Story and photos by Danielle Ciminero
Fumbling for the source of incessant noise, I knock over a cup and spill the dregs of coffee that assisted me on a late night project. Catapulting out of bed, I snatch a shirt from the cinder block dresser to mop up the mess. I hit the lights, find the alarm in a pile of clothes and turn it off. Through bleary eyes I read the time, 430 am. I'm late.
Most people come to Costa Rica to relax, get in a fun surf, seek a little adventure or a few drinks at the bar. I come to train. My plans are sometimes derailed by something or other, but I get my butt out of bed at 4 am in hopes of staying on track.
Ah Costa Rica, the rich coast, with emerald green mountains, octane coffee, mouth watering tropical fruits and tepid ocean boasting playful waves. Also scorching hot, sticky humid, and in the middle of the day near a trash can, rather stinky.
It is dry season now, the skies have ceased dumping buckets of rain and the road I walk to surf is starting to resemble the wild west, swirling tornadoes of dust as vehicles fly by. Coughing and sputtering I pull up to the patch of palms that is my office and see the typical tell tale signs of a fun day to surf: groms so excited they tackle each other before making it to the waters' edge, the pro kids skipping to the water wearing ear to ear grins, pointing at sections they're going to try their newest tricks, the crafty longboarders riding a wave in because they dawn patrolled already and like to have coffee while watching the pumped up kiddies drain their energy before paddling back out. Oh, it's going to be a good day.
Time flies by as I tag team film: one hour in the water bullying waves from the kids who have already had fifteen thousand and one hour on a driftwood log that is more uncomfortably leg numbing than sitting on a porcupine. The filming is frantic, as I swing the tripod this way and that to capture the waves of the kazillion people who want their clips. By the time I paddle back out for round two, I'm exhausted. This regime continues until the camera battery dies or waves go to rubbish.
Drip, Sizzle. Drip, Sizzle. Huff Huff Huff. Drip, Sizzle. That is the melody of the heinous return mission. It is a two and a half mile walk across relatively flat ground to get to that patch of palms, but it feels like a ten mile hike directly up a mountain on Venus to get back. At high tide you get to choose between a hellish march over soft simmering black sand, with a touch of breeze or the stifling, dusty, wild west road with the possibility of a ride. Temperature is mid to high nineties in the middle of the day.
Before I can even get in my room, which is tucked in the back of a hostel, one of the kids we film is usually sitting on the bench with puppy dog eyes wanting to see his clips. Thankfully he is nowhere to be seen, so instead of scaling to cinderblock wall to sneak in my room, I can walk through the foyer and dash in the door. After a quick cold shower the glorious scent of that octane coffee filters in the room. Time to get to work editing and filling peoples project requests as they pile up.
A second alarm starts its sweet melody, a reminder that it's almost sunset. I have been missing so many of them lately this alarm was vital for my sanity. Who comes to Costa Rica and misses the sunset for days on end? A cooler breath of air brushes my skin as I open the door. The temperature no longer feeling like its trying to cook you for dinner, but gives the distinct sensation of a good warm hug.
Woozily I find my way to the waters edge to see a uber crowded line up with dumpy little waves breaking. Thus the explanation of why I often hear negative things about this stretch of Costa. "A crowded close out" or something to that effect. It's true, that's just what it is if you don't put your thinking cap on, pull out a map, and use you car, bicycle, or feet to move away from the crowd. Granted the beach break waves might not be like a perfect reef or peeling point on every set, but there are some gems out there.
The sun lowers toward the horizon, spooling a luminous pink. Just outside the crowd a wave crests and breaks with the precision I long to surf. What am I waiting for? Next thing I know, I'm enjoying the dazzling colors from the only place that feels right.
New England native Danielle Ciminero is training to join the ranks of professional women surfers. Learn more about Danielle here and on Facebook, where you can help her in her quest by "liking" her. What's not to like?