A Travellerspoint blog

Days Nine, Ten and Eleven

So many stars!

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So I'm going to start with an apology. Apparently, I'm not actually able to keep up with these posts on the actual day things happen. I think I've been getting into the Playa Guiones lifestyle a little too much and have generally been a little laid back. But, I'm really OK with this. The sun is shining, the fans are spinning and I have a cold drink sat next to me, so if I'm late with journal posts, tough luck! Today is the day off though, so I now have plenty of time and no real excuses.

Again, I'm kind of rolling several days into this post, partly due to the surfing not providing great commentary on a daily basis and partly due to the aforementioned relaxed attitude.

Day nine (Sunday) saw my return to the waves after my somewhat unexplained, and very unfortunate, injury. I wasn't entirely back to 100% and I think this showed (and is still showing) in my surfing, which is something that has annoyed me greatly. The aim of this week, as I had now graduated to level two surfing was to continue practising the techniques that I had learnt in the previous week (angled take-off's, carving turns, trimming down the line, dynamic wave selection etc). This meant that the entire week would be spent mostly out back in the green waves. The unfortunate downside to this is that the number of waves you actually catch drops from around 9 out of 10 to maybe 1 out of 10 or less, thus reducing the amount of skill honing that can be achieved. As an example, in the morning session (1.5 hours) I caught 3 waves and bailed on all of them! Sadly, this trend continued over the next couple of days too, and in fact on Tuesday I caught only a single wave in each session, failed to stand on either and bailed on both. Sad times! My somewhat rapid progession in the world of surfing last week, looks to have ground to a halt.

Even though the surfing hadn't gone quite as well as liked, these few days weren't a total write off. On Sunday, myself and two of the new guests (Saturday being changeover day) went down to the beach in the evening to look at the stars. Now, I know certain individuals believe that you can see the stars in the UK, and to a certain degree, in certain places, this is true, but believe me when I say that the UK has nowhere you can go that even compares to the view of the night sky I had. And I have science to back me up here!

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Here we see a lovely picture of UK light pollution. As you can see, the only realistic place to look at the night sky is somewhere in Northern Scotland, but lets face it, you're more likely to end up staring at rain clouds. Now lets look at Costa Rica.

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I'm staying in the sliver of complete black down in the bottom left of the country. Can you guess what this means? A sky full of stars, planets and the fuzzy patches of light from nebulas and galaxies far, far away. This was complimented by the setting; an empty beach of soft white sand, backed by the jungle and being a lot nearer the equator also meant that the moon had set beneath the horizon by 9 in the evening.

The following night, we went back again with a few more of the guests and unbelievingly, this night was even more majestic than the last. As we walked through the tress out onto the beach, the moon was just setting and had taken on a very red colouring, similar to that of a harvest moon. The stars were just as impressive, but we also walked down to the sea as well. When turning back, you got the entire night sky reflected in the wet sand. It truly felt like you were sitting in the void of space.

To top this off, we also discovered something in the sand that was bioluminescent. You could rub your hand through the sand and leave a trail of little white sparks behind you. Finally, we discovered the source of these tiny pinpricks of light; plankton in the water. We waded out to waist hight water, in nearly complete darkness, and as the sea washed over us, the tiny sparks ran down our bodies, in a natural mimicry of the night sky above. We were, in the very real sense, in the middle of a star filled night (I challenge anyone to try and tell me that this is something you can experience in the UK!)

There aren't many experiences that I've had that remain crystal clear in my mind. Usually, over time they become watered down, diluted and merged. I think though that the image of seeing literal stars in all directions is something that will stay with me for a very long time.

Posted by Exitalterego 11:39 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged beaches surfing costa_rica stars surf_simply night_sky Comments (0)

Week One: The Documentary

I'm a film star!

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Good choice of Bedouin Soundclash as background music.

Posted by Exitalterego 07:24 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged beaches surfing costa_rica video bails bedouin_soundclash Comments (2)

A Showcase For Some Of My Photography

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In preparation for this trip, I kind of spoiled myself a little and bought a new camera (a Sony Nex-5). This isn't a full blown digital SLR, but does have a lot of similar features. I've only had it a few months and haven't really had time to get a lot of practice with it, but below are some shots I've taken that I'm quite proud of. Some I've also done a little post-processing on, so I'm open to criticism on them, but please keep it constructive. Sarcastic comments can be made to me in person!

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Left: The original. I liked the bright colours contrasting with the somewhat monochromatic surrounding. Right: I decided to emphasise this fact with the colours in GIMP

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I snapped this empty Pepsi bottle to play with the bottle distorting the background, but actually realised that the wave design seemed quite appropriate for this surf trip!

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This is Sophia, one of the other guests. She didn't realise I was taking this, which is how I captured the relaxed pose. I think she also kind of epitomises the surf chick style in this photo.
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The photo above looked kind of washed out to me, so a small amount of colour correction has brought back the warmth of the photo

Totally aside, I'm not overly happy about how this blog won't allow me to realign or resize images. I wanted those last two side by side, but if I used the medium pre-defined size, they became too small. And now I can't centre them either!

