We leave tomorrow morning for San Jose, the airport, and home. We are ready. 12-14 days is a good length of time for vacation because at the end I really REALLY want to be home and doing something.
I changed this trip. I remember my first trip as an adult to somewhere warm, humid, foreign, and densely populated. It was to Cabo San Lucas. I remember stepping outside the airport and the smell hitting my nose. We are living HERE for a WEEK?!?! The smell of warm, humid, foreign, densely populated countries is strange and I didn’t like it. It smells like cooking fat mixed with a hint of garbage and a tinsy bit of over-scented sanitizer (for some reason people love the super scented soaps here). It is stagnate. It reminded me of standing outside a portapotty at a hot summer festival. I hated it, it was foreign, unclean, and gross.
I also remember stopping at a shack for carnitas on the way from to airport to our super posh gated house. We stopped at a SHACK with POOR people for FOOD!! I was sure we were all going to die from worms, e.coli, or just because it was WEIRD.
I was a jerk.
I didn’t realize that my next trip to somewhere foreign, hot, humid, and south would be a lot more intense. We went to Nicaragua. But here I was with someone I trusted and I became fascinated with the country, politics, people, and life. It was beautiful. There, I started to love the street food, the markets, the LARGE city. The smell still bothered me.
When we arrived for this trip, I Stepped out of the airport in San Jose and readied myself for the air—ready for the blast of uncomfortable heat that seems to close in. It blasted me…. I liked it.
This is what changed—I am comfortable here, I move easily through the air and heat. I love the smell. When I smell something new and odd I want to find out what it is and not run to my very cold home and crawl under the blankets.
Puntarenas, where we have been for the last 13 days, is a city and a state. As a state it extends down the whole Pacific side of Costa Rica and is full of surf towns and sites to see and ziplines hurdling tourists down rainforests. As a city it sits North and is on the inside of a bay at the tip of a narrow point (more a spit), hence the name. It, by US standards, seems more like a large town but I have no idea how many people live here so it could be town or city. The guide books refer to Puntarenas as one of the least touristy places in Costa Rica. This is true, I think, as far as white people go (there were Costa Rican tourists). We rented one of the few vacation houses and there are a lot of half built hotels that are ten year old dreams of larger ambitions. There is nothing really to do for the US tourist except sit in your compound or travel somewhere else. This is why I strongly suggest you come here- just don’t walk on the beach with your camera. You can eat, shop, and lay in the sand with the people who live here and always travel for the day to something super touristy. I love it.
The town seems poor, poor, poor and dangerous. But gates are custom in countries south of ours. Guards are status and (usually) unnecessary for protection. Now I notice there are pretty nice cars behind those gates and catch glimpses of swimming pools through doors to inner courtyards. That is not to say that there isn’t poverty. There is poverty everywhere here. But, there are also just people living, having families, enjoying life.
Again, I’ve changed.