Surprise! There is Internet service all the way out here.
We got picked up by a shuttle at the Marriott near the San Jose airport and proceeded a fur piece to Haco. Our driver — I forgot his name so I just called him Jose, which he seemed to be OK with — was mighty helpful in answering me and Chester’s questions about Costa Rica. I asked him if he wished he could move to America but he told me he would never leave Costa Rica. I thought everybody i the word wanted to move to America. Today, I found there was at least one person who didn’t. He said he and his family were very happy here. I’m guessing the dollar beer has something to do with that.
The highway he took us down was pretty modern. It even had actual toll booths modeled after American toll booths, but you have to pay in the local currency, which is not dollars or pesos but something else. For some reason, Costa Rica has scented money. I kid you not. It’s called colognees, pronounced like “cologne knees.”. I guess there are different smells for different denominations. Probably for blind people who can’t see the numbers. The highway down here uses the metric system, so that’s what the speed limit signs are posted in. I like it because you can drive faster under the metric system. Instead of going 55 miles per hour on the highway, our driver was racing along at 88 kilometers per hour. Wow, we’re going to get there faster!
We got to see a bit of the countryside as we headed down the highway for awhile. It was weird driving down a nice highway and looking off to see the jungle on both sides. We didn’t see a single horse or burro drawn cart anywhere. Jose told us that many people in San Jose drive to the beach for the weekend along this highway. I was kinda expectin’ to see monkeys attacking cars along the highway, but I guess that’s only in the movies, or maybe Africa, or some wildlife park.
We turned off somewhere and headed south for Haco but stopped at a bridge that had a whole passel of crocodiles in the river below Chester and me walked out on the bridge and looked down at the crocs who were looking up at us and suddenly I’d wished I’d brought a chicken or two for them. I can tell you that just standing there looking at alligators looking back at you is fun for about 30 seconds (well, a bit longer for Chester, bless his heart). Chester kept waving to them like he was expecting them to wave back. But they didn’t do anything. I was hoping they’d eat something while we were there, but they didn’t. I wish we had a bridge like this in Alabama. It would sure settle a whole lot of disagreements in the middle of the night, not to mention speed up the legal system. Our driver told us some guy died here last year after he jumped from the bridge or swam from the shore. Jose said alcohol was involved, which I kinda figured. I’m sure the funeral was awkward when they got to the part where they’re supposed to talk about how smart he was.
I guess they DO have ice in Costa Rica because I saw a couple of signs that said ICE in big letters, with pictures of Kolbi-brand cell phones (which I’ve never heard of). So apparently, you can buy ice for your cooler and a cheap cell phone at the same time. Kinda reminds me of bait shops back home that are connected to other businesses, like a bait shop and pit barbecue. One particular combination I remember from back home was a bait shop and funeral parlor. It was real handy if you planned on going fishing after the funeral service. Come to think of it, I have yet to see a bait shop down here. Maybe it’s lures only for fishing in Costa Rica.
We pulled into the town of Haco and Jose cruised down the main drag, pointing out things to us (OK, I’m going to spell it JACO from now on because that’s what all the signs say and I don’t want to confuse people or myself.) Just don’t think of Michael Jackson when you see the word Jaco). Did I mention that Jose speaks American, too? He said he learnt it in school, which I think is the way it should be all over the world. If everyone spoke American there would be fewer misunderstandings. But that’s a story for another day.
Oo wee, did we see lots of babes in bikinis walking along the street! After I picked my eyes up off the floor of the shuttle, Jose pointed out a couple of places we should visit since we told him we were looking for senoritas. There was a place called Beatles Bar and another called Hotel Cocal. I wrote down the names so we wouldn’t forget. There are are some tall buildings in Jaco, right along the beach. I wasn’t expecting that.
My travel agent had talked me out of an American chain hotel on this leg of our trip so we skipped the Best Western and were booked at a resort on the beach on the south end of town — the Jaco Laguna Hotel and Beach Club. Here’s a picture. We walked up to the reception desk and I told the guy we had reservations for me and Chester but I made sure he knew we wanted separate beds if you know what I mean. The clerk smiled at me and said Ben Veneedos. I told him, no, I’m not Ben Veneedos, I’m Billy Joe Hunter. It took him a second to realize he had the wrong guy and he let out a big laugh. I see what they mean by Costa Rica being the happiest country in the world. The hotel clerk seemed to be a might confused. He even called a lady who checked in after us Ben Veneedos. I sure hope that Ben guy doesn’t lose his reservation. Another guy took our bags to our room. I couldn’t remember HIS name either, so I called him Jose. It’s easy to remember names when you call everybody Jose. That’s a tip you can use on your next trip. Jose told us if we needed anything to let him know. He also spoke to us in American, which I appreciated. I asked him where we could get some cold beers and he pointed us to the bar.
