Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Costa Rica -- Day Five

(my favorite thing I've seen here so far)

It has been noted by one of my readers (how cool does that sound?!) that I haven't written about any of the people or wildlife here. At the hotel I see very little accurate representation of either. The people at Cristel Ballena smile and laugh and are extremely gracious -- but that could be because they're paid to be. :)

And the 'wildlife' here at the hotel mostly consists of butterflies, hawks in the distance that ride the thermals in spirals, and this really cool spider I saw today. Also, an occasional little lizard that looks like the sticky lizard toys my son used to throw at the wall.

Yesterday on the property we saw an animal meander across the road called a pizote. It's kind of a racoonish animal with a longer snout and bigger everywhere. And I've heard howler and congo monkeys in the distant jungle around the hotel.

So, sorry to disappoint on the wildlife aspect. :) Though up in the mountains and earlier in the morning -- like 5:30am -- I've heard that the monkeys and macaws come to life and make a delightful racket. I'm looking forward to hearing them. But that will have to wait until I move here, as I don't anticipate being up in the jungle at 5:30 in the morning within the next four days.

We met with Jorge, a local realtor, who is so super nice that I feel guilty not buying anything from him. I almost want to pay him some commission just for the amount of information he's given us. He's given us names of some reputable real estate lawyers in San Jose, he's taking us to the bank on Friday and translating for us so we can get a construction loan (or at least the pre-approval process started.) And he's also given us specific things to ask the developer for, such as: do you have the water concession already? are the lots already separated and can I get a legal copy of the plan to take to the bank?

Jorge's just awesome. He works for Century 21 right now and has been a realtor for many years and lived in a handful of towns around this area. His English is charming and says a long drawn out "A" while thinking of his next word -- like a monotone Fonzie.

He's in the process of starting a sports bar for the tourists in a couple of months. He's going tomorrow to buy "four big screen TVs, plasma." He told us three times. :)

He's generally interested in how things go with Osa Mountain Village and wants us to keep in touch. he admires the concept and approach of OMV and says they are pioneers. That this concept they have hasn't been done in all of Central America, he thinks.

Today we were stopped by the policia (for the third time this trip, btw. The first two times was because they were looking for someone ... one officer even had a rifle. We had to show our passports.) I'm not sure why we were stopped today. The officer's motorcycle was parked on the side of the road, and he stood a little into the highway. He walked towards our oncoming car and waved his hand for us to stop. We did.

"Buenos Dias," we say. 
"Buenos Dias. Como esta?" 

"Fine," we answer in English, cluing him in that we didn't really speak Spanish. Though I'm sure he could tell by our accents.

"Habla espanol?"
I handed him my passport and I fished out my driver's license, too. 

It turns out in Costa Rica it costs $400 (as in US Dollars) if you are not wearing your seat belt.

Paul. Paul. Paul.

I always wear my seat belt.


Through very bad Spanish and English on both our parts (the police officer and us), we discover that the way it works is this: he writes a ticket, we take it to a bank and pay it there.

"Ok," I said, a bit haggard. I'd even pulled out the cash I had on me to both show him that I didn't have $400 (in case he required the $ then -- that's when I found out about the bank), and also to make it available to him in case he decided to not write the ticket. If you know what I mean.

When Paul finally handed him his passport, the police officer asked if we were on vacation. (Paul caught that, I didn't understand it.)

"Yes. Yes. On vacation."
"Ok," and he flicked his hand. "No ticket."
"No ticket?! Thanks!"
"No ticket. Ok." And he stepped back.

And we left -- with Paul's safety belt on.

We continued our search for an open restaurant. It was lunchtime and after a couple of misses, we found a nice open air on on a hill with views of the ocean. The waitress didn't speak English and we'd left our dictionary behind. Two only-Spanish speaking people in one day. Not that I'm surprised that people speak Spanish in Costa Rica, but I guess I'd fallen into a false sense of complacency due to every other person I'd spoken to up to today had spoken English.

But we do fine with pointing and asking for Coca and aqua.

And the newest news: Paul talked me into going on the zipline with him tomorrow morning.


After lunch, we tried to find one of the beaches here. Playa Tortuga (Turtle Beach) didn't work. We found it alright but the tide was in so there was hardly room to walk between the water and piles of driftwood, let alone lay down. So we opted to go back to the pool and try to find the other recommended beach tomorrow -- after talking with Gary and going on the zip line.

We saw the entrance to it, though, on the way back to the hotel, so I spontaneously swung in.

I haven't yet mentioned the state of the roads here.

We were warned by our friends, Dr. Matt and Robbin Freedman about those roads. But when we got here, the highway was perfect. Ok, there were three potholes in a section of the highway that I've driven back and forth on since we've been here, and , it's true that when you turn off the highway and drive into the teeny towns, you will experience a bumpy ride, and I've had to shift into first gear to get up the road to OMV. But the road to this beach ...
(this looks deceptively easy)

Well. It just wasn't passable for a couple of tourists like us. At least with Paul in the car. :) (His lunch hadn't agreed with him.) So we turned around -- which was educational all by itself.

We laughed at ourselves all the way back to the hotel.

It started to rain on the way. Sigh.

Paul went and laid down and to check if any emails came back from the builder or Jim. I went to the pool, dammit, despite the clouds and drizzle. Because it was still in the 80's! It's the rain forest, doncha know! :)

Olman, my awesome waiter, helped me open a pedestal umbrella over my deck chair and brought me a pina colada. (I'm having one for you, Robbin!)

Does anyone actually know the next line of the song: "...if you like pina coladas, and dancing in the rain...."? That's all I ever hear anyone sing. It's a famous line, to be sure, but I don't even know who the singer is, or if it has any other lyrics. !!! LOL

The rain has stopped. It's not hot at all. The sun is taking a break and only shining silvery on the ocean which I can see from the pool side. Perhaps I'll hang my feet over the edge of the pool while I read my book.

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