Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The Lazy People of the Equator

I am fast learning for myself what Jose Caballero, my very wise lecturer from El Salvador meant last year when he said ´the closer people and places are to the equator, the lazier they become´. I have returned from yet another day spent lazing on Manuel Antonio beach. Half a week in and I seem to have already created quite a little routine for myself, which doesn{t yet feature any sort of volunteering or work except studying spanish and the way the hermet crabs crawl by me along the beach when i can be bothered enough to open my eyes and watch them.

I spent a long and awkward 3 1/2 hour bus nourney from San Jose (the capital) to Quepos (my new village). The scenery was incredible and as the bus tacked jungle mountain after jungle mountain I couldn{t believe my eyes at the beautiful scenes passing the bus. I even saw quite a few beasty crocs lazing at the side of rivers as we passed. I had for company a completely social inept (spelling??) old man who insisted he sat next to me no matter how many times I moved seat, everytime leaning towards me greatly invading my personal space he spent most of the time asking really annoying questions and when i tried to politely ignore him by looknig the other way out of the window he would wait about 5 - 10 seconds and poke me, to ask yet another question. Needless to say, despite the scenery I was qlad to see Quepos. I got off the bus and a wall of tropical heat hit me, there was so much to take in I was kind of dazed, I fetched my bags from the bus, heaved my far too heavy bag onto my back, wishing I hadn{t brought so much stuff I looked around to try and take in my new home. Huge tropical mountains rising around the edge of the village with low small buildings all around the central bus station was a hive of activity. People bustling everywhere, I tried to figure out where I had been asked to wait, a bar called 'Quepoa', I really couldn{t see it anywhere. Feeling very hot and sticky already, only about 2 mins after I was off the bus I was all of a sudden been spoken to by a complete stranger. Panicing slightly and wondering why on earth a local would be asking a girl who was obviously a gringo and had no idea, I suddenly figured he was speaking English. Releaved slightly that I was at least understanding what he was saying he then asked if I was Lucy. Noticing he was wearing a green T-shirt and remembering an email the day before from the contact my cousin had given me I figured this must be Tony. It was and I was releaved to see him, he was meant to be working but had kindly delayed his next lesson so that he could take me to my host family.

I must admit the host family were imtimidating at first and I felt very concerned when the first member of my new house greeted me at the front gate... an American pit bull, or something along those lines, short, stubby and stocky the thing has already attacked me once, his owner thinking its funny and that biting me is a 'game' I told thing thing in English it wouldn{t do so well next time. The man, Teo, met me, short, with grey hair, an unbuttoned shirt on revealing a scar running the length of his body i must admit I was intimidated slightly and wondering if I could leave him and his dog and head back to San Jose. He showed me to my room, a seperate building behind their house, it was bigger than their own house, a kitchen area, bedroom and bathroom I was definitely seperate from the rest of the family. I said goodbye to tony and arranged to meet him later and went to have a shower and try to relax a little. I must admit I didn{t do very well so opted for listening to Jack Johnson and a little crazy singing and dancing wishing Dorothy was there with me so we could laugh. The lady, I think called Edith knocked on my door about an hour later and welcomed me to her home and said dinner would be ready soon. My first encounter of Costa Rican food, I thought I wasn{t a fussy person. Chilli was the only thing that I really struggled to put in my mouth chew and swallow without gagging, everything else is ok, somethings better than others but generally I can cope. I thought wrong. Every meal since I have arrived has been a mission and every meal, whatever it is (dodgy stuff!) is always accompanied with these things called plantinitas, oversized, badly tasting, boiled bananas (i've never been a banana fan, they're a friut I'll eat when I'm in the mood but not especially crazy about them). They make me want to gag, and the other morning I woke up and was presented with fried slices covered in this white gooey stuff, literally took everything I had not to be sick. All I can say is I will hopefully (and better damn well) have a beautifully trim figure by the time this experience is finished!

Dinner over Tony collected me about 8pm and we headed for a sports bar (Sarah is you{re reading this Tony pointed the exact spot where you sat - crazy to think my cousin was there just a year before me!) He is a very patient person, and sat listening to my slow, bad Spanish, but at least talking about something we wanted to be talking about rather than making the conversation up to fit my vocabulary. I must admit it did help that he spoke English!! He then introduced me to the Costa Rican drink which was interesting and headed for this very cool outdoor bar for salsa. I immediately admitted I was crap at dancing and salsa there was little, if any hope of me dancing salsa. I wish Luena was there because I was prooved wrong, we danced salsa, which was so much fun with a live band, I felt like I had really arrived to costa Rica!

The next day i started my new life routine. This consists of waking up at 4am (because my body clock is screwed)it getting light at 5am, getting up at 6.30am for a shower and preparing stomach and mind for whatever i may be about to face at 7.30 breakfast. Once I've survived breakfast I head for the beach and stay there until it's time to go back home for tea, unless I am distracted by something else. The first day I met another gringo (yes, sorry, failed massivley with the avoid English people!! Well technically she was American, but she spoke English) anyway we arranged to meet for dinner, with two other ladies from Florida who i had met the day before on the bus. It was a really fun day, but me with my screwed body clock and one of the Florida girls ill from some dodgy food we decided to miss the dancing and head home. The next day I woke to no water. Yep, it's fricking hot here, it's sweaty, I'm smelly and I have no water. They also have all electricity to the town cut from 10am to about 4pm - people we have got to stop this global warming thing, these tropical countries need their fans in the mid day heat!! Anywho, I starred open mouthed stightly in shock at my host family when they announced there would be no water until early afternoon and then promtly headed for the nearest shop where I boughts a 6litre bottle of water, fished my bowl out of my backpack and had the funniest shower for my life (not for anyone else who finds themselves in this situation, make sure you have enough water to get the soap off!! Because once its gone, its gone!!) Never so greatful to be clean I headed for the beach and my first Spanish lesson (yep I now have my spanish lessons on the most beautiful beach ever - soo lucky! Complete with jungle, fresh juice and monkeys! After my lesson I had to go and lie on the beach for the rest of the day to get over using my brain for an entire hour. My host family are positively shocked at my skin, they were sat at breakfast this morning saying none of the students have ever gone as brown as me in months let alone in a few days and keep giving me advice like stay out of the sun 11am-3pm, lots of sun cream etc. (you know, all the obvious stuff) but yes, I am fairly brown.

I always start the day with good intentions, i wake up saying today will be the day that I stay on the bus past the beach stop and go to the National Park to organise my volunteering, but when this day does finally arrive I might jsut arrange it for when i get back from my three weeks travelling with mum because I really feel like taking a three week holiday on manuel Antonio beach... just because I can! I met this english guy yesterday, at the beach. He had invented the timing system that turns lights off when nothings moving in the room to save hotels money. This was the guy that had meant my spanish class had, for the last two years had to dance around waving at the sensor everytime we had sat there for so long the lights had gone off. here he was, beer in hand living his days out on the most incredible beach. Apparently with a large property, he rented out apartments to holiday people and while the gringos made him money, he sat on the beach drinking beer watching the girls go by. Clever guy, and I have to say i kind of want his life.

Today i lay there on the sand, under the shade of the jungle trees, waves crashing up, monkeys eating above me and coconuts rolling around in the tide I sleepily agreed with Jose's point... it's impossible to be anything other than very lazy this close to the equator.

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