What we really needed after our hectic ‘circumnavigation’ of Costa Rica (on land, of course), and especially after the 3 days of extensive hiking in Corcovado National Park (wearing rubber boots), was a week to unwind on a beautiful beach! Well, that is exactly what we got at Playa Zancudo! We have been renting a lovely house called “Puertas del Sol” that belongs to a former colleague of Cam’s and her husband. Muchas gracias, Kristine y Jim! They discovered Zancudo Beach 5 years ago and have been spending about half their time here ever since. Photos and info about the house are on Facebook as ZancudoPlayaPlata, if you’re interested! At low tide, the beach is really wide and completely sandy (hardly a shell or stone to be found!)
Occasionally, we would see someone ride by on a bike, motorcycle, or ATV. I saw one person jogging, a few dogs, and two guys collecting a type of shrimp that lives in the sand. Other than that, the beach is pretty much deserted! Admittedly, this is the low season, so the small (and set back) beachfront motels and cabinas are mostly empty. However, in conversation with Annie (Peterborough friend who is now living in Panama) I learned that even when they came here for Easter weekend, the beach was empty (proof: her husband Rodney went skinny-dipping in the middle of the day!) How can this beautiful stretch of beach be so quiet? I’m thinking the name might keep the crowds away (zancudo means mosquito in Spanish!)
When we arrived last Wednesday, we were met by Alex (Kris and Jim’s friend and property manager) who made sure we got to the casa with all our bags. We were eager to meet his daughter, Yively (pronounced “Jibelly”) who is 11, so he brought her by after school and the kids got to swim together and practice their Spanish. Yively explained that she is in a class of 31 students who are between grades 2 and 6 — a ‘one-room schoolhouse’! She invited us to come to the school the next day. We decided the teacher probably wouldn’t mind (foreign guest speakers who are 12 and 13 years old are a novelty), so we went. It was actually bigger than I had imagined (several classrooms all opening to the outdoors) and the students were divided into smaller groups because the English teacher was there as well as a Resource teacher. Oops — perhaps not the best time to interrupt! They all came back into their main classroom and Kaia and Jake introduced themselves and spoke a little about Canada (doing their best in Spanish!) The students then invited them to play soccer on their nice grassy field. It was girls against the boys (very even strength) and everyone left their shoes on the sidelines. Says Kaia about playing barefoot: “You don’t have to worry about anyone stepping on your foot with cleats!”
The day we arrived, Alex had asked us if we wanted to buy some fresh fish. Of course! Zancudo is known for its excellent fishing. Well, he showed up with 3 kilos of tuna! Cam promptly looked up a recipe for ceviche (raw, marinated tuna) which turned out great! Both Alex and Yively said it was excellent so the next day, Cam made more and Alex brought his wife Jorleny over to have some, too! We also ate breaded tuna on several occasions (3kg is a lot of fish!)
It’s been fun having access to a fridge and kitchen. We’ve learned how to make “gallo pinto”, the popular Costa Rican rice and bean breakfast dish.
Cam rented a surfboard which we have had here for most of the week. He and the kids have made good progress (while I managed to ride some waves, lying down on the board). However, our original plan to go to Povones (well-known surfing beach south of here) was cancelled once we realised that the Zancudo waves were more than enough for beginners! Apparently, the waves in Povones are much more intense and the beach is more rocky. Cam & kids have enjoyed surfing under the full moon the past few nights too.
We have kept ourselves busy in and on the water, on the beach (building a huge sand castle and riding the bikes that Alex lent us), doing lots of blogging, reading, playing cards, and my personal favourite… getting the laundry done in a place where it actually has time to dry completely before being repacked into a backpack! Yeah! (We were pretty stinky when we got here!).
We’ve had beautiful sunny mornings and rain for a few hours most afternoons. There have been some awesome thunderstorms; lightning like I’ve never seen it before that gets etched into your retina for a few seconds. We’ve had some great night swims (the water must be about 30C) and have twice seen phosphorescence in the water. Magic!
We will have Alex and family over for a barbecue tonight (he’s bringing more fish!) and leave by bus tomorrow morning at 5:45 en route to Panama (1 day in Panama city) and then flying to Quito. Zancudo was just what we needed …we feel refreshed and ready for more adventures!