Mornings are not my friend. Alarm clocks are not friends either. They don’t like me, I don’t like them. We don’t get along very well in the best of circumstances but the earlier the hour, the worse. This last Friday was no exception.
The plan was to have all of our bags packed and locked up, breakfast eaten, everything out of our hotel rooms and everyone ready to get on the bus at 7:30am. We had a 3-4 hour bus ride ahead of us and we needed to get as early of a start as possible. Alex and I planned to wake up at 6:30 in order to do this. I miraculously somehow blurrily opened my eyes at 7:15 to a quiet room and a sleeping roommate.
Luckily, we had both packed the majority of our belongings up the night before so we were able to rush and grab the rest as quickly as possible. Though we were one of the last few people to carry our bags down the stairs from our building and back up the stairs of the back building of the hotel to our little locked room for luggage, we managed to make it before 7:30 and even were able to grab a few nibbles of breakfast before running to the bus. Thankfully, I was able to doze most of the bus ride.
The road was windy and some people got car sick but my West Pointian upbringing allowed me to sleep soundly, if not entirely comfortably. We stopped on the way at a small souvenir shop for bathrooms, browsing, and snacks. Then again just before a bridge. The bus pulled over and let us off so we could walk across. There was an iguana in a tree about 1/3 of the way across, and several American Crocodiles in the water below. After looking at the crocs on both sides of the bridge for a while, we continued to the far end of the bridge to get back on the bus. We continued on through Jaco (pronounced ha-ko), a small town known for surfing and watching humpback whales in the mid-Pacific.
“Suavemente” played on the radio, and we even heard a Spanglish version of Justin Beiber’s “Baby”. Instead of starting with “You know I love ya…” it was “Yo te quiero…” While listening to these songs, we passed by millions and millions of African Palm trees, the main crop of the area. Apparently they use the small red and yellow fruits from the palms to make vegetable oil. Fernando paused on the side of the road by a factory to grab a few to show them to us.
Eventually we rolled into the town of Quepos, the main center for the area around Manuel Antonio, and the closest real town, with banks, grocery stores, and gas stations. Then it was just a short drive over the hill and down to Manuel Antonio. We passed a restaurant called El Avion, which was held up by a plane shot down in Nicaragua that a man purchased for $3000, and another restaurant with a banner over it telling you to “Act British, Think Yiddish”. We drove all the way through the town, down the beach and past the few small stores to turn around in a traffic circle at the end and head to our hotel.
This weekend we stayed at the Hotel Coco Beach, an interesting place proclaiming its hot water, pool, wifi, and AC through the office window. The water and AC sounded especially promising. All of our rooms however, were in the second building, up the hill from the office and road. We had to hike three and a half flights of stairs to get there, and then found most of the rooms were on the second story. After dumping all of our stuff in our rooms, everyone headed out for a late lunch in the town and to visit the beach.
The beach was beautiful, and though we weren’t allowed to go in farther than up to the waist due to strong currents, everyone had fun body surfing and just hanging out. A few people used some surf boards and a small group of us (myself included) worked to bury Johnny in the sand. There was a really cute kid everyone enjoyed playing with, he was half Costa Rican and half Japanese and loved the water like no other. His brother would throw him into the air so he would land in the waves over and over again.
After a while, we headed back to the restaurants across the street from the beach because happy hour was 4-6:30pm and drinks were 2×1 (two for one). After picking a restaurant, we headed up to the open second floor to find trees full of squirrel monkeys at the top of the stairs. There were dozens of them of all ages. One man came up and gave them some banana and they went crazy. After watching them and taking pictures of them for a few minutes, we continued inside and ordered drinks to share and trade among our large group. The person in charge of music, with Fernando’s encouragement, played the Macarena and Fernando encouraged us to get up and do it with him. A mini dance party ensued with both American and Latin music. We did trains and circles, people played the drums along with the music, even Zuzana (Professor Bic) danced with us.
Some Costa Ricans joined in and everyone had a great time. I got a dance partner that actually knew how to dance and could lead well for once! It was great! We did some swing dancing, Latin dancing, and random dancing just for fun (running man was a huge hit for everyone). Eventually, we had to leave so we could head back to the hotel and shower before dinner. Dinner was unexciting, more casado: rice, beans, and chicken. No one tastes anything anymore; we just eat so we don’t starve. It’s not bad, just bland. Tasteless. Parul, Nick, Baxter, and I tortured ourselves talking about Indian and Thai food; I can’t wait to find something delicious.
After dinner, we met the bus at 9:30 to go to a club/restaurant someone recommended us at happy hour. It was a neat place, with a live band and loft up above, but filled with tables and people. Everyone wanted to be there, but most of us had a good time. Danielle had the misfortune to catch the eye of one of the singers in the band. He brought her on stage to dance a little, which was fine, but then tried to make out with her, which did not go over so well. Most of the rest of the evening was fine for the rest of us though. Fernando was declared a party animal, and everyone had a good time. Eventually, we all crammed into taxis to head back to the hotel and sleep. It was interesting to note how different the experience turns out to be every time we go out. Every place we go is unique and has a different atmosphere. It’s pretty neat, and this turned out to be quite an eventful day.