Tamarindo to Whistler
It’s hard to believe that it has been almost 9 years since I left the warm waters of Costa Rica for the harsh cold of Whistler. When I left Tamarindo, the temperature was 35c. In the middle of February, the temperature outside my house in Creekside was -25c. That’s a 60 degree temperature difference. Ugh!
Since coming here, I have picked up snowboarding pretty well, and for a beginner, am holding my own on the blue runs to the point of being comfortable through the trees. I have done a few black runs, in fact, to get home; I need to traverse one almost every day. Runs are colored by difficulty for those of you who don’t board/ski – green is the easiest, then blue then black. Then double black!
So far I have only had a couple of major wipeouts. On day 4 on a board, I almost broke my ankle and tore up my knee pretty badly. In fact, the first aid guys on the mountain who took me off the hill on a snowmobile thought it was a career ender. Whatever. The very next day I went swimming, and by mid week was boxing and lifting weights with my legs. One week later I was on the hill.
My other nasty wipeout was when I attempted to hit a straight-away section of flatter terrain at high speed; probably about 50 km. A blind skier came out of nowhere and my attempt to avoid him resulted in a spectacular single person (me) collision with hard packed snow. I guess he didn’t see me coming…
Anyways, for a couple of days I couldn’t lift my arm at all, but now it is somewhat better and it only hurts like a son-of-a-bitch to lift it over my head. Oh, I was boarding a week later.
So I like snowboarding a lot! Just not the wipeouts.
Whistler is much like Tamarindo in many respects. The town is small, full of ex-pats, tourists abound and people are generally in good spirits. Never have I encountered so many Australians in my life though, unless you count my trip to Australia of course. There are also a lot of Kiwi’s, Brits, Japanese, South Africans and even one guy from Ireland named Padrigh. Oh, yea. There are Canadians here too.
Weekends here remind me of weekends in Tamarindo. All of the tourists show up, the chairlifts are busier and people are generally ruder. “You live here?” They will ask. “Oh. Well without us, you wouldn’t have a job.” That seems to be the attitude. And much like Tamarindo, I just don’t go boarding on weekends, or I stick to obscure runs that are gnarly and not gringo-friendly.
Being a local has its advantages anywhere I guess. Being a local here means anywhere from 10% to 20% of shopping, restaurants and up to 50% on services such as massage and snowboard tuning. I really wish Tamarindo businesses did that for locals; they just didn’t really get it minus a few places such as WRSC, Banana, CR Surf and Kelly’s. It helps keep things local, and helps the economy, especially during the slow season.
One of the biggest differences for me so far has been the speed of the internet, and consistency of my BlackBerry’s signal. As many of you know, my job is being on the phone, and my VoIP phone just didn’t have the strength of a signal in Costa Rica. I believe that as a direct result of having a solid infrastructure, that my business has improved immensely. And even though I live up a hill like I did in Tamarindo, it is paved and when it snows, we have plows hitting it nonstop. But those roads in Costa Rica are part of the Pura Vida attraction, so it’s all good.
Now one thing that has been different is the price of things. People, things are expensive in Tamagringo! My monthly grocery bill has dropped by at least 50%, and my utilities are about 25% of what I paid before. Gas is cheaper, especially on the Indian reserve in Pemberton, and when I took my car in to get it fixed, it took 2 hours and was done properly. Costa Rica really needs to get its import taxes under control. As a stalwart conservative, less taxation creates more available capital to grow the economy.
I miss Tamarindo though immensely, especially the friends that were made and the surfing buddies that I would see daily on the break. Surfing has been ‘replaced’ for now by boarding, and now that summer is only a couple of months away, I will be mountain biking, mountain climbing and of course, fly-fishing the rivers and streams for trout.