I still haven’t talked to my parents since I left for Costa Rica. I’m trying, but they’re never online to talk on Skype and I still have yet to get an international phone card. It’s kind of an issue because my credit union card apparently doesn’t work here – I’ve tried in the ATMs and all it says is “invalid transaction,” so that sucks because I have less than ten dollars in cash left.
Anyway, back to Saturday. I woke up at 7:30 a.m. because I wanted to take advantage of the beach across the street…but it was raining. So we decided to go into town first. The restaurant had a pretty good continental breakfast, but I decided to only eat bread, honey and fruit because I didn’t want to be sick again. It was a pretty long walk into town and it was raining, so we decided to rent bikes from the hotel. It was 5 dollars for 5 hours, and they were these awesome old-fashioned bikes with buckets on the front and a lot of extra space on the back. That’s when we found out Amanda doesn’t know how to ride a bike…she never learned…so we only rented five bikes and Amanda rode on the back of Janelle’s bike. It was pretty comical watching her try to balance on the back of the bike, but they managed and we all rode into town. The road was full of potholes, dead crabs lined the side of the road (and smelled terrible) and nearly every car that sped by us was complete with a Costa Rican guy leaning out and ogling us. But it was one of the coolest things I’ve done in awhile, bike to town in my bathing suit on a hot, dusty road early on a Saturday morning.
We started at the end of town, stopped at the bank (where I had to borrow money from Elise, because like I said, my ATM card apparently doesn’t work here) and supermercado, and then worked our way down the strip.
Most of the stores were artisan booths, full of mostly useless junk but a few awesome shops. We watched a guy sculpt bongs out of clay, and they were the most intricate things I’ve ever seen. I don’t smoke, and I wanted one just because they were so cool-looking. They had sculpted frogs, turtles, everything. I was going to get one as a gift, but I don’t know how hard it would have been to get that past Customs.
Anyway, the shops were awesome. The jewelry was all carved wood and gorgeous. The clothing stores were unlike anything I’ve ever seen – the clothing was in big boxes and wrapped in plastic, so you had to go up to the counter and ask for your size. Not many of the clerks understood English, so it was a little hard to negotiate since that’s not exactly the kind of stuff they taught me in Spanish class. I ended up buying a sarong from one of the little shops, and I wore it out to the bar that night. Probably the only time it’ll be socially acceptable to wear a sarong out to the bar, but it fit perfectly with the whole reggae-surf-town vibe.
It was at least 10 degrees hotter than in Alajuela. The steam was rising off the streets and we were all pretty sweaty from riding our bikes through town, so we decided to ride back to the hotel around 1 and go to the beach. It had cleared up by about 11, and it was absolutely gorgeous out, so we laid out at the beach for the rest of the afternoon.
We went to the Italian restaurant and ordered bruschetta caprese to go, and we took our food and headed across the street.
The minute we hit the beach, we ran into the ocean. I haven’t been to the ocean since Cape Cod, and I’ve really missed it. The water is about 20 degrees warmer here than it is in Massachusetts, obviously, and it just felt amazing. Some of the guys were taking surfing lessons a little farther down the beach, and we watched them for awhile. The only good ones were Marc, Corey and Aaron – the rest were having a lot of trouble. The waves weren’t that big, so they were great for beginners, but it was pretty funny watching the boys try to surf.
We just laid out, went bodysurfing, took a walk along the beach and just relaxed. This whole weekend was just so chill, I haven’t had a weekend like this in…probably forever. The sun was unbearably hot still, I had to run in the ocean about once every 10 or 15 minutes in order to stay cool. I was applying sunscreen constantly, but it didn’t help…I have the worst burn on my back. It’s red and splotchy and basically looks like a five-year-old applied my sunscreen, and poorly at that. The sun here is just so intense that you absolutely need to have sunscreen on at all times or else you’re screwed, and I forgot to put it on my back while we were downtown, which was definitely a bad move.
I only surfed for a few minutes in the late afternoon, after the boys were pretty much done with their boards and their lessons. I borrowed Julio’s board, but it was way too long for me and it was chafing my stomach, so I more floated on the surfboard than actually surfed.
It felt so good to get out there with a board again, even if I couldn’t do much. I forgot who told me, You look so happy right now, but I definitely was. I miss the ocean, and I wish I could be there more than two weeks a year now…so I spent pretty much every second I could there this weekend. I was the last one out there at night and the first out there Sunday morning, and then the last out before we had to leave Sunday at noon. When I pictured Costa Rica, I was thinking tropical beaches and studying next to the ocean. That was before I knew we were going to school in the middle of the country, but this weekend was pretty much heaven.
