While Erin and I are out gallavanting around Costa Rica trying to squeeze in at least a couple of touristy-type adventures during our last couple of days here – mastering the art of maneuvering public transportation, rappelling down waterfalls, petting monkeys (HEY! I said petting monkeys, not petting the monkey – get your mind out of the gutter), I want you to take a moment to recognize that we are now officially famous in Costa Rica.
That’s right – a link to our blog has now been officially noted in a Costa Rica publication. Considering we’ve never been mentioned in a U.S. publication, I’m going to take this as a sign that we need to move here permanently.
And okay, maybe a few of the journalistic facts were slightly misrepresented in The Link’s accompanying article (we traveled from Bagaces, not La Fortuna, and clearly we’re NOT tourists since – duh – we live here… okay at least for 2 more days), we’re incredibly excited about the shout-out, nonetheless. And I suppose we can’t give them too much crap considering Erin used the old restaurant name in her post – a fact the Tico Times author is only too quick to mention. In her defense the restaurant’s website still goes by the old name.
And while the insanely inaccurate article managed to stimulate what I’m estimating to be approximately zero blog hits, it’s really the publication that counts.
Because really – what’s National Geographic compared to the Tico Times??
And wait… maybe it’s pet the kitty, not pet the monkey. I was converting the euphemism to a Costa Rican animal. Does that mean I’m now fluent in Spanish?
With the end of our two-month trip in sight (PS: If you’ve been following us since August and still haven’t caught on that we’re in Costa Rica, you’re officially fired from reading our blog), I’m starting to think more and more about what I’m going back to.
Hopefully, I will still have the following items upon my return:
One (1) Husband, tall
One (1) Apartment, shoe-box sized
One (1) Car, Volkswagen
Two (2) Cats, disinterested
However, once I’ve done a quick survey to ensure that said items are in their proper places, the game plan gets a tad hazy. One of the major burning (huh-huh) questions I know I’ll have to face is: What in the sweet Sam Hill am I going to do for work?
A little part of me always expected that some amazing job opportunity (like, oh say, National Geographic travel writer?) would magically present itself–without requiring any effort whatsoever on my part, mind you–while I was over here developing multiple overlapping farmer’s tans and writing drug-fueled rants. But with only four measly days left here, I’m getting the sneaking suspicion that such is not the case.
So now what?
An easy-going and understanding husband Chuckles may be, I doubt he’ll suffer in silence while I spend the next 20 years slouched on the couch staring off slack-jawed into space while systematically inserting rows of Chips Ahoys into my face. At best, I think I’d have about a month tops before he shipped me back to the wife factory for a functioning model.
And, when I really think about it, as tempting as it may be to feather myself a cozy little couch-nest out of Kleenex, socks and Pop-Tart wrappers, I don’t really want to do that with the rest of my life anyway.
Or do I?
Nah, I guess not.
Which means there’s going to come a time—and soon—that I’m going to have to put myself back on the market. The job market.
Job hunting is the most torturous form of dating ever invented. You spend hours upon hours each day primping and preening your resume to make it as attractive as possible, you buy uncomfortable new shoes and wear your hair in a bun (a bun, for gods sake), you attempt to exude an air of confidence and capability and togetherness to hide the fact that you’re egregiously ill-equipped and criminally underqualified to operate in the adult world. You spend your mornings poring over the interwebs, screening for the few job ads that aren’t clever euphemisms for telemarketing positions and mail order bride scams, you “put yourself out there” and “network” and “mingle” and “make contacts” and “follow up”, you exchange firm handshakes and cards and wait with increasing agitation for calls that never come, you try to appear available—but, hey now, not too available–and brag about yourself without seeming like you’re bragging about yourself, all the while desperately (but, geez, not too desperate) trying to find a long-term relationship with something decent and presentable and complimentary that you aren’t ashamed to tell your parents about.
Sure, he’s gay, but at least he offers a good dental plan.
