Sunday, September 05, 2004


cire left his hotel coffee outside my door this morning as an offering on the way to his volcano-wonderland. i hauled my pack down to the bus station to head for the carribean coast. the bus was full of costa rican people. i sat next to a plump girl who attempted to be friendly in a fast-talking sort of way (i couldn't keep up with her espanol). i fired up the iPod and sat back for 4 hours of grueling, stifling heat. the countryside looked very similar to thailand's, but i didn't get the same otherwordly feeling there as i do in asia.

i had read online about aviarios del caribe. it's a wildlife preserve in the rainforest near the carribean coast. as it is also a bed and breakfast i thought it would be a lovely place to stay. my bus driver called out the name when we had hit the middle of nowhere, and i shook off my confusion and hopped off. the grounds were super lush and green, though every tree was labeled and it had sort of a prefabricated feel to it. a friendly carribean girl met me at the front step and led me in for the tour. the lodge was huge and made of dark wood. it was covered with relics of local wildlife. including, to my excitement, a variety of sleeping two- and three-toed sloths! the owners have made it their mission to save them, as they trickle in to their clinic after dying mothers and car wrecks. they have a total of 52 on the premise. the girl showed me two videos which were very educational, and i was impressed at how well taken care of the sloth babies were. speaking of sloth babies- squeal!!!!! they had several brand new ones! sleepy in their box, they burrowed cozily into each other and blinked slow, humungous eyes at me as their nurse prepared their bottles. sooooooo cute. i rubbed them behind their ears and they yawned happily at me.


unfortunately, as nice as the place was, i was in the middle of freaking nowhere and i felt very alone. i couldn't very well take the canoe nature tour, as it was meant for groups. and i was told that i would have to flag down a bus that came once an hour to find food 11 kms away. i sighed, swallowed, and guiltily informed the owners i was moving on. they kindly charged me for the night anyway and sent me off towards the road.

supposedly in central america the way to catch the bus is to nonchalantly wave your hand in the vague direction of the ground in front of you as they pass by. nervous that i would miss it, i jumped up and down eagerly and waved my arms in the air as soon as i saw it coming. they drove right past, laughing and shaking their heads at the stupid gringa. the stupid, starving, overheated, dirty, grumpy gringa who had narrowly avoided being attacked by the local guard dog to get to the bus stop. i stomped the ground and pouted to myself, chucking rocks at the chickens running around, and settled back to wait the next long, hot hour for the next bus in the glaring sun.

luckily an SUV driver took pity on me and stopped to pick me up. his name was victor, and with his crisp white shirt and nametag (not to mention air conditioning!) he was the best possible person to get a ride with. he insisted on driving me past cahuita (where i had planned to stay and which he insisted was a drug-addled dump) to puerto viejo, on the coast. i talked to him entirely in spanish, which was fun and surprising. he was very respectful and friendly. he even stopped along the way to show me a cacao plantation and some banana patches. he left me at a little travel agency on the outskirts of puerto viejo, a small beach town. a friendly carribean guy stuttered hello and took me to a nearby guesthouse, where i got a rather shabby but cheap room for $12. it had a fan and a window overlooking a black sand beach, and i relaxed for the first time on my trip.

wandering around the one-horse town, i noticed that it was very similar to beach towns in thailand. the same westernized restaurants playing eminem, the same stalls selling sarongs and coconuts. the people were on bikes instead of motorbikes, were very black instead of brown, and the beaches were less hypnotic. i enjoyed an imperial over some pseudo-thai food and watched a stray dog scratch it's mange while the 'tica' girls giggled over the cute american tourist boys walking past.

after a rest in my room i ventured out on the town to see what nightlife i could find. the town was entirely dark, with a rare torch lit up on the dirt road about every other block, and there were throngs of people surging through the alleys. i attempted to blend myself in with them and failed miserably. i practically ran from torch lit block to torch lit block, being followed by gangs of boys who were whistling and kissing at me. it was all good natured at first, until i was accosted by a particularly nappy looking guy who stank of chemicals and had dirty dreadlocks. he grabbed on and wouldn't let go. i told him in spanish i just wanted to relax by myself over a drink, but he invited himself along. i tried for about 3 blocks to get rid of him and his offerings of ecstacy, walks on the dark beach to see "turtles", and a romantic cd in his room. ugh. finally i saw a place that was playing a movie outdoors and excused myself to slip into the safe audience.

not to be deterred, nappy mon plopped down next to me with a beer and a serious case of roving hands. i was freaking out internally and as rude as i could be externally. finally i just ignored everything he did until he shouted "fine! ok!" and wandered off, rather wobbily. i shuddered and tried to get into the movie, which was something stupid with ice cube. can't remember a thing about it. i studied the groups of american kids, who seemed safe but were oblivious to my situation. sometimes i really hate travelling alone.

saw a dog get hit by a car. don't even want to talk about it.

left the bar after the movie, hoping to get away without molestation, but nappy mon found me almost immediately and latched right on, trying to follow me home. i made up some excuse about having to go back and get allergy medicine, and ran off as fast as i could... directly into another nappy rasta man. repeat above scenario. utterly spooked i finally ducked down the pitch black side street and felt my way home to my room. shut my door, collapsed on my bed, and wished i was anywhere else. fell asleep to sounds of reggae drums, chirping crickets, and shouting boys.


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