Friday, July 3, 2009

Rickey's Costa Rica Travelogue, Part III

You’re probably wondering: why the hell is this prick blogging from his honeymoon instead of doing, ahem, other things? Well first off, the afternoon rain provides ample time for writing, and secondly, I’m doing all this mainly so I can remember this, not you (the rum down here is alarmingly plentiful). And with that cleared up, we move forward to…
Day 5. Marvel at rosy fingered dawn! Or is that sunset? I'm actually not completely sure (this goes back to the rum comment above).

The morning is consumed by a timeshare presentation. In order to snag two free days of comped meals and drinks at Villa Sol, the Hendersons have subjected themselves to something just a few steps removed from water boarding: a timeshare pitch. Jimmy, the guy who runs the presentation is nice enough. He’s animated, engaging, and quite topical. But let me tell you something about Jimmy: he’s undoubtedly stuffing Columbia’s national export into his nose on a regular basis. The dude fidgets, he wipes his nose constantly, and he bumps over a cup of coffee in the middle of his pitch. He’s making me nervous just looking at him.

A brief aside: one summer, I was looking for work and remember applying for a job selling CutCo knives door to door. I passed the initial exam with flying colors. When the regional manager in charge of new hires called me into his office, told me I’d got the job and started cutting through a beefy piece of leather with a CutCo knife to demonstrate the effectiveness of his product, I knew that sales just wasn’t for me. But hey, somebody’s gotta do the job I suppose. Today that somebody is Jimmy.

Because I was feeling frisky, I decided to turn the tables on Jimmy's timeshare pitch and ask him a bit about HIS background. He’s a Boston ex-pat who was born into a family restaurant business, then worked for Four Seasons for a while and was dating an occupational therapist. Now he’s single and hawking timeshares at the humid ass end of the universe. Jimmy has most definitely come down in the world. I feel a little bad for the guy saying no to him repeatedly after a 90 minute presentation (he even makes a little sad puppy dog face after we reject him) but hey, I’m pretty conservative when it comes to plopping down 80K for a timeshare that I’ll rarely use. I'm weird like that.

After being thoroughly tested, we head for lunch and enjoy some good eats and drinks. The salsa down here is a green tangy sauce that is absolutely incredible. I’ve been pouring it over rice and beans, eggs, toast, and pretty much every other solid food I can find.

Then we make for the beach in the afternoon, plop down in a nice shady spot and relax. After some soothing time doing the dead man’s float in the Pacific Ocean, I head towards land, decidedly hungry. A guy on the beach is selling ceviche for 5,000 colones. Having no idea whatsoever what that equates to in dollars, I gladly pay him and walk back to Mrs. Henderson with a Tupperware container of raw marinated seafood. She is at best apprehensive.Sweet fancy moses, is this stuff good. It consists of octopus, clams, some sort of raw fish, all marinated in lemon juice, cilantro, and hot sauce. I plan on putting this in a blender and feeding it to my unborn kid. Two doses and they’ll be lifting aircraft carriers above their head.

Then thunder sounds in the distance and we hastily head back from the beach to the hotel bar. Once there and having consumed many more drinks, we forge what will undoubtedly be a life long friendship with a verbose lady from Staten Island. She has flesh eating disease (a minor detail that she tells me after I’ve shaken her hand) and loves to gripe about pretty much everything in her life. It’s funny how listening to somebody else bitching makes you feel instantly better about yourself. The best I can tell her is that she should be very happy with her tap water back home.

After watching all we can bear of the Mets/Yanks Sunday night game on ESPN Deportes, we’re heading off for dinner. The beisbol world is too much with us. Same goes for this resort too. We’re pretty much counting down the days until we hop back in a rental car and start legitimately enjoying Costa Rica again. Don't get me wrong, it's nice ...just a little to sterile for us, you know? As much as we love staying in a highly regimented resort that’s governed more strictly than Leavenworth Penitentiary, we think that the more rustic funky parts of Costa Rica appeal more to us. On July 4th, we’re heading further south to a tiny little town on the cost known as Malpais. The surf at the beach down there is strong (it’s where they filmed “Endless Summer 2”) and the locale is wonderfully remote. It’s inhabited by absolutely no one and we’re fortunate enough to know somebody who is letting us use their beach house there. Coordinating the details via email, we're informed that someone named Preston will be staying at the house with us. I assumed that Preston is some sort of monkey butler, until I read that he also likes to surf in the mornings. Still, he could definitely be a surfing monkey butler, which is undoubedtly the coolest kind of monkey butler of all.

