BOB CORBETT'S TRAVEL JOURNAL -- 2005

Costa Rica 14-- October 13, 2005
Exploring the less nice parts of Quepos

By Bob Corbett

Another very rainy day. I love it. I was up at 5 AM and it wasnít raining but heavily overcast. So I hurried a shower and got out of the house right away. No buses until 6:15 AM, but today I wanted to walk north of town.

I always like to explore the less nice parts of any place I am. At home I love to exercise by biking and walking in our magnificent Forest Park in St. Louis, but also do some days when I ride or walk in our slums or less attractive areas as well. I think this keeps me balanced. It can be too easy to forget the need, and hardships that are often not at all far removed from the ease and surplus.

And thatís what I found this early morning. I crossed the seemingly only bridge out of town, a very rickety one at that, and walked into a working class area near a marina of some sort. I walked for almost two miles, but never actually got to the marina. But I was walking in circles and such, not knowing where I was going. Tomorrow Iíll repeat the route but more directly toward this marina. One can see it from the beach front in Quepos, I just didnít know how to get there.

Another reason for walking so early is that it is cool. When the sun comes out, which it does almost every day (but at 11 AM here it hasnít yet today and doesnít look like it will either) it gets beastly hot and I donít like to walk in that heat and humidity, so I like to get my exercise in as early in the morning as possible.

I was back in Quepos for the second bus of the morning and rode to the top of the mountain, and got off at the Cafe Melagro. This is a second Cafť Melagro, owned by the same folks who own the one where I go often in Quepos and where I was having the fairly expensive fruit platter each morning. Now, I have plenty of fruit in my own refrigerator at a tiny fraction of the price, and eat it whenever Iím in the mood. However, the Cafť Melagro I went to today, while a near twin of the one in Quepos, in high on the mountain in Manuel Antonio.

On the way there I got some new information on the airplane at the top of the mountain. As we were chugging up the mountain (each day I do this ride once or twice and each time I think, this bus isnít going to get up there; itís just going to quit, and so far itís made it up and over each time.) Just on the edge of Quepos this one very friendly guide got on who speaks English perfectly and is extremely friendly to me, greeting me each day and we always chat. I asked him about that airplane. He said he knew all about it. He said he was actually down at Manuel Antonioís beach that day, and it was just like today, rainy and completely overcast. Then out of the cloud came this gigantic mound of smoke, and they could see this plane, with smoke pouring out of it, headed directly for the mountain.....

Then he burst into laughter, and said, oh amigo, you should see your face!!!! He said the plane had been there for years and that it was actually carted up the mountain in pieces and re-assembled. Now it is temporarily closed as all the renovations are going on, especially putting that entire roof over the whole thing.

We had a great laugh on his ďgetting meĒ with that story. He says he gets asked that question all the time.

But I stopped at Cafe Melagro and had coffee and read for a long time, and the rain began to pour. I didnít care, I had my rain coat in my little fanny pack anyway. After a long read the rain actually let up some and so I decided to finish up my 5 miles for the day by walking on down the mountain to the Manuel Antonio beach and then bus back home.

Of course I passed the airplane place again. As Larry suggested yesterday the engine mounts are IN the wing, not BELOW the wing and I trust him that thatís a sign of a turbo jet rather than a jet. I had no idea there was even a difference.

Additionally Larryís son got the same confirming information, that the plane had been retired and was now ďpreservedĒ as indeed it is, as a hotel on the mountain in Manuel Antonio.

While the plane is owned by this one hotel complex, the plane itself isnít at a hotel nor used as a hotel, it sits off totally alone, across the street and up some from the hotel. It is on a gigantic deck, probably 50 yards long and 40 yards wide, and looking inside today I could see that cargo area is actually a rather intimate bar which would be cozy, and has tables and chairs for about 20 people and a nice shiny bar as well. The deck itself must seat well over 150 people, and now there is a new deck upstairs on the new roof they are now finishing up that will double or triple the number of people who can sit there.

This hotel chain, the guide again told me, owns the huge bulk of the mountain of Manuel Antonio. Not all, but the overwhelming bulk, and that the four rainforest trails I noticed (which I havenít walked yet) belong to the hotel and he thinks no one would even KNOW if I walked them, but that technically I would be trespassing. So, give me a ticket!!!

I did, just for fun, stop in at the hotel 3 days ago and asked about a room. Since it was off season they could give me a SINGLE for $75.00 a night. I pay $12.00 at CabaŮas Hellen!!!!! I said Iíd think about it. I did. :) I thought I would have to be nuts!!!!

I walked in the rain and it was quite eerie. The road is two lane with a yellow stripe down the middle. Each lane is just about 8 ft. wide. On the ocean side there is rain forest to the very edge (extremely useful for me, I normally walk the road after Iíd had coffee and thus it is easy to step 3 foot into the forest, find a tree and relieve myself of some of that coffee). The other side has a deep drainage ditch next to it, almost always with gushing water like a tiny stream. So, walking the road is a challenge in one sense -- if a car came EACH way to meet where you are, there is major trouble. The three -- two cars and a person just canít fit, and, of course, since it is a mountain road, it is incessantly in curves, left and right. So far only ONCE did two cars and I meet at the same spot and the car coming up stopped to let me and the other car pass.

But this rain was coming down. The road has a total canopy of trees above it and is very dark, even in the sunshine. Rainforest is on both sides of the road. This morning the rain was HEAVY rain, but the softest rain I have ever in my life experienced, sort of like a mist, yet heavy rain. Crazy. You could hear it like a gigantic storm hitting the trees, but I soon took off my rain coat, since nothing much was getting to me but this lovely mist.

I must have walked 15 minutes at one point with no car or bus passing me in EITHER direction -- it was only about 8 AM and people donít get up early and almost no business opens before 10 AM -- in the whole couple miles of my walk down to the beach only 6 - 7 vehicles passed me, a few in either direction.

Oh goodness, I just looked up and out and it is sunny!!!! Yech, itís cool air-conditioning in this internet place. Almost no bars or restaurants are air-conditioned, just lots of fans and everything open air, but covered from the incessant rains. But the internet places -- there are at least three in Quepos -- are all air-conditioned. I think that is for the COMPUTERS, not for the patrons!!! But we get the benefit.

I like this one which is run by a woman and is the large front room of what was once an auto repair shop it seems. There is a bathroom in the back room and she always lets me use it. That blasted coffee doing its work all the time.

My back thing was just a momentary wrinkle and is perfect now. That elbow I complained about more than a week ago continues to nag. Might just be me getting older. Hell with it.

Iíve already walked nearly 7 miles today, so I plan to just read and hope I can find somewhere to see the Cardinals game today.

Last evening was again World Cup qualifying soccer matches. Costa Rica played Guatemala and I went back to The Iguana Bar for that spectacle, and spectacle it was, but not a happy one. On Saturday the place was utterly bonkers as Costa Rica beat the U.S. Last night Guatemala played well, Costa Rica horribly and Guatemala walked off with a 3-1 victory that could have been a much worse defeat. The locals were not happy, but turned out in hordes.

Okay, I have a dynamite book Iím reading and picked up a couple more from the book shop yesterday, so Iím just as happy as a lark to hibernate the rest of this day reading and hoping to find baseball on TV somewhere.

Bob Corbett

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