The Holwer Mag
By: Robert Provencher
For many years now my wife and I and our daughter Danielle have travelled all over Canada, the US, the Caribbean Islands and Europe, and the one place that tops our list of favorite places is Costa Rica.
We recently spent a week in Tamarindo, our third time there, and our fourth time in Costa Rica. It was 2006 when we last saw that dusty little town, with its spectacular beaches, great restaurants and friendly people. The first thing we asked ourselves on our first day was: “why did we wait so long to return?” We had forgotten about how much we loved this place, and vowed never to let that happen again.
There is something special about Costa Rica. Especially Tamarindo, where the magic and ambiance that prevails the whole country seems magnified. I can’t say it in so many words, and my wife, the most eagle-eyed travel critic, is sensitive to travel experiences, and would spot any problem areas in a heartbeat. She is Tamarindo’s biggest fan.
If we had to define and quantify the Tamarindo experience with words, we’d have to talk about the uncrowded beaches. The friendly atmosphere. The mood, attitude and relaxed way of life that seems to live within the locals and tourists alike.
The first thing we did when we arrived at Tamarindo was to stock up our fridge. We were staying on the beach at Casa Cook and planned on cooking one meal a day, the other meal at a local restaurant. The local restaurants such as Pedro’s and Nogui’s were my personal favorites. Breakfast was always the same: fresh fruit and fresh Costa Rican coffee.
Waking up early every morning was pure bliss. The sun, the wind, the monkeys, the walkers and joggers heading down the beach all add to the early morning euphoria. It doesn’t get any better.
After fruit and coffee, a run down the beach for some early morning exercise starts the day off right. Nothing like jogging barefoot on the beach, with the rising sun streaking across the vast ocean bottom revealed by the low tide. We always felt safe when in Costa Rica, even at night in pitch dark, walking this same beach under the stars back to our cabin. This was always an amazing experience punctuated by the sounds of the surf and the occasional shooting star in the night sky. Pure poetry.
Sometimes I like to sit back and people watch. Whether in the airport waiting for my plane or in the heart of Tamarindo at night, watching the locals carry on was of particular interest to me. They smiled a lot, and laughed. I had little idea of what they were talking about, but it sounded interesting, given the bantering and laughing. “These are happy people,” I always thought to myself. Generous, caring and open. I hoped that those who visited Costa Rica or moved here would be impressed and positively affected by their unpretentious ways.
You often hear the expression “pura vida” which, as I understand it, means pure living. I believe it goes deeper than that. The ecological wonders, the magnificient scenery and the geography, which are all part of what makes Costa Rica special, are only a part of the picture. The best part that is expressed in ‘pure living’ goes much deeper and extends to the unseen.
It’s part of that ambiance, the soulful and gentle ways of the people who make up this country. One needs to experience it to know it. My hope is that this way of life that defines who this country is remains immune to outside, and possibly destructive, forces and remains the way I appreciate it: peaceful, quiet, uncommercialized, affordable, and safe.
I know of no other place that offers all these things rolled into one. After meeting many other tourists, and expats and locals, it seems they all feel the same way as I do: that this place is like no other. To me, it’s heaven on earth.