Full disclaimer, I did not steal anything, commandeer any vessels, solicit any prostitutes or do any cocaine, but, if I had wanted to, I would have had the opportunity to this past month.
The month started back in Montezuma when Meredith came to visit. While the week did not go entirely as planned...the cabina we rented was much farther from the ocean than represented to us and it turns out that not leaving anything of value in a rental car is actually very good advice (hence the thieves)...we did spend it exploring a variety of beaches on the Nicoya Peninsula, many of which were fantastic. Mal Pais may be the most beautiful beach I have
ever seen. Check out some pics here:
And of course, the self portrait:
Anyway, after a great beach filled week (and a harrowing race to the airport which involved getting lost twice and then going on an adventure to return the rental car) Meredith departed and I had four days of good health and relaxation at home.
Ok that's a total lie. Mike Jozwik's birthday was in the middle of that little break and needless to say, that got interesting. We had a reup of the fiesta saturday...involving bloody marys, a big breakfast and a hike to the mirador above campus. (Which always seems like a better idea while drinking the bloody marys than it does when you're about halfway to the top of the mountain after having several.)
Anyway, after those silly few days, I found myself striking out solo for Puerto Quepos...my first solo public transit experience in Costa Rica. Other than taking the "collectivo" (which apparently is Costa Rican Spanish for "Stop every 150 feet between San Jose and Quepos and collect everyone in the country.") the trip was fairly uneventful. Not even a good sketchy story in San Jose. Sorry about that. Moving on...
My first few days in Quepos were solo and it is a really fun town. I took some spanish classes at Escuela El Paraiso just outside of town and had my own little cabina in the jungle. Other than finding a poison dart frog on my door sill one morning, it was a great place to stay.
Photo of the interior (totally forgot to take one of the exterior):
But if there is one thing to say about Quepos, it is the hottest place I think I have ever spent time. I mean, I can not come up with a sarcastic analogy adequate to communicating the level of sticky heat that I enjoyed there. Some common ones have included "collectivo apparently means 'to the sun'" and "I didn't realize I lived in a humidifier." (Once again, turns out the rainforest is moist.
Traveling in Quepos solo was interesting though, largely because of the number of different impressions a solo gringo must make on people. I was offered cocaine 5 times in my first evening and solicited by two prostitutes while sitting at a bar eating and having a Coors Light (never thought a cold silver bullet would taste so good).
But in addition to that excitement, turns out Quepos and Manuel Antonio are the gay beaches here in Costa Rica, and, the cabina I was staying in was conveniently right near a gay bar. (Yes, I swear it was a TOTAL coincidence.) So, of course, I made sure to take advantage of that. I saw my first tico drag queen (tica?) and while she didn't have anything on Shanida, she was pretty fierce.
Anyway, in addition to that I decided to give surfing a go. My instructor was a 20 year old tico kid named Gilbert whose english was about on par with my spanish which made the lesson interesting. I'm not sure whether it was the language barrier or the 5 foot waves, but I got wrecked. Based on his face after a few, I'm pretty sure I was talked about around the shop afterwords.
Cool story in Manuel Antonio though, there is a bar/restaurant called El Avion where we caught several sunsets during the last few days the whole group was in town. What makes it interesting, in addition to being high on a cliff above the ocean with a spectacular view, is the fact that it is built around the wreckage of a Fairchild C-123 that was shot down over Nicaragua during that whole Iran Contra nastiness. (Wait, Reagan was the best president ever who can do no wrong, right? He deserves an airport?)
Jozwik and I as pilots:
And the entrance to the place:
Actually I have found the dynamic here to be interesting. It's not overtly anti United States at all, but, there are many subtle anti United States themes. On the other hand, it's honestly surprising they like us as much as they do...given the whole banana republic thing. (Next time you buy pineapples or bananas, check out where they came from...) But, this entire restaurant is a fairly overt criticism of, well, us. And, the Costa Rican national hero, Juan Santamaria, is a hero because he led the army that repelled US mercenaries (see, Blackwater isn't a new concept) intent on colonizing Central America so that they could be slave holding states. (Look up William Walker...ancestor of George Walker Bush. Shocker.)
Anyway, one final anecdote to share and then I'll finally finish my first blog entry in a month. Those of you who have traveled in Central America are familiar with the buses here...and Costa Rica is no exception. The most recent "well that wasn't the most dangerous thing I've ever experienced, but it's on the list" moment came one night on a bus between Manuel Antonio and Quepos. Basically, after stopping on an uphill incline, the driver stalls the bus out. Now, before I continue, let me set the scene: It's night, the bus is most of the way up a hill. At the bottom of said hill is a cliff (there's a bend in the road). There are no street lights. The bus has about 50 people one it and I'm standing down in the rear door well. So anyway, driver stalls the bus out. After trying to restart, the engine gives two cranks, the battery dies and all of the lights turn out...then just because things weren't interesting enough, we start rolling backwards. As we pick up speed, the driver starts trying to pop the clutch to get the darn thing to start.
I did not realize that you could start a diesel by popping the clutch, especially not in reverse. It turns out you can, on about the 7th try. Needless to say, after the 6th try, everyone was trying to remember exactly how much road we had left behind us...
Entonces, Pura Vida amigos!