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Pacific Ocean

    Central America

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    A Step Back in Time

    Location: Malpais Costa Rica

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    No matter how you spell it, it’s laid back.


    Getting here isn’t easy.  We found ourselves bumping along dusty dirt roads on the six-hour drive from Coco Beach.  With each passing mile we were transported back to another time.  A slower time.  Malpais is lost in time.  It’s time to slow down in Malpais Costa Rica.

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    Rocky beaches

    Long just a fishing and cattle-farming village, Malpais (often spelled Mal Pais) has become popular among surfers and adventure travelers around the world. Recently, Forbes Magazine voted the beaches of Malpais and neighboring Santa Teresa as “One of the ten most beautiful in the world.”

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    Our beachfront Airbnb

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    Amazing sunsets

    I don’t know if I would put the beaches on my top ten beach list, but I would definitely rank it at the top for sunsets.  Our fabulous little hidden Airbnb offers a spectacular west-facing view of the Pacific and the nightly sunset show is sublime.

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    Dusty roads

    Malpais means “bad land” or “bad country”, with the name originating from the dry dusty waterless conditions during the summer.  The town of Malpais is teeny, stretching only about 6km from the village of Santa Teresa to the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve.  Santa Teresa is about 2km from our Airbnb.  Because Malpais is so small (just a tiny convenience store, a church, a school and one restaurant), we walk to Santa Teresa for our groceries and restaurant needs.

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    Surfer paradise

    This part of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula is often referred to as Malpais – inclusive of Playa Carmen, Santa Teresa and Malpais.

    Surfing is now king in the area, taking over from to the old days of farming.  Fishing still also reigns and fresh fish is available most days at the pier. Don’t ask what time though – when the fisherman come.  That’s what time.

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve

    In Santa Teresa shops and restaurants, hostels and a few hotels cater to the twenty-something surfing crowd.  Young kids outnumber us fabulous fifties 100 to one.  I can’t help wonder where are these kids all from and how do they sustain this lifestyle?

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    Tide pools

    There is a long sandy beach at Santa Teresa (where most the surfing takes place) but in Malpais the beach is mostly of unique rock formations pocked with deep holes where both fish and humans soak the day away in the bathtub-like water.  Well, until the tide comes in and covers these pools until the next day.

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    Tide pool

    No watch needed, your day consists of morning yoga, noon tide pools, dinner following the sunset.  Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?

    What do you do if you aren’t a surfer in Malpais?  Relax. Read. Soak in the pools.  Yoga at sunrise and drink gin and tonic at sunset.

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    Howler Monkey

    Monkey watching is another favorite pastime.  Howler Monkeys are abundant (and loud) and a family of ten visit our Airbnb often.  White faced monkeys (smaller and squeaky) also make their home in the trees around the area.  There are butterflies and birds galore.  There are iguanas and many other lizards.  A fascinating collection of nature, including wild horses, pass through our little paradise.

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    Moctezuma waterfall

    Paddle Boarding

    Fresh catch

    You can hike about 3 miles from Malpais to the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve and beach.  Or rent an ATV and go to Moctezuma on the other side of the Nicoya Peninsula and make a visit to the Moctezuma waterfall (a past Sport Illustrated Swimsuit Edition shoot location). Its’ a lot of fun to rent stand up paddle boards and have a fun day out on the water.  Maybe consider a guided beach horse back ride, ziplining or go charter fishing.

    Or you can do nothing at all.  Just slow down in Malpais Costa Rica.  And that’s alright with me.





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    Oceania Travel

    Guam – Where America’s Day Begins

    A tiny spot in the Pacific Ocean

    Location: Guam

    A tiny spot in the Pacific – Where America’s Day Begins.

    There are no American tourists here.  There are Americans – a lot of them.  Air Force, Navy and Civilians.  But we have seen no American tourists.  Curious that.

    colorful flower

    Tropical Flower Guam

    Don’t misunderstand – there are a lot of tourists, all Japanese or Korean.  It takes about 3 and half hours to fly here from Tokyo and about four and half from Seoul.  But to fly here from Seattle you need to either go to Tokyo first, or Manila and it’s going to take about 16 or 17 hours or more.

