Tamarindo is a small town on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Like any town built on 6.6 mile long beach backed by jungle and surrounded by wildlife refuges, there are plenty of tourists. And, where there’s tourists, there are entrepreneurial types to supply just about any product or service those tourists could hope for. It’s a long, hot day, working the beach, and dealing with sometimes intoxicated, and most often Spanish deficient tourists tries the patience of the most determined vendors and guides. But, the determined survive…and sometimes thrive.
Mornings start out slow on the beach. This man. who sells shaved ice with various fruit flavorings. was relaxing a bit before the start of his work day, with little company other than a lone fisherman catching bait fish for the sport fisherman.
Things start to pick up quickly, though, as Piperos, young men who bring fresh coconuts to the beach, cut the tops off with a machete, then sell them for a dollar as a cool, tasty coconut water, or “pipa” for tourists getting their first taste of sun for the day.
And sometimes, the Piperos stop by the shaved ice cart to do a little trading of products. The people who work the beach for their livelihood form a unique, constantly moving community – many of them never having had a different job in their lives. Once the day really gets going the vendors who sell services rather than products start setting up shop.
A young man starts setting up beach chairs and umbrellas. A licensed masseuse sets out her sign, advertising massages for $20 per half hour, pedicures, manicures, and a dreadlock extensions, if any tourist feels that going home without dreads is not an option. Tourists begin congregating around noon, after lunch or a Bloody Mary or three, and the jewelry dealers appear from every direction, offering stone, carved wood, and sea shell bracelets, necklaces, and ear rings. It all seems so symbiotic as the community sets itself into motion.
I decided that a demonstration was in order, and my husband valiantly offered himself up as the first massage customer for the day. The masseuses on the beach in Tamarindo are all licensed, and they have the hospital-like uniforms to prove it. They set their tables up beneath the palm trees in front of the beachfront hotels, bars, and casinos. After a brief explanation of the process, the process gets underway – deep tissue massage, sports massage, or Swedish…it’s all available.
As my husband lay about getting his massage, I went off up the beach, searching out other vendors, and to see how they ended their day. But, that’s for another installment of Business as Usual on the Beach.
Ta-Ta for now !