Saturday, June 13, 2009
How to treat shock.
According to my St. John’s Ambulance training, when a person goes into shock you’re supposed to keep them warm, have them lie down and make them comfortable. Considering I was in deep reverse culture shock, I decided to put my training to test by doing nothing on our first full day in Tamarindo. It didn’t help (or rather it did help) that it rained all day. So I didn’t have to try and enjoy the pool or the beach. Instead I embraced the blog and caught up on emails. By dinner time, however it was time to go out. But rather than fight the location, we decided to embrace it by heading to a Pan-Asian restaurant so I could get sushi and Adrian could get a thai curry. It was more expensive than Toshi back home (but only half as good) but it felt good to eat something other than eggs, beans and rice, or chicken.
While we were eating, we got a chance to scope out the town. Despite Costa Rica having its own currency, the majority of prices in Tamarindo were quoted in US dollars. All signs were written in English. Most of the stores and fast food places were American and very mall like. And most of the tourists were American. We may have been in Central America but it felt more like the 51st state. My feelings were confirmed by an email from Cindi (diving pep talk Cindi) who noted that it was called Tamagringo because of all the Americans although she called it Tamashito because of the raw sewage pumped from the resorts on the coast straight into the ocean. Lovely. In fact an article she sent me revealed that fecal matter was 1,000,000 times higher than acceptable levels. Yet here we were in a beach town. We had to go to the beach.
The next morning the weather looked a bit better so we grabbed our suits and towels and picked up some snacks from the grocery store. It was grey but the drizzle stopped by the time we got to the sand. Tamarindo did have an awesome beach. The water appeared clear although with the big waves coming in on the dark sand it was hard to tell. We walked to a clearer stretch and rented umbrellas and lounge chairs for $2 and settled in for the day.
We didn’t really need to worry about bringing stuff with us to the beach as an endless stream of sellers made their way up and down the sand. Most were selling jewelry and ceramics but there were also those selling beer, pop and snacks. At an appropriate hour we called over a lady selling beer. She insists we only buy from her. Not a problem. I assumed she was just trying to get some loyal customers. But she continued to tell me that most of the people selling things are Nicaraguan and they sell cheap things at very expensive prices. At first I wasn’t sure if she was disapproving of their markups but she proceeded to tell me that Nicaraguans were not good people because they only want money. I laughed and told her that the Nicas had told us that Ticos were lazy. Luckily she laughed too. Familiarity breeds contempt.
But Costa Rica had one thing that Nicaragua didn’t. The influx of all those Americans brought with it lots of US cash but also American size drug problems. We’re not talking a little pot for the surfers. But crack, cocaine and heroin. It wasn’t visible like in Vancouver for example, but it was definitely there. While we were lounging on the beach a couple of young American girls were talking to a couple of local guys. They seemed like harmless hustlers until they started (loudly) talking about how great heroin and crack were. Costa Rica was not making a good first impression on me.
We tuned out the hustlers and watched the surfers instead. Tamarindo was a surfing hot spot and there were all levels of surfers out on the waves. From absolute beginners who made it look like the hardest sport in the world to pros who made it look like a cake walk. It looked like fun but today was about doing nothing. The waves that made surfing fun made it hard to actually enjoy the water (well that and the fear of getting e. coli). So we decided to escape back to the hotel pool. We were paying for it after all.
The pool was lovely and the proximity to my computer made it easy to combine our lounging with research for our next leg. I easily found a place to stay in Monteverde but how to get there was proving a little more difficult. So I asked the woman at the front desk. She thought I was asking for driving instructions and quickly whipped out a map and started drawing a route. When I explained that we didn’t have a rental car she was momentarily confused. I repeated that we wanted the bus and she pulled out a pamphlet for a $35 tourist shuttle. No I mean the public bus. This seems to have stymied her. Her only suggestion is to take the 5:45 am bus to Liberia where we’re sure to find some connection to Monteverde which was my plan before I asked her. I checked out in advance and then we hurried off to dinner.
Adrian had found a place that advertised nachos as big as your ass so we set off to find it. It was on the beach road and was a huge surfing hangout, complete with board shop and surfing videos on all the big screen tvs. True to their word they had not just nachos as big as your ass but ass sized burritos and tacos as well. We eat as much as we possibly can before packing it in half way through. A couple of guys were playing jazzy guitar music and despite being quite good the college-aged crowd really wasn’t into it. We threw some money into their hat and then headed back to the hotel in the rain. We packed set the alarms and went to bed. It took us eleven and a half hours to get to the 51st state. I wonder how long it will take us to get out?