Arrive in San Jose, where Nat (labmate), Meelo (her Tico boyfriend) and a rainbow are waiting for me. It’s definitely hot in the afternoon and the “coca light” (diet coke) that Meelo offers to get during the 4-hour drive to Bagaces is refreshing … even if it is served in a plastic bag with a straw!
Not sure if I actually sleep my first night in Costa Rica. Apparently the dogs that roam the streets get together between the hours of 11pm and 3am to have long, loud conversations. Around 4am, the roosters join in. And when the sun comes up at 5:30, the grackles start calling to each other. Also, the bugs like to bite me. Oh, how I love nature.
Joe and I wander around Bagaces and find a nice little grocery store (yay Coca Light!) and the “internet café” (only 100 colones per 15 minutes!! WOO HOO!). Meet up with Professor B and his two 9-year-old twins that are down here until the end of March. Professor B and I are troubled because of lack of transportation to get to the site where we want to do research.
After dinner of PB sandwiches and Nacho chips (no fridge or stove for us!), head to the bars with Nat and Meelo and meet the rest of the “gringos” that live in this town. Listen to Spanish karaoke and watch 80s videos while enjoying cervesa and English speaking people. Find out that someone that previously had stayed at my house developed a rash. Fleas are suspected. Close the bars down at midnight and head home.
Finally make it to the field with Nat and Joe. Great to see out fish in their natural habitat! Also see a Basilisk (Jesus Christ Lizard) and Blue Morpho Butterflies. Take 400 underwater photos (later delete 250 of them).
Travel to nearby Liberia to get keys made for my luxurious apartment. Stop at cinema with Nat and Meelo to see Bee Movie. Completely in Spanish with no subtitles. Joe & I make up own script. Who knew animated movies had so much sexual innuendo?
Spend the evening at a cock fight with Nat and Meelo. Sit in the front row and watch the chaos. Make bets with Joe. Joe owes me a shot.
Still without reliable transportation to field site. Go to “la playa” with Nat and Meelo. Enjoy the beach and pool at some sort of Costa Rican resort. Snorkel near the rocks and find big fish and a huge shoal of sergeant majors. Wish I was actually doing research. Get home late and find that we have a new roommate (the tailless whip scorpion). Enjoy a cervesa with Professor B. Car issue still not resolved, but things are looking up.
Reject possibility of purchasing or renting a car. Decide that Taxi is the best way to get to and from the field site. Do a little work on the computer. Take a nap. Watch Harry Potter 5 on Joe’s computer. Have dinner with Professor B and kids. Watch Animal Planet in Spanish (Professor B has cable). Look forward to FINALLY getting into the field tomorrow to start a project with our fish!!
First day in field! Take some data and videos. See howler monkeys. Howler monkeys throw feces at me.
Go for long hike to waterfall. Fall along shore and get giant cut and bruise on inner thigh. See giant iguanas, coati, more howler monkeys, and lots of bugs that enjoy feasting on me.
Head to “Gringo Poker”. During 6 hour tournament, buy in 3 times (2000 colones each time). Joe beats 11 other gringos to come in second (though he swears he could have won, but felt bad being “that guy” who shows up once for poker and wins 50,000 colones (about $100))!
“Sleep in” then head to field with Nat and Joe to collect fish for the lab back in The Little Town. After great success, have great lunch of patacones and sulchipapas! It’s Nat’s last day, so we must celebrate!
Discover that the (only) pizza place is open and have delicious pizza dinner with Professor B & kids. While they head to the pool, we stay at Professor B’s to watch some Romeo and Juliet with Spanish subtitles and happen to meet famous Monkey Lady. When Monkey Lady arrives, Joe is playing solitaire and I am reading an educational text about Costa Rica (that she comments on). Joe feels silly.
Up before down to catch bus with Professor B and kids to Monte Verde. On the first bus, we stand in the very front window/door for the entire hour drive. Discover that second bus is a 2 hour wait. Convince taxi to drive us for low price. Hike around Monte Verde and see the Continental Divide. Rush back to town to take bus home. Second bus passes us by. Costa Rican police drive all 5 of us (in the back of their police truck) to main bus stop so that we can catch the next one.
Can this first week in CR be topped????