After a drunken first night at the Flying Scorpion, Nicole and I got on the Indiana Jones dust bus back to the 'mainland' and on to San José. Nicole was flying home to the States, but I had to go to a few meetings at the Foundation and then on to Drake Bay for a few days to catch up with the community and do some work. This was the first time I had seen Drake Bay in the dry season and it was stunning. The roads were dry and dusty and there was much less humidity - totally different from how I had ever known it before. The mouth of the Drake River had still not closed though and instead was making its way South along the beach, taking out tons of dune vegetation in its path. I arrived at the beach to find the chante (hatchery station) just three metres away from falling into the sea. This structure had survived six years so far, but at this stage we were discussing how we might now dig it out of the platform in order to rescue the wood and rebuilt it elsewhere. In the end the high tides came in March, closed the river mouth, and saved the hatchery site from destruction.
I returned to San José and stayed at Hostel Urbano for a few days. This place belongs to the cousin of Mauricio, called Janey, and it was brand new. It had clearly entered the backpacker market as the finest hostel in San José (actually San Pedro) but was still refreshingly quiet. I would return there again and again and see it slowly become more well-known, and the friends I hung out with at the hostel would completely change the way I felt about San José. I started to relish coming back.
But for now it was time to return to San Miguel in Guanacaste to work at the Flying Scorpion for a month. I arrived to find Mike completely assimilated and essentially running the show, and he quickly trained me up before Rossi and Amanda headed to the States, after which began a month of craziness in paradise. The hotel was relatively basic, with just a handful of modest cabins and a few beach houses available, but it was the only hotel for miles around and is located on a long and pristine white sand beach at the end of a dirt track that hardly anyone seems to know about (for the time being). The atmosphere was so laid-back that it was almost horizontal and the large bar/reception area had all the ambiance of a teenager's bedroom, complete with hammocks, a pumping stereo system, a fully-stocked bar full of imported spirits, and no less than six Weimaraner dogs chilling out on mattresses spread about the floor. With the cash register buried under a pile of clothes next to a huge bong, and the accounts and reservation system merging into a complex collage of scraps of paper, calculators and pencils, there was essentially no visible evidence of organization; but, customers loved it and the place was booming. The winning combination of a secret location in paradise, cheap prices, charismatic staff, excellent surfing and tours, and some of the best food in the Nicoya Peninsula, tourists were getting exactly what they were looking for. People just kept coming back, and the hotel had become the no.1 in Guanacaste on Trip Advisor with an average 5 star rating.
We worked pretty hard, with many long hours spent hovering somewhere nearby the reception, but neither of us was complaining. In fact it was a real pleasure. We ate, drank and partied with the guests, and we got free surf lessons from an awesome Canadian couple who were running their tour business from the hotel, Con and Ingo. We raked in the tips and didn't pay for a thing. It was bliss, but I found it difficult to concentrate on my work for the turtle program, and so when the time came I was ready to leave. Mike, meantime, is still there!
Having spent February in dusty rain-free Guanacaste, it was time for me to head to the stormy Caribbean coast to work with Leatherbacks for a few weeks.