It is Sunday afternoon and the boys are finally having their surfing lesson! We’ve been thwarted every single time: stranded the first time and unable to make our date, waves too big the next time, waves too small the next time, then we thought we were leaving and decided not to try again. Then we didn’t leave and, this morning, we ran into Topo at breakfast and everything fell into place for this afternoon 2:45. They just left.

Mo is gung-ho on surfing (he’s done it before), Jacob seems interested and a tad excited, having caught some of Mo’s enthusiasm. Ryan has been, well, coerced into participating. He really wants to try it, surfing seems so cool. But he’s like me: if it’s at all icky, it may be more trouble than it’s worth.

Meanwhile, I’m having a love/hate relationship with Puerto Viejo. It reminds me so totally of old Key West, when Key West was a village, closed up during hurricane season (which would be now), no cars on the street, you knew everyone you saw because you only saw locals, it was hot as blazes. This was in the years before we lived in air conditioning, running from our ac’ed cars to our ac’ed homes and offices… The atmosphere here makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. Mostly warm.

I love:

  • Vera, the manager at Cabinas Jacaranda, our current hotel (we’ve been to three so far). As big around as a pencil, all energy, knows everyone, knows where to eat, what to do, who’s doing what to whom, remembers my name and chats me up all the time like she’s known me since I was born. That would be a long time;
  • the old guy who owns La Forteleza. Great ice cream, seems like a shrewd businessman on one hand and a genuinely nice guy at the same time. We use his internet – it’s the cheapest at $2/hour;
  • that old Key West feeling. It’s pleasantly overwhelming;
  • wandering the streets (both of them – this town couldn’t be any smaller), looking at the houses and the people;
  • the sound of the ocean;
  • having to move so slowly. I wouldn’t unless I had to, you know. It’s because of the heat. Which I hate.

I hate:

  • the heat: it is relentless and stifling. The only relief is to sit in front of a fan or find a breezy, shady spot. You are sweaty from your 5:30am cold shower till at least 5 or 6pm, sometimes later. I’ve only been in two places that have ac. Sweating all the time is gross;
  • the mosquitoes: they are relentless 24/7. Direct fan or really breezy spot is the only relief. Bug spray helps, but some mosquitoes blow right past it. Beyond annoying and, in dengue season, actually dangerous;
  • feeling like I’m being taken. Prices here, like housing prices everywhere I’ve been, including here, have far outstripped value. You feel like everything is just a little (sometimes a lot) overpriced and you just aren’t getting your money’s worth. So when you find good value – like the Jacaranda, Pan Pay, Hotel Guaraná, Topo, La Forteleza’s internet café – you feel like you’ve hit the jackpot;
  • the hostility of most of the locals toward the tourists and their money. If you aren’t spending, you aren’t worth noticing. No happy native syndrome here;
  • the cabbies who are all bandidos – it’s $4 to go 1/2 mile, $10 to go four. We got sick of that in a hurry.

But we are car-less and phone-less, both of which make visiting here much more difficult and not nearly as entertaining. We’d love to go exploring more, but the local bus service only runs every two to three hours, so getting to a place requires walking or bicycling in the hot sun on the dirty dusty bumpy gravel road. Or hiring a bandido.

And before putting in all that getting-there effort, you want to make sure your destination is open and available. Which requires calling first. Which requires a pay phone which are few and far between and at least half of them don’t work. I’ve spent more time waiting in line for a phone to open up than I have eating. That’s saying something.

Next time, I’m coming with a car and a phone. You might have plenty of fun with only one of them. But I’ll bet you’d have twice as much fun with both.

Now, while the guys are hangin’ ten, I’ll catch you up on the week.

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