Costa Rica: Escape from paradise

Writing and photography by Joanna Rodo

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For the past 4 years I have been traveling around the world looking for the beautiful surf destinations that our planet has to offer. I really enjoyed catching the best waves of my life in Indonesia, the paradise beaches of the Dominican Republic, the amazing atmosphere and culture of Morocco. Yet the undiscovered beauty of Costa Rica was always in my mind. There was something magical about these wild coasts, maybe because it’s not that easy to get there from Poland and it’s not that popular here either.

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This winter I finally decided to cross it from my bucket list. I called my best friends and after a long night of planning, we scheduled a girls surf trip to the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. Little did I know that our holiday in heaven would turn into a sudden escape.

For me, travel is more about the journey, than just a destination itself. I was also really looking forward to our stopovers in Barcelona, Miami, and San Jose. Long haul flights for many can be tiresome, but I don’t mind this peaceful time. It’s good to be offline for the things I can’t always find time in my life for.

At the coast, life flows slowly. Everyone greets themselves with a loud and cheerful “Pura Vida!” which means pure, simple life. That’s how it is there – living in harmony with nature in a blessed country.

No one here cares about your status, the money you have and no one will ask you about your job title. It’s just not the most important thing in life.

Great kindness and the warmness of the locals makes you feel like you belong to their community from the very beginning. 

Our days here are calm but rhythmic. Often waking up early for morning and late evening surfing sessions. Sometimes both, if our bodies are not to tired to handle it. Lunch in local restaurants called ‘soda bars’, where you can try some Costa Rican specialties at a good price. Exotic fruits and vegetables, fresh seafood – always served with a mix of black beans and rice. Costa Rican traditional dishes are seasoned with spices and herbs, full of rich flavour.

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The midday is lazy, too hot to go out, too hot to do anything. So we just chill staying indoors, avoiding the straight sunlight and waiting for the cooler part of the day.

Evenings are the most magical time there. Sunset surfing, yoga practice or just hanging out on the beach with locals are all good times. All with the golden sunlight giving you one last show.

During our stay, we planned to discover as many places as possible to find some of our favourites. We wanted to check out some easier surf spots of the west coast of Nicoya Peninsula, starting from Santa Teresa and Montezuma, through Nosara, ending our trip in the Biological reserve in Monteverde. 

But there’s been a sudden change of plans. In the middle of our trip, the global situation with COVID-19 started to worsen. It got really serious. We had to make a hard decision to leave the country before the final lockdown, and go to the airport within 48h trying to catch any flight out of Costa Rica. Staying there wasn’t an option, all the places like hostels, private stays, restaurants were closing down, even the access to the beach. If we didn’t make the right decision at the right time, we could get stuck for quite some time with no shelter. We had to split up, it was impossible to find any flight for 4 people, 2 of us went to Frankfurt and my friend and I to Mexico, where three days later we had a government flight to Warsaw.

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Although the trip was much shorter than we planned, we were lucky to meet some kind people on our path and catch some good waves. And I was completely smitten with what I saw and experienced. I will save the initial travel plan for the better times, which, I hope to come soon.

Pura Vida!

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For more from Joanna, you can find her on Instagram by clicking here.