We had dinner at the Italian restaurant, and it was great to finally have my appetite back. All of us ordered the same type of thin-crust pizza, which was kind of funny – I guess the girls all have the same taste in food, since we all pretty much order the same thing all the time.
Our waiter came up to us, a short, dreadlocked guy, and the first thing he said was, I don’t work here, I’m just helping out my friend. We looked at each other and kind of laughed, like, who does that? He was actually the same guy who gave the guys surf lessons earlier in the year. Everyone in this town just kind of helps each other out. We saw our waitress from the night before helping out at our hotel, and we saw the hotel receptionist at the bar later that night. It’s just one huge, chilled-out family, which was pretty awesome. Anyway, we had almost a whole pizza left over between us, so we asked for a box at the end of the meal. He brought it, and I said, This is great, guys – we’ll have some munchies for on the bus tomorrow. The waiter stopped, looked at me and said, Munchies! You smoke? …it was absolutely hilarious. The girls all died of laughter. He called me a pothead, and then we asked what his favorite type of munchies were – he said, Well, when I get high, I like munchies. Well, just ask her, since she likes the munchies. It was just the most ridiculous dialogue with a waiter I’ve ever had. He was absolutely hilarious.
Time moves so slowly here – we were done with dinner at 7 but it was already pitch-black, but we didn’t want to go out until like 10 or 11. One of the bartenders sent Alex to ask Janelle if she’d have a glass of wine with him. He had remembered her from the meal, I guess, and he wanted to have a drink with her. She was pretty weirded out and said no, but it was pretty funny. A few of us decided to watch Borat on the TV outside before the bar, so we did that and killed a few hours. even watching a movie in Costa Rica is a cool experience – we sat on metal chairs outside, watched the flat-screen (the first television I’ve watched since I’ve been here) and every once in awhile, a dog or a little gray cat would wander past us, or a sand crab would scurry across the clay floor. The crabs were one of the coolest things about the city – they only came out at night and they were all over the place, we really had to watch our step. One ran out from under the table while were eating dinner, and all the girls screamed and held their legs up like it was a mouse or a gross bug. It just crabwalked out from under the table and across the floor, unperturbed, like it was no big deal there was a giant crab interrupting our dinner.
I called five cabs to our hotel at 10:30, and we all made our way to Jhonny’s, a beach bar near the edge of town. It was already packed by the time we got there, and there were a lot of European tourists so we didn’t stick out as much as we had at other bars. The band equipment was set up on the sand, and there were white beach tables surrounding the equipment all the way to the ocean. The actual inside of the bar was totally empty and nobody was on the dance floor.
A crazy-eyed black guy with dreadlocks came up to me while I was sitting with a few of the girls. You look just like my ex-wife, he said. Excuse me? I answered, turning around. Yeah, you do, he ranted. She was from Canada. Long, blonde hair that went down her back. Pretty face. I stared at him in half-amusement, the other girls were starting to crack up. That’s a compliment, he added, trying to make sense of the disgusted expression on my face, probably. Um…okay, I answered. I’ve just never been compared to someone’s ex-wife before. He smiled and kind of tripped away, but kept coming up to me the whole night. He asked to take a picture with me, kept asking me questions, coming back up to me, until one of the guys finally shielded me. It was pretty hilarious.
We eventually scored a table and sat there for a few, while the reggae band started, but I eventually moved to the sand and sat next to the ocean.
It was the most peaceful thing I’ve ever been a part of, just sitting on the sand in my sarong, staring out at the black ocean and listening to a great reggae band. A flame-thrower came to the edge of the ocean and started tossing around lit torches to the rhythm of the music, and people started to come over to where we were sitting to watch the guy. It just fit the whole atmosphere, relaxed but a little crazy. The sky was completely clear and we could see all the stars, since there were no lights to cloud our view. The Big Dipper was turned to the side – in Michigan, it’s usually right-side up, and we all noticed that and thought it was pretty cool. All the constellations were turned like 90 degrees to the side, since we’re in a different part of the world, and we just laid on the sand looking up at the stars. It was so simple, but stargazing on the beach made me so homesick. Or maybe just person-sick, I guess.