South AmericaTravel Writings

Tropical Fucking Paradise

Saturday, November 11th, 2006 Tropical Fucking Paradise

***Three days before I began this trip I got a fortune cookie that read, 'œYou are heading for a land of sunshine.' I thought it was funny and prophetic because I was about to go to Costa Rica, 'œtropical paradise'. I am currently sitting in a hostel/hotel type thingy in Jaco, on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, hoping that the rain will cease; it’s rained every day since I’ve arrived. I’m not gonna lie, I was prepared for the rain because Costa Rica has 'œrainforests' and 'œrainforests' generally mean rain. But just because I came prepared for it, doesn’t mean I have to like the weather'the stupid fucking fortune cookie was stale too.

***My first few hours in country were overwhelming. I arrived already homesick because I left a wonderful woman back in San Francisco (Tony Bennett isn’t the only dumb son of a bitch to leave his heart there). Then when I stepped out of the airport, there were so many people shouting, 'œTAXI! TAXI!' at me, that I felt like I was a famous soccer player with that as my last name. I literally stepped outside, got verbally assaulted by 73 guys wanting to take me 'œwherever you want for good price', turned right back around and went inside to gather my wits and find an ATM. The lady told me that the nearest cajero automatico was on the departure level which meant I would have to walk through the throng of taxi paparazzi to get there. The whole situation was pretty disconcerting because I hadn’t even put on my money belt yet (which I still need to do) and I wasn’t sure who was a hustler and who was legit. That’s one of the hardest parts of traveling in countries where the culture is so different than yours. What do you do when all the signs with which you’ve been programmed to help you distinguish the good guys from the bad guys, don’t completely apply? I guess just say 'œfuck it' and hope you pick the right taxi driver.

***Luckily I did. Jose was a short, scrappy Tico (native Costa Rican) with a big smile and a decent grasp of English (I still hid my money, ATM card and passport in different pockets), who, for $15, took me from the San Jose Airport to the Coca-Cola bus station. I was told that the station is called this because it used to be a Coca-Cola bottling plant'I think. What serves as one of the biggest hubs of transit for a city who’s metro area contains a million people, is less a bus depot than an open-air bazaar replete with butchers, lottery ticket salesmen, feral kittens and roosters. I guess it’s really not that different than downtown San Francisco’s Greyhound station.

···············Jose, my awesome cabbie·······················

Josecabbie.jpg

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··············Feral kittens at the Coca-Cola bus station···············

feralcats.jpg

***Lonely, overwhelmed and not quite sure if $15 was too much to pay for a cab ride, I arrived at the station and befriended the first backpackers I saw. It ended up that Oliver, an American from Maine, and Ville, a Finish guy were both headed to the same hostel in the same town as myself, so I diligently latched onto them and hopped on the bus to Manuel Antonio.

·····················Oliver, from Maine···············

Oliver.jpg

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····················Ville, from Finland····························

Ville on beach

***Manuel Antonio is less a town than a trickle of hotels, condos, restaurants and bars skirting the road leading to the Pacific Ocean. Most people come here for the area’s beautiful national park which has splendid beaches, lush forested hiking trails and eager to please monkeys; my reason was for free drinks. My cousin’s friend, Amy (who is awesome), owns a popular bar/restaurant, called The Lounge, in Manuel Antonio and since she’s the only person I knew in Costa Rica (by knowing her I mean talking to her a couple times on myspace); I decided to make Manuel Antonio my first destination.

·····································View from Vista Serena, our hostel······························

Vista Serena View

***That night, after getting situated at our hostel, we went to The Lounge for 'œLadies Night' which of course meant that for every one lady, there were at least eight dudes. Now because of the obscene amount of American tourism (there’s gotta be more Americans here than in El Paso, Texas) Costa Rica, especially the Pacific coast, has a really strange cultural identity. Oliver said it reminded him a lot of Hawaii. So much of Costa Rica’s economy is based on tourism that US dollars are just as readily accepted, if not more welcome, than the local colones. And because so many people come here to ride the waves, California surf culture has really taken root. Wearing little more than boardshorts, flip-flops and t-shirts, most of the young people dress like they just spent the day at La Jolla Shores in San Diego. So just like any other place where local customs are inextricably handcuffed to American cultural imperialism, some of the Ticos seriously tend to resent us damn gringos. Now take that into consideration when imagining us walking into that fucking ladies night.

***Truthfully, nothing bad went down; it’s just that the vibe suggested that it absolutely could if we weren’t careful. The three of us made sure to stick together. The best part of the evening was actually when I went up to get my third drink. The guy behind the bar was wearing a beanie, despite the night’s heat and humidity, and sweat was streaming down his face. So after he delivered my drink, I said to him, 'œMan, you look really hot.' Completely misunderstanding this particular usage of the word 'œhot' he smiled at me a little confused, said, 'œThank you' and moved on to the next customer. Classic!

***We made an early night of it at The Lounge and the next morning went to the national park. There we went swimming and hiking, observed big-ass iguanas and tiny basilisks, and got to see a monkey steal a ham sandwich from a tourist’s bag, and have a screeching match about it with its monkey family. It was sweet! I totally wanted to steal a monkey but thought better of it after seeing what those little fuckers did to that ham sandwich.

··································Photos from the natural park·································

iguana.jpg

rocksmanuel.jpg

beachmanuel.jpg

monkies2.jpg

***Now a day later I’m sitting in Jaco, writing this blog and waiting for the rain to let up so we can go out tonight. I’m a little nervous because, apparently, four people were murdered here last night and the population is only like 10,000 (Don’t worry mom; I think 3 of them were locals killing locals, and one of them was a dumb gringo girl who wandered out to the beach by herself at night. I fit none of these categories). So if I get killed and this is the last thing of mine you ever read, I hope you liked it.

···························································Wish you were here·························

menaturalpark.jpg

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

I've been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle , "an SF cult hero": SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York, but to those familiar with my work, I'm just "that douchebag who writes books about cheap stuff and drinks a lot".

  • Anonymous

    poor stuwy, only one person made a comment and thats some phony ad about making cash…..
    anyways, just wanted to let you know that i really enjoyed reading your blog and wanted to know who that attractive young male is in your pictures called Ville, walking the beach all suave and sh·t……must be from Finland????

  • Anonymous

    That there is some fairly humorous authorship, dude. But I gotta axe you one thing… wattup wit dem earrings?

  • Opiniones de gente de verdad sobre asuntos de verdad en Costa Rica: http://tiquiciadeverdad.blogspot.com/

  • kookimebux

    Hello. And Bye. 🙂