Waking up to bird songs and insect noises vibrating through the salty, humid air, we begin our day early with a strong pot of French-press coffee. My husband Andy and I sit on the porch of our rustic beach cabin in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, as the rich caffeine kicks in. With our bird book, binoculars and steaming mugs, we greet the glorious day.
The toucans in the trees above us are as bright as the rainbow, with giant beaks and old souls. They fly into the trees in follow-the-leader fashion, one always shadowing another. Just far enough behind to observe, but not close enough to have to make small talk.
They respect each other’s boundaries, as all souls should. Their movements are slow and deliberate, calculated and sloth-like. Their dry croaking call vibrates into the energy of the atmosphere, followed by an eerie silence. One takes off, making room for the next, now replaced by its shadow, and life goes on...
As our mugs run dry and the toucans move on, we get dressed and head to the Farmer’s Market. Numerous stands, overflowing with organic fresh fruits and vegetables, coconuts biscuits and plantain chips, local gourmet chocolate and freshly baked goods, colorfully line the walls. The exotic smells and blinding colors assault our senses with pure delight.
The happy Tico farmers pick the best morsels, handing them to us with an appreciative smile. I appreciate them in return, in a way only a farmer’s daughter can. They have planted these seedlings months ago, nurturing and raising them up to be strong and good beings, then carefully plucking them at their exact moment of perfection. Sending them off to what they hope is a good home, in exchange for a few cents, so they can nourish another as they were nourished. Paying it forward to the circle of life. Rinse, eat and repeat.
Heading home to unpack our overflowing shopping bags, we prepare for the afternoon and head to a surf competition taking place at the famous Salsa Brava wave break in downtown Puerto Viejo. Everyone in town, resident or visitor, lounges on the sand, waiting for the event to begin. We watch the surfers stretch along the beach, preparing their bodies for exertion, exchanging excited words of encouragement and fist bumps amongst each other.
A line of surfers begins to form, just beyond the break. They hurry up and wait, for the perfect delivery. Predicting the wave before it’s born, reading the ocean like a book one surfer paddles furiously to beat his co-workers. He drops into the sweet spot and sails toward shore, his hair trailing a moment behind him. The crowd cheers and laughs, cameras click, someone’s shrill whistle pierces the air. For him it’s just another day at the office, high on life.
After a long, magical day in the Caribbean sun, we have worked up an appetite, so we head over to a local gem called Stashu’s. A funky blend of Thai, Caribbean and Indian food, this infusion restaurant features a unique menu, bursting with flavor. The ambiance is eclectic, luxurious yet humble, and romantic.
The friendly owner, Stash, can be seen wandering among the tables, mingling with patrons and making friends. Every dish on the menu is beautiful, artistic and spectacular. We begin with a light, colorful salad served on a butterfly plate, with a homemade dressing. For appetizers we drool over the spicy red curry mussels as they melt in our mouths. Visions of the flavorful Tandoori coconut chicken that I enjoyed for my dinner will dance across my mind for eternity.
The food on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica truly is as colorful as the culture.
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica is a laid-back surfing town. A town where no one is in a hurry, except to catch a wave. A town where your cool factor is determined by the size and curl of your hair and how many Hola’s you receive as you stroll the streets. It’s a town where everyone is all smiles and no worries. A town where Bob Marley rules and the only jerk is a chicken. A town where rasta colors dominate, reggae music fills the salty air, and lazy swirls of smoke line the beach.
When dreaming of an authentic Costa Rican beach vacation, Puerto Viejo is the picture your mind paints, and it is even better in person.
Pura Vida and Audios Bitchachos!
Kari Pinkerton Silcox
It would be a tragedy to die, having never really lived. Which is why my husband Andy and I quit our jobs, sold our house and decided to chase our dreams. We moved to Costa Rica without a plan, and this is the story of our adventure.