San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Arenal Report

On what looked like this season’s best windsurfing day so far, Dec. 7, kitesurfer Erich Fabián Romero and windsurfer Luis López had 24-mile-long Lake Arenal all to themselves. In a list of the world’s top 10 windsurfing sites, Lake Arenal is labeled “experts only,” which helps explain the absence of congestion. Certainly 18-year-old Erich, of San José, and Luis, of Cádiz, Spain, displayed better than novice skills as they fought the frantic whitecaps while overhead streams of clouds chased each other toward the coast through a brilliant sky. The two had launched from Peter Hopley’s Ticowind Windsurfing Center near Río Piedras at the extreme north end of the lake. Erich has become expert while living in landlocked San José, while Luis, on the other hand, must enjoy regular windsurfing at Cádiz, on Spain’s southwestern coast above Gibraltar. The Bay of Cádiz may well seem tame after Lake Arenal.

At Lake Arenal’s other windsurfing center, the Hotel Tilawa, the big story recently is good beer. Ingenious owner Jean Paul Cazedessus has finally succeeded in attracting a brewmaster, George Lin, to operate his beautiful kettles. So now the Tilawa has a brewpub turning out two microbrews, a strongly flavored pale ale and a wheat. Jean Paul intends before long to produce six brews. He also intends to turn his brewpub into a microbrewery, a designation he’ll earn by selling beer to other locations. Bars or restaurants in Tamarindo and La Fortuna will be the first to offer the Tilawa brews. Tilawa’s lake-view restaurant is also now open on a full schedule under new chef Ariel Antonio Herrera. He’s ready to serve breakfast at 7, lunch at noon, and dinner at 5, turning off the gas by 9, more or less. 

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