Thursday, June 18, 2009

You meet the most interesting people in the middle of the jungle.

When the biggest attraction in the area is free, it’s hard to justify spending money on any of the lesser tours. The hostel offered plenty to do – horseback riding, trips to the hot springs, Thought about doing a walk or a horseback ride but with awesome internet access decided to just hang out at the hostel instead – good thing because it was a rather rainy day. Georgia and Josh were also not up to forking out for tours when the location was so awesome. Fortunately, the hostel grounds included a (free) jungle trail so once the weather cleared up, we headed down the marked path.

The owners of the hostel had dug a long path down the side of a hill and had even managed to spread gravel on the first half. It made the trip down the hill easy but once we hit the forest, erm jungle, the gravel stopped and the mud began. It was slippery and crossing a river or two (photo above) didn’t help our traction. We could hear howler monkeys somewhere in the trees but never managed to spot them. Adrian however, did run almost smack dab into a bird that was just as surprised by us as we were by it. The poor thing tried to fly away but being deep inside a bush, its escape attempt was thwarted.

By the time we crossed the valley floor and got to the other side of the hill, it was beginning to feel more like a mountain. Luckily it was still overcast so it wasn’t too hot although in the trees the humidity was quite thick. As we got to the top of the other side, the trees cleared and we found ourselves in a field. Adrian went off to chase the horses on the horizon it started to spit. The memory of the recent downpour was enough to get us moving so we didn’t get stuck trying to climb an even muddier path. Getting back was slightly easier than going down but when arrived back at the hostel we were still sweating buckets. We were greeted by Kelly.
“So how was it?”
“Just long enough,” I replied. Any longer and I would have been cursing Adrian for his bright idea. But any shorter and I would have felt like we’d done nothing but the 1.5 hour hike was just enough to feel accomplished and outdoorsy so I could sit back down at the computer to try and catch up on the blog.

After the delicious and huge breakfast, we’d skipped lunch but by 6pm we were beginning to feel cranky with hunger. Kelly had told us that we could get pizza down in the village. So Georgia, Josh. Adrian and I decided to go for it. We could walk but after the hike none of us felt like it. Kelly made a phone call and 30 minutes later a guy in a pick up truck arrived. Good thing too because we needed his 4 wheel drive to the horrible roads and steep inclines. It was also a good thing we hadn’t walked because this pizza place way on the other side of the small town. And by other side I mean in the middle of nowhere.

The driver pulled up in front of a small two story house. Out walked a guy with long blonde-grey hair followed by a younger blonde guy who greeted us
“How y’all doing on this here fine night?” That was definitely not a Tico accent, “I’m Ted”
“And I’m John,” said the older man, “Welcome to Casa Escondito’

John was from Californian and Ted was from North Carolina but now running a pizza shop in the middle of nowhere Costa Rica, far, far away from the tourist crowds. Well actually it turned out that Ted was just down here for the summer because it was the best summer job he could find. As for John, when we asked him why here, he pulled up a chair and began to tell us his story.

“Well, I’m a surfer. So I came to Costa Rica to surf two years ago. But when I got to Tamarindo, I hated it. It was just like home. I realized what I wanted to do more than surf was to get away from it all. So I arrived here in the middle of nowhere and built myself a house. Of course then I had to figure out how to keep myself busy and make some money. My plan was to make proper barbeque and sell it. So I bought a big smoker and grill and decided to roast a pig and invite all the local villagers over to try it for free and hopefully get them hooked. At the last minute I made some ice cream too – for the kids. For a week afterwards, I waited for people to ask me when I was going to barbeque again so I could hit them with the marketing pitch. But no one said anything about the pig. Not a word. But I was getting asked when I was going to make more ice cream. So I made more ice cream and began selling it while I waited for someone to ask for barbeque. One day I made pizza to go with the ice cream and that was an instant hit. So I got myself a pizza oven and here I am. In the meantime the smoker and grill sit outside rusting.”

Yes, here he was a surfer from LA selling pizza and ice cream under the shadow of an erupting volcano. And for the record the pizza was delicious. In fact, we ordered more to take back in a doggie bag. And so was the homemade ice cream and brownie. But the best part was the company.

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