I usually don’t like trips where I move around every few days. It just seems that when you’re getting used to the quirks of a location it’s time to move on to someplace new. So for me at least a week in a city is typically the least I like to schedule. But when you’re on an overview tour like I am now, moving is a fact of life if you really want to get a sense of what a small country is like.
Today I am at Tamarindo Beach on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. We left La Fortuna, and that camera-loving volcano behind at 10:45 a.m. and arrived here in Tamarindo around 5 p.m. This seems like just about the right amount of time for Joan and I complete a three hour drive. But this time we weren’t lost. We made a couple of stops along the way of our own volition and eventually found ourselves on a “shortcut” between Santa Cruz and Tamarindo that will prove to be one of the more memorable events on the trip so far.
We just happened to be driving through the town of Santa Cruz on their annual fiesta and rodeo day. They call it a “bull fight,” but it is different than what you normally think of where the bull is tortured and injured. At a Costa Rican bullfight, the bull is fine…it is the humans that don’t fare so well. You see, macho men from the audience join the bull in the ring and taunt the bull into charging them. This doesn’t always work out so well for the macho men.
But it was the ring itself that truly amazed me. It is a classic arena design, all made of timber, and is temporary. Quite an elaborate structure. Joan and I didn’t want to pay the 10,000 colones to gain admission to sit in the stands on such a hot day, but we did sneak under the stadium (along will a large portion of the rest of the town) to get a peek at the action. It was there that I realized the temporary nature of the structure and decided that standing under it may not be the smartest thing I’ve done.
We strolled around this down-to-business town for a hour or so listening to the competing blaring music sources and generally watching the people as they geared up for what was obviously going to be pretty rowdy evening of drinking cold beer and competing in dance contests. We decided to move on.
It was near Santa Cruz that we encountered something we hadn’t seen before and proved to be really confusing: road signs. Up to this point we had relied on a really poor map and sketchy driving directions from Google or Bing maps. We decided to follow them to our next destination. It did seem to be a lot shorter than the route we had picked out.
It was going quite well until a sign directed us to make a turn, a turn onto an unpaved road. Well, not really unpaved, but not really paved either. Joan called it “chip seal,” and this is her area of expertise. I decided to believe her as I had no better source of information. The road wasn’t really that bad, just a little bumpy in places, Joan was driving then and just plowed forward. What was truly amazing was the amount of dust that was kicked up. At times we simply had to slow down to a crawl and wait for it to clear. We saw several people on motor scooters or in cars with their windows open. But, the piece de resistance was the car we saw alongside of the road, flipped over on its top, with the occupants sitting beside it.
But we made it to Tamarindo and was just lost for a few minutes trying to find our hotel. Now, I’m going to try and find the beach. I’m pretty sure it’s down the road, and not up the road.