Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Puerto Viejo

"It wouldn't be a road trip in Costa Rica unless I got a speeding ticket." - Josh Galt

We drove out towards the coast, over the misty mountain tops and through Limon, which didn't look like a good place to stop. Traffic was heavy, businesses armored. Bumpers served as handles for the occasional bicyclist. Eventually we got out to the coast and everything changed. Even the palm trees.

Curiously enough this place was called "Painted Palms".

Alex, blending in again. (Note his shirt colors. Then note the palm tree colors.)

Someone else tried the same thing on a grove just a little ways up the road, but they used red, yellow and green, rasta colors, but the paint wasn't shiny and it didn't really work.

We decided to get lodging first, and found this hotel a couple blocks off the downtown. Our room was sort of around the back, in a lush setting. It had two twins and one queen bed. Comfortable enough, although wireless access was only in the patio area.

After settling in we got dinner. At least three of us got dinner. Alex got something more resembling a nortemericano diner lunch. (Alex is vegetarian. I don't eat cheese or sugar. Somehow, we managed not to starve.) We tried to find some place Josh recalls that overlooked Salsa Brava, which wasn't breaking, but couldn't find it. The place we ate at was decent; they didn't serve stripes of mustard, ketchup and mayo and call it salsa. It was real food, and although about 4x as much $, worth every cent.

I introduced the gang to TBTL with a broadcast that was meant to give the ever-so-cheesy queen of dripping emotional ooze, Delila, a run for her money. My favorite one was a song dedicated to a gerbil, who died under nebulous circumstances, and they dedicated Michael Bolton's rendition of How Am I Supposed To Live Without You. You can find it under old shows, I think it aired the Wednesday before Thanksgiving '08. I was driving back from a surf outing in Westport and they were recapping the highlights of the previous week's show. It was definitely a highlight.

We decided to go out and listen to some jazz beats that were making their way over to our dwelling. It was an all-white person group, looked like americans, sounded okay, I spent most of the set waiting in line for the bathroom. I talked to one lady who was there doing a border run. Her husband, also an expat, was set up to live in Panama, but she had to do the 3 day visa thing and came up to Costa Rica to do it.

They ended their night and we followed the sounds of another band playing up the street at a disco. But it wasn't disco music it was Jamaican reggae, mon. It was great, so much better than what passes for reggae stateside. We watched from an opening in the side of the building, like where there might normally be a wall, but remember they don't believe in those things in the country. So we had a pretty good view without having to go inside where it was too loud and smokey. There were some characters about, one guy who was pretty lit dancing in the dirt street, tribes of others ducking into the bushes to do.. something.

On the way back we stopped in at a liquor store. I wanted to buy some Guaro but they didn't sell it. The place next door did. So I went next door and they didn't have it on the shelf. It wasn't at the main counter. Way in the back, I had to ask a clerk for it. She reached under some shelf and pulled some out for me. Two, please. They both made it home, one nearly polished off in LA, shared with my sister's household, and the other one is sitting on a shelf waiting for some kind of occasion.

I think I had had some Guaro that night, and there was one beer left, and I couldn't just let it sit there... although no one would help me drink it. Sleep came pretty easy as soon as the neighbors decided to stop chatting, but I woke up way too early again. The kitchen wasn't open til 7 and I had an hour to kill. So I read, then finally gathered up my computer and tea bag and headed outside. Some older guy was hovering around the kitchen and I asked his name. He seemed surprised that I was interested in it, which is kind of sad. He helped me turn on the stove and find a pot to boil water. I set up my computer at the outward facing tables where there was electrical outlet and a view of the gift shop across the street.

Another employee joined me later and sat a the next table. I'm not sure what his role was there but he seemed to do a little of everything. And he'd one a little over everything, naming off the countries he had lived in like someone might name all the people in their family. He became more enthusiastic about talking to me when he realized I spoke some Spanish. He said I looked tense and started massaging my shoulders. I thought this was a little forward but it did feel pretty good. He asked why I was so tense and showed him pictures of what we'd been doing the past week. He had me stand up and seemed to hit every sore spot. I declined the offer to continue it in a bedroom... but everything remained above board. I was kind of sad when the phone started ringing and he had to go. I asked what style he was using and he said Shiatzu. Whatever it was, it was just what I needed.


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