Thursday, February 21 2019
location: Casa Trogon, Agua Vista Lodging, Montezuma, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
I hadn't seen monkeys in days, but this afternoon after Gretchen began a walk down the Montezuma River gorge, a troop of white-faced capuchins showed up. They saw me eating from a bag of plantain chips and one of them began shaking the palm he or she was in out of frustration. How come he or she couldn't have a plantain chip? The world is unfair!
I had a rum with orange juice and then a beer, which made the afternoons coding that much more pleasant, at least until that skin-eating wasp returned. I put some fragrant non-natural dish detergent on my feet, and that seemed to discourage the wasp, at least for a time. But all I had to do was take a dip in the plunge pool and my feet were back to a wasp-friendly state.
Gretchen's Spanish teacher Andy gave her a ride back to Agua Vista road in the mid-afternoon. On her walk down that, she encountered what was probably the same troop of monkeys that I'd seen.
This evening, Gretchen and I drove the SUV to the center of Montezuma to meet up with 28 year old Andy the Spanish Teacher and Andy's beautiful (and 32 year old) gringa girlfriend Rachæl at Sano Banano, which is probably our favorite restaurant in Montezuma. Somewhat oddly, at this point both Gretchen and I have been to Sano Banano more times than either Andy or Rachæl, and Andy had only been there for drinks. Of course, as a restaurant catering to gringos (and since Andy makes about half what someone teaching Spanish in the United States could expect to make), this all made sense. Also, Andy has lived in Montezuma less than a year; he was born in Puntarenas and went to college in Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean (in fact, the plan this weekend was for Rachæl to go there, rent a car, and retrieve his stuff).
When Gretchen and I first met back in 1988, I had long stringy hair ruled by neglect and whatever free shampoo Harkness Co-op provided. Since then, Gretchen has evidently decided she doesn't like long hair on a man. She thinks Andy looks okay with his long curly locks in a man-bun, but tonight Andy was going out on the town, so he was wearing a button-necked shirt and his hair was down. Given all that and the jagged tattoos on his calves, he looked like he might be a member of a not-too-obscure Latin American death metal band.
I was going to try the veggie burger, but then it the waiter came back from the kitchen to report that it contained egg, something it might've been better not to know. But now that I did, I thought I'd try the avocado sandwich made with patacones instead of slices of bread. Normally I shy away from things trying to make a point of being gluten free, but that sounded yummy. And when it came out, toothpicked into four quarters that stood vertically on the plate, it looked even yummier. I also got the black bean soup, which came with avocado instead of the slices of boiled eggs that were mistakenly added last time I got the soup here. For her part, Gretchen ordered the casado, and when she ate it, it impressed her as having been the best casado so far in all of Costa Rica.
I think Andy got something vegetarian, though Rachæl got the chicken wrap. People don't know how offended Gretchen gets when people can't forgo animal products for just one meal with her. As for beer, I started out with an Imperial but then got a Naranja Red Ale because that was what Andy and Rachæl were drinking. It's some sort of local brew and pretty good.
We all conversed in English, since that is the language that Andy and Rachæl talk to each other in and also because I'm pretty bad at Spanish comprehension. But this was the first time Gretchen and Andy had done much of any communicating in English. At some point Andy told us the tale of how he had gotten into teaching Spanish, having started in ecotourism after a rough childhood in a bad part of Puntarenas (all his childhood friends are reportedly in jail). As for Rachæl, both her parents were flight attendants (or perhaps they both just worked for an airline). In any case, this allowed them to get free flights to lots of places back before empty seats were algorithmically eliminated, something that happened fairly early in Rachæl's life (if not ours). Her biggest, saddest tale about this concerned the big trip her family had planned to Machu Picchu in Peru. Everything was going great, and they'd even made it to Dallas, Texas on the first leg of the trip. But then a huge news story blew up out of nowhere involving the someone named Joran van der Sloot killing someone in Peru named Stephany Fores Ramirez, and suddenly all the seats of all the airplanes headed from Dallas to Peru were taken by journalists. Rachæl's family tried to regroup by going to Austin, but ended up stuck there during the height of spring break. What a fiasco!
These days Rachæl works as an English teacher, though she had recently been working teaching classes to young Costa Rican children in English (apparently teaching classes in a variety of subjects in both English and Spanish is common in Costa Rica). She hadn't especially like the work, particularly when it involved human feces (as it inevitably did).
Gretchen got me to tell the tale of how my family moved to Redneckistan after my father's anti-nuclear work at NASA got him in trouble. My father did his research and found good soil, not caring what the demographics of the people living on top of it were like. This became an issue on my first day in public school (back in April of 1976) when the day began with a Christian prayer, there was another prayer for lunch, and there was a whole class period spent in a "Bible trailer" drawing camels and doing other Christian-themed exercises. Rachæl and Andy chimed in right there to say that there is no separation between church in public school in Costa Rica at all and that abortion and gay marriage remain illegal here (though that seems likely to change).
Gretchen paid for dinner, which seemed fair given the disparity in the relative wealth and ages of the people involved.
After dinner, Andy suggested we go drink another round of beer on the beach. So we went next door to the Super Montezuma and this time Andy was buying. He suggested an obscure local IPA, so I said sure (it ended up being okay). Amusingly, we had our cashier lady open our bottles for us before we headed out the door. I remarked to Andy and Rachæl that one of the things I like about Montezuma is how lawless it is. What happens if people get drunk and a fight breaks out? I'd never seen a cop in Montezuma. The town must be self-policing.
Later as we sat on a large piece of driftwood on the beach watching a waning slightly-less-than full moon rise in its ruddy glory from behind invisible mainland mountains, Andy told us about the Montezuma mafia. They're apparently the ad hoc group of ticos who enforce the peace. If someone sexually assaults a woman or breaks into a casita, the mafia might catch him and beat him to within an inch of death. In one case some guy was addicted to cocaine and being a public nuissance, so one night the mafia caught him, blindfolded him, beat the shit out of him, put him on the ferry to Jaco, and told him never to come back if he wanted to remain among the living. He's been selling sunglasses at the Jaco ferry landing ever since.
On the walk back to our vehicles from the beach, Andy and Rachæl kept having to say hello to various people, since everyone knows everyone else. The female half of one hippie couple insisted on hugging Gretchen "hello" or "nice to meet you," which isn't the kind of protocol Gretchen is familiar with. But anarchic and dusty as it is, Montezuma is a functioning self-governing society. Even emergent human behavior can be astounding.
We ended up staying out past 9:00pm, which was definitely a record for us on this Costa Rican adventure.
Some sort of chicken-like fowl (a female currasow perhaps) appeared near the casita and I took this picture from where I do my computer work. These birds are very skittish.
For linking purposes this article's URL is:feedback
previous | next