The Rich CoastAqui
After a 2-hour delay at PDX and a red eye flight that resulted in me attempting to sprint through the Denver airport, then a 4 1/2 hour shuttle ride over not-so-great roads, I have made it to the beautiful Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. If you thought Portland was green in the springtime, prepare to be shocked. This is a green jungle, literally… costa rica.
I have already seen fields and fields of bananas, tons of coconut trees, lots of crazy birds and lizards, a couple of monkeys, butterflies and there are 15 sloths that live on the grounds of my hotel, Cariblue. In addition, I have seen more bugs than most vacation spots, Tikal excluded. (I will never forget Tikal.) This was expected of course, so my clothes are permethrin-treated and I’ve brought along the 97% DEET insect repellent.
Cariblue is an Italian-owned complex of duplex and 4-plex cabañas and outdoor spaces nestled in a jungle, across the street from Playa Cocles (Cocles beach). While the rest of my experience here at the cabañas so far hasn’t reflected the Italian influence, the menu has. This is unfortunate for obvious reasons, but also because who the hell wants pasta when it’s 85 degrees with 80% humidity? I want fish tacos with Caribbean flare! And fresh guacamole with freshly-made chips! The traditional Costa Rican breakfast almost made up for it- beans & rice, veggies, eggs, soya, a huge assortment of pastries (kiwi bread, jalapeno buns, sweet bread- very dense with a glaze on top), lots of fresh fruit (watermelon, pineapple, papaya, canteloupe), Guanabanana (wan-ah-BAN-an-AH) juice, orange juice and, of course, coffee. I didn't eat again until nearly 5:00!
El Super Mercado
I don’t really have an itinerary yet, which is how the Caribbean cultures like it. I did make a trip to the super Mercado (supermarket) today. I bought a small styrofoam cooler and some cervesa (bevs here don't seem to be any cheaper than America, at least at the bars).
The local supermarket is better than any travel guide about a culture. It tells you how a culture eats, what a culture believes in and about their habits, values, ways, traditions. Do they use local products or import foods? Imports would suggest that they are a relatively prosperous country (or have a lot of ex-pats living there) and local products usually means they highly value their local culture or can’t import because of economics or politics. You can almost bet that the more processed foods a culture eats, the more prevalent obesity is... and it's true for Costa Rica- many, many processed foods. Do they have an obscene number of tourist souvenirs? You’re probably not at the supermarket.
I went to two different supermarkets- one recommended by the super nice worker here at the cabañas... I resisted buying anything until I had checked out the other one and I'm glad I did. The other one was much, much better... waaaay more beer and food selections. I was surprised by the tiny little Asian foods section.
I discovered that nearly everything here comes in bags- salsa, milk, sauces, jam, etc. I find salsa in a bag to be bizarre. I'm not sure if that's because it didn't look or feel chunky or because I couldn't see the salsa itself or if it was simply the bag idea. I did not buy any salsa. I'm always amazed at how many different types of fried foods in bags Latin America has... I guess it's better temperature-wise than getting french fries or fried... pig skins.
I rode a bike into town. I nearly ran over two crabs and one lizard. Road kill here is crabs instead of deer or squirrels... and I don't need to tell you that smashed crabs on asphalt in 85 degrees smells horrible.
Juego de Fútbol
I also went to a fútbol game this evening- a national team (players who play in the World Cup) played the local team, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. It must have been the national team's reserve squad, because Puerto Viejo was playing better than the Limon national team. It was relatively exciting nonetheless- it seemed like the entire town was there to see the match. I miss my Timbers though... beat Columbus tomorrow, ok?