Too Relaxing of a Layover

Noel and I stayed in San Jose for a night before starting our Argentinian Adventure. The price was right so we chose one of the big box hotels by the SJO airport which was characterless, and nice and easy at the same time. We were up early the next day on our way to Panama and then onto Argentina. The flight from SJO to Panama was one we purchased as it was not a part of our scheduled around the world ticket. What was great is that they upgraded us to first class which surprised Noel considering we were wearing flip flops, shorts and TShirts.

Our 5 hour layover in Panama didn’t seem so bad knowing we had access to the first class lounge and could catch up on emails and work. We got comfy, drank coffee, did a bit of work and watched planes take off. At some point, we got tired of eating Copa’s prepackaged lounge snacks so we went to grab a quick bite downstairs in the airport. After eating lunch I took my phone off of Airplane Mode to check my emails and the local time adjusted itself. We thought that we knew what time it was, but we must have had it wrong. We spent way longer than we thought in the lounge and rather than having over an hour left we were about to miss our flight to Buenos Aires. After a long run through the airport we made our flight with only a few minutes to spare. I am so glad that we didn’t miss our flight to Argentina as I didn’t want to spend the night in Panama.

Our next flight was about 6 hours and for the first time it felt like what I always imagined First Class to be… It was very comfortable. The seats reclined to a level that made it more than easy to sleep, the food was surprisingly delicious and the landing as smooth as it gets. We landed at 1am and after a quick cab ride we checked in to our hotel in Recoleta, a nice neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Since then we have spent our days discovering this super cool city, taking it in as much as we can before leaving to the mountains of Patagonia. I absolutely love Buenos Aires and could easily see myself spending a much longer period of time here. The weather is about 32 degrees everyday with a mix of sun and clouds and a nice breeze which makes it very enjoyable for walking around. The sun stays up until about 8:30pm and the humidity level has been very tolerable. I haven’t bought many things as of yet, but the shopping here is amazing and I’m in bikini and purse heaven!

Buenos Aires has a very romantic vibe and I witnessed a lot of people kissing passionately at restaurants and in the parks, which makes for a great stop for our honeymoon. The three neighbourhoods where we hug out the most: Palermo, Palermo Soho and Recoleta remind me of New York in a less busy way. The fact that there is not much traffic makes it possible to steel a quick kiss from your lover in the middle of the street as you are crossing. More photos of Buenos Aires to come real soon!

Goodbye Costa Rica, thanks for the laughs.

Another wonderful year has come and gone and I’m stoked for what’s to come in 2013.

A few of our many goals for 2013 are:
– Search out new fun and profitable business ideas
– Continue to grow FreeBird Agency
– Buy a house
– Build my photography business
– Start a new business and or launch a new product

The reports I’m getting from back home is that the snowboarding has been great this season, but when I’m able to jump into my board shorts and surf every day I haven’t missed it in the least. I love never being cold and for me surfing is my meditation. It’s where I can clear my mind and focus only on the the surf. It enables me to turn my brain off and in those moments I gain a deeper understanding of what’s important and a clearer outlook on life. While I’m stoked to be going to Argentina and then eventually back home to Canada, I know that my soul will always long to go for a surf each and every day.

We have just finished packing our bags and are ready to leave to San Jose tomorrow morning. We will stay there for the night before starting the next leg of our adventure in Argentina. More of that story to come as it unfolds.

It was great having Josi’s parents join us here in Costa Rica for Christmas. I’m pretty much with my mom and family every Christmas so having them here made it seem a little more like home. They brought a small plastic Christmas tree with them from Montreal and when we had our Christmas dinner we lit it up and placed it on our table over looking the bright orange setting sun and the surf far below. Mixed seafood grill replaced my usual turkey dinner and the warm breeze off the Pacific was a welcome change of scenery from the wet snow that I’m used to. If only my whole family would have been there it would have been perfect.

