Ok, so apparently it’s a bad idea to wander the streets of Costa Rica at night. Before anyone has a heart attack (I’m looking at you, mom) nothing untoward happened to me, unless 2 cute drunk boys (as in, I could be jailed for talking to them, probably) trying to convince one to go for a drink could be considered untoward. It made for a funny scenario, me speaking no spanish, them speaking no english. They started off polite, but when they realized I didn’t understand, they instantly switched to juvenile innuendo, which needs no translation, much to their chagrin when I let them know this.
But encounters int the park aside, everyone I met was superfriendly, some guys made eyes at me, but I’ve wandered enough foreign cities late at night to realize how to signal non-interest. Everyone seemed to respect this, which is always nice. It was when I wandered back to the B&B to find the owner waiting up for me to call for a lift (regardless of the fact that I said I’d make my own way back, don’t worry, es ok, they are too sweet) and he expressed surprise that I would not only want to wander the streets at night, but that I would even do it. Especially being a mujer sola. I encounter this a lot, it’s difficult to explain that some of the nicest times I’ve ever had in foreign places are when I was walking alone at night. I know that it’s dangerous, I know that precaution can’t rule out every scenario, but there’s something about the nighttime in a city.
Otherwise my evening was pretty standard, except for the mistake. I was directed to a sweet little restaurant with a table of guys in one corner who had more eyes for the waitress than me (yay!) and a menu entirely in spanish. No one there spoke english. Ok, I though, no problema, it’s good for me to practice. And here I made the hugest faux-pas. I asked for a biere.
A Beer! To be fair I asked for it in french, but still! How many times have I said, oh I’ll have no problem in a spanish speaking country because I know Donde esta el bano? And una cerveza, por favor. CERVEZA! And I ask for a beer. To be fair, my first impulse was to speak in a foreign language, just not the right one.
In some ways it’s been good for me to be stuck in Alajuela for a couple of days. I thought I would go straight to Nosara and find myself enmeshed within a touristy enough zone that my lack of spanish would be no problem. And granted the people here at the B and B are fantastically fluent so there is no problem. But while wandering in Alajuela my handicap is very apparent. I had no trouble for the most part, found a department store and managed to find most of what I needed on my own, bought some sunglasses from a vendor on the street, but wow! Do I ever not speak spanish. The nice thing about knowing french is that many words in french are closer to the spanish equivalent. I even tried speaking french and adding o to the end of words, which doesn’t always work, but now and again, it does. The funniest part about the department store was that after being asked by numerous sales girls if I needed something, they tracked down a woman (Graciela) who spoke english and she dragged me all over the store, making sure I took advantage of items on sale and telling me how much everything cost in dollars. Which was wonderful, we even found a sales girl very much like me in size so we could determine what clothes might fit me best before I even tried them on.
Things I have discovered about Costa Rica so far?
Drivers will honk if there is even a second’s delay in moving forward.
There are no street names outside the larger cities. Even then, smaller streets have no identity of their own.
Drivers do not wait for the light to change green if there are no cars coming.
An appetizer plate is as big as most entree plates in canadian restaurants.
Regardless of how hot it is, most people wear jeans.
Sunglasses vendors are very helpful.
Large grocery stores do not have a produce section, because you can buy produce on the street everywhere. I even saw a bunch of loofahs hanging off someone’s truck. (I just recently learned a loofah is a plant)
Large grocery stores do have Antonio Banderas perfume, men who feather dust the alcohol bottles and others who use all purpose cleaner to meticulously clean that strip of shelf where the price tag goes.
In department stores, the higher the floor, the cheaper the clothes.
You do not have to know what time of day it is because most people will greet you with Buenas. Which helps when you aren’t sure if you should be saying buenas dias, buenos tardes, etc.
Ideally my bag will arrive sometime tomorrow and I will be able to make more observations on my way to Nosara.
Buenas noches darlings.
That is a flame on the crest because when I was driving with Bernard (Barnabus?) who has been so sweet and taken me all over the place since I’ve been here he pointed out a statue of Juan Santamaria and I had the gall to ask if those were flowers he was carrying. No, I was informed, he is not carrying flowers and a gun (which seemed perfectly logical to me for some reason) he is carrying a flame and a gun. For those unaware, a short and wildly inaccurate history lesson.
There was this United Statesian douchenozzle named William Walker who decided he wanted to be the president of Nicaragua. This was after failed attempts to invade Mexico and charges of starting wars were dropped by dudes were liked the idea of owning slaves from new countries. He took advantage of Nicaragua’s civil war to insert himself, set up a slave holding republic, mockfarce electioned himself president and recruited many honky slave owning douchenozzles from the states and europe to come and help him take over Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica. Franklin Pierce (president of the states at the time) even recognized his douchebaggery as legitimate! Lots more stupid stuff happened, eventually Vanderbilt(who business interests were being messed with) paid mercenaries from the states and along with a Costa Rican military delegation they went to fuck him up. As the story goes, they weren’t outnumbered but the tactical advantage was with William Wanker’s men. Finally Juan Santamaria, the brave little 25 year old drummer boy, risked life and limb to carry a torch (not flowers) and set fire to the building Wanker’s men had holed up in. His limbs came out okay, his life? Shortened by a whole bunch. Eventually William Wanker was executed by being shot a whole bunch of times in the face. In Honduras. To this day, Juan Santemaria has a museum, 2 statues and an airport named after him. William Wanker is aknowledged by some narrow southern brainless idiots as a hero, but no one really thinks those guys have any sense.
History lesson over. Thanks for tuning in.