Thursday, February 12, 2009

The 7th Day: PV -> SJC

One thing I will say about the Caribbean, never having seen it before, is the colors are spectacular. The emeralds and aquamarines and blues are so striking. We'd been living in greyness the past week for the most part. It's really different from on the west coast of the US. Here if you want grey and fog, head to the beach. Especially in June and July. If you want sunshine head inland. Not here, it was the reverse.

Josh climbing up to the treehouse platform. The ladder wasn't bad, but he didn't trust the platform once he got up there.

We ate breakfast at a place that advertised sushi. Not that we were going to have sushi for breakfast. I struggled with ordering something without sugar. I asked if the granola had sugar in it, which came with yogurt and I held that because of the dairy content... and they assured me it did not. No, the granola didn't but I'm pretty sure that the chocolate chips inside the granola had some... Alex and Josh ordered orange juice. Alex swallowed a large mouthful when Josh about spit his out in disgust. It had fermented. And no, these were not screwdrivers, at least they were not supposed to be. We wondered how long the orange juice had sat in the fridge... which lead us to wondering about their sushi. We watched as other patrons ordered orange juice, and watched even closer for a reaction upon consuming. The waiter asked if they'd like to try lemonade or apple juice, but everyone stuck with water pretty much after that.

On the way back from breakfast this guy with long white hair stopped and entertained us, earning a few colones for laughs. He was good. Even showed us a dice trick that is very hard to see, even when you know how it is done. A sort of burly dude walked by and he asked him how it felt to be on the outside. A couple of euro-looking guys with the expensive sunglasses and made-to-look-messy-but-probably-loaded-with-product hair passed by and he promised not to do any homosexual jokes. The one liners kept coming and I wished I had turned on my video recorder. I guess even after three years of owning a camera that shoots video, there are few times I remember to actually use it.

Here's one for Rory.

After breakfast we had to check out and get ready to hit the waves. Which meant loading all the boards onto the car again. There had been some damp gear left in the car which was in the sun. It was pretty ripe in there. As we loaded up the car Kevin decided to don some sun protection, giving him a bit of a middle-eastern look.

We surfed at a place called Cocles. The surf was larger than it had been in Dominical, and a lot of guys were on it. They were steep but not too punishing. Alex traded his board for a fish, which was easier to ride. The current was pretty strong and sometimes it was really hard to paddle back out. I got caught inside a lot. After a while the tide changed and the winds got more onshore but all the locals went in. Stayed out for about two hours and did further damage to the sunburn I obtained at Dominical. When I came in I just wanted to lie face up in the sun and relax. But the trip wasn't about getting tan, and soon enough we were off again, unshowered but happy; at least this time it wasn't riverwater.
On the way out of town we decided to get some lunch. This little stand run by an expat made really awesome veggie burritos. They used tofu in ways tofu has never been made before. The children of the owner served us, little towhead boys, very cute.The burritos were so large they were impossible to pick up. I told my favorite racist jokes. I just figure everyone has heard them, but I think different areas of the country grow up with different jokes. The burritos just happened to remind me of one. Why do Mexicans serve burritos for Christmas dinner? It's so the kids have something to unwrap. Bad, I know. The next one was worse, so I will restrain my eagerly typing fingers.

Josh and I are in this one, but you have to look pretty carefully.
Ice cream was served next door. I found a chair in the shade to wait out the temptation. The guys took turns using the chair across from me. It did look good; some lady at the bar area ordered a strawberry shake. I may have been drooling; I know I was almost sleeping. Conversations floated in and out of the air; sounds like the proprietor had been there awhile, and for the third time in PV, Josh was offered something with a bit more kick to start off the afternoon. Conversations with nomads. It would be a good book title.

Afterwards we took a few last beach shots, using my Gorillapod tripod and self timer. Josh started picking up some coconuts, threatening to throw them, and regretted it pretty quickly; the liquid inside had gone bad and the stench was atrocious, not wanting to come off.
So long beach, it was time to head back to San Jose.

Andres wasn't available in Heredia, so we stayed at a hostel in San Jose. Once we found it. We circled near the landmark - a very tall hotel, I forget the brand, looking for our Pangea, where we had reservations. We circled three times I think before finally spotting the tiny sign on a metal door. The roads are one way, narrow, and the street names are elevated, higher than eye level. You'd never know there was a hostel behind the gate. The gate opened and it was like entering a different universe. We pulled into a very small parking lot and entered through what seemed like a side door, down some stairs, around a corner to the main lobby. Showed our IDs and were shown our room. That had stuff in it. Was there a mistake? No, it was a room with four bunk beds, all of whose bottom bunks were occupied, by guys, although there was only one person in there trying to sleep. The hallways of this place were narrow and darkly painted with hallucinogenic jungle murals, but the inside felt like a barracks. No electrical outlets, but there was a window that led to the ... hallway. Arriving after a long drive, unshowered, sleepy, used to being with just us the whole time, I was just a little unnerved at the situation. I decided to go rent a towel (mine was pretty stanky by then) and get cleaned up. Amazing what a shower will do for one's attitude.

By the time I got back I felt better about it, although it wasn't exactly what I had in mind for my last night in Costa Rica, I made an effort to let it go, go with the flow and figure eventually everyone will sleep, and what sleep I didn't get I could make up on the airplane. We went upstairs to seek food, but the bar was closing, the open air rooftop bar, where the wind was blowing, it was just a little cold. We ordered food and they said we could eat it down by the pool... The food was okay, enough to avoid going to bed hungry. Afterwards we found a sitting area where we exchanged images and videos. The guy who had been trying to sleep ended up there. The airline had delayed his luggage and he was waiting for it.

I had a point of panic when I tried to find my cash to pay Josh. I'd hidden it. And I'd forgotten where. I found it in LA at my sister's when I was hunting for Immodium, a result, I think, of the airport food I ate in Atlanta. Or it could have been something I had at my sister's, not sure maybe a combo. But I was relieved to find the cash, glad I hadn't spent it. super glad no one in TSA had found it. Luckily there was an ATM to get out of the country. You have to pay $26 to leave Costa Rica.

Listened to an interesting conversation with a firey Irishman. His travel mate, a kiwi, had overslept and missed the bus out the previous morning.They spoke in rather course language to one another, implying the kiwi was somehow involved with ewes. I was going to have to be the first one up, having a 9am flight. I put my morning clothes next to my pillow and eventually the conversations ended and the lights went out.

At 6:30 I used my flashlight and put a few articles of clothing on in the dark. The nearest bathroom was a pretty good trek down some hallways and I was kind of getting weary of modesty. I turned the light on at 6:45, pulled clothes on from my suitcase while others started getting up, and got dressed and packed. Said my goodbyes to Alex and Kevin and headed out. Upon checkout I had to say about three times that I was not looking for a bus to the airport, that we had a car. Apparently no one who stays there has a car.

The ride to the airport was quick and we did not get lost. I reflected on what an awesome trip it had been, how we all traveled well together and enjoyed each other's humor. Blank spots notwithstanding, it's a trip I would definitely make again.


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