My morning view from just outside our hotel as 2017 comes to a close. The Pacific Ocean has always and will likely always hypnotize me. It’s the combo of salinity, color and smell that puts me into some kind of spell.
As much as we’ve unreservedly savored our visit to this stunningly beautiful beach, and I think I can speak for the entire family here, we are now yearning for a less sandy existence.
A day after 2018 arrives we’ll depart this unforgettable coastline and fly back to San José where we’ll stay for a few days. On the agenda in the capital is a visit to a famous coffee plantation and a much anticipated tour at a sanctuary for sloths.
Shot this during yesterday’s yin yoga class here in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. Amazing weather and the perfect location for yoga.
Met this meditating fellow earlier today on Playa Carmen. Gratifying to know that I’m not the only middle-aged surfer dude on the beach here.
We’re almost a week into our first expedition to Costa Rica and I’m flabbergasted at how under-developed the beach communities along the coast are. No large resorts, high rise hotels or a single fast food restaurant or convenient store. That’s right, no 7Eleven or burger joint by the clown or king.
I find myself being reminded of Koh Samui, circa 1988, a few years before the airport was built and when both Chaweng and Lamai beaches were still dusty fishing villages which were mostly populated by transient backpackers. There might have been maybe two hotels on the entire island back then and only a few dozen dodgy bungalow resorts. I worked at one of them, the Golden Sand.
I remember how hard it was to find a restaurant on Koh Samui that served decent western food and that you had to drive a motorcycle or take a flatbed truck taxi ride to the ferry town Nathon and there wait patiently in line at Koh Samui’s only post office to make a collect call to wherever.
That was thirty years ago.
Santa Teresa is similar in a few ways and undeniably different in others.
Like on Samui three decades ago, we mostly have the beach here to ourselves. You pass maybe 20 people during an hour’s long walk up and down the coast. Half of them are surfers. This despite it being absolute peak season.
There are perhaps a dozen hotels scattered along the beach and a few bungalow places located on either side of narrow, unpaved lanes just above the main road.
Unlike Samui ´88, there are a plethora of really good restaurants here. We’ve enjoyed very tasty Japanese, Lebanese, Thai, Mexican and some seafood during our week.
We’re a little surprised at how expensive it is, though. So far, we haven’t been able to spend much less than $70-80 for a dinner for three. Which is almost as expensive as in Europe or even the US.
Then again, Costa Rica has been popular among affluent American families and well-to-do college kids for decades. So the high prices are likely a reflection of an upper middle class tourist demographic.
The thick, unmistakable smell of ganja is prevalent almost everywhere – especially on the beach just before and after sunset. Just as it was on Samui wayback when.
For a photographer and travel writer, there’s plentiful of things to be inspired by here. Including the dense jungle just a few steps beyond the beach and the large flocks of pelicans that soar majestically in fluid arrow formations just above the tree tops.
The weather has been great so far. Cool mornings with temperatures in the lower 20s and middays in the mid 30s. It’s a dry heat, though. Nowhere nearly as humid as in Thailand but significantly hotter than on the Hawaiian islands.
Finally, I think one of the main reasons why Costa Rica is enjoying increasing popularity is in no small way thanks to the friendly atmosphere among locals and guest workers alike.
It’s pura vida all the time.
Since arriving and renting a couple of surfboards, Elle and I have been catching the early morning breaks before breakfast. There’s a narrow surf spot just outside the hotel, but we usually opt to walk towards Playa Carmen where there’s less current and more importantly, less rocks.
The view from our room on Santa Teresa Beach in Costa Rica earlier tonight.
Haven’t been in this part of the world in several years. Last time was during an elaborate press visit to Guatemala which is a country (Nicaragua) north of here.
Of what I’ve seen so far here in Santa Teresa and during yesterday’s flight from the capital San José, Costa Rica is as beautiful as I thought it would be and then some.
The weather so far has been perfect. Not too hot or humid (as in South East Asia) and yet cool enough to warrant a shirt at night.
The lush flora reminds me of Hawaii (Maui and Kauai), the unbridled, kamikaze traffic along the main road is similar to Sri Lanka and the shape of the Pacific waves along our beach are only distant cousins to those in Southern California.
Here’s what my view looked like late this afternoon from the 53rd floor of the Turning Torso. Though I’ve seen it from this vantage point for more than a decade, I’m still mesmerized by how high up in the sky this amazing building reaches.
I’ve had an affinity for long exposure night images for many years. Several years ago, I took a series of New Year’s images from the roof of the aforementioned skyscraper. Some of which you can view here.
There is no logic or rational reason in the universe to buy into most of our contemporary culture’s offerings. And being so infinitely busy with my own more or less remarkable creative endevors, I rarely take the time to discover even that which might actually be worthy of my focused attention.
But there are exceptions….
Likely because I was partially raised in Los Angeles, arguably the most culturally superficial place in the known universe, I still get extremely excited for each new instalment in the Star Wars franchise.
And so, tonight, Charlotte, Elle and I will be seeing The Last Jedi at a theatre in Malmö, Sweden. A place far, far away from my very first introduction to the operatic saga by George Lucas at Groman’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard a long time ago in 1977.
Here’s my interactive travel map for 2017. The year isn’t quite over yet, and I’ve got a couple of trips (one really short and one long-ass) before 2018 is upon us.
I’ve been traveling professionally for about 15 years now and was often on the road way before that. My first transatlantic flight was 1967 (LA to Gotehnburg) and I’ve so far been to 53 countries and 289 cities and seen many wonderfully interesting places and met some truly remarkable people all over our planet. I’ve also eaten more airplane food than I wish to remember…
I can’t think of anything I could buy or do that would give me as much long-lasting satisfaction as traveling does. Some call it rootlessness, but I prefer to look at it as a combo of plain ol’ curiosity and an ineptitude for dealing with boredom. For a comprehensive map with all the countries and cities I’ve visited for the last 20 years or so, click here.