12.02.2010 - 12.02.2010 85 °F
All night we could clearly hear the waves pounding the shore from inside our tree house. It was the best soundtrack for a good night’s sleep... definitely as soothing as the sounds of the rain and insects at Kokoro. I had been a bit nervous that Guanacaste would be oppressively hot and impossible for sleep, but luckily, even though our treehouse does not have air conditioning, the night cooled down nicely.
We wake up a little before dawn and sit by our opened windows, chins resting placidly on our arms folded on the wood sill, amazed by the beautiful view. Just past the few palm trees outside of our tree house, the ocean stretches out into a crisp horizon, with just one island—Isla Chora—rising like a tortoise shell from the waves. After about fifteen minutes of gazing out at the sea, we each lay down on one of the futons in our living room and go back to sleep.
We finally get up at about 6 and have breakfast (fruit and omelets) at our table underneath our tree house. We are still very sore from our canyoneering tour so we decide to have an easy day of just relaxing and exploring the town.
Playa Samara is a sublime surf haven next to large mountains and an even larger sea. Cabinas, restaurants and surf schools dot the beach, but the waterfront appears to be largely unspoiled. You can’t go anywhere along this beach without hearing the sound of palm fronds pushing against each other in the breeze.
Downtown Samara is really just a couple blocks of small souvenir shops and several restaurants ranging from Italian to Thai. Actually, what surprises me is that of the handful of restaurants, about 4 are Italian or pizzarias. There’s probably more pasta in this tiny town than rice and beans. There are also street vendors (many of whom appear to be of Caribbean/Jamaican descent) selling small trinkets like jewelry, colorful sarongs and beach gear. Matt and I both buy wooden necklaces, Matt's a surfboard and mine a Maori symbol signifying safe passage across water.
Exploring the town really doesn’t take as long as I expected it to take, so we spend some time lounging in our shaded hammocks, sipping tropical drinks from our on-site bar and watching the ticos play in the surf. We also take a walk down the beach to watch the surfers riding the waves and try to coax hermit crabs out of their sandy burrows.
I love the informality of this beach town. Playa Samara—and Costa Rica in general—is beautiful because it is not the whimsical tropical paradise of the Caribbean islands. This paradise, by contrast, is oftentimes gritty and raw. There are many elements of the Utopian paradise here—the seaside sodas, the frozen drinks, the gossamer gleam of water. But Samara has a different pulse. The visitors here do not seem like tourists. They seem like they would mold to fit whichever country they travel in. I bet some have hitchhiked to get here or slept on the beach to save money.
There is an interesting mix of people who pass by Samara Treehouse, from tourists to locals, tours on horseback to dogs chasing each other through the waves. The noon sun is pretty hot so after walking the beach and checking out the prices for the surf lessons, we use the hotel’s complimentary boogie boards during high tide. While we are spending time on the beach we see a large iguana that had walked right in front of the tree houses and climbed up a nearby tree; before today, I had only seen iguanas in pet stores, not out in the wild.
After eating almost nothing except tipical food and rice and beans, we are craving something Italian so we have a late lunch at a pizza and pasta restaurant in town. (It is also one of the only restaurants that is actually open. Most apparently only open for dinner). We order a pizza with ham, peppers, onions and capers, and it is SO delicious, especially after eating rice and beans for the past week!
We walk the beach again during the low tide, which had left about 60 feet of sparkling wet sand and exposed calcified coral . I gather up a few good pieces of coral and shells; we plan to look for skimboard rentals over the next several days so we can take advantage of the smooth sands of low tide.
Just after sunset, the dusk brings a barrage of bats that swoop and dive right near the treehouses and a few times come pretty close to us in our hammocks. Matt seems nervous that one would land on his face or take residence in our room, so when he goes upstairs to close our windows, he says that one had flown in and out right as he was closing the window, narrowly missing his face. These are small zippy bats, much smaller than the Midwestern bats I am used to.
We eat a late dinner at La Brasas, which has a mix of international food. Since I am still craving something different than the usual rice and beans, I order spicy garlic spaghetti, while Matt has barbeque shrimp. We discuss where along the coast Matt can buy a rash guard before our first surf lesson, so I think we might take a day trip to nearby tourist towns that might have surf shops. There is one here in Playa Samara, but Matt doesn’t like the rash guards that they have. Maybe we'll drive up to Tamarindo to see what sorts of stores are there.