finished off our leftovers.
We woke up the next morning and got ready to drop Suzy off at her hotel in Tamarindo. The tide was coming back up but the river was still low enough for us to cross. I swam across and watched Chris help Suzy keep her backpack out of the water.
We spent the afternoon in Tamarindo and met up with our friends Mike and Yakov from Panama and Costa Rica. We got a drink at a restaurant with a view of the sunset.
Afterwards, we said a quick goodbye and headed back to our hostel in Playa Grande to get ready for the evening. The boats stop running at 4pm and it was now closer to 6pm. We had our stainless steel water bottles, flip flops, clothes and no other way to get back to the hostel. I consider myself a pretty good swimmer but what came next was terrifying. The sun had gone down and with the waves coming up the river, we couldn’t see more than 2 feet in front of us. Not only were there salt water waves crashing over our heads, but the rip current was trying to pull us back out to sea. I tried to stay afloat by swimming on my back, but I felt like I wasn’t moving forward and soon realized there was no easy way to make it across. The usual 3 minute crossing took about 20 minutes and I’m pretty sure I only made it because Chris kept reassuring me that I was swimming like a champ. As we crawled up the Playa Grande bank, we breathed a sigh of relief and without saying a word, knew there was no way we would cross back through the river that night.
We got back to the hostel and decided we would ask the receptionist about cabbing to Tamarindo. While I wished my parents a happy new year via Skype, Chris had the following conversation a couple feet away:
Chris: “Is there another way to get to Tamarindo because we just got back and would prefer not to cross the river again?”
Receptionist: “Oh, did you cross at low tide?”
C: “No, just a few minutes ago, right at high tide.”
R: “Oooh, sketchy.”
C: “Yeah, the waves were pretty big and there was a nasty current.
R: “Yeah, that and the salt water crocodiles”
Julia: pauses conversation
R: “There are also bull sharks that come at dusk.”
C: “So we’re definitely going to need to take a cab then.”
Then she told us cabs take about 45 minutes and cost a fortune. This wasn’t a problem for us. It was the most pleasant cab ride we’d ever taken.
We met up with Suzy, Mike and Yakov and enjoyed our last dinner of 2012. Then we headed to the beach for the countdown and fireworks show. It was the perfect way to welcome in 2013. We met a few ticos and spent the rest of the night celebrating with them. The city was awake all night and panama’s top 40 hits blared through the streets. When it was time to go back, we called our cab driver to come take us back. It may have been farther by road, but we stayed clear of that river for the rest of our stay.
The 1st of the new year was spent relaxing on the beach and saying our goodbyes to Costa Rica. The next day would be spent starting our journey to Panama.