Fun & Frolick in Costa Rica - Part I
We have a long but smooth day of traveling and arrive in Liberia without any problems. We rent a car, and then upgrade because the luggage of five girls won’t fit in the first one. Which is strange, because we all swear we’ve only packed bikinis and the necessities. We head south west and drive an hour and a half mostly over paved and later graveled roads to Playa Negra. We stop once at a little dusty bar and buy two six packs to go. We try to drink them, you can do that here, as we bounce down the poorly maintained roads.
Funny to think, what was is 5 days ago? I decided to go to Costa Rica with a bunch of girls. “I could never. I have a husband, a store and children. How could I just pack up and go.” The fantasy was back there in my brain playing with the idea, working out the details. And here I was bouncing down a bumpy road with newly made girlfriends, drinking some not great beer that was foaming out the top of my can. I force myself to drink it; I am on vacation for god sakes.
We reach our destination, Casa de Fuego, in the dark. Its striking height and grand views are unmistakable even by starlight. The winds are blowing giving a wild feel to what would have been a calm evening. We go to sleep listening to the crickets, the occasional loud chirp of the tiny gecko and of course the crashing of the not too distant surf.
I awoke at 6:30 am, that's 4:30 at home, then again at 7 and 7:30. I don’t let myself get up. I’m on vacation for god sake. I look past my pillow at the waves and a few surfers. The glass is floor to ceiling. Everywhere are palms doing giant fan dances in the strong wind. At 8:30 I let allow myself to get up, that's 6:30 at home I calculate. Tomorrow I’ll just accept the local time without counting back the two hours.
As we have no food in the house, we don our bikinis and sun dresses and walk down the beach for breakfast. The giant palapa, Hotel Playa Negra, is a restaurant right on the beach. I look about and take in shiny cobalt floors with mustard accents, sky blue stucco walls, here and there bright pink bougainvilleas . Color is everywhere. We have a “tipico” breakfast of huevos, rice with black beans and a couple slices of soft cheese. We drink coffee, they don’t do decaf, but they do serve chartreuse orange juice.
Later we play in the surf, getting tossed around like socks in a washing machine. Collecting shells from the beach becomes a humorous undertaking when so many pretty shells scamper off when we try and pick them up. At one point we see a whole army of tiny hermits marching up the beach. We have to walk around them as this wave of tiny crabs is so thick and so wide.
In the afternoon we drive down the road to Lola’s, a beach bar and cafe’ named for the family pig. The pig is a mere shadow of its former rotund self. We watch it struggle to come up off the beach and fear its going to die of old age right in front of us. We sit on reclining chairs made from two large polished planks. I sip on a concoction of fresh pineapple pureed in a blender with rum, simple but effective. Then later I try their pink specialty, the monkey cocktail.
We ended the day with more drinking and sharing our childhoods as we all get to know each other. I reflect on why I’m here. To have fun, yes. To absorb the culture, definitely. But more than that, I was here to find the mysterious “Pura Vida.” Described as pure life, and enjoying life slowly. I am going to slow down and let life find me. Decompression has begun.
Today Delia teaches me how to properly cut a Mango. Delia is a tough and worldly beauty with a mass of thick dark curls. Back home she’s a bartender, a runner, and a traveler. I’m starting to learn she has a very tender, caregiving side as well. I practice with a second mango. slice off each side then score and turn it inside out. These mangos are sweet and tangy and probably were picked yesterday. I eat it over the sink and let the sticky juice drip down my chin.
Danielle and I go have massages on the beach. Danielle is our host. It is her house we are staying in. She is the only girl of the group I actually know. Back home she is my masseuse and a soul sister. We share appreciation of all the "other" things sensual, like food, fragrance and massage. The masseuses have set up a pop up awning in the sand, under the trees. They begin by washing the sand from our feet. A simple but very appreciated introduction to the pleasures ahead. My masseuse is wonderfully intuitive; he works muscles I didn’t even know I had into Jell-O. Then he leaves me like a puddle of flesh on his table unable to pick myself up. Danielle has to tell me to rise from my near slumber. He gives me more than an hour of heaven for 30 bucks, I tip him $10 and still feel cheap. All rummy we go to play in the waves. Delia is there, but is running in the opposite direction. I slap at my leg, wondering what has made her leave in such a hurry. It takes a few minutes for me to realize, we too are getting stung by some biting little bugs and run out after her with little red welts popping up hither and yonder. We don’t know what the little buggers are called. We name them sea chiggers and have developed a healthy respect for them.
