Posted on February 3, 2018


Quepos is a beach town that lies around three hours outside of Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose. It’s my home for the next seven weeks and where I’ll be working and training for my scuba Instructor Development Course (IDC).

At the far end of the town is the shiny newish marina with million dollar yatchs carefully docked next to each other and expensive semi-empty restaurants and shops. In between here and the other end of town is a stretch of rocky beach where the tree-lined concrete promenade is frequented by joggers, rollerbladers and fitness groups. Old and young also come here to sit under the shade and gaze at the ocean, hold hands and play dominoes.

At the opposite end of town are some big supermarkets, rundown bars and seen-better-day restaurants. This is deemed the centre. It’s definitely more gritty. There are a few dodgy nightclubs, the main bus depot that ferries people in and out of the area, an ice cream parlour and a casino filled every night with highly-painted young, black women (my thinking are hookers) and sleazy tattooed wrinkly men.

The dive operation I’m training with is based at the marina and my new home is a short walk uphill behind the Banana Club! I’m living with an adorable couple in their 60s who speak no English. For $130 a week I have a private room and shared bathroom (although there isn’t anyone else renting right now). Breakfast, dinner, wifi and my washing included in the price.

My room is very basic: a bed, a desk, a fan on the ceiling that looks like it was scavenged from part of a 1960s aircraft and makes a sound like one taking off, if it’s on a speed higher than 2.

Google translate is a godsend and I’ve already had quite complex discussions with my “adopted family” at dinner about my cancer diagnosis, the upcoming elections in the country and my experience of living in Turkey. I wish I could talk at Asha speed and learn more about them but the language barrier makes it tougher.

They’ve been married 45 years, lived in the house 25 years and have one son who is 38. Mrs C has made a note of what I like to eat and has cooked typical food with more vegetables and beans than I could ask for. She’s a good cook, Mr C has bought a thermostat heater for the shower so that I now have hot water. You see here most people want a cold shower because the temperature is humid and sticky. But my blood circulation means it feels normal for me and I need warmer water than your average.

Yesterday they asked me if I liked living with them. I’ve spent a lot of time holed up in my room studying. So they are just checking up on me – sweet. They are very easy to get on and we’ve bonded well. They call me Esperanza. Asha means hope. Dinner is always at seven and they both like to drink a shot of whiskey with their meal. The TV is always permanently on the local news station which is interesting for me and they are curious about my opinion on some things. It’s a comfortable atmosphere and I feel happy here.

I’ve got shed loads of studying to do before my course officially starts on Sunday. I’ve managed to complete the online theory but now there’s the workbook to plough through. So much chemistry and physics to get my head around, I’m struggling. This week I did a water skills refresher in the pool with some of the Divemaster trainees. I’m rusty, that’s for sure, but it was good to see what I need to finesse. There are meant to be six of us doing our IDC, I’ll meet my tribe on Sunday, but I reckon granny here will be the oldest intern by about 15 years!

Seven kilometres up the road lies Manuel Antonio. It’s a plush town with great restaurants, posh hotels and a yoga studio. No surprises I’ve joined and in less than a week I’ve done 12 classes. I’ve tried aerial yoga where you are suspended in hammocks from the ceiling working your core strength; yoga bar which incorporates ballet; pilates and vinyasa flow. I love them all and the teachers. I’ve developed a serious girl crush on one of the instructors who has the best legs I’ve seen on any women. She is a professor of dance, no wonder and if I can look like her in seven weeks I will continue to show up everyday.

I’m here for diving but so far I’ve been grounded. The only diving I did was on Caño Island off the Osa Peninsula when I was with my parents. There’s no reef on the Pacific side and the sandy bottom and strong current meant the vis there wasn’t great. I’m curious and keen to dive around Quepos but homework and a looming deadline have me anchored for now but hopefully not for long.