No pen tonight

16 June 2009
Banana Azul, Room - APT
Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

The Caribbean lightly pounds the sand outside the open window here at the BA and tons of friends are chirping and croaking in the bushes & trees. We arrived in CR yesterday on American Airlines via Miami. The first class accommodations were right fine for the first leg from SF to MIA, but then there was an overnight layover. Stayed at the Wyndham Miami Airport for the night and got back on the plane in the AM yesterday. Before we boarded, we scored two cups of cafe con leche and a pressed Cuban from ... dammit. I can't remember the name of the restaurant. Cafe con leche - A+... Cuban - C+.

Switched out some USD for some CRC - Costa Rica Colones at the bank just upstairs from baggage in SJO. 572 CRC to 1 USD. The moneychanger by the baggage claim offered only 502CRC per 1USD... and MIA moneychanger only offered 480CRC per 1USD. It does pay to shop around and know the official exchange rate.

Rented a Jimny from Alamo Car Rental - 447USD - for the 15-day trip. Wish this was handwritten because I'd recreate the Jimny logo from the back of the car - the "N" is backwards. Charming. It's a tincan of a car, but fine for this adventure thus far.

The drive from San Jose to the coast was around four hours and I have no command of the Spanish language. Well, other than Bollito - this means "Muffin Top" and "fritar el berenjena" - I think is how it's spelled- which means "deep-fry the eggplant". I tried to learn "Why am I covered in vomit?" but I was unsucessful. Oh wait. I also read that llanate means car OR big belly. You decide.

Anyway, Vance drove from SJO to PV. Through the rain forest with lovely cool vistas and lots and lots and lots of BIG trucks barreling along. Then, per Colin's directions, a gaggle of ugly billboards and then flat road with a joint called El Yugo on the right recommended for lunch.

We pulled in and I discovered delicious plaintains with cheese. Whole plantain - split down the middle - with melted cheese in the middle. Ooo-wee. Tasty. Also got some arroz (wait! That's another Spanish word - it means rice) and some frijoles negros (two more! black beans). Vance got this exotic magenta salad stuff - looked a bit like potato salad - and some other stuff and some arroz. The exotic magenta stuff was beet salad. Decently good. The "other stuff" we decided was organ meats - livers and something. Okay, but nothing special. Two Imperials - the beer of Costa Rica, kinda like Budweiser - and then we doused the food with Lizano Tabasco. Tasty stuff, that Lizano. Now I feel certain that Tabasco is a trademarked name, but hey, US law doesn't apply here in CR; right? Cost for lunch = 6600 CRC.

So after lunch, we eased back out onto Highway 32 and drove into Limon. Oh yes. All sorts of interesting things to consider here. The graveyard seems FASCINATING with above-ground crypts and painted-on memorials. We will visit it enroute to La Fortuna next week.

Stopped for fuel and God Bless Costa Rica! Full-service at all pumps. They washed down the windshield and scurried about the Jimny fueling and checking.

Within minutes of leaving the gas station, the road opened up and there was the Caribbean. Open vista directly to the left, trees and bushes to the right. Simply perfect.