Costa Rica 5 -- October 3, 2005
A creature on the beach, and more rain

By Bob Corbett

There is one restaurant in town which I've written about before which has almost exclusive Tico (Costa Rican) customers. It's my favorite. The food is different, tasty and a good deal less expensive. Now they know me there and welcome me heartily.

Last night I ordered the spaghetti with seafood. The woman asked if I wanted red or white sauce, I chose red, thinking it would be thinner and less fat. But I could see from her face I'd chosen poorly. She was walking away and I called her back and don't know what I said in my non-Spanish jabber, but she understood and smiled a big smile and said: blanco. I said, fine, blanco it is. And it was awesome. Huge amount of fish. Mussels, one whole crab, damn they are hard to navigate with a fork and a spoon, all they serve with "esaghetti."

I was reading my new book -- Mangoes, Bananas and Coconuts, a Cuban novel -- and the music was just awesome, light, Costa Rican and romantic dance music. A few folks were dancing. So I had a rum and sat longer. When I ordered my rum with no water, no ice, no soda, just rum, the manager came over and poured it for me with great approval.

I finished my second book yesterday. Yikes, 4 days and two novels finished and I even woke up early today to write about the second. The first was quite an unusual novel, The 16 Pleasures, and then I read, finally, The DaVinci Code, not worth anything near the hype. I only brought 9 books with me, but just a few minutes ago I stumbled on a book store that sells and trades English books, and it is two doors from Casa Heleen where I am staying.

I stopped in and an English woman runs it. She was stocking books, just having arrived back today from England (which is why I hadn't yet seen it, she wasn't open). We chatted and she will trade with me and of course sell. She has a novel called PRAGUE that looked interesting to me especially since I'd spent lots of time there. I'll get that first.

I woke, refreshed after a marvelous sleep at 4:30 AM. Went to sleep about 9 PM. I first wrote my comments on The DaVinci Code (I post comments on nearly every book I read. See my book review page. [All the reviews from that period are now up and running.] But, I can't post these new reviews until I get home, and I also have to type them up. I'm writing them in my notebook in ink.)

A very hard and crisp shower REALLY woke me and I was dressed and ready to go by 6 AM. I came back down here where I am now on the ocean front. Two doors away is the lovely coffee shop with the great fruit platter and I read and had fruit and coffee.

The rain forest of Manuel Antonio is closed on Monday, but I hoped a bus on this sunny and cloudy (alternating) morning and rode over. Since the forest is closed, the whole place was nearly empty and tide was at low tide mark. There must have been 100 yards or more of beach. I decided to walk it. I walked a fairly long way, right at the edge of the soft and hard sand, and noted some extremely strange prints in the wet sand. There are lots of dogs around here, but these prints were much too big even for a German shepherd or such, and then I noticed these were clearly claw marks, three long jagged claw marks.

There is a beach just near where I was called Sloth Trail and the guide book says that if you walk it you will almost surely see several sloth. I don't think I know what one looks like. Can't recall. A couple minutes latter I saw this very strange, startlingly large and ugly thing walking down the beach toward me. I was freaked out and a bit frightened. Hell, I don't know what sloth do or don't do, and I figured that's what it was.

I stopped dead still and didn't know if I should run or stay put. Unseen by me two young people were raking the beach at the sand's end for an outdoor bar. The young woman called to me -- don't be frightened it won't hurt you at all, and this ugly, scary thing ambled by me, not a yard from my shaking legs.

I walked over and asked: What was that? She roared with laughed and said you haven't been here long, huh? I allowed I hadn't. It was an iguana, and was easily 2 to 2 1/2 long, and so ugly, like a prehistoric dinosaur.

I asked about sloth trail and she wished me luck. She said the guide book is wrong since the sloth only come down out of the trees once a week, so only 1/7 th of the population is likely to be on the ground any given time and they are hard to see in the trees. She recommended a guide. Everybody recommends a guide for everything.

I'll take my chances. But, she did tell me that any morning early like this beach, the Manuel Antonio beach, typically has 1/2 dozen of them wandering around.

Manuel Antonio is at the foot of a very high mountain. From Quepos where I'm staying one comes over this 7 km road in a bus for about 20 cents. I decided since it was now clouding up and might later rain (it's pouring right now again, so I was a good forecaster -- pretty easy to be here. Just predict rain you can't lose), that I would walk UP THE MOUNTAIN. Damn, that was a bad idea. But I did and my pedometer tells me I walked 3.5 of the 4.2 miles back to Quepos. I crested the mountain and was just drenched in sweat and could barely lift my legs, but I crested that sucker. I walked down another few hundred yards and did come to a bus stop. I spent my 20 cents to ride about 5 more minutes on the bus back to Quepos, but I didn't know if I could make it.

I then spent a couple dollars at a stand drinking water!!!!! I was drained of liquid. I will carry several waters with me tomorrow when I enter the rainforest.

It opens at 7 AM and I am hoping to be there then. This for several reasons:

So, it is 3 PM and pouring rain. I have my rain coat with me, and so it doesn't matter, in fact, I going to walk along the beach for a while.

Bob Corbett




Bob Corbett