Tuesday, April 13, 2010

cahuita (ca-wheeee-ta)

The great thing about Costa Rica is while it’s pretty diverse it is also pretty small, making it easy to get a little taste of everything. We went to the Caribbean coast this weekend to the small town of Cahuita. The Caribbean side of the country is like a different country all together. When the railroad and banana plantations reached this area large numbers of Jamaican workers were brought over to do the labor. This has led to a very Afro-Caribbean laden culture.

We got a late start on Friday and the drive after dark was not so much fun. Bike riding is a widely used mode of transportation in rural Costa Rica. Coming up on a bike rider in the pitch black dark on a mountainous road doesn’t make for a stress-free road trip. They also have no issue, whatsoever, with walking in the road or just hanging out on the very edge of the blacktop. Thankfully we didn’t kill or maim any Costa Ricans on the way, although the guy who was just sitting in the road better thank his lucky stars that he was wearing white shorts.

While dodging pedestrians we were also up against every Chiquita, Del Monte and Dole semi-trucks in the world. You better enjoy that next can of pineapple chunks because we surely suffered for it.

Almost 5 hours later we finally found our hotel and set out to get dinner. It was about 9:30 and per the bartender at the “Reggae Bar” where we stopped, their kitchen as well as all other kitchens in the town were closed. We decided to fill our empty tanks with some Imperials and then go back to the hotel to split a bag of low fat corn chip roll thingies that Jules was pretty sure she had in her work bag.

I guess the bartender heard us laughing about how we were going to bed hungry and asked if we had ever had plantains.


“Do you want me to cook you some?”

“Really?!? You want to cook us plantains?”

“Why not?”

And off he went to pluck a plantain from his yard. I kept telling Julie how grateful I was, but that I couldn’t help but hope he salted them. When they arrived they were perfectly salted, perfectly cooked and on the house.

Our hotel room was of the “open air” variety with no a/c. I was pretty worried about it, but thankfully the air at night cooled enough that with a fan it was very comfortable. Although the lack of windows helped with the cross breeze it didn’t help with the howler monkey bonanza that was going down at 4am. By 6am every bird in the world was chirping and squawking in the trees outside our hut.

It was raining when we headed to breakfast and we knew our plans for snorkeling were going to have to be canned until Sunday. The owners had a ton of suggestions for a rainy day, but we thought a day spent reading on our balcony sounded much better.

Jules refused to adhere to the sitting position in which the hammock was hung…

We headed back down to the Reggae Bar for lunch and then returned to our reading/bird watching.

We drove into the town to have dinner and catch a live reggae band, but I wasn’t feeling great so we headed in for another early night.

It was storming all night and morning which helped with the noise from the animal kingdom but meant another day without snorkeling. It was obvious that things just weren’t going to go as planned this weekend so after another delicious breakfast from our sweet hosts we hit the road back to San Jose.

Even though we didn’t get to do the things we wanted to in Cahuita it was cool experiencing this very different side of Costa Rica. With all the reggae and Rastas it was like taking a trip to Jamaica…just without the violent crime and disgusting homophobia.

We’ve got friends (Yay!! ) coming this weekend and we’re headed back to Arenal. Hopefully this time we’ll get to see some lava.

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