We went on a hike the other day and had our good friend Jesse not lent us his prized Swiss Army knife for our world adventure I likely would have had to carry Josi for 6K out of a snake and panther infested jungle. Salt water and lots of walking had gotten the better of her old leather flip flops and they were in bad shape when we took off on our quad in search of adventure. We drove toward the edge of Cabo Blanco National Park along a small dirt road when we stumbled upon the park’s visitor centre at the foot of a trail head that leads through the jungle to a remote beach. I always knew that there were monkeys, huge Boa Constrictors and poisonous spiders in the area, but at the park we learned that there are also panthers, other big cats, a number of poisonous snakes and lots of strange furry animals that I had not heard of or seen before. We didn’t see Panthers or snakes, but we did see lots of pretty much everything else. As you can see I’m not a National Geographic photographer in any way shape or form, but I did manage to snap off a few shots of the wildlife that we saw along the way. The trail we took was about 8k in and 6k out which was a lot more than we were planning considering we hadn’t intended on hiking at all. Right when we started to come back along the 6k trail Josi’s stubbed the toe of her flip flop and the soul was all but removed from it’s thin top. I had some bright pink string that I had found some time back and kept because I thought that it might make a good fly for fishing. Jesse’s knife was perfect for puncturing through both the soul and it’s upper which enabled me to bound them back together. Why I say I would have had to carry her out is that there was no way she was going to walk back with bare feet. One of the photos I posted is of a spider. You can’t tell in the picture, but that thing is huge! To get an idea of how big it is, in the picture you can see a really small spider behind it’s back two legs. That little spider is about the size of a typical spider back home. I asked Josi to stand closer to it so you could get an idea of it’s size, but she wasn’t interested in that idea and there was no way I was going to give her the camera so I could get close to it.

The only thing that I didn’t do was catch a fish on my fly rod! I lost one, had a few other chase my fly, but that’s it. At least we had a great time fishing with Dougy and we all caught a lot. I love fishing and I love eating fish. Lots of time over the next month for catching fish on the fly in Argentina. San Jose tomorrow and Buenos Aries the day after!

Will Design for Room and Board :)

Our good friend Jobbie who lives in Mal Pais has a surf shop called Jobbies Longboards and does holiday packages down here. I have been doing his creative for years and this last trip down here we did what has turned out to be a pretty good trade. I designed him up a bunch of new hat and T-Shirt graphics and in exchange he rented a great 2 bedroom apartment that Josi and I are living in for the month. It works well for both of us as he sells a crap load of the stuff that I design for him.

Another friend of his runs a really great seafood restaurant called Product C and he was asking about help with a hat design. I ended up doing a bunch of hat and T-Shirt designs for him and in exchange Josi and I go there most days for lunch for one of the best salads topped with fresh fish.

The last time we were here I ended up being a wedding photographer and Josi assisted. I don’t remember what we got for that, but it was way more than most people who live here make in a month.

I’m hoping that we are able to do more of the same as we venture around the world as I really enjoy designing and at FreeBird Agency I find myself doing more management stuff and way less old school design. It’s also great because I’m able to do design pretty fast so it doesn’t take long to create cool designs in exchange for decent trade.

Loving the Adventure of Life

Mal Pais, Costa Rica

Being here has provided a great opportunity to shut my brain off and to relax after working so much during the last six months prior to the trip. I find it amazing what one is able to put them self through with regards to long long hours of non stop work, and what one is able to accomplish, when you are working toward a goal. With out something to look forward to I could have never put in the hours that I did.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 22 days since we left home, crazy how time flies. Our days have been going something like this. Wake up really early and surf for two or three hours. Shower and go for breakfast. Come home and check emails and then possibly do a bit of work. Eat a light lunch. Go fly fishing in the surf or adventure around a little and check things out. Then go for an evening surf, shower up again, go for dinner and go to bed early.

The Surf:
The waves have been smallish, but have been consistent and the mornings have been a lot of fun. My late takeoff on my backside drop in’s have been touch and go. I got totally rocked today on a wave that I normally would have caught with out much problem. I’m happy that I’m working it out a mellow beach break rather than on the razor sharp reefs of Indonesia. My goal for this trip is to get back into shape and to catch airs on my surfboard again. In truth, I have only ever landed a few and that was years back. I’m confident that I will be sticking them by the end of this trip. I was stoked the other day to ride out of a little frontside barrel which is always a good start to a surf trip. For the most part there haven’t been much in the way of barrels to be had, but there have been lots of fun waves. The water is crazy warm and I could stay in it all day with out getting even the slightest of a chill. I’m also stoked that Josi is getting the hang of her new board and is catching lots of waves. I keep hoping that the swell is going to pick up a bunch so that we can surf some of the many great point breaks in the area, but I din’t think that that’s going to happen. Not to worry, lots of opportunity for great waves over the next 6 months.

The Food:
Lets just say that as long as you love delicious seafood, or chicken for that matter, then you will love Costa Rica. For dinner, a huge main course consisting of a protean like fish (mahi mahi, yellow fin tuna, snapper), chicken, or beef with rice, beans and a salad costs about $10 to $14. It’s a lot of food and it tastes really great. For breakfast we have a traditional Costa Rican meal consisting of eggs, rice and beans, a corn tortilla and a protein (Josi usually has the fried local cheese and I usually have bacon). Breakfast is about $5, but when you add in coffee and fresh fruit smoothy it costs a little less than $20 for both of us including a decent tip.