    Well that explains a lot.

    tropical beach

    Beautiful Guam Beaches

    But we are here. Just shy of the international dateline – Guam is where America’s day begins.   On this tiny tropical island (13.5 degrees N) I feel like I’m in Hawaii, but without the bling.  Sure there are hotels, geared to the Asian tourists with some nice beaches and LOTS of shopping and even Vegas style shows at the resorts. But most of Guam is more of a low-budget bar and nightclub scene, geared to the military.  And massage parlors – where maybe you can get a massage but probably a lot more.

    guam beaches

    Interesting rock formations

    But look past these things and you find a remarkably beautiful place, with a fascinating history.  The beaches we have gone to are mostly deserted.  Stunning white sand, sparkling turquoise water and not a soul in sight.

    Mount Lam Lam

    On top of Lam Lam mountain

    We’ve walked through a nature reserve with thousands of butterflies, giant spiders and teeny lizards.  We visited caves where ancient people lived and left cave drawings.

    We climbed Guam’s highest peak Mount Lam Lam where local Catholics (75% of the population) make a pilgrimage each Easter.

    We hiked along an ancient and sharp volcanic flow to a beautiful beach called Sharks Cove.  No sharks but some of the prettiest blue water I have ever seen.

    We took a drive to the south end of the island and up the cliff lined east side and enjoyed amazing views of the never-ending Pacific.

    Guam Sunset

    On of several beautiful sunsets

    We saw some of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever witnessed from our west-facing condo in the town of Tamuning.  As the sun sets on this island the US Mainland is nearly a full day behind.  It’s prompted the local slogan ‘Guam: Where America’s Day Begins’.

    Two Lovers Point Guam

    The view from Two Lovers Point

    We visited Two Lovers Point, where the local “Romeo and Juliet” style legend of two lovers jumping to their death has created one of the islands busiest tourist spots. The Japanese love this kind of stuff and they swarm to it.

    We learned about the ancient Chamorro people, their tribal caste system that goes back 4000 years.  We learned that Magellan came here in the 15th century followed by the Spanish who occupied until the United States took control after the Spanish-American War in 1898.

    Sharks Cove Guam

    The deserted beach at Sharks Cove

    Japanese gun

    Japanese gun from WWII

    On December 7th 1941, just hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbor the Japanese took control of Guam.  For nearly three years the native people were held in concentration camps, tortured, raped and beheaded before US troops recaptured Guam on July 21st 1944 – celebrated every year as Independence Day.

    Today Guam is an independent territory of the United States.  Residents are US Citizens but they do not have a vote.  Tourism and military are the base of the island’s economy, both which are thriving. It feels American – most of the time.  Lots of familiar businesses, and yet, it doesn’t quit feel like the USA.

    MahiMahi in a Miso mushroom gravy

    We found a delicious and eclectic food scene on Guam and we ate some amazing food.  Chamorro comfort food is rich and hearty and similar at times to Hawaiian

    Inarajan Pools south island

    food with lots of fish, rice and fruit as well as mashed potatoes and gravy and shrimp and octopus.  We enjoyed Mahi-Mahi, bulgogi beef, ahi poke, pork skewers, tacos, Ramen, German food and takoyaki (octopus fritters).  A varied and scrumptious blend of all the influences this tiny (30 miles by 12 miles) island has seen.

    And we enjoyed spending time with family.  Our reason for coming to Guam on the Grand Adventure to visit my niece and her husband.  They have been on the island for a year.  They have learned to like it despite the fact it is expensive and there are some  quirks (no Target, my niece complains).  Spending time with them was a joy, especially as we watch them prepare for their first baby.

    In Guam

    Davy and Rebekah

    So that was the real highlight of our time here.  Everything else was fluff.  Getting a family fix helps me focus on the coming ten weeks.  Ten weeks until we return to

    Chomarro Market Guam

    With my niece Bekah

    the Pacific Northwest for a two month visit.  But meanwhile we have some more adventures ahead – starting with a month in Australia.

    So stay tuned – the grand adventure continues.

    Signing off for now from Guam – Where America’s Day Begins.