This is our last full day in Costa Rica. When creating the tour, it made sense to make the last day be an “on your own” day. So, after breakfast, Annie, Aine, Brian, Maggie and I decided to head into Quepos, the largest town. One lady, named Steffanie, owned a shop that sold jewelry (you can visit it www.cargostef.com) and it turned out that she and Aine share the same birthday. So she gave Aine a pair of turtle earrings. Annie bought a beautiful starfish bracelet and Maggie picked up some essential oils. Brian decided to see what a Costa Rican haircut felt like and Aine watched transfixed as his hair was clipped away. We then walked across town to a grocery store and noted that the gutters on the street were two feet deep! If you didn’t look where you were going, you were bound to fall into one. But it made sense, as the rainy season meant that a good portion of those gutters were daily flowing with runoff from the storms. Quepos is a typical Costa Rican town, if you shut out the Century 21 and other realty shops that cater to the American and Canadian expats. Here and there are shops for muffler repair, small grocery stores, tailors, pharmacies, clothes shops and basically every need that a thriving town needs. The whole town had a well worn feel to it, a sort of devil-may-care attitude about zoning, rubbish and order. The town was not dirty, but it was not clean. It was disheveled, but had a sense of thought to it. The people were downright nice though, and respectful of privacy. Here and there a dwelling would have the dog tied to a tree, the remnants of Christmas decorations not yet taken down. The air was thick with humidity and through it smells of cooking food, sea air and a mustiness combined with the heat, enough to make one avoid the sunny sides of streets and hover close to the shaded, air conditioned shops. Maggie and Annie stopped inside a shop as Aine was asking for ice cream. A melon-flavored ice cream pop was bought and Aine licked furiously against the heat of the day, smiling as the drops of sugary cream flowed down her elbows and onto my shirt.
We walked the streets of the town and finally, hailed a cab to bring us back toward the Karahe. The cabbie, an older gentleman, knew only a smidgen of English, but enough to realize that we wanted to eat. So he brought us along residential streets,to the Terrazas, a restaurant he said was “Muy bueno!” He got out of the taxi, hurried into restaurant and bringing the waiter out by the arm pointed to us. The waiter motioned for us to come in. We took the cabbie’s card as he promised to take us to a place with a great view for dinner. “Buena vista, food muy bueno!” he said. Both of his suggestions were right on the spot. Lunch was an early, un-touristed affair, with us enjoying a stunning view of the Pacific. Aine had fallen asleep on my shoulder and the waiter, said, “Senor, a suggestion,” to me and motioned for me to get up from my chair. I moved and he had two low cushioned chairs brought out along with a tablecloth, which he laid on the chairs. A bed was made for Aine to sleep on, which she did for the entire meal, the cool breezes of the ocean lulling her into a blissful slumber. We had a leisurely meal and gazed out over the ocean, talking about our shock over the death of David Bowie, the tour, the year ahead and Costa Rica. Aine woke up after an hour and stretched and looked around. The waiter, came right over and asked if it would be alright for her to have ice cream. A small bowl of vanilla with chocolate sauce was placed in front of the still groggy baby. She reacted with a look of pure joy. To go from ice cream to sleep to waking to ice cream could only happen in Costa Rica.
After lunch we spent the last part of the afternoon enjoying the Pacific. Maggie, Brian, Annie, and I all took turns with Aine, watching her tear down the beach or run into the waves. We built sand castles and watched the tide clear them away. At one point, Aine just laid down on the beach and laughed and laughed. The water was warm and the waves with the rising tide were perfect for some body surfing. At one point I got tumbled by a particularly strong wave, that sent me rolling onto the beach. After some time on the ocean, I took Aine over to rest on the shore. Some monkeys were up in the trees and I watched one expertly take apart a coconut and throw the fronds down on people resting below. We watched their antics for a while, then headed into the pool, where we played in the water. Finally dinner time approached and we reluctantly headed back to the hotel, got ourselves dressed for dinner and called our cabbie. He came quickly and brought us out to another seaside restaurant called Ronnie’s place. This turned out to be a tucked away gem of a restaurant, that had a commanding view of the Pacific. The road to it was gravel and had all the appearances of going nowhere, except it led to Ronnie's as well as several very expensive and elaborate homes.
Our last dinner in Costa Rica was not without exception. For starters I noticed an American couple looking very worried by a fence line. I walked over to see that a cow had caught her hind leg in some barbed wire. I motioned to the waitress, and asked her if she could get a pair of pliers to help free the cow. She did me one better and headed into the pasture and started working on the cow’s leg. Being a farm boy, I realized that it would take a pliers to cut the wire, which the cow had worked deep into its leg. Turns out the husband of the couple (“he’s an engineer his wife explained to me”) had a Leatherman all-in-one-tool-kit in his pocket and producing a pair of pliers went to work with the waitress on the cow’s leg. Another waiter brought a bigger pair of pliers and pretty soon about a seven foot strand of barbed wire was unraveled from the very docile and now free cow. That was the highlight of the excitement and the waitress went back, washed her hands and then asked us what we wanted to order. The four of us ordered two platters of locally caught shrimp, lobster, tuna, mahi-mahi, scallops and an assortment of vegetables. It was a great meal and by the time we finished, the stars were arching over the sky. Aine saw the moon rise over the ocean, just the thinnest curve on the horizon. It was getting close to say goodbye to Costa Rica and so we finished our meal, called our cabby and headed back to the hotel. I went down to the beach and the dining hall while Annie got Aine ready for bed. Our whole crew were there enjoying the last night as well. We all chatted for a while and went over the highlights of the trip. A good trip can be measured by how long it feels. It seemed like a month ago that we arrived and yet in a matter of days we seemed to travel great distances, see wonderful things and have funny as well as daring exploits. As Jose’s grandfather said, “Today we have a good day or a very good day.” It was a very good day.
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