And job interviewers never ask about the qualities that really matter, anyway. All they ever want to know is where do I see myself in five years and what are my applicable qualifications and why do I have so many gaps in my employment history, yadda, yadda, yadda… Do you think even once I’ve been asked if I know any good knock-knock jokes or am able to bake a mean Apple Cinnamon Brown Sugar Bread? Have any of them have ever bothered to query as to whether I’ve had the dedication and fortitude to watch every single episode of Sex & The City?
If the world were fair, I would be able to list the skills and qualifications that really make me stand out, like:
1. I invented my own dance called ‘The Crab Waft’. (Trust me, it’s huge in Japan.)
2. I know fancy words like ‘ineluctable’ and ‘ingenue’. (Feel free to bask in my vocabu…lar…um…ical? prowess.)
3. I can pick up small objects with my toes. (You say you dropped your pencil there, bossman? I am on thecase.)
4. I can crack both my shoulders. (It’s gross, but in an impressive kind of way.)
5. I am one bad mammajamma at crossword puzzles.
6. I always remember to clean the dryer lint trap. (Except when I don’t. Which is sometimes.)
7. I can eat really, really spicy food. (Indian and Thai food, you are my biznitches.)
8. I have never appeared on COPS, To Catch a Predator or Sixteen and Pregnant.
9. I know all the words to Pearl Jam’s “Black”. (Anyone who can understand Eddie Vedder can negotiate their way around any international language barrier.)
10. I’m really good at catching a Frisbee.
Just give me a jaunty bandana and call me Bandit.
11. I’ve never once passed out. (This could come in handy in some work-type situation, I’m just not sure what that is just yet…)
12. I know the difference between “affect” and “effect”, “compliment” and “complement” and “then” and “than”. I also know that “alot” and “misunderestimate” aren’t actual words, and I almost never end a sentence with a preposition.
13. I know how many “I knows” you have to sing in the middle of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine”.
Granted, there is the slight risk that I could lose out to someone who can hula hoop, play the harmonica, and do a one-handed cartwheel but, c’mon, I’m a pretty qualified candidate, right?
I’ll be accepting salary offers now, National Geographic.
Here’s a little Saturday morning SAT logic problem for all you brainiacs out there:
Costa Rica : Karioke :: America : _________
A. Popped collars
B. Justin Bieber
C. Bicycle shorts worn by anyone not presently competing in the Tour de France.
E. The Deep-Fried Twinkie
Here’s a hint: It’s a trick question.
The answer is F: All of the above. They are all awful, disturbingly rampant phenomena in the U.S. from which there is literally no possible escape. Just as karioke is in Costa Rica.
Every weekend, all the hardworking Ticos and Ticas of Bagaces flood the five bars in our small town to take turns belting out played-out 80’s ballads and mournful Spanish songs about lost loves and painful memories and, for some inexplicable reason, cats.
Yeah, we couldn’t figure that one out, either.
And these people don’t just sing. They sing. They shut their eyes tightly, clutch the microphone and sway their hips. They pump their fists and lean into the high notes like they are possessed by the vengeful ghost of Celine Dion.
My bad, Celine. I hadn’t seen you since the early 90s, so I just assumed you were dead.
They have absolutely zero qualms about publicly displaying a level of raw, unharnessed emotion that most Americans would be embarrassed to show in the privacy of their own closets.
And while it’s not always pretty—okay, 95% of the time it sounds like this:
–even then, Costa Rica’s love affair with karioke is still far less offensive than any of the above-mentioned phenomena we’re forced to bear helpless, silently screaming witness to in America.
Allow me to elaborate:
… I rest my case.
And you can’t really blame the Ticos because it’s not like they’re out blowing off a week’s worth of steam by crushing 15 beers, getting into violent fisticuffs with traffic signs and puking in the backs of cop cars.
They’re just happy to be here, peacefully doin’ their thang.
And if their thang is belting out an off-key rendition of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” to a crowd of strangers every Friday and Saturday night, so be it.
Last weekend our friend Karla took Erin and me to the beach. Two beaches, to be exact – Playa del Coco and Playa Hermosa.
As with most car trips, I found the time on the road to be half the fun.
I love taking photos from a moving vehicle.
When we got there, we saw that Coco is an adorable little beach community absolutely packed with souvenir shops.
