The money here is Colones. When we arrived in CR, I changed a couple hundred dollars worth of American dollars for Colones. It looked like we robbed a bank.
It was a few years ago, but I wanted to see Costa Rica. During this period I was writing under a different pen-name, and the book had a lot of content and characters from this country. When we landed, we followed the lines into customs and stood in the humidity and heat of the biggest ceiling fan I had ever seen. Birds flew over our head since the high metal ceiling had no walls. I hailed a taxi to take use to the resort and detoured to the Avis rental car business on the way.
I was pleased when I arrived. It had flowing fabric blowing with the breeze, wicker chairs in the open reception area, walkways of natural earth materials, and gardening that looked immaculately original.
We had rented a Subaru station wagon with all wheel drive, and that proved to be one of the best decisions we made. The roads, once you got off of the main road, were rough. I could add a dozen adjectives for rough, but you will see in some of the following photos.
There were full size busses that transported many of the local people. During the time we stayed in Costa Rica, we learned to pick up hitchhikers. In the U.S. we have been taught to keep driving past them. Here, many people walk or get rides for an hour or two to go to work and then at the end of the day catch a ride… or walk back. Their pay scale is still years behind the U.S. so the rides, tourist trade, and tips are very appreciated.
In my second book, Amaretto with Coffee, the main character fell in love with a girl who worked at Avis. By the end of the book, he had moved her family from Limon, CR, to Florida. It was surprising when the book came out. Costa Rica Star called and interviewed me for their paper. A coffee shop in CR emailed me for permission to market the book.
Shopping in Costa Rica was limited. Clothes and hand-made items are in abundance. If you buy gold and gems when you travel, your selection here is on the edge of zero. We found food in the area we were in, and the prices were comparable to the U.S. Below I am returning to the apartment, buried in the seclusion of the garden areas.
If I walked a hundred yards out of the above photos, I would be staring at the ocean. Teak chairs and tables were scattered into various shady areas with beautiful views. I took the top photo, and the others, with a Canon camera. The wi-fi to my apt. was weak, but adequate for checking my email. Several times I would go sit by the receptionist desk to send a larger file.
As we explored, the above scene was not uncommon.We just stopped in the road, sat quietly, and passed when the cattle were clear. This empty road, will be bumper to bumper traffic at quitting time. Horns will be tooting and music played loudly as outstretched hands wave at a friend in the other lane. We visited several towns and usually found a parking place and walked.
During the entire vacation, we never felt pressured, or in danger, in fact… we found ourselves walking to various bars after dark for dinner. Some were so frequented by us, that the waiter would have a cold Pilsner Beer in his hand when he seated us. We always got the table with the ocean view. From the pictures you can see that it rained a lot in November. We just stayed under a covered area with the locals until it stopped.
While in town, we saw a Burger King. The urge for American junk-food peaked and we walked inside. The money here is Colones. When we arrived in CR, I changed a couple hundred dollars worth of American dollars for Colones. It looked like we robbed a bank. Notice the price of a fast lunch. At first it shocked me, but not as bad as when I filled up the gas tank on the car. There were not enough zeros on the gas pumps and every fill up was totaled with a calculator.
Before I started writing, and building interiors for large yachts, I was a home builder. While talking to a hitch-hiker one day, we got on the subject. He told me that an American builder came to CR with the intent to build homes in the mountains, and went bankrupt. The mountain was still for sale, and I had to go look. This road led up the mountain, abruptly turned, and you were staring at a traditional guard shack and fancy stucco entrance to what appeared as a gated community. We continued, to find twenty or thirty graded lots with the roads also ready to pave. The water supply was in place and every lot had an ocean view. I was excited. After days of crunching numbers, checking local building talent, and speculating on American buyers moving to my mountain, I decided that Costa Rica was not quite ready for my development.
I may go back to Costa Rica some day. For now, I think I will sell my sailboat, and build on to my little east Florida land home.
In May and June we will be back in St. Croix. We are going to fly this time, and see if I still have a job in Florida when I get back. My next three books spend a lot of time in St. Croix, and I have a hangup with being accurate and current even though it is fiction. I’ve been to a lot of islands and countries but St. Croix is like a bad drug. It has been constantly on my mind since I lived there. Hind site… I should have never left. Getting older now, I’ll keep the house in Florida and rent it out if I find myself with the island addiction again.
Please… follow the blog… for the release date of Longue Duree 1, 2, and 3.
They can each be read individually, but are better as a set. They start in St. Croix. Living forever has its drawbacks.
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