Posted by Exitalterego 12:06 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged people objects costa_rica photos Comments (0)

Day Six: The Highs And Lows Of Surfing

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And so we return to the surfing. After the day off, energy levels were approaching somewhere near full and everyone was ready to get back in the water. By this point, everyone was paddling out back, catching green waves and generally looking more and more like we actually knew what we were doing. At the time of writing this, I've seen some of the three-hundred-and-something photos that have been taken (not by me as I was in the water) and I can honestly say that some of these are mind blowing, especially considering that for the majority of the guests, we had only been surfing for three days total and I really can't wait to be able to show these photos to you.

That mornings surfing went really well. Almost without exception, we nailed catching the waves and riding down the faces, although the instructors were still giving some of us a helping hand on some launches, giving us the speed boost that was required to make certain waves. Personally, I caught three waves which put me a really good mood and shook the last vestiges of bad mojo that had plagued me from a few days ago and I was looking forward to progressing to the next level; the angled take-off. And then it all went wrong again.

Sadly, after such a good morning, bad luck struck once more. Surfing involves a lot of extending your spine when popping up, or even moving from a lying position on the board to sitting on the board and as such it tends to extend the intercostal muscles a lot more than normal. All week, I'd been feeling the strain from this in my chest but had worked through it as it was never enough to stop me from enjoying myself. Sadly, that mornings surfing seemed to have been the last straw and by the afternoon's session I could barely bend or flex my torso without suffering a violent stabbing pain through the left side of my rib cage. I valiantly tried to ignore it as I had up to this point, but the pain was insistent that I take notice and as a result I caught only one wave that I rode all the way back to the beach, where I promptly lay in silent suffering until everyone else's lesson was over. Unfortunately for me, everyone else elected to extend their surfing by another half an hour, but Ru was kind enough to come back in and bring me back to resort where I could shower off and relax in the Rancho.

What this has meant is that for the past two days, I've been unable to do any surfing as I rest up and let my body repair itself to the point where I can begin again. Hopefully, this will be enough time as I would really like to make the most of the next week! It also means that I don't really have anything to report about for days seven and eight, so no posts will appear for these. Sorry if you were looking forward to my further adventures. The only conciliation I've been able to take is that according to Ru, this type of injury happens quite a lot, to the tune of at least once a month.

Unfortunately, the bad vibes seemed to catch up with others in the group too. The same day as I strained my rib cage, one guest (Sophia) took a board to the face, one guest (Shelley) was pummelled by a wave and injured her shoulder and on day seven another guy (Steve) started suffering from tennis elbow while a final guest (Antonio) also strained his intercostal muscles. Sadly, in a sport that has such energy to it, injuries are something that all who partake in it face. I would say that the adrenalin rush when it all comes together is worth every moment of discomfort though.

And so I've finally caught up with these posts. Hopefully, from now on, I'll be writing them on the day's that they happen, or at least closer to the day.

A LITTLE ASIDE FOR THOSE INTERESTED
For all you non-surfers, if you are interested and want to see what the stretching I was talking about feels like, lie flat on the floor, place your thumbs next to your bottom ribs, then push up and swing one of your feet round to between your thumbs. Your foot should end up as close to being at right angles from the way you were lying as possible. Alternatively, just push up with your hands, leaving your feet back, but keep your head looking forward, extending and arching your back. Now imagine going into this position twenty to thirty times in an hour. The photo below shows both this, both popped up (the girls on the left and centre and the instructor could place their hands straight down next to their front foot) and while still lying (the girl on the right).
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Photo taken from Surf Simply Facebook page - this isn't my trip, just a good example of what I'm talking about

Posted by Exitalterego 10:06 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged beaches surfing costa_rica injury green_waves Comments (0)

The View From Here - Surf Simply Resort

Photo Time!

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As I'm sure people are aware, generally speaking cameras and see water don't mix, so I don't have any real photos of my surfing in my possession (they do exist and I will be getting hold of them as soon as I can). However, I have taken some pics from around the resort that I'm staying in, so have decided to do a picture post. I'll try and explain the photos with some small captions.

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The view of Surf Simply from the road outside

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A useful place for trying to dry your clothes. Sadly, not somewhere you'd want to sit though due to the large number of bugs

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The main room. Again, I didn't spend much time here as sitting by myself would have been kind of sad

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This room I did spend some time in. Sadly I had to share it with a whole load of ants

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So many lovely boards!

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Two shots of the pool area, the first one using my fancy fish-eye lens, the second using my fancy panoramic camera settings

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This is the Rancho, the social/dining/kitchen area of the resort

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This is how we get to and from the beach. The truck is for the guests, the quad/trailer combo for the boards (just in case anyone needed that explaining!)

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The local wildlife here isn't exactly timid. This guy, along with the rest of his family, were in the trees on the other side of the road. He is a white-nosed coati.

More photo's will follow at some point, most likely next week.

Posted by Exitalterego 17:27 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged buildings animals surfing costa_rica pools Comments (2)

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