Sometimes a trip down Memory Lane, is not what you expect. You think it will be the same smooth, happy, bright road you remember, when in reality, its unpaved, ugly and with rubbish everywhere. Going back to Jaco, and Playa Esterillos Oeste, was a much overdue trip down Memory Lane and I was wondering, if it was going to be a good one.
Arriving in Jaco, I was looking out the window trying to get my bearings. What certain landmarks, stores, streets or buildings looked familiar. Until we reached the center of town, I could have been arriving in a different town for all I knew, but as we passed the first bend and cruised along the main street, I knew we had arrived in Jaco.
Much bigger, more grown up than I recall, but Jaco still had some things that I remember from my first time here. Down a certain street where I got my haircut, the KFC where we pigged out after a long surf session (by surf session I mean my 2 Aussie mates tearing it up, and myself trying to stay afloat) and of course, the main supermarket in town, Mas X Menos. A smile creeped across my face as I knew this was not a town that I had to get to know, to see if I liked it, I already knew, as it had not changed that much, that I was going to love my time here. Hopped out of the bus and hooked a left down a street and checked into Hostel de Haan which has a pool, good WiFi, great comfy beds and a private bathroom for each dorm room. Score!
First things first, see if the beach is as I remember, and get in the water, as it had been almost a week since San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua, to finally be back on the Pacific Coast.
In all honestly, Jaco beach is not known as Costa Rica's nicest beach, and because of its party vibe, it has been labelled "sleazy" but I am someone who makes my own judgements and I think it has progressed quite nicely and the beach is actually more beautiful than I recall. A few bodysurfing waves, a cheeky little lunch of rice and beans, and I was fuelled up to take my much anticipated stroll down Memory Lane.
As expected, Costa Rica included, nothing runs on time in Latin America, and in this instance, trying to get the local bus down to Playa Esterillos Oeste, it came and left 15 minutes early. So there I was, stranded at the bus stop, waiting another 45 minutes until the next bus came, and when it finally did, I plunked myself down in my window seat and let my frustration roll away like water of a Canadian Goose's back.
The ride down to Esterillos Oeste was considerably longer than I remember. That may have just been the anticipation or the constant people jumping on and off, but my excitement started to rise as we passed a little restaurant where we would drive to, in order to link up to some WiFi. (It was 2008 when we were there, WiFi wasn't as accessible and we didn't have it at the house) For some reason, that afternoon, of Haydn showing me weather patterns, and what they meant in regards to swell and waves, in ingrained in my memory. I knew we were close Playa Esterillos.
I had told the bus driver 'Esterillos Oeste' but they are probably notified of many desired stops, by many passengers so as soon as I saw a sign to Playa Esterillos, I hopped up and shuffled to the front of the bus to jump out.
The entrance looked completely different than I remember.
Regardless, it had been 8 years so I trusted either my memory was failing or the construction had continued out to the 'highway.' The more I moved in, the more I felt like I was a little lost. I recognized nothing. In fact, there was a new development where I believed the soccer field was, yet it was not until I turned the corner, and ended up walking along the backside of the football field, that I realized I had simply entered from a different entrance!
It was all as I remembered. Exactly the same.
The soccer field, where we would play sunset footy with the locals, was as green as the image I had in my mind. The nets were the same. The fence. The stands. Everything. So, looking at the field, my inner compass would tell me the road directly behind, led down to Tres Pochotes. The house we had rented. Our home, for arguably the best month of my life.
At this point, a really, really weird feeling came over me.
Not a sad feeling, not a depressed feeling, but more of a feeling of melancholy, knowing full well that the 2 cars we had rented would not be parked down the path. The house would probably be empty, or if it was full, it would not be full with the beautiful people I came here with. It was great to be back, it was as beautiful as I remember, but had an empty feeling about it. It had been 8 years of the sun, rising and falling over this incredible place, as we were in other parts of the world, living normal lives.
The beach looked more smooth than I remember, and that could be in part to the fact that there was very little breeze and the waves were almost non existent. The colour of the house had not faded one bit and the palm trees still opened up to provide us with a perfect make-shift pitch to play cricket.
As I left to see the 'town' of Esterillos Oeste, the weird feeling started to wash away as gratitude started to take over. Time moves on, there is nothing I can do about it, but as they say 'don't count your days, make your days count.' The only thing sad about this visit, would be if we had never done it in the first place. All things come to an end, good or bad, and the only travesty is if you don't fill them with good memories shared with amazing people.
As I mention in the video, they say "the older I get, the faster I was" implying that, as time goes on, things become exaggerated, talents become inflated. One of the reasons that I wanted to return here was to see, if it really was that beautiful and as I remembered. In a certain sense, I wanted it to disappoint me so that I didn't feel anything anymore when in fact, it did the opposite.
It still stands as one of the greatest times of my life and this trip down memory lane simply solidified that fact. Thank you Playa Esterillos.