Finding Pura Vida in Costa Rica
Playa Guiones is a small town, if you can even call it a town. There are no street names (and therefore no street signs), the roads are made of dirt, and it seems that everyone knows everyone. When we touched down at Nosara airport via our domestic Nature Air flight, a woman traveling with 7 children greeted the baggage handler with a hug and a kiss on the cheek and asked how his mother was. A friend in a van waited for her outside the chain link fence that separated the open air airport from the road. A couple on our flight had a hotel van waiting for them. All that remained after they left was a red tuk tuk. We had made no arrangements for pick up, and so with our limited Spanish we communicated to the tuk tuk driver that we needed an ATM and an ATV.
Our driver, in his late teens or early twenties, brought us to the bank first. While my husband went to get cash, Victor tried to teach me how to say, “I want to rent an ATV.”
(phonetically what I remember) "jibar a una renta de quadracyclo"
We repeated this back and forth about 5 times, slowly and in pieces at first, until I could say it as a full sentence. As we drove to a place that rented quadracyclos, Victor would periodically look back at me and say, “quadracyclo” or “jibar a una renta” and then motion for me to finish the sentence with his other hand.
We pulled up to iQuad Nosara, which Victor told us was poco dinero compared to the other ATV rental places and waited with our luggage outside while we went in to discuss a rental. Inside we met Alice and her two Great Dane puppies (the pet game is strong in Playa Guiones!), who rented us an ATV for four days and told us that if we were interested, they also offered ATV tours into the mountains. Distracted by the puppy between my legs, we told her we’d think about it and let her know.
Holding our two roly bags on the back of the quad, we followed the handmade signs to our hotel.
Matt, or Matty as his friends call him, was just getting off his shift and enjoying a cerveza, but checked us into our room, which had its own spacious balcony complete with hammock.
After a few minutes settling in, we realized that we did want to go on an ATV tour, and so with 15 minutes until closing to spare, we zoomed back to Alice to book a tour. The pups greeted us by rubbing their sides on our calves (younger puppy) and quads (8 month old “puppy”). Since we already paid for the quads, the tour would be discounted from the normal rate and Mark, the guide, would meet us at the shop at 10am the next day.
The next morning we met Mark for our ATV tour into the mountains. Butterfly bombs exploded as we barreled past, a flutter of yellow, orange and white. Monkeys, a blue iguana, a pink flat billed flamingo and a Blue Morpho butterfly would also treat us with a sighting. We passed teak wood groves, saw the Nosara airport dirt runway from above, and traveled through wild dry forest.
Halfway through our tour we stopped at a Tico woman’s house and enjoyed a couple Imperials in rocking chairs on her porch. When the rain clouds started to roll in, we knew it was time to head out. On our way down the mountain we crossed a dozen rivers, belly laughing at the splashes, reminding us how fun quads can really be.
Victor brought us to Alice, who booked us for an ATV tour with Mark, who taught us how to surf the next day with his colleague Michelle, who we saw later that night at dinner at La Negra where we talked with one of the owners, Derek, who recommended yoga at the wellness center the next day with Angie, who reminded me to breathe and pause. I ended up returning the next day to take another class, rekindling my love of yoga after less forgiving classes taken in San Francisco prior to our holiday.
Pura vida found us, no thanks to anything we did, but to the locals who welcomed us with smiles and recommendations. Especially thanks to Victor, who started a chain of events that helped us get to know and fall in love with this small town.
Playa Guiones Guide here!