Samara is a beach town on the Nicoya Peninsula. The road to there from Mal Pais was a potholed dirt road with 3 river crossings. Of course Priscilla took it in her stride.
Unfortunately when making a tight turn on these roads, the brakes failed (problems with the ABS system) and we took out a small part of a farmer’s fence. Only later did we realize that a part of Priscilla’s bull bar rubber had been left behind. No one was around to report the incident to, one of those mishaps!
Samara is a popular destination for American and Canadian tourists. The advantage is that there is good infrastructure; cleaner water; public services, supermarkets, and with tourism comes good bakeries and restaurants. The disadvantage is that it is very touristy and it was insanely busy when we first arrived, as it was the Christmas break. Many Costa Ricans also vacation in this area, camping in the campgrounds by the beach.
Samara had been on our radar since Ecuador. The Ng family from California had told us about an international school that accepts visiting students. Their son Ty had spent a week at the school and loved it. Also Mike needed to have good Internet access for work purposes and we had 10 days to wait before our friend Murphy arrived from the States.
Since the campgrounds were all full, we sort out a restaurant and hostel reported on ioverlander, called Casa Paraiso. They had a garden parking area where we could camp and use their facilities. It was a challenge to take a proper shower with it being cold water and exposed to onlookers walking by. There was one advantage as our bathing suits got a wash at the same time we did.
The restaurant itself was Italian and they had delicious food, which we enjoyed several nights between Mikes meals. When you are camping at someone’s place and using their facilities more than regular guests you tend to get to know the owners in more depth. Rudy and his mother Slyvia, were very kind to us.
The beach at Samara was relatively calm in that it had no rip currents and the waves were not as strong. Many people learn to surf here for this reason. For Keira it was perfect. She learnt how to duck under waves herself and there was no stopping her and no getting her out of the water.
Keira attended the Mareas International and Homeschooling school for a week whilst we were in Samara, and she loved it. The school gave her a chance to be with other children and to be in a school setting that wasn’t just her Mum teaching her lessons. She also practiced Spanish, although since most of the children there are bilingual, she opted to speak English with them most of the time. Who can blame her, as it has not been that often that she has got to play and converse with English speaking children. I was very pleased to hear from her teacher Hannah that Keira is right where she needs to be in terms of her learning and skill level. A relief for me as her homeschooling parent!
Mareas International School was started with the intention of it being a home school for about 5 children. When word got out, more parents wanted their children involved, and so the school developed. The school has approximately 28 all year around students. This number swells over the Christmas and high season periods as many foreign families enroll their children in the program whilst vacationing or completing business in the area. Other students are a 15 year old who attends 6 months a year. He is completing his own homeschooling program, but comes to the school to complete the work and to have access to the teaching staff. They also support a teenage professional surfer who is also doing homeschooling when on the surfing circuit. He attends the school when in the area and accesses the teachers as needed. The teachers and staff are very dedicated, and we were very impressed with the school and its flexible philosophy on learning.
Whilst Keira was at school, I got to do some individual Spanish study myself, and Mike and I actually got some time as a couple!
Keira was sad to say good-bye to her teachers and friends at the school. She is now looking forward to attending school when we return to New Mexico.
New Years Eve in Samara turned out to be quite fun.
Everyone congregates on the beach in the evening. We took a blanket down, some pillows and settled in to watch a myriad of fireworks, and glowing lanterns take to the sky. Approaching midnight the fireworks increased and bonfires were lit up and down the beach. By this stage Keira has passed out sound asleep on our blanket, not even waking when fireworks exploded into the air 40 meters from where we sat. That girl can literally sleep through anything!
Michael Murphy is a part of our extended world family. We met Murphy in Winston Salem in North Carolina about 20 years ago. Murphy is a creative director. Mike and Murphy worked together at Long Haynes Carr, where Mike got his first real start.
This was Murphy’s second trip overseas, the first being to our wedding in Aussie. This trip for him would become a trip of firsts.
We were all very excited to have Murphy arrive in Samara to meet us. This was the first time Keira and Murphy met and they instantly became best buds.
We spent a couple more days in Samara, letting Murphy relax a little and have some beach time. During this time, Keira and I did a horse ride on the beach, which was fun.
Samara was such an easy place to be, but it was more than time to move on, especially with our approaching deadline of being back in Albuquerque for Mike’s work contract at the end of February.
HIGHLIGHTS/CHALLENGES OF THIS AREA:
MOST VALUED POSSESION: board shorts
BEST EXPERIENCE: Mike- Murphy arriving; Keira- Murphy arriving/going to school; Riss- Murphy arriving/Keira being excited about school/going out to lunch with my husband
MOST CHALLENGING EXPERIENCE: Mike-Murphy not drinking rum; Keira- saying good-bye to my teachers and friends at school; Riss- finding my groove when I had free time whilst Keira was at school
BEST FOOD DISCOVERY: Mike- pumpkin ravioli from the restaurant, Keira-chocolate volcano cake; Riss- veggie burgers at Luv Burger
BEST CAMPING SPOT: Casa Paraiso
MOST VALUED POSSESION: my new sarong!!
BEST EXPERIENCE: meeting Keira
MOST CHALLENGING EXPERIENCE: my early morning wake up calls from roosters, dinosaurs and howler monkeys
BEST FOOD DISCOVERY: Mikes cooking of course, and beer
BEST CAMPING SPOT: Casa Paraiso, a shit tent and a concrete floor.
Just a place to keep our mates informed on where we are at, and what we are up to.