Monday, May 27, 2013

Costa Rica Travelog | Ticos

Round Two for the week.  Wanted to share some images of the good folks of Costa Rica, also known as Ticos.  They were a warm bunch, open, and revelled in their philosophy of Pura Vida or "pure life". Enjoy what you can when you can.

The town of Tamarindo where we started our trip (actually, we were just a short walk from town at the very cool Hotel Capitan Suizo) is a funky surfing village.  Rustic and rambling, lots of fun.  Cool shops and bars and restaurants.  Like anywhere, there are people putting in a hard day's work or just going about their business.

Personally I'd be laying down in the fetal position with such exertion as hoooo boy it was toasty warm and muggy.  That said, sticking a tico smack dab in the middle of our winter would yield a similar perspective.

Now, there's working hard.  And there's hardly working.  As stated above, Tamarindo is a surfing hot spot.  We were actually scheduled to take a crack at it but the growing population of head injuries and lacerations with others in our group steered us away.  These dudes, however, had no such concerns.  The guy balancing the surfboard didn't just do this quickly for the camera - he was walking the full way down the road with it perched up there.

The young stud driving the CrSurfAdventures truck saw me panning with him as he passed and flashed me a smile and the horns.  I was hoping to capture some of the ever-present movement of traffic in town but unfortunately someone found their way into my frame.  Hence the creative cropping.  Buddy in the Hostal balcony looks like he's showing me some 'tude but immediately after this shot when I put the camera down and shot him a thumbs up he gave me a grin and a wave.  Then went back to chilling.  

Blessedly close to our hotel at the edge of town was the Super 2001 convenience store.  Had everything we needed for noshing and washing said nosh down.  Interesting characters milled about the entrance.  Here's me copping my inner Jay Maisel through the blinds of the store.  

Hostals appear to be a popular waypoint for travellers in this town.  Passed quite a few.  I'm not sure one is expected to find salvation at this particular location, or if the guy at the base of the tree is associated with either the salvation or hostal part, but I just found it amusing.

As we walked back to the hotel with my head on a swivel, I noticed these fellows taking a smoke break.  Doing the Pura Vida thing.  I lifted my camera, they looked at me, and I did the universal "Tilt Head Towards Camera to Ask If I Can Photograph Them" move.  Guy in the middle shrugged, guy on the left grinned, and I took the shot.  Waved and they waved back and off we went.

I tell myself that subconsciously I framed the scene with that Odd Couple poster firmly in mind.  This became one of my favorite shots from the trip and that I've captured.  Looks very nice in print.

Maybe not "odd" but a couple nevertheless.  These guys may have been father and son, older and younger brothers, uncle and nephew, or flat out two strangers.  Regardless I liked the scene, and a wee bit 'o butt crack adds a touch of humour.  We later found out that "typical food" simply means traditional or local fare.  For those technically inclined this is yet another example of the power of shooting in RAW format; there was no way to capture the brightness outside the scene and the folks in the shadowy interior at the same time.  Digital rule is expose for the highlights, develop for the shadows.  Much of that detail would be lost in a simple JPEG, but you can dig way into the RAW.  Same with the surf driver above.  There is a surprising amount of shadow detail to be lifted in a RAW file.

While I wasn't able to capitalize on the Surf Driver above with a panned motion shot I did happen to grab this woman speeding by on her scooter.  These are everywhere, and you'd best keep your wits about you stepping off the curb or crossing the street.

We ultimately found ourselves in the luxurious confines of the Westin Playa Conchal.  Beautiful resort, absolutely massive grounds.  We started in the main lobby, a hulking open air structure with massive fans lining the ceiling in a vain attempt to cool things off.

So long as you made small movements it was a nice place to relax, but we spent very little time there.  Actually found ourselves in an "interior resort" - a private club that was a healthy ride up and down the hillside from the main lobby.  The Westin buildings, grounds, and adjacent golf course were kept meticulously clean.  Service was amazing, and we had the good fortune to have a concierge looking after us in our "tower". Once and awhile he got a break from us.

One of many things I was looking forward to on this trip was a chance to kick back with a cigar (or two) and a nice beverage.  The environment is conducive to this sort of thing.  We were fortunate one day to have a local cigar street vendor approach us while we sipped mid-morning cocktails (hey, it was five o'clock somewhere).  He had an envious supply of Cohibas in every style.  No idea if they were legit or not, but they were nice!  And we closed off our stay in CR watching a local cigar roller ply his trade at the airport in Liberia.  Hand-rolled on the spot, it was great to watch him work.

On deck... scenes from the beach.

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