A perfume of marijuana and sunscreen protections fills the streets. An old man, with a big grey beard, barely dressed in an old, blanched pair of shorts, that was once blue, cycles by, showing all the layers of skin, hanging loose around his belly. Close to the beach four guys, all with dreadlocks are slowly moving their heads on the beats of an old Bob Marley song, while blowing the smoke from their car. Surfer Boys walk up and down the beach, a beer in one hand, their board under their arm, eying at girls in hotpants, who are – barefooted – on their way to score a coconut or to do a yoga class.
This is Puerto Viejo; hippie paradise of Costa Rica. The main language here is Spanish, but nobody seems to speak it in the ‘Central American-way’. They all have an accent: German, Swiss, Dutch, English, Australian, Spanish or Italian. They all come out here; one day and never left.
Why? Because Puerto Viejo has something miraculous: the heat, the ocean, the beaches, the music, the fresh fruits, the laid back atmosphere, the streets full of beach cruiser-bicycles and the pace people live in. Here restaurants have signs on the door, telling you when they are open, just like in every other place. Only here the signs say: “We’re pirates, so we’re open when we’re open.”
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca – as the full name of the little fisher village is – was long a surfers secret; a place where surfers and hippies went hand in hand. Now the party crowd has come in as well. It changed the most asked question in the streets from ‘Did you catch a good wave?’, to ‘You want to smoke?’, but still Puerto Viejo is holding on to it’s laid back vibe. Still the regaeton is coming out of the speakers and the pace is slow. Still the fishermen set out every morning and the sodas (local eateries) serve the catch of the day every afternoon. Still the beaches are hot, the waves are rolling in and there is enough space for everybody. Enough coconuts and enough time to chill.