“Do you have any dollar beer?”
I asked the bartender if he had any dollar beer and the bartender looked at me for a second and then laughed. Boy are these people happy. The cheapest beer on the menu was a local brew called Imperial, only they say it kinda hifalutin’ by putting the accent on the last syllable, like “imperi-all.” It was four bucks a bottle. I could see my mission to find dollar beer was not going to be easy.
We walked out onto the beach and hung around some working on our tans. There weren’t too many people on the beach, as you can see from the picture at the top of this entry. But, it wasn’t like the white sand beaches back home in Alabama. Chester commented that the beach went right along the edge of the ocean, just like back home. Then he said it would be mighty inconvenient if it weren’t close to the water. He said if it weren’t, you’d tan on the beach and then have to get in your car to drive to the ocean to cool off. I can’t believe I never noticed that before. You only see beaches next to the ocean. Ain’t nature amazing?
A suntanned girl carrying a big surfboard walked up to us on the beach and said “$90 an hour,” touching me on the shoulder in a playful sort of way. I told her I didn’t want to pay that much for a surfing lesson, She laughed, just like the bartender, muttering loco-something I couldn’t make out. Costa Ricans are pretty happy people. She walked away after that, looking for more tourists. I guess she really wanted to find someone to give a surfing lesson to. I was actually glad she left because I was having trouble holding my gut in that long cause I wasn’t wearing a shirt to cover it up. By the way, she was wearing what I would call a thong, but I think it was more like an eyepatch, it was so small. You sure don’t see that in Alabama. I didn’t get a picture because Chester was so goggle-eyed at her that he plumb forgot to take one.
We walked back to our hotel room, changed and went to the outdoor restaurant to eat dinner next to the ocean, making sure we sat across from each other so people wouldn’t get the wrong idea about us. Jose, the waiter, suggested sushi for an appetizer. I told him we had another name for sushi in Alabama: BAIT. Come to think of it, if every place is selling sushi. That’s probably why the bait shops went out of business here. If you don’t think it’s true, then show me a bait shop in Costa Rica.
I had a nice sea bass and Chester had the shrimp. He doesn’t like eating things that look back at him on the plate, like my bass. I had to eventually cover its head with a napkin because Chester said it kept looking at him. I have to tell you it was really good for, not being American cooking. I asked Jose, the waiter if they had any gravy and he didn’t seem to realize you’re supposed to have gravy at every meal. I’m not talking that brown gravy stuff, but white, pan-cooked gravy. Gravy is considered a beverage in the South.
Oh, another thing I wasn’t expecting: it gets dark really early in Costa Rica — like 5:30 p.m. It must be Daylight Saving Time here. Just before sunset, we had a big surprise. The local zoo apparently had a hole in their enclosure because a whole bunch of pretty zoo parrots all landed in a tree next to where we were eating. I asked Jose to call the zoo and let them know so they could come get them while they were all in the same tree. He looked at me funny and then let out one of those Costa Rican laughs. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear he was laughing at me. Nobody came and got the birds so they just sat in that tree, squawking. It was like we got a free pass to the zoo while we were eating.
We could hear the parties starting up down the beach but Chester was tired so we headed back to our room, picking up some brewskis to take with us. I noticed something odd at the bar: people were pouring their beer over ice. Now who in their right mind would water down their beer? We watched some tv, then I went outside to zap bugs with my electric bug zapper.
Bug zapping like a boss
My bug zapper is like a tennis racket, only it electrocutes bugs you hit with it. Now, here’s my secret. I don’t use a low-power store-bought bug zapper. Nosiree. Mine is specially modified for extra large bugs and hits them with 10,000 volts from a stun gun. If you have a bug problem and are you’re interested in doing this yourself, click here for the plans, With this baby, I can send any size bug down in flames.
Apparently, they don’t have bug zappers everywhere in America or Costa Rica because some tourists looked at me really funny like as they walked by while I was busy zappin’. I guess I did look kinda funny, waving my arm in the air until I heard that that satisfying “zzzttt.” After awhile I went back inside and went to sleep, separately, of course.
That brings us to this morning. Rather than eat a regular American breakfast (they call it Americano, just like in Mexico), I decided to try the local breakfast that sounded like cheap wine and an old car: Gallo Pinto, or beans and rice . Boy was it tasty! I put a little hot sauce on it and it was great. It probably would have been even better with gravy. So, if you come down here, try it. Just remember Gallo, like the cheap wine and Pinto, like the cheap car. They also had some of that really good imported coffee.
Oh, I saw this sign in the hotel that I thought was funny. It was some sort of banjo get together, I guess. They forgot the “n” in banjo. That’s all for now. As always, please leave a comment or tip for me, as I am new to Costa Rica. This is Billy Joe signing off.