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My Last Days in Costa Rica

Tough to leave

storm 75 °F
View ESL Trip Costa Rica on dfilipia's travel map.

After the long haul from San Juan Del Sur to Quepos I checked into the Wide Mouth Frog for a night. I didn’t want to drop in on my Tico family at 10:00 at night unannounced and thought it would be fun to spend one last night at the Frog. I spent the night trolling around the bars and night clubs (Los Pescadores, Wacky Wanda’s, Musik, Republik, and Byblos) looking for any of my friends that might have been out and about. Turns out they were doing the same thing, looking for me, but three hours too early. I had a beer here and a beer there waiting for someone I knew to show up but mostly stood in front of Los Pescadores BS’ing with the bouncer. By 2:00 in the morning I had had enough and returned to the Frog.

Best Buds

Best Buds

I spent a lot of time at the local night spots in Quepos and Manuel Antonio over the three plus months that I was living in Quepos. The first bar I frequented was Wacky Wanda’s. Good gringo bar. They play sports and western music videos on a couple of good size TVs. They put a cap on the number of hookers that are allowed in the bar at one time unlike Los Pescadores next door. Wacky Wanda is real and often at the bar. She’s a pistol. “You know what I like about you? ... NOTHIN’!!” Wacky Wanda’s was my hangout early on but Los Pescadores became my favorite Gringo bar. Los Pescadores is a mirror image of Wacky Wanda’s but with better, bigger, and more TVs that show sports all day and they play music from a big classic rock library. The one knock on Pescadores is the number of hookers hanging out there. More often than not there are more hookers than customers. This was kindof a drag at first but after awhile they all figured out that I wasn’t going to give them any business and went from hitting on me to just joking around with me. I watched the Olympics, the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the World Cup at Pescadores. At the other end of the block is Musik. This place is more of a dance club than a bar. There is always a good mix of locals and travellers there. On a good night there is lots of dancing, girls, and fun. For the really late night stuff I would sometimes head over to Republik. Thumpin’ house music, overpriced beers, and a bunch of not-so-friendly locals. Usually there was some sort of ridiculous cover charge that the locals didn’t have to pay. The other late nite option is Arco Iris (referred to as discoteque by the locals). I didn’t go there much because they usually were playing Salsa and the place was full of local Salsa pros. They had a beat up old foosball table though, that’s a plus. I guess my favorite place to go would have to be Byblos. Byblos is up the hill in Manuel Antonio. Good music, three pool tables, and a really good foosball table (Tornado). It was open air and packed in a good mixed crowd especially for ladies night. I guess the only other notable would be Bamboo Jam. I gave up on that place early. It’s a pretty small place that gets so packed with drunk Gringo idiots that you can’t move and it takes ten minutes to get a beer.

I hit most of these spots the last week and a half that I was in Quepos, some of them a few times. I had a lot of good times at these places and came to know a lot of people there. They were great places to get away from TEFL training and blow off some steam. They were great places for a night out with friends. They were great places to head off to by myself and just hang out and chit chat with different people. One of the things I liked about Quepos/Manuel Antonio was that it was a nice sized town, big enough to keep you entertained and small enough that you still felt like a part of it.

Anyway, after a night at the Wide Mouth Frog I walked over to the old home stay to see if my Tico family had room for me yet again. Of course they had room for me, they love me, so I moved my stuff over to my old familiar room and reacquainted myself with the dogs, the family, and the TEFL and COSI students staying there. The family immediately started bullshitting me in Spanish. Ahhh ... good to be home. I told them about my travels and they told me about the monster storm that rolled through after I left and about all the stupid stuff that the current batch of students had been doing. I made a list of all the stuff I wanted to do before I left Quepos and Costa Rica. It was a pretty short list ... hit all the night spots again (that was going to get done regardless if it was on the list or not), have a last look at the TEFL school, trivia night at Dos Locos (Thursdays 7:00), get Yorleny to make tres leches again, and prepare for the trip home. Mostly I just wanted to hang out with the family and my friends there.

We kicked ass at trivia night. If you want to assemble a good trivia team make sure you have all the different age groups covered. You need someone young for all the irrelevant pop culture crap, someone a little older for stuff that still kinda matters, someone my age for the important stuff, and someone older for stuff that used to matter but doesn’t anymore. We had the perfect team. We doubled the score of the second place team. I’d never won at trivia night before, that’s probably why I’m gloating now and pretending to be an expert on trivia teams. After trivia we all went over to Michael Jackson tribute night at Musik. I expected this to be a rip roarin’ good time but not a lot of people showed up and nobody danced. I don’t like to dance usually but for Michael Jackson I’ll break out all my best ‘80s moves while everyone looks at me all shocked and then talks about me behind my back. We hung out at Musik for awhile hoping it would pick up and then wandered over to Republik (it’s cool to substitute a ‘k’ for a ‘c’ in Quepos I guess). $6 (3000 Colones) cover charge! Are you friggin’ kidding me? The last time I was in there they tried to charge me $4 for a beer. A beer is $2 (1000 Colones) everywhere else in Costa Rica, sometimes less. I think they’re trying to make Republik into a locals club ... a wink and a nod and the locals are in the door ... and there’s no way they’re paying $4 for a beer. I’m ranting. We walked over to Arco Iris (discoteque) ... they must have some Michael Jackson action. Empty.
Two Heidis

Two Heidis

One Drew

One Drew

One Dan

One Dan


Over the last week and a half of my time in Quepos I had a couple of good nights playing foosball and pool at Byblos, sometimes with friends, sometimes with people I met that night. One night I was invited to dinner over where Heidi and Drew live for a killer Thai curry with coconut rice. Has anyone ever had dinner with two Heidi’s at the same time? Well I have. Heidi’s friend Heidi was in town. I kept pretending to forget her name just to be a pain in the ass. It was a great night. We bullshitted (bullshat?), ate, and played ‘name the state capital’ until all the capitals were figured out and then headed to Byblos where a bunch of our other friends were. The next morning I headed over the the TEFL school at Villas Jaquelina to have one last look and to pick up my camera and IPod that I had left at Heidis’ place the night before. Same scene, different people. Memories. Each time I go back to the school and see different people there I feel like they are intruding on my turf. Maybe they feel the same