Archive | June, 2009
June 24, 2009

Costa Rica: Buena Vista Lodge

horseback riding buena vista costa rica

In addition to the zip line tour, we partook in a few other activities while at the Buena Vista Lodge.

horseback riding buena vista costa rica
We went horseback riding. This is my horse. He was kind of a bully and would bite the other horses in our group.

They made us wear these ridiculous helmets. Where I grew up, you only wore cowboy hats when riding horses, but whatev.

In addition to being an eco-tourism center, Buena Vista is also a cattle ranch.

Rincón de la Vieja Volcano
Rincón de la Vieja Volcano
We rode our horses to the spa area, where we sat in a steam room and then slathered our bodies in volcanic mud. It’s supposed to be good for your pores or something.

mud bath
After the mud has dried, you then wash it off with a cold shower. A lot of the tourists were whining that the water was too cold, but after two to three weeks of taking ice cold showers in Moscow and Petersburg, this was nothing. Amateurs.

hot springs
After you have scrubbed off all the volcanic mud, you then proceed to hang out in the hot springs. Following that, you sit in the sun and drink beer. Not a bad day trip.

June 18, 2009

Costa Rica: Zip Line Canopy Tour

One of the most popular tourist activities in Costa Rica is the canopy tour, which entails clipping a carabiner to a steel cable that has been strung between two platforms and traveling to the next platform via this steel cable. We did the zip line at the Buena Vista Lodge, which had eleven platforms and ten cables.

Before heading to the zip line course, the employees fit you in a harness and give you a helmet and pair of construction gloves that are reinforced with an incredibly thick piece of leather across the palm. We then trudged through the jungle to the first platform, where they instructed us how to brake (pull down on the cable…ah, so that’s what those gloves are for) and what to do if you get stuck in between the platforms (uh, stuck?). And then we were off…for ten cables with incredible views of the rainforest.

It was fun, but I’m not sure if I really have any desire to do it again. I’m not that scared of heights, but it’s a bit different when you are standing on a creaky platform 100+ feet above the ground and angry monkeys are howling and baring there teeth five feet away from you. Also, all I could think of was that episode of The Office where Toby breaks his neck because of a zip line harness failure.

Here is a video of Sam on the zip line. Apologies for the poor camera work, but I was using a Flip MinoHD and was clinging to the tree for dear life (you’re always attached to some cable with the secondary safety line, but, uh, yeah…).

June 15, 2009

Costa Rica: Surf Trip to Playa Avellanas

On Friday, our last full day in Costa Rica, we grabbed our surf gear, hopped on the Witch’s Rock Surf Camp bus at 6am and headed to Playa Avellanas, a few miles south of Tamarindo. Here are a few photos from that trip.

June 5, 2009

Costa Rica: Witch’s Rock Surf Camp

So, back to my Costa Rica trip, which I returned from over a month ago.

We stayed at Witch’s Rock Surf Camp, a beachfront hotel run by surfers, for surfers. WRSC was founded by Joe Walsh, a Californian who decided to move to Costa Rica following his graduation from UCSD. He bought an old school bus, convinced some friends to accompany him on the trip, and eventually ended up in Costa Rica. Thus, Witch’s Rock Surf Camp was born.

The perfect location – right on the beach

I loved everything about WRSC. The staff members were incredibly helpful and the guests were laid back (Well, of course they would be. They are surfers, after all). The great thing about WRSC is that it caters to surfers of every skill level, from someone who has never been on a board in their life to a surfer who has been catching waves since he was a kid. All beginning and intermediate surfers receive daily lessons (in groups of 2-3 people) while the advanced surfers spend their days traveling by boat or van to different breaks in the region. Since I am not skilled enough to even think about surfing some of those breaks, I was content to take my daily lesson with the WRSC instructors, many of whom have surfed, or still surf professionally. I learned a great deal from these guys, who helped me break some of the bad habits I have managed to pick up over the years. I caught some great waves and also had some spectacular wipeouts that would make you grimace. I’ve always thought that if you’re not going to make the wave, you should at least go out in style.

“And today, we will work on your turns.”

My lesson group

The view from my room. The rooms at WRSC are very simple…bed, bathroom, chair, nightstand, and framed surf posters on the wall. If you are looking for a flat screen TV with on-demand movies, room service, and 1200 thread count sheets, then this is not the place for you. But if you could care less about all of that and just want to surf with a great group of people, then WRSC is where you want to be.

Best shower design ever

The view you enjoy while eating breakfast/lunch/dinner or just drinking beer. Another great thing about WRSC is the free breakfast at the camp’s restaurant, “Eat at Joe’s.” When I hear the phrase “free breakfast”, I generally think of the lackluster selection of pastries you typically encounter at an early morning business meeting. At WRSC, however, you can select any of the breakfast plates on the menu. I usually opted for the eggs, bacon, toast, and gallo pinto (rice and beans), drenched in salsa verde with a cup or two of coffee on the side. It was definitely a great meal to have after a 6am surf session.

This damn bird stole a piece of my bacon

Looking out towards the main street of Tamarindo

California pride!

I love nachos. I really love a plate of nachos as big as your ass. When we weren’t eating dinner at a place down the street, we were at Joe’s. You really couldn’t go wrong ordering something here. The nachos, tacos, burgers, sushi, and smoothies were all great, and the beer was always ice cold. Seriously, the WRSC crew should be incredibly proud of the food they are serving.


Entrance to WRSC/surf shop/board storage area. WRSC has a huge collection of surfboards, and if you are a student there you can check one out anytime. I mainly surfed a 9’2″ or 8’6″.

Rian and I

These guys were everywhere

Listening to Tico Hendrix.

No matter what time it was, you could always go downstairs to Joe’s and find someone to have a beer or nachos with.

For our last night, the WRSC staff threw a “graduation party” and served up a delicious feast.

Happy camper. Literally.

I had such an incredible time at WRSC and met a lot of great people there. I think about it often while I am sitting at my desk here in DC, working on spreadsheets or whatever. I have a feeling I’ll be back there sometime next year.