Day 6: To the fellow resort-goers, our rallying against the time share pitch has reached an almost evangelical tone. We watched the bartender, with no regard for secrecy, water down the booze by pouring equal parts water and no name brand rum back into a liquor bottle. We’re just a few steps removed from ordering t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “never submit.”

Amenities at the resort are plentiful. Cigarettes cost less than $2 in USD. If you run over somebody in your rental car, you’re not obligated to stop. You just drive to the rental car company office and report the incident. Life here in Costa Rica is cheap. Several hundred years ago, the locals dropped to their knees and bowed down before the conquistadors who weighed anchor in their gulf. Three hundred years later, this area is pockmarked by beach resorts. Go figure.

To their credit, the Costa Rican government will only allow you to purchase an acre of land if you also purchase an acre of land in the rainforest and agree not to develop it for 100 years. I like that ethos. The founder of AOL wanted to buy some land down here and is finding it to be cost prohibitive. As of now, he still is reluctant to close the deal. Good riddance—there should be some places on this planet that are still wild, untamed and not governed by rampant greed.

Days 7-8. (I think... I've pretty much lost track of time at this point) Here’s where things get rather interesting. We go snorkeling in the morning. I get the hell stung out of me by a jellyfish.(At least I hope that's a jellyfish sting and not the onset of flesh eating disease). While lounging in the pool, I’m asked to join an impromptu volleyball game by a resort staff member. Choosing to ignore the fact that this is the same guy who just hours earlier led us on the snorkeling tour that resulted in me getting by jellyfish, I say yes, I’d love to play some volleyball, and enter the game.

When it comes to be my time to serve, my competitive streak takes over and I’m completely dialed in. I toss the ball up, push off and smack two rockets to the other side. Both of ‘em are perfectly places spikes, landing between a terrified 13 year old girl and a listless old man whose mind clearly isn't in the game. There may have even been some spin on the ball. I am officially dialed into this game. Ancient spirits of evil, transform this decayed form to Volleyball-Ra, the Ever-Living! Behold, Rickey in action:
Yeah, I’m a pasty white dude. Leave me alone. And hey, if you had a weird looking mole surgically removed from your back three years ago that resulted in a scar that looked like you were involved in a vicious knife fight, you’d be piling on the 60 SPF sunscreen too.

On the third serve, I get even more cocky and push off way too hard on my toes. Instantly, I feel something give. It feels like a tear in my right leg, like a piano cord snapping. I’ve seen enough Mets hobbling off the field to know what this means: some sort of leg injury has transpired. Yes, you're reading this correctly, I have managed to hurt myself playing pool volleyball. Hotel staff are dispatched to pick up anti-inflammatory medicine and I get to spend the rest of my time here gimping around and smiling sheepishly whenever somebody asks me how my leg is feeling. But on the bright side, while spending the next few lying days on my ass recovering, I get to make friends with the local wildlife:Now that's one big bastard of a bug. While lounging by the beach, we also race hermit crabs. I call the big one "Pinchy."

Anyway, the leg injury seems to be just a pulled calf and not a complete tear, so I should be good as new for when we head down to Malpais on Saturday. I'm able to put a little more weight on it now and feel like a full recovery is iminent. I have no idea if there's any sort of internet connection at this place in Mapais or not, so if we go into radio silence, you'll know why.


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Arthur said...

A time share pitch?! (shudders)

Awesome post Rickey.

Anonymous said...

Great posting Rickey. The joy of having ecological balance.

eddie brown
Free Satellite TV

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