I had been working as a welder south of Nanaimo for about a year and a half, making reinforced concrete tunnel sections for the new underground Cambie St. portion of the Canada Line rapid transit over on the lower mainland. It was a great job. It bought me lift tickets at Mount Washington, and got me across the island to surf regularly. The bad thing about construction jobs is that they come to an end, but the great thing about construction jobs is that they come to an end and that always opens doors. After seeing a cheap ticket to Costa Rica I decided that was where I was going. I know a few people that have been to Costa Rica and the more I talked travel with them the more I felt that I had picked the right place. I've been on one big trip before to Australia a few years ago, but it was with a bunch of people, and we did lots of group things. This time it was to be a solo trip and I had no idea what to expect.
It was just after 10 PM when I arrived at the Juan Santamaria airport in Alajuela just outside of San Jose . This is a brand-new airport still under construction. The customs were very relaxed. It seemed to be very quick and then it was through the doors and into a thick warm blanket of tropical air, which I had been anxiously awaiting. If you remember April 08, Vancouver Island was locked in a never ending winter. There was snow on the ground when I left. What a relief!
I got straight into a taxi and went to an Alajuela B&B called Hotel Los Volcanes that I booked ahead. It was a pretty nice place, small but nice. I immediately noticed the bars on the windows, and wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. In the morning I took full advantage of the complimentary breakfast. I had a bowl of sliced watermelon, pineapple and bananas as well as eggs, bacon and toast. It was awesome.
After breakfast I walked a few blocks and with the help of some friendly locals managed to catch a bus to Jaco for a few bucks. I was told the bus ride would be three hours but luckily it was just over an hour by my guess. Good thing for me because I had to stand. The bus was full of friendly locales and I spent the hour catching glimpses of mountains and jungle, and all along, a scattering of houses and skinny cows. The bus was loud with everyone shouting to be heard over the roar of the engine and wind.
I arrived in Jaco and used a pay phone to call Freddie at Loma Del Mar for a ride. My Spanish phone card had me stumped so I asked a couple locals that were walking past if they would translate the instructions for me. I arranged to meet Freddie in front of the KFC and sat down
with the locals to talk about surfing, and the area in general. Some guy called Pastor Dave knew the guys I was talking with and pulled up in his car and joined the conversation. He talked for awhile about a ministry he's involved with working within a poor part of town in Jaco and offered the refuge of a local church. As he was talking I took my eyes off my bags for one second. I turned back and one of them was gone. A cab driver across the street pointed down the road at another taxi and said "they went that way". Two of the guys I was with took off after them on their bikes and pastor Dave pushed his car door open and said hop in. We took off down the road past the bicycles and good old pastor Dave flies around the getaway car and cuts them off, everyone coming to a screeching halt. The locals on bikes came up behind the getaway car and pulled the taxi doors open. I saw my bag on the floor. The guy who had it passed it to me and one of the locals on bikes gave him a hard smack on the head. Man was I relieved, let me stress, incredibly relieved. I was warned that people would try to take things from me, and even warned how fast it would happen, but man was it ever fast and was I ever lucky. After thanking pastor Dave and the locals on bikes about a million times I went back to KFC to wait for my ride.
Within moments Freddie, a salesman for Loma Del Mar arrived. He had some work to do at his office so I left my bags in his car and walked around the town and sat at the beach for awhile. I bought a 7'2" funboard from el Pana,
a surf shop in Jaco, for $250. It was a shop board made locally. Easy to paddle and good in smaller surf. Not so great in larger surf but that might not of been all the boards fault.