We arrived with the intention of buying a couple small gifts for friends and family – though, I never understood why anyone would really want a token from somewhere they’ve never been. But it’s apparently a “nice thing to do” so we set out to do it.
Honestly, we did.
But it turns out there was a slight problem with the souvenir selection at Coco Beach.
At first glance it seemed there were plenty of cute dangly earrings from which to choose. The problem? They were the same in every shop, which indicated they were probably imported from Nicaragua.
And we all know it’s impossible to pick out sunglasses for other people.
(Though it turns out Erin is quite talented at picking them out for me.)
And once we ruled out earrings, t-shirts and sunglasses, we were really at a loss. The rest of the souvenirs at Coco Beach are, it turns out, heinously hideous at worse and insanely tacky at best.
What do you think, mom? Didn’t you just tell me you were looking for a giant rooster statue?
Make your guests feel welcome by setting him on your front step in lieu of a boring old welcome mat.
Or if you’re looking for something a little more travel-friendly, there’s always the one that hasn’t quite finished hatching.
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall…
And if poultry isn’t your taste, there’s always naked statues.
My, what nice abs you have.
And not-so-naked statues.
And of course, the copulating couples.
And now for position #179…
My, were there copulating couples.
Apparently they couldn’t be bothered to remove their skirts.
I can’t help but be impressed with their balancing skills.
If you want something a little more National Geographic, you could always go with one of these:
She does NOT look like she’s having a good time.
Don’t worry – I can help you find a bra with the right support and comfort to perk those babies back up.
(Yeah, because we all know THAT’S realistic.)
Not into people or poultry? No worries, they have plenty of other animals, too.
OMG, I’ve been LOOKING for a red-vested monkey!
I already have this doormat. In tabby.
I think this monkey might be stoned.
And the art… well the art is just exquisite. I didn’t find anything to add to my “collection,” but I definitely enjoyed looking.
Ladies, doesn’t this look like something you had hanging in your room in the 80’s? Minus the boobies, of course…
And this guy totally would’ve been going home with me in the 90’s.
Okay, now here is where you may want to turn away.
I know, I know. I didn’t warn you before the creepy half-hatched rooster egg or the blowjob pipe. That’s because those things were small potatoes compared to this.
The following image is – by far – one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen.
So don’t scroll any further if you don’t want to have nightmares.
I mean it!
Okay here goes:
What is it??!!
I’m sorry I didn’t get a closer shot, but I was worried it would jump out of the frame and peck off my face.
What would possess someone to paint something like this?
Is this how the artist views women?
Maybe it’s a portrait of his ex wife…
Can you imagine actually buying this thing? Oh yes… that would look just PERFECT on the living room mantel. Or better yet, above the bed! You know, because there’s nothing like a large-breasted naked veiny chicken to put me in the mood.
I will never look at a chicken the same way again.
The things we did like were pretty pricey and would’ve cost even more to ship home.
Like this funky mirror:
Or these pretty chimes:
Or this ornately carved chair, complete with butt print:
Needless to say, we didn’t end up buying anything. Oh well, I guess my photos will be souvenir enough. Because friends and family love looking at my vacation pictures, right?
After exploring the cavernous shops at Coco, we drove on to Hermosa to spend a relaxing afternoon on the beach.
Ed Note: The pictures in this post are Katie’s because my camera battery died after only 10 minutes of shooting that day. She agreed to let me use hers because A) she’s a good friend and B) she didn’t want to have to listen to me whine about it for the rest of the day.
This past Sunday, Katie and I visited the local bullring in Bagaces to watch them test the bulls for an upcoming event.
We went with our adorable Tica friend Stephany (far left) and her two equally adorable Tica friends whose names I don’t remember because I’m a terrible, terrible person.
It’s a good thing I don’t live here permanently, because I’d have crippling self-esteem issues.
Noon was when the event was supposed to start, but people didn’t actually start showing up for it until 2 p.m. Katie and I have learned by now that Ticos exist in a completely different time-space continuum than the rest of the universe. ‘Tico time’ is a fluid concept that can mean anywhere between 30 minutes and two hours later than the appointed time. (This is super fun when you’re trying to catch a bus, by the way.)
