Tamarindo,  Costa Rica

Marietta College Biology and Environmental Science Department Field Trip 2005/2007

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We went to Tamarindo, a small town on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, in 2005.  We had just spent 4 days at Santa Rosa National Park to the north.  We enjoyed the park, but the conditions were primitive, the scorpions were many, and the previous day we had just done the Playa Nancite Death March.  It was time for a change of scenery and Tamarindo seemed to fit the bill.  The photo above shows the wide beach at Tamarindo, but for many, the main attraction there was the surf...


Located on the Península de Nicoya, Tamarindo has a consistent, though not spectacular set of breaks right off the beach in town.  This is what draws the majority of the tourists, and it certainly got the student's attention as well after the hot conditions at Santa Rosa.  Above, an unidentified surfer tries the waves (unsuccessfully, see right).  We rented some surfboards; below Jessica tries one out.  She was able to catch and ride a few waves.  Behind here is an estuary (see below) and a national park where leatherhead turtles nest.


Everyone got in the water, although not everyone tried their hand at surfing.  Carrie and Courtney were happy just to do some wading.

We stayed at the Hotel El Milagro, which combined small rustic rooms (with incredible woodwork) and beautiful grounds thick with tropical plants including many fruit trees.  There was also a swimming pool and a decent restaurant.  It even had AIR CONDITIONING!  It was a big step up after the field station at Santa Rosa.  Unfortunately, there were few scorpions or cockroaches, although some of the students tried to work up some indignation over some ants in their room.  Below - a hammock-eye view of some of the students heading off to town.

Tamarindo itself was going through some growing pains.  One dirt street had just been bricked in, but the rainy season was turning unpaved areas into puddles and mud was sliding everywhere.  Again, after the isolation at the field station, the town seemed to be incredibly dynamic.  There were souvenir stores and, more importantly, a supermarket and internet access.


There were a variety of places to eat in Tamarindo; one of our favorites from the start was at the Witch's Rock Surf Camp which advertised "Nachos as big as your ass".  Whether of not they delivered on this pitch did in fact depend on the size of your posterior.  We had a couple of pretty big ones in the group, and it was doubtful that the plate of nachos were there equal in mass, width, circumference or any other measurement we could think of.  In fact, it turns out to be a pretty interesting question - just how big is one's ass?

In any event, later that summer I came across this sign in West Lafayette, Indiana:


A bit more cerebral in its approach, I really doubt they are able to deliver on their promise either.  Of course, this marketing technique is probably a bit more refined than the Nacho promise - the nachos were excellent and even if the plates were initially as big as one's ass, after a few plates the nachos would certainly be the smaller of the two.  You can get a swollen head, but usually not from eating Latin soul food.  Which brings up another interesting point - there still seems to be a big niche for advertising food in comparison to the size of body parts.  We teased a friend in high school who worked at Dairy Queen and whose "burgers were smaller than her buns" but there's still a lot of room in this field.  Steaks as big as your thighs?  Grapes as big as your eyes? Ice cream scoops as big as your kneecaps (a real bargain for arthritus sufferers).  Hot dogs as long as your tibia (you though I was going elsewhere with that one, right?).  


We did do some serious work while in Tamarindo.  We rented kayaks and paddled across a small estuary to look at black and red mangroves as well as some of the other wildlife to be found there.  Most of what we found out there about mangroves is summarized on our "Marietta College Biomes of the World" web page on mangroves


Perhaps still shaken up from a scorpion sting, Will managed to dump Dr. Cress from the kayak.  


From Tamarindo we moved on to Monteverde in 2005.

We didn't go back to Tamarindo in 2007.  It was just a bit too touristy (and expensive), and the mangroves didn't quite make the trip worthwhile.  In 2007 we opted to spend time on the eastern coast in Tortuguero and Cahuita.  These were a bit less touristy and we were able to see a LOT of wildlife in those two places.  In fact, by the time we had left Cahuita (our 3rd stop) in 2007, we had seen more wildlife than on the entire 2005 trip.  


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