It takes most of the rest of the day to get us geared up to drive to town to go grocery shopping. We discuss it from our steamer chairs around the pool. We have no food, we really should go. Yep, we should. Someone points out we have no booze either. That gets our butts in the car. The funniest music lyrics are playing on the radio. “You smell like a bucket of vodka. There aint no way I’m putting my meat sauce in that pasta.” I giggle all the way there. We spend $300 bucks on food we won’t have time to eat. (note: we ate it all!) We have an early dinner and watch the sunset at a beautiful hotel. On the way back we stop at one of the local cantinas, also called sodas. We watch surfing videos on a sheet tacked to the wall while we drink our cocktails. Local and vacationing surfers fill the bar stools. Once home, my eye lids are heavy, so I go skinny dipping to wake up. Its rather chilly, who knew you could have goose bumps in Costa Rica. Warm french bread and cheese with a nice glass of Cab and we are revived. We dance for hours. Danielle teaches me African dance which I , obviously, have no talent for. I feel like a disjointed chicken with a bobble head, but have fun anyway. She has ten years experience at it but still manages to crank her neck. Good thing we know a masseuse!
Tomorrow I vow to get up with the sun, do yoga, meditate on the beach, eat fresh fruit and get another delicious massage. Danielle vows to take more pictures, and.... ya, just take more pictures.
I finally get up with the sun. Its 6 am when I rise and the birds are up and so are the fisherman. I walk a bit on the beach. The waves turn brilliant white and silver and I realize the sun is up above the trees and house tops now, reflecting on the water. I stand in mountain pose trying to meditate. A friendly dog barks at me insisting I pet him. Once he is satisfied I resumed my meditation to the rhythm of the waves. After my meditation Danielle and I do yoga next to the pool. We whine as the video works our thighs till we are shaking. We are laughing because we can not hold the poses without groaning. Once finished we feel as accomplished as if we had just run a marathon. She and I then go for a long walk on the beach and collect some interesting shells. She shows me where the locals sell fish. But not today. We come back to the casa and help prepare a big family style meal with a beautiful laid table. Sylvia is in charge of the kitchen. She is Italian and it shows when she cooks. Italians are not stingy with food, and would never have you wanting anything. Her family is in theater, and you can tell by the way she carries herself, full of confidence as if she could be at home anywhere. She serves us homemade gezpacho and fajitas. She’s an excellent cook. With full bellies we decide we don’t have the energy to go to the fiesta in town. We are too relaxed and it is too beautiful. So, I go see if I can get another massage, heaven yet again. It ends fittingly at sunset. Back at the casa we end the day dancing, drinking wine and eating cheese. This is becoming a ritual. I end my day with a quick skinny dip in our private infinity pool to cool off before bed.
Today I am greeted by Delia and a cup of coffee bedside. I am overwhelmed by the sweet gesture. Another day in paradise! I have an early massage appointment today. I’ve decided to get one a day 'til we leave. So a quick skinny dip in the pool. I seem to be getting addicted to these as well. Then off down the beach to get a massage from Francis not Luis today. She is much harder on me and I have to breathe through the pain. I feel worked over when she’s done. Then we hit the fruit bowl, mangos and pineapple. Danielle and I run to the French restaurant to make reservations for tomorrow’s dinner. They have internet so we stay and have a glass of wine and send quick e-mails home. When we’re done with that little outing we head to Lola’s for more tropical cocktails, and a walk down the beach. They’re busier than last time but luckily a couple of old guys from Miami share their table. We have several rounds of icy blended cocktails and some divine ceviche. We’re happy to see Lola is still living and napping on the beach. The girls buy harem pants from a very pregnant Argentinean blonde. We try to persuade the Brazilian waiter to read the cocktail menu in English to us again. What’s this word here. “Blaaack Berrrry,” he repeats. We giggle. There is an interesting mix of nationalities here with one common goal: Pura Vida.Back home we share a meal of fish and potatoes. After a couple glasses of Chardonnay I am accused of being loud, which I take as my cue to go to bed. Guess those tropical cocktails got the better of me.