It was such a holy scorcher of a day that everyone crowded in the shade under the bleachers. I, for one, hadn’t been under the bleachers since the 9th grade, and it gave me such a wicked case of nostalgia that I almost tried to make out with the old man squatting next to me on a three-legged stool just for old times’ sake.
Avert your eyes, children. It’s going to get handsy down here.
Anyhoo, the first bull came out…
…and put on quite a show.
You could tell he was a performer. An artiste. And the rider wasn’t too shabby either.
They looked like graceful dance partners.
Does anybody else have the R. Kelly song “I Believe I Can Fly” in their head right now?
(By the way, I hope the guy with the flag has a good insurance plan.)
I believe he’s indicating the size of his cojones here.
The next bull, however, was not so tranquilo. Right out of the gate, you could tell that this bull had anger management issues.
And you could almost hear the rider’s thoughts:
Aw man, he got my chinos dirty.
Even after his rider was off, this bull seemed determined to learn them whippersnappers a less’n.
After they finally managed to get the beast back into its pen, they had a lassoing event:
I’ll bet that guy got bonus points for having the snazziest hat.
We only stayed for about an hour lest our pale gringa skin melt off us under the heat of the Costa Rican sun, but we were happy to have had a taste of a real live bull riding event. All in all, it was a fun time for everyone.
I realized today that when I go home, it’s almost certain that I’m going to crave certain foods from Costa Rica.
You see, every now-and-then Erin and I splurge on a meal at a restaurant. And after watching some bull riding yesterday (more on that to come), we craved nothing more than a couple of beers and some patacones at one of our favorite restaurants in Bagaces.
Basically, they’re fried plantains. Plantains are very similar to bananas.
No, they’re not served with chocolate. That black stuff you see is actually frijoles molidos – a type of refried black bean.
Hey – don’t knock ’em ’till you try ’em.
You spread the frijoles molidos over the patacones, and then you top it all with this slightly salty white shredded cheese.
Oh, and let me take a moment to point this out:
Salsa Lizano is a Costa Rican condiment that is commonly found on restaurant tables and in refrigerators all over the country. We have a bottle (or two) in ours, and we will likely have several bottles in our backpacks upon our departure.
Anyone know the export rules for Lizano? Anyone?
And speaking of mmmmm….
Erin and I each ordered fish tacos at the beach on Saturday.
Much to our surprise, they were fried!
I can’t say this surprise was unpleasant. Although my arteries would probably disagree. Especially because they drizzled Costa Rica’s infamous mixture of mayo and ketchup all over the top. And of course, you can’t forget the cabbage.
Karla just ordered a boring old burger.
But even that, paired with an ice-cold local brew, can’t be beat on a hot day at the beach.
Ironically, the one type of food I will probably miss the most is not even technically from Costa Rica. It’s the ingenious invention of Aaron and Becs, and let me just say…. holy craptastic, batman!
They call them torti burguesas, which basically translates to grilled burgers wrapped in tortillas.
Oh, but that’s not all.
Add to them some cream cheese, crispy bacon, caramelized onions and a slice of cheddar on top, then bake them in the oven, and you have a tailgater’s wet dream.
I really, really wish I had a finished picture of these. I do. But I only thought to bring my camera on the day we made torti salchichas, one of my all-time favorite foods (hot dogs) done up torti burguesa-style.
*Warning: If you’re not a big fan of meat – especially of the hot dog variety – you may want to skip the next couple of photos.
Then they put the tortis together assembly-line style. A dab of cream cheese, hot dog pieces, caramelized onion, and a bit of crumbled bacon. They may have sprinkled a few crunchy Cheetos in there for fun, but we can’t be sure.
Finally, they wrapped ’em up and stuck ’em on a baking sheet with a slice of cheddar cheese on top and popped them in the oven.
And when they came out… wow.
Worth every single one of the 52,876 calories.
Okay, okay – 52,877 calories when dipped in Aaron’s homemade ranch.