[:en]Madera is a widely known spot for good surf and a beautiful beach. It sits about 15Km north of San Juan Del Sur, a city known worldwide a Central American right of passage “Sunday Funday”. We are now traveling lighter, just 3 of us. Danielle is in San Francisco and Lauren is in Denver. We hired a shitty car to take us from Popoyo to Maderas at about a 1/2 the cost of a regular taxi. Our lungs couldn’t take anymore dust as the last hill approached; a steep hill on a dirt road that, it would seem, had not been services for years. Our car just about doesn’t make it up the hill when we hear a “this is as far as I go” comment coming from the driver. Without much knowledge of the area, I ask him if we are far and if there are hotels in the area, he simply repeats what he said before with now an additional “I don’t care what you do, but I am not going anywhere else”. I kindly ask if the spot we stopped is a hotel, he shrugs and says yes. I don’t think he cared either way.
We are forced out of the car, I put my backpack on and look around trying to figure out what to do. Andrea and Christian do the same. We walk in the first place we see and are greeted by a big, black dog who announces our arrival with his loud barks. I see what I think its an Canadian holding a baby in his arms and walking around, almost aimlessly.
We go through the same routine we always do when arriving at a new place. I usually speak first because, well, locals speak spanish but this time I speak English, what type of lodging does he have? How much? Now I know he is American, a west coaster and that his name is Tyler. He asks briefly about us and proceeds to explain that he used to own a hostel, Parque Maderas, and that since he closed it down 3 years ago, he has been building a hotel. That the hotel is not open yet but that he does have rooms available. He goes into a bit of detail about Parque Madera’s, the name of the old hostel, volunteer program and that unfortunately for us, he is only looking for a specific set of skills to help him on the last stages of the opening of what is now called Hulakai Hotel, someone who does branding/graphic design and marketing. I kindly tell him that that’s what I do and his face completely changes. This could be the beginning of something great. He tells us to go check out the other spots on the beach for lodging, that we can leave our bags at his door. We walk 5 min down a even worse road than the one we just got off, it’s now clear why our cabbie could not drive down and why he kindly told us to fuck off when he did.
Madera’s beach is a total surfer spot. A whole bunch of beach babes and a lot of surfer dudes walk around without shoes with their boards. It’s almost feels like a movie set with a lot of extras just walking around to set the mood. A couple of hostels are standing, a campground and a couple of shacks work as restaurant. About 3 minutes in and I turn to Andrea and Christian to tell them Im gonna try my best to do a trade with Tyler, one of the two owners of Hulakai.
We walk up the hill again, we go into the hotel again and I tell Tyler briefly about my experience, he seems to like what he hears and ushers us to walk up to the pool area and to wait for him for a while, he has a few things to finish. What he forgot to tell us is that the pool area, was a grotto pool that overlooks the ocean about 300 meters above the Maderas beach. We change into our swim gear and cool off. About 40 minutes later, Tyler comes up and we have a small chat, Andrea and Christian will be staying in one of the rooms at a great rate. I will be working at Hulakai for at least 3 weeks, until Danielle comes back. I couldn’t not be more exited about it.

For me, it’s close to impossible to write a blog post about my time in Madera’s. Specially because at the end of the 3 weeks, the day before Danielle was scheduled to return, we extended our stay for 6 more weeks for her to become a Registered Yoga Trainer. My time in Maderas was absolutely fantastic and I could not be happier to have lived that time there. I created awesome stuff for Hulkai, which you can read about here, and became part of a fantastic little community of expats and locals living together. Now, I think that this serves as a public thank you note to all the people involved.

Tyler and his beautiful family, who opened their home and heart to me and Danielle. Tyler’s passion for this project is easily spotted miles away and it’s highly contagious. He personifies the expat dream with a massive amount of upgrades. I thank him for the opportunity and for showing me how dreams can be archived. Jeremy, the other half of the partnership, another Canadian whose heart does not fit in his own body. A surfer dude who has been chasing the endless summer for a while and who happens to have found it on the Maderas hills. Thanks for all the drinks, the laughs and the help.

Trying to summarize 10 weeks of awesome cannot be done. Too much fun was had, too many awesome nights with even better days. A lot of new friends and thousands of little memories. But the time has come, 94 days after arriving to Nicaragua, we are finally leaving. The day start as it has for the past 10 weeks, a walk up to the pool to get breakfast done by Yara. A bittersweet feeling lingers around my heart as I bid farewell to all the things I grew accustomed to, the wind, the sound of the roof and the view of the ocean poolside. But today is different and it might be a good thing, I am busy finishing off the last few details for Tyler. The lack of electricity the day before was a blessing in disguise, or so it seems, as I run around trying to get everything done and it stops my mind from wondering too far away from the plan. Hugs and handshakes go around to the whole crew. We grab the bags and walk up the hill one last time, my mind is thinking ahead and I forget to pet Tommy one last time. I leave just as I came; backpack, flip-flops, shorts but now with the feeling that the last 10 weeks have been an absolute blessing from every side I look at it. I glanced back one last time as I walk down the hill from Hulakai to Casa Maderas to catch our shuttle, I see the logo I designed and I makes me happy. I wish nothing but the best for this place; for Tyler’s family, for Jeremy and Kelsey, for all the girls who work here and the guys whose labor has built every structure. I want to come back in a couple of years and see it flourish as it will. With that last glance, I close an awesome chapter of this trip.

Onto Costa Rica now.


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