Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Travelogue: On the way to Domenical

The ride from La Fortuna to Quepos (a town on the Pacific coast, very near famous Manuel Antonio Park) was uneventful. When I hopped into the shuttle, I spoke with the driver briefly in Spanish. Later, I pulled out my Spanish/English dictionary to look up a few words. I was truly shocked when the woman next to me, a native Spanish speaker, asked me if I spoke English or Spanish. I guess if I keep it to 10 words or less, I can "pass."

In Quepos, I found the bus station and waited for the bus headed in my direction. I met a bunch of guys from San Luis Obispo who were headed in the same direction. It's funny how far you go sometimes and still end up meeting people from around the bend. I came very close to missing the bus. If I hadn't met the SLO guys, I would have (bad info from my contact in La Fortuna.) This was the first public bus I had taken in Costa Rica and it was quite an experience. The bus was very crowded, hot and dusty. The distance from Quepos to Domenical is only about 40 km, but took 2.5 hours (good info from my contact in La Fortuna, although I didn't believe him when he told me.)

The roads were, for the most part, unpaved. On the first stretch, the road had dried since the last rain. Dust and grit blew back from the truck in front of us and worked its way into my eyes and mouth. We soon turned off and the road became more like a child's board game - "potholes" of unknown deths, filled with water dotting thedirt and rock road. The bus driver picked his way through them with the grace, care, and concentration of a ballerina.

Somewhere in the first hour, I began really enjoying the ride. We crossed one-lane bridges. The body of the bus was wider than the wheels. The bridges were so narrow that with a window seat, looking down from the bus, one could only see water. I'm not sure why I enjoyed it so much. I think it made me feel more a part of the country. Also, I felt independent and capable - if I can ride a public bus in a country where I effectively do not speak the language, I can handle a lot. Most of all, it really amped me up to go to India.

Domenical is so small that if you blinked, you could miss it. It's not even a one stoplight town - it is one street with no stoplights. The town is centered around surfing - surfshops, reggae, and just general chillage. Someone who works at the school walked me to where I'd be living for the week. He only speaks Spanish and he was explaining something to me. I finally understood that he was saying that I was not allowed to have guys in my room. I hope that you can picture it: I have my main pack on my back, my daypack on my front. I am sweaty, dusty, and all-around dirty. I've been traveling for 7 hours, and this guy is talking about me bringing guys back to my "place?" Even better, he said (in Spanish) that someone would explain all of this to me the next day at the school. So, apparently in all my travel-worn splender, something about me made him think "seductress" and "if I don't tell her this now, we're going to have problems."

I showered and changed ready to hit the "town" and eat - I had skipped lunch to catch the bus. It started raining. I thought I'd wait it out, maybe a half an hour or so. It started pouring. I lay out in the hammock in front of my room (under the eaves of the porch.) I was incredibly relaxed (hammocks = my idea of heaven), but getting hungry. Eventually, the rain was coming down so hard that stray drops were hitting the hammock. I accepted that I'd be going to bed hungry and retreated to my room. Closing the door, I felt someone underfoot and jerked my foot up. Apparently, a small frog had decided to join me in my room. After all the traveling, the language problems, the anxiety, I was happy to have my small, silent companion join me.

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