About Me

My photo

A man of many words. Profane, profound, loyal to a fault and a right rat bastard. I love the finer things in life: expensive cigars, cheap women and all the salted, cured meats I can eat. A friend to dogs, lover of humanity and despiser of people. If I were King the world would be a better place, because, well...I would be King! Oh, and I like ice cream.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

After the Storm

After a day of hanging around Liberia (just to make sure all was well) we headed for our final destination. Of this trip. Jaco, Costa Rica, where Jason's family has a condo. We would spend the last few days lounging around. Mick is anxious to return to the States. His brush with excruciating pain has given him a good scare. And a different perspective. Standing on his head in shit doesn't seem so bad when compared to the pain he felt.

(I read him this last line and he has a good laugh, agreeing. It makes me feel good to make him laugh.)

Happy Independence Day. I expect I'll never again "celebrate" the 4th with a backyard BBQ among family. Just hanging with Mick is celebration enough for me.

We checked out of the hotel early and walked to the bus station. The bus to Puntarenas wouldn't leave for two hours, so we walked the three blocks back to a newish food court near the hotel. Burger King, Ice & Hot (Whatever that is), Church's Chicken and Papa John's Pizza. Three blocks, two worlds. Here it was clean, air conditioned, orderly, neat, and quiet. Safe.

The bus station is dirty, noisy, chaotic (at first glance), spanish speaking. Not so safe.

In the food court we write and read unbothered.

We can read at the station, but always with a watchful eye. Mind your bag, watch who's behind you, be on guard.

The food court could be in South Kumquat, Connecticut or East Blandville, Ohio. The station, Kegalle, Sri Lanka or Managua, Nicaragua.

Given my druthers I'll take the stations every time. Here is life. People scratching out a living, buying cheap food, cheap sandals, cheap clothing, cheap transportation, living what many in the West consider cheap lives. You know it's true. Anyone care how many Iraqis have died in our war? Anyone care?

"Car bomb in Baghdad-Beirut-Darfur-Colombo-Mogodishu (pick one. Or more.) kills four." The CNN crawl marches by without pause.

Mick and I share our thoughts on this. Given the means wouldn't all those folks over at the station like the idea of fresh pizza in a clean, air conditioned environment?

I prefer the station because it is energetic, chaotic (Not really. There IS a system of sorts.) and alive. But, I also have the freedom to move between both worlds. Anytime I get tired of "slumming" or feeling insecure or whatever, all I have to do is produce a piece of plastic and I'm out. Most here and in two-thirds of the world can't do that. It's like I'm cheating.

Tourists say, "I want to see what the authentic natives experience." What is authentic? The "authentic natives" are selling Made-in-Nicaragua (or China) pottery and handicrafts to tourists. That stuff isn't used in any large way in native homes anymore. They use pots and pans like we do. There's little romanticism among natives for that old stuff. If Daniel Boon could have had Goretex and ultralight equipment, don't you think he would have used it?

Anyway...somehow we missed the 10:20AM bus. Either it never came or it drove away right under our noses. So we waited for the 11:30. Lots of time for more inner dialogue. Mick says I like the sound of my own voice. Of course! I've ALWAYS liked the sound of my voice. I think about lots of things, develop ideas and verbalize them. What's not to like?

But, I digress...So after a time Mick says, "Here comes Jesus." I look around and here comes this bearded, bare-foot cat in a red robe.

"Whaddya wanna bet he thinks he's a holy man," I muttered? Sure enough, a couple minutes later he launches into a bible wving spiel. It seems to have little effect and after awhile he shuts up.

We saw him drifting around the station, checking out the contents of a garbage can, testing the coin returns of several pay phones. Later he was walking along across the street.

Eventually our bus to Puntarenas arrived and we got on. It would be a two hour leg and the bus was crammed. Several passengers had to stand in the aisle. We got seats about halfway back. About ten minutes into the tide I look up and, Son-of-a-gun(!), here comes "Jesus" working his way toward the front of the bus. I never saw him get on.

He gets about three rows in front of us and launches into another sermon. Of course it was in Espanol, so I had no idea what he was saying.

The thing was, the guy's voice was BOOMING. There was no ignoring him. But, he's roaring along and no one is paying him the slightest bit of attention. Not even a wince as he blasted into the ears of those standing next to him. Not a roll of the eyes. Nothing. It was like he was invisible.

At one point he turned to face the back of the bus and was facing me. I tried to stare him down, to make him avert his gaze, but to no avail. You can't outstare a whack job.

When we came to his stop he filed past us. He said something I didn't catch. Later Mick said he called us brothers. "Adios, muchacho," I said. You meet all kinds out here on the road to Ithaca.

We got to Puntarenas right at 2:30. A guy on the bus said we'd be in plenty of time for the 3:00 to Jaco. As usual it took a couple minutes to get oriented. I took the opportunity to heed the call of nature. While passing the time facing the bano wall, the 2:30 bus for Jaco pulled out. Never fails.

The next (and FINAL) bus to Jaco left at 4:30. So we had a couple hours to kill. Every restaurant had the Germany-Italy World Cup semi-final on. So we got to see the Italians put the knife into the collective hearts of Germany fans in the final moments of overtime. The anguish on the faces of the German fans in the stadium evoked my own memories of the '92 Pittsburgh Pirate's loss to Atlanta (Where were You When Sid slid?) knocking them out of the World Series.

That's why I will never give my heart over again to a pro sports team. They'll almost always fail to win "The Big One," and the players wouldn't give you the time of day if you met them anyway. (Maybe that's a little harsh. When Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback of the NFL champion Pittsburgh Steelers was sitting in front of me on a recent flight I'm pretty sure he would have given me the time if I had asked.)

Two hours later we hit Jaco. After grabbing a bite we took a cab to Los Suenos condominiums. After three weeks of chicken buses, hostels, casas particulares and generally low-end living, this was of another world. The word "Posh" came immediately to mind. Ridiculously posh for a Central American country. But there it was.

Fireworks were being shot off near the marina. Celebrating American independence in a foreign land.

Another day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You sat behind Ben Rothliesberger and you didn't get me his autograph???? OhmiGod - I'm the biggest Steeler fan in Greenville. Miguel, I love reading your blog - why don't you make a tape and send it to the Travel Channel and become a star? I know you would be perfect for it. Barbarella