Day Two: 05.02.05
First stop: public phones to use the $2.00 telephone card to call home and announce safe arrival. Second stop: ATM to get thousands and thousands of colones (fun fact: the exchange rate these days is $1.00 US to 472.00 CRC so we pulled out about 50,000 colones. Ca-ching!). Third stop: breakfast at Morazan's only the place was just open for lunch and dinner so scratch that and return to the hotel for Tico breakfast accompanied by oldies songs piped in above.
Me (singing along): She seems to have an in-vis-i-ble touch, yeah, it takes control and slowly . . .
TP (interrupting my solo): You shouldn't know those lyrics.
Me (defensive b/c I can't help the fact that my brain retains useless knowledge, stupid stats, and lame lyrics): Why not?
TP: Because they are so bad.
Me: What if a villain captured us and tied us up to a rope dangling over a pit of lava and the only thing that could save us is if we could correctly answer trivia questions about Phil Collins' songs?
TP: Then perhaps death would be better.
Fourth stop: back upstairs to pack (took all of five minutes), back downstairs to pay ($66/night), and back outside to catch a cab (with no meter which means we may or may not have been cheated when the initial quote of 600 CRC ($1.26) increased to 1000 CRC ($2.11) once we arrived at the bus terminal - it's not the amount, it's the principle of the matter. *looks in LB's direction and recalls blistering walk through Cairo because the cabbie wanted to charge us a quarter more than he should have*).
We arrived at the "Coca-Cola bus terminal" which was basically a marketplace that happened to have a large parking lot in the center through which busses came barreling through. A cabbie attached himself to us and tried to convince us that at $45 US per person, we could travel to our destination, Manuel Antonio, in air-conditioned luxury, we could smoke if we wanted, we could stop anywhere along the way, and we could arrive in style. When we didn't take him up on his offer, he sported an expression that was part flabbergasted at our passing up such a sweet deal and part disdainful that we were too stupid to realize that he was the best and everyone else (i.e. the cheapo bus-riders) was the worst.
After much confusion over where to purchase our tickets, we finally deciphered a small, hand-painted sign indicating where the booth was and secured our $5 seats. Finding a spot to sit in the bright sun, we spent the better part of an hour watching the locals do their local things: a young man painting a store front while balancing on a shaky, rusted scaffolding; a worker mucking out a sewer or sludgy hole with his bare hands; a woman with powerful lungs selling everything from earrings to cheap, plastic radios; a decrepit old man aimlessly wandering around in a battered cowboy hat, stained pants, and a Star Wars, Episode I t-shirt. The guards in their yellow uniforms were very alert and helpful, telling one woman to keep her purse closer because there were thieves around and informing someone else which bus left and what time. The Coca-Cola guards ROCK!
We boarded our non-air-conditioned but not too shabby 12:15 p.m. bus, put our luggage underneath, and began our steamy drive through Costa Rica's ubiquitous coffee plantations, cloud-covered mountains, and mango groves.
With only one stop along the way for stretches, bathrooms, and snacks, we arrived in Quepos and then Manuel Antonio about three and a half hours later. Following the directions from the website of Cabinas Espadilla - "Once in the beach, turn left at Marlin Restaurant and follow the street" - we learned that our reservation, while taken, was not held. Luckily, since this was the "green" or "wet" or "low" season, there was one cabin available with a ceiling fan for $52/night with the possibility of upgrading to a cabin with an A/C for $64/night the rest of the week. Sweaty, tired, and hungry, we agreed and were shown our cabin complete with one double bed, one set of bunk beds, a little kitchen, and a clean bathroom. We dumped our stuff off and went back outside for some reconnaissance.
The beautiful beach, Playa Espadilla, was about a two-minute walk from the front door. The National Park was a mere five-minute walk away from that. There were two busy restaurants across the street from each other book-ended by souvenir shops, surf lesson stalls, and internet cafes. And so ended our recon.
Before dinner, we stopped by the pharmacy to get some DEETlicious repellant for my mosquito-buffet skin. We went to the Blue Marlin restaurant for dinner and luckily chose a table under the shelter because within ten minutes, heavy rain poured down and soaked the plein air diners who scrambled inside. Our waiter, Omar from Quepos who spoke his English with a Californian accent courtesy of all the time he spent with the West Coast surfers, was friendly enough but drove us crazy with his constant use of the alleged Costa Rican phrase "Pura Vida" which means "pure life" but can be used for any response from "ok, I got your order," to "I'm doing well, thank you," to "it really is great being here during the low season because then I have the hotels, the pools, the beaches, and the jungles almost all to myself!" We started off with the salty, limey, delicious ceviche (hopefully parasite-free) and shared the mahi-mahi and yellow fin tuna dishes. By the time our plates were clean, the rain had stopped. We strolled over to the sister accommodations to Cabinas Espadilla, the Hotel Espadilla, and contemplated a change in rooms to the fancier hotel after returning to our hot, sweltering cabin for the night.
Next up: hanging out on the beach with the mobile home crew.