Fly Fishing:
There have been huge amounts of sea birds diving into the surf every day as they feast on small silver bait fish. The locals are fishing from the shore every day using two hand lines, one for catching bait and another for catching the larger fish eating the bait. As the pounding surf comes at them they throw their line over the wave and then quickly duck under it. Normally on surf trips I bring a casting rod but because we are spending a month in Argentina and I plan on doing a lot of fly fishing in Patagonia I only brought a 6 weight, 4 piece Sage rod. i have had a less then easy time learning to cast through the surf as it pounds you over again and again. Prior to yesterday, the closest I got to catching a fish was seeing some fish chase my fly as I retrieved it in quickly. I haven’t seem many locals actually catch fish, but I have seen a few which is enough to keep me coming back again and again. I keep experimenting with new flies and yesterday was the first day that I used a fly that looks like a white minnow. I still didn’t catch anything, but I had one one which is a start in the right direction. I saw the fish come out of the water as it hit the fly and I think that had I not been worked around by the surf I would have set the hook sooner and would have had caught it. I’m not sure what they are called, but I have seen them as big as 8 pounds and the locals say they taste great. Hopefully in my next blog post I will be able to tell you first hand how it taste.

Our Adventures:
I’m not sure that I mentioned it in my first blog post, but the adventure starts even before you land in Tambour. As you are flying in you see a tinny little gravel airstrip that drops into the ocean. Coming in you are thinking to yourself, are we really going to land here? It’s the type of air strip I imagine being used by drug lords rather than tourists. When you take off out of San Jose you fly over some pretty poor neighbourhoods with all of the houses having bars on all of the windows and old tin roofs. Makes me glad for what I have and for how blessed I have been in my life. I like to think that if I were really poor I would live by the sea and not in a city.

Having been to Mal Pais so many times in the past we have seen pretty much all of the sights, but this is Josi’s parents first time so we are seeing it all again which is great. With every corner you turn there is another beautiful beach, lush tropical jungles, beach side restaurants serving up fresh food and delicious blended fruit drinks, huge lizards scurrying across hot and dusty roads, and all sorts of other cool and wild things. The other day we watched as they released endangered baby turtles into the sea. It’s super cute watching them scurry across the sand as they make their way into the surf to live a life at sea. We collected clay rocks on the beach that we took home and crushed up in warm water to make a mud paste. Josi, her mom and her dad and I went down to the beach and we all gave ourself’s a home made luxury mud bath. It was pretty funny as we caked it on ourself, face and all, which made for some great photos. After it dried in the hot sun we washed it off in the open ocean. The end result was perhaps the softest my skin has ever been.

Most of the locals wear Jobbies hats and shirts that I designed for his surf shop. It’s neat traveling so far from home and into a remote beach side community where everyone is wearing creative that you created. I’m hoping to be able to take photos of some of my new creative that is at the print shop now. I’m expecting that it will be done before the new year, but it is Costa Rica so who’s to say?

This is only that third Christmas I have ever spent away from home. Once I was in Tokyo, once I was surfing in Australia and this year I’m going to be here. Lets start by saying that I have always loved Christmas. While it won’t be the same as being at home, people have put lights up in cactus’s and there are a few fake Christmas Trees up so it feels just a little like the holidays. It’s also great that Josi’s parents are here. Family, even if they are my new family, are great to have around over the holidays. And I think that I would much rather the sun and a surf than snow and a toboggan ride on Christmas morning.

Happy Holidays and I look forward to updating you again soon.

Papaya Colada and Mud Baths

Finally my cold is gone and I can do stuff again. I found it less than easy to stay in bed while everyone was having fun. Since I’ve been feeling better, I am packing my days with activities and enjoying as much sunshine as possible.
Most of our mornings are dedicated to surfing. Noel had warned me that it would take a while for me to get used to my new 6.0 board as it is much shorter than my 7.0 that I am used to. The beauty is that I am now mostly able to duck dive and I can get past the break way easier and much faster. Duck diving is an art. My board is super floaty and I’m not so big so whenever I don’t get it perfect the white water hits me and I end up riding the wave backwards and getting worked. I’m sure that it provides much entertainment for the people on the beach! The surf has picked up and the shapes of the waves are way better. Today was my best day so far as I caught quite a few decent waves and rode down the line. I can’t wait to go back tomorrow morning!

My folks are in town and it’s been a real pleasure hanging out with them and touring around. We recently rented a car and went to Montezuma, a village on the tip on the Nicoya Peninsula. Our friends Jobbie and Veronique joined us and we had a great time shopping, playing on the beach and enjoying some delicious cocktails. I had the Papaya Colada and I have been craving it again ever since. We’ve also used the car to visit playa Manzanillo and Playa Hermosa which were both beautiful and so peaceful. Noel put his line in the water, but no luck. Still, it was super fun.

Another thing that kept us all entertained today was our mud baths that we took! We collected a bunch of clay rocks on the beach at low tide, crushed them with boiling water and made two big containers of mud. We then went to the beach where we proceeded to spread the mud all over ourselves. We couldn’t stop laughing as we started snapping photos. Once you are done spreading it, all you have to do is to let it dry. It feels like your skin is going to crack and it sure gets people’s attention as they walk by! Once all dried, we jumped in the ocean and washed it all off, leaving your skin soft like a baby. There is nothing like a free homemade day at the spa!

I should go to bed soon as we are getting up at 5:50am tomorrow. A lady that we met on the beach will be taking photos of Noel surfing first light in the morning. It already sounds like the best morning ever! Exercise first thing as we get up and then after go enjoy some delicious Costa Rican coffee made by my lover and then go out for a yummy breakfast.

Mal Pais, Costa Rica

We flew out of Bocas Del Toro to San Jose Costa Rica and then connected to Tambor which is an airport with a super sketchy little small gravel airstrip on the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. On the plane we sat in front of a guy who lives in Santa Teressa who knows Jobbie so we shared a cab with him to Mal Pais with saved us a couple of bucks which was nice. Having spent a lot of time in Mal Pais over the years it felt as though we were back to our home away from home. While there is always swell here, it’s not the waves that keep us coming back, it’s the people and the laid back vibe. It’s super chill with great food, decent surf most of the time, and lots of fun things to do.

Our good friend Jobbie, a fellow Canadian who I met down here 12 years ago, has a surf shop and surf school in Mal Pais. If you are looking for the perfect get away from the winter rains and want to learn how to surf, relax, and have a blast, be sure to look him up. And if you are wondering why his logo and all of his apparel graphics are so dam cool, it’s because I have been doing all of his creative since day one. A little ruthless self promotion. What’s cool is that yesterday I also designed up some shirt and ball cap designs for Product C, a local fish market and restaurant that totally rocks in exchange for free meals.

Josi had caught a cold in Vancouver just before we left and it never quite left. Over the last week she was hit pretty hard and she even had to take a couple of days out of the surf. She has been riding her now short board and was stoked to find out that she can now duck dive, something that she always wanted to do. Now that she is starting to feel better I’m sure that she will be in the surf every day. I have been waking up between 6 and 7am for an early morning surf but today I took the morning off because I paddled through some jellyfish yesterday and my arms are marked up pretty good. It hurts a bit when you first get stung, then feels like a mild burn and the next day it swells up and gets itchy. Your only defence once you have been stung is to pee on it right away, then pour vinegar on it when you get home and after that to scrape it with a credit card. The scraping is meant to get out the stingers. It doesn’t help that I’m more susceptible to jellyfish stings than some and because of it seem to get stung more than most.

Jobbie hooked us up with a killer apartment right by the beach which is so great. Two bedrooms, AC, full kitchen and 24 hour security so you don’t have to worry too much about things getting stolen which is good. While it’s super beautiful here and the locals are all super nice, you hear stories of things going missing all the time.

Josi’s parents have joined us here from Montreal and are staying through Christmas which is really great. For them this is a big adventure as they have only been out of Canada a few times and usually it’s at an all inclusive. It’s pretty rustic here with only gravel roads and the restaurants are often open walled huts where they cook on open fires. They are great sports and I think that they have been having a good time so far.

Yesterday we went fishing with our friend and local fisherman, Dougie ( $150 gets you a boat that can sit 6 people out on the open ocean for 4 hours. Dougie is a great guy and as far as the local fisherman go he is the best. If you are ever down here I highly recommend that you send him a message and have him take you out. Josi caught a big Amber Jack, Luke caught a huge Mahi Mahi (Dougie is holding it up in the photo below, I caught a super tasty Yellow Fin Tuna and the rest of the team caught nice size Amber Jacks as well. We saw dolphins, huge sea turtles and lots of fish. Needless to say, we are all going to be eating lots of fresh seafood for the next few days!

Well, it’s hot and I’m itching to go for a surf so I’m out of here. At some point I will pull out my good camera and will take some nicer photos. And if the surf gets big then we will be sure to get some surf photos as well.