[:en]On our first morning in Costa Rica, we woke up in Tamraindo after arriving late at night on the bus. The city itself resembled Miami much more than Central America, with ridiculous prices and flashing billboards. The only language I heard spoken was English, and there were more Americans on holiday than any other nationality, including Ticas. After taking a quick look around and trying to purchase sunscreen for triple I would pay at home, we decided to head out on the next available bus.
We caught the bus late morning down the one dirt road heading south, and arrived in Avellanas about 20-30 min later. We were there during dry season, so the road and trees were varying shades of sun bleached brown. The beach itself was beautiful, primarily a surfers get away it was sparsely populated with a scattering of hotels and restaurants between the main road and the beach with just one mini market.
We stayed at Casa Surf, a small and cozy hostel run by a canadian couple. One of the few truly backpacker hostels left in costa rica with a very affordable price tag of $10 per night. It also has a wonderful yoga deck above the hostel, with plenty of hammocks for lounging, and a wide array of surf boards for rent.
Avellanas was one of my personal favorite spots that we surfed, it had very nice, mid-sized waves that took a while to break, perfect for a beginner. The 7 min walk from the hostel to the beach is through a mangrove forest via a raised wooden platform. It’s a very beautiful, surreal walk, so we stopped to take some pictures. We only spent two nights there, but it was a nice place if you want to be in the waves all day. After two days however, we continued on our pursuit for the mythical, lush jungle that comes to mind whenever I think Costa Rica. Having grown up with this picture in my mind, I was anxious to see it.
On the third day we packed up our bags and started walking down the road, hoping to hitchhike. After about half an hour of walking in the heat and getting covered in dust by passing cars, we made it to a small restaurant. There we dumped our bags and walked in, thinking to get some food. The waitress told us that a bus would be passing, the only one that day in about 2 minutes, so we rushed back onto the road. We caught the bus all the way to Playa Negra, another 20 minutes south.
Like most beach towns, it was comprised of a few restaurants and hotels clustered around the main road. We stayed quite close to the beach, and went to watch the sun set, its light reflecting on the black sand. Our hotel was a combination of private, tree-houselike rooms and a great pizza restaurant. We sat down to order dinner and I sadly glancing at the menu, registering pizza after pizza, my Kryptonite. As I turned the page my eyes lighted on the last pizza, “pizza sin gluten,” and I grabbed Oscars hand, “look, look, I can eat pizza!” Clearly a very joyous night, we feasted on fresh oven baked pizza and the best sangria I have ever had.
The next morning we rolled out of bed and started began making breakfast, sharing the kitchen with a Brazilian family. They were very nice and offered us some coffee, so we got to chatting. The two brothers and the older one’s wife and child had taken off work for a month long surf trip. They had rented a car and offered us a ride with them to one of the nearby beaches. We piled in and drove about 10 minutes to a very secluded stretch of beach. We were the only people there and Lucianne and Gabi, their 2 year old, and I watched as Oscar, Gustavo (her husband) and Alejandro caught the surf. The waves were massive, compressed into a small bay with rocks on either side, they rolled and crashed, four rows, each 2-3 meters high. The boys disappeared between the waves, and we’d only get quick glimpses of their heads every now and then. Watching his dad and uncle surf, Gabi longed to join them, so Lui took him back to the car to get a boogie board. Just as they disappeared into the trees, Gustavo ran onto the beach, waving and shouting in portuguese. Normally I could make out the gist of what he said, but with the passion and urgency in his voice it was lost to me. By the big gash on his chest I gathered that he had crashed into the rocks and scraped himself up pretty bad. I told him where Lui and Gabi were and he ran off after them. I was very concerned, but they all came back a little while later, laughing and chatting, and to my amazement, Gustavo jumped back into the waves, saying his catch phrase, “pura vida, man!”
I spent the rest of the afternoon playing with Gabi on the beach, watching the little blond blue eyed boy chase the waves and yell with glee as the waves lapped against his waves. That night we had yet another pizza feast, this time breaking out our last precious bottle of Flor de Cana, drinking out final taste of Nicaragua with our new found friends.
The next day, they scooped us back into their car and took us on yet another fun adventure. We drove about two hours north through mountaous country into Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja in search of a waterfall. When we got there we found out that the main falls where dried up, so we drove a secondary one about 20 min away. We parked the car and walked the rest of the way to the falls where we spent the rest of the afternoon.
When we got back we cooked dinner and traded stories. Though Playa Negra was not the prettiest place we have ever been to, we met beautiful people and shared some good stories and good meals.

Lodging: Kon Tiki
Cost: $20 per night for a private room, shared bathroom.
Kitchen: fridge space only
rating: 4/5