South AmericaTravel Writings

Strange and Creepy

Updated: Mar 13, 2009 09:58
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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Strange and Creepy

When you spend time on the road you gain insight into yourself, the places you visit, and you get, more or less, a greater knowledge of how world around you works. For example, my travels in Ireland made me realize that I belong in cities and not the countryside. That was an important bit of knowledge I gained about myself. It took me only about three days of traveling in Costa Rica to come another profound conclusion, this one about the world as a whole. It goes like this: generally speaking, old white men traveling by themselves are creepy as fuck. I mean, Jesus, what’s creepier than a balding guy with a ponytail, wearing Tevas and a Hawaiian shirt, coming all the way to Costa Rica to pay for sex? The answer is: a balding guy with a ponytail, wearing Tevas and a Hawaiian shirt, who comes all the way to Costa Rica to pay for sex with someone underage (This is actually such a serious problem that there are multiple signs between the airport and the bus station informing people that, yes, sex with minors is illegal in Costa Rica too). So while I managed to avoid getting murdered in Jaco, I did get the pleasure of seeing loads of old farts walking arm in arm back to their hotels with gorgeous, and likely underage, Tica (Costa Rican women) prostitutes.

***Main Road in Jaco***

Happy to be getting out of Jaco alive, Oliver, Ville and I headed back to San Jose where the next day they would get on a plane to Buenos Aires and I would catch a bus to the Caribbean Coast. What’s interesting is that I’ve noticed a tendency amongst back-packers towards the idea of, 'œWhen I get to Buenos Aires'' It’s as if some sort of Emerald City like mythology has developed around Buenos Aires, and everyone with a back-pack is on their way to see the Wizard. If that’s the case, I guess that makes Taca Airlines my Yellow Brick road and Costa Rica my Munchkin land (not because it’s full of drunk midgets, but because it’s my first stop, duh).

In San Jose we chose the Pangaea hostel because a flyer said that it had free internet, free phone calls, a swim up bar and a mechanical bull. Well, the bull was hibernating, the bar was not in use, the internet was tediously slow and the delay on the phone calls made it feel like you were a CNN correspondent out in the middle of Afghanistan. But it was actually a pretty cool place and at least there were no mosquitoes (I’m walking proof that the mosquitoes here have a Jew fetish). The next day me and the guys made plans to meet up in Buenos Aires and we went our separate ways.

Anyone acquainted with me knows that if I’m in a room with 99 other people, and a lunatic walks in, invariably, that person finds me; I’m like cat-nip for crazy people. So it’s only logical that, if I’m headed to the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica on a bus with 49 other people, and the only empty seat is right next to me, the one armed American veteran with no shirt on is gonna sit there. That type of shit doesn’t even surprise me anymore. Out of four hours on a bus, this motherfucker talked for at least three and a half and the only question he asked me was my name. Otherwise it was a fucking soliloquy. I can tell you anything you want to know about James, shit like, he didn’t lose his arm in war (he was too young for Vietnam) but actually in a motorcycle accident 15 years ago (he was more upset about wrecking the bike than losing his arm), or that he’s in Costa Rica looking for property (he already has some in California and Nevada but keeps some under his sister’s name for tax purposes and so she has something just in case he decides to ride a motorcycle again). After 30 minutes with this guy, I stopped being polite and just looked out the window, listening to my Ipod. He continued talking. The coolest thing about the bus ride though, was noticing that the drivers here act as porters as well. I mean this in the sense that they’ll bring goods from one town and a person will be waiting at a bus stop to pay for and pick up the goods in another town. It’s kinda like a third-world version of Pink Dot.

I ended up liking the Caribbean Coast more than the Pacific because all the Rastas seemed a lot less high strung then the folks on the other side of the country. The only minor harassment I got was the locals soliciting, 'œgood smoke and cocaine, mon.'

***This guy sat in the tree all day, and tried to sell me drugs everytime I passed by. In this photo he’s passed out***

When I first arrived in Puerto Viejo, I was depressed because I was once again alone, and I missed Krista (my girl in SF) like crazy. Everything changed though when she emailed me and told me that there was a 90% chance she was gonna meet me in Buenos Aires. I haven’t had a bad moment since then'but I have definitely had some strange ones.

***Random photos of Puerto Viejo***

In Puerto Viejo I was staying at a place called Rockin’ J’s, a cool hostel right on the beach where you can choose to sleep in a hammock, a tent or a dorm. Apparently J, in all his 'œrockin'-ness, is living out his pubescent fantasy of having a spot in tropical Costa Rica with a big-titted French girlfriend, 15 years his junior. That’s all well and good (we should all be so lucky), but the rub is that also living here is his severely maladjusted 13 year old son who may or may not be in school, spends all his time with 20-something year old backpackers (who score coke and weed from the Rastas), and who’s first words to me were, 'œI stabbed a dog today, do you think that’s wrong?' On top of all his Lord of the Flies bravado, I’m pretty sure the kid was hitting on me'seriously. Our conversation went like this:
The kid said, 'œI stabbed a dog today; do you think that’s wrong?'
'œUmm what?' I said.
'œYeah I stabbed a dog today, I feel pretty bad about it'
'œWhy would you do that? That’s fucking awful!'
'œThe dog was attacking my dog so I grabbed my knife and ran up and stabbed it. Then they had to take the dog to the hospital. I feel so bad about it.' (I later got verification that the kid was not bullshitting me, that in fact he had stabbed a dog)
'œYeah kid that’s pretty fucked up''
'œHey do you think it’s wrong to be gay'
'œUmm'no not at all, in fact a lot of my friends and family are gay''
'œReally? You don’t think it’s wrong or gross?'
'œOf course not. Do you?'
'œYeah I think it’s gross'but hey, wanna come and see my books?'
'œWhat!? No thanks, I’m ok, I’m gonna hang here with my friends.'
Then a few minutes later he said to me, 'œHey you wanna go sit on a hammock with me?'
'œUm, no thanks kid. I gotta go. I’ll see you later.'
If getting hit on by a deranged 13 year old boy who had stabbed a dog earlier that day wasn’t frightening enough, the thought of what that kid is gonna be like as an adult was. Costa Rica is a strange and creepy place.

***Representing Broke-Ass Stuart at Rockin J’s***

***Wish you were here***

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.