Book Review – Native Moments by Nic Schuck

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There’s a formula for this type of book. A coming of age story about a young man leaving a sordid past and discovering himself while in an exotic place. He falls in love, finds himself, and decides to stay where his heart lies in a paradisiacal bliss. Well this book breaks that mold and tells a story of wrong decisions, harsh realities, and fragile relationships in a setting that I am very familiar with, Tamarindo, Costa Rica, in the early 1990’s.

That is what kept me enraptured with the book. Thirty years ago Tamarindo was a dirt road town along a small pristine bay with waves at both ends of it (Grande and Langosta), plus multiple surf breaks in the middle. To get to other breaks like Avellanas and Playa Negra you had to cross streams which was a terror if it was your credit card paying for the car rental.

One of the characters in the story is Pablo – an older longboarder – who did sell ‘Burgers as big as your head’ and at his cabinas I had played a lot of pool myself back in the 1990’s. Nic writes about the surf shops in the area, the local pros, the beautiful beaches, the wildlife, the lodging options, and all that brings back the nostalgia of many readers’ first surf trip.

The main characters, Sanch and Jake are the tragic heroes. I rooted for them to make the right calls, and sometimes they did, but at others they were a train wreck. They heard some good wisdom throughout the book, philosophies that could easily apply to today’s social issues. I could relate to what they witnessed on their surf trip because the author brought up the dark side of Tamarindo, too – cocaine, prostitution, theft, localism, crowded shore breaks with beginners learning to surf – the worst.

The author did a great job writing like someone in their twenties going on their first surf trip. There’s a lot of cussing, there’s a lot of drinking, there’s fights and hookups, getting stuck and getting sick. Do not expect to deepen your vocabulary or get an expansive history lesson of the area. But you will be transported to an earlier time of Costa Rica surf exploration, and Sanch and Jake’s adventures will keep you turning the pages until the surprising conclusion.

You can purchase this book at Bookstore of the Waves in Tamarindo or online through Amazon – Native Moments.

Tamarindo – 1992 – screen shot from the movie Endless Summer 2
Tamarindo in 2018
Tamarindo – circa 2000

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