When I crossed over the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica it was like stepping into a new world. A gate to another dimension filled with long lines, paperwork and more lines. I went from running after way too crowded chicken busess who are just reused american looking schoolbuses, to stepping into an air conditioned bus with way too many seats and drivers who actually speak English! Well I take the bus and head to my first location in Costa Rica, Coco beach. It was the longest I stayed in one place so this blog could be longer then usual.
When I arrive me and Jimmy, a brown belt in town who had invited me to come and train, decided to meet up at his family restraunt, Jimmy’s Burger. Offered me any burger on the menu and of course I went for the juiciest one! So good. He showed me the town and told me the history of the BJJ in the town, how trainers and affiliations had come and left. Now they had a decent setup in a new gym with a Brazilian black belt driving from Liberia to teach few times a week.
That night I go and roll with them but there wasn’t an official class so we were only 4 guys. Me, Jimmy, Thomas who would be so helpful and nice for the next days and then Yann the gym owner, super fit guy who had only been training 5 months but was so pumbed to learn as much as he could and was already starting to show serious progress. That session they wanted to see some judo stuff so I tried to cram as much information and moves at them as I could, hoping something would stick.
The next day I went to an official class, I met Jean the coach who did not speak a single word in English so I had to have everything translated for me. I was really excited to meet an legit Brazilian black belt and he was everything I expected him to be. He asked if I could teach an 1 and a half hour class and I was honoured! He did ask me if I had my black belt so I wasn’t teaching wearing my blue belt… sadly no. For the first 30 minutes I felt his eyes on my the back of my head and I thought he was judging my teaching, it wasn’t until he gave me a big compliment that he liked everything that I was showing that I was able to relax a little. My favourite part was after the 1 and a half hour he says “We did judo, now we do Jitsu” with this notion that he was gonna show me how it’s done. He proceeds to show the class one move and then points me to the corner which got me kind of confused. He wanted to have a private lesson with me. Awkwardly I step out of the group into the corner and wait for him. He then comes over rolls with me and shows me some really cool moves that I’m not sure I’m ever gonna use but still I’m never going to forget that experience.
On my last day I join the crew to drive to Liberia and train with an larger group there. When we arrived the power went out and it wasn’t until after 30 or 40 minutes of sitting around that the lights come back on. We rushed to the mats ready for action and then I hear Jean talking to the class and notion in my direction saying “Gringo” and then Jimmy said that he told the class I would show two throws. I planned on just joining the group for a normal class but I showed the two throws, easy ones for most of the people didn’t even know how to breakfall. The rolling starts and two pairs go the mats, of course me being one of them. Then Jean keeps sending more guys to roll with me and I end up staying on the mats almost the entire time. Memorably rolling with both Jimmy and Thomas and they making me work for it. Thomas was so enthusiastic and I could see that he had so much potential, being a really good blue belt. I did enjoy Jimmy’s style as well, a brown belt who had nothing too prove to anybody else and just rolled for the enjoyment of it.
In the end I want to thank all the guys at Coco beach for making me feel so welcome and it was seriously hard to leave that town. I stayed there for almost a whole week and I already felt like an part of their gang.