As I sat on the back of the quad I couldn’t help but laugh to myself at the situation. We slowly putted further away from Venado along a dirt road, passing a few rustic local houses and farms. After going through a small river and up a rough hill I felt like this was going to be quite an adventure. We finally made it to my homestay. The property was very simple and traditional. A small house, outdoor kitchen, clothesline, a little shed, and some farm animals. As I hopped off of the quad, the family greeted me so welcoming that I felt right at home.
The family consisted of the parents and three children. After being shown to my room, the family and I all sat down to a wonderful lunch consisting of rice, beans, and chicken. Rice and beans are great, but I am surprised at how much every Costa Rican loves the combination. As for my homestay, we had a big plate of rice and beans 3x per day and always with something else such as cheese or eggs. They also treated me to fresh papaya from their papaya trees whenever I wanted. Even though they are a poor family, I was well fed.
From my temporary home, it turned out to be a 30 minute walk to Venado. It doesn’t seem that far until you add in the unbearable heat and strong wind. I tried not to do the trek during the heat of the day, but found myself caught under the blazing sun more times than not. Then from Venado it was another 20 minute walk to the nearest beach and surf.
On my second day Carmen, the oldest daughter, put me in contact with the local surfers. They were headed out to catch some waves. We convinced them to wait for me and so I quickly grabbed my board and headed to Venado. Even though it was only about 10:30 I started sweating as soon as I took a couple steps. But it didn’t matter, I was going surfing!
Michael, one of the local surfers, met me in Venado and showed me the way to the surf. We headed down a road, through barbed wire fences, across fields, and along a little path to reach the beach. A few other locals were already there getting ready to hit the water. It was small, but a few fun waves. Then for about an hour an awesome little peak formed a fun right that we took turns surfing.
Talking to the surfers I started to learn more about their community and what Clara Vista did for them. Clara Vista is a nonprofit trying to empower Venado to become the best community that it can be. They have several programs including a leadership program, computer education, and best of all a surf mentor program. Through the surf mentor program, Clara Vista helped a group of locals build about 13 boards to use and hopefully rent out. All the money from board rentals goes back into the community. It is a way for the youth to give back to their community, while also having some fun surfing. It was awesome to see these guys catching waves on their boards that they made.
Gary, one of Clara Vista’s founders, originally started the surf mentor program and every time he is in Venado takes the local surfers to one of the many nearby world class surf spots. I was lucky that Gary was in town at the same time and was able to talk to him about what he’s done for the surfers. Then one day 3 locals and I all hopped into Gary’s car and surfed Marbella. It was small, but turned out to be a super fun session.
I spent most of my time at my homestay. With especially hot conditions I had little energy to do anything productive. So we stayed in the shade for most of the days and I practiced my tico Spanish. On one night there was an outdoor discoteca for a community fundraiser. They brought in a DJ and all the money made from alcohol sales went towards the community sports department. It was awesome to see pretty much the whole community come together under the
stars for a little party. Then after a few beers, people started to fill up the dance floor. It’s fun to watch everyone dancing together and it seemed like everyone knew how to salsa.
While I was there, Clara Vista also helped support an animal castration day. Offering castrations and all the shots for only $10 to whomever wanted to take care of their pets. During the same time, there was also a surfboard repair event. Three of the local surfers got together and fixed the 9+ damaged surfboards. Along with surfboard rentals, they offer ding repair for a very affordable price.
As my time in Costa Rica started to run out, I decided that I wanted to explore a few more surf breaks with the incoming swell. So I reluctantly had to say goodbye to my Costa Rican family and start exploring again. I found a ride to Playa Negra, so I decided that it would make for a good destination.
Clara Vista is still a relatively new organization and has tons of room to grow. They are always looking for help. To find out more information check out their website at, http://claravista.orgFrom what I saw they are definitely making an impact on the community. Hopefully one day they will have an awesome little surfboard rental and repair shop.