Pura Vida in Costa Rica

Sun, Surf, and Sky
  |  Gorp.com

One last adventure awaited us. After nearly a week in the rainforest, we finally cast our eyes over the Pacific Ocean, on a private beach near Manuel Antonio National Park. Costa Rica's renowned for its surfing, of course, and the sport has become an integral part of this culture.

We take our surfing lesson from Jay, a 21-year-old from Virginia Beach. In classic lifeguard pose—legs shoulder width apart, arms crossed, fingers neatly tucked between his chest and biceps—he surveys the water, nodding slowly, as if in secret agreement with the ocean. After a brief demonstration on paddling out and catching a wave, he sends us off to fall repeatedly as we struggle with yet another new sport.

On our last night, I fall asleep on the second floor of our screened-in beach house; the crashing waves had long since become background noise to my dreams. Around 4 a.m., my eyes open to catch the Big Dipper preparing for its plunge into the Pacific. I'm not sure what it was that woke me: the trill of a night bird, the bite of a mosquito, or possibly an early shriek from one of the spider monkeys out back.

I wake one of the group's members, Carin, and the two of us head to the beach for an unobstructed view of the sky. Having both come from New York City, where there are approximately seven stars visible on a clear night, we gawk as we approach the shoreline. Stars float on the horizon, threatening to sink forever into the sea's depths.

Carin and I gaze silently. Dimmer stars appear between the others as our eyes adjust to the darkness. Our awareness grows, and we witness shooting stars dropping like leaves in autumn—the Perseid meteor shower. All too soon, the night slips away and dawn breaks, an orange explosion sparking fire in the eastern sky.

After hours in the sand watching night become day, we walk to the house and Carin goes back to sleep. But I can't sleep. Knowing we'll be returning home soon, I grab a surfboard and take off into the waves, feeling the sun's glow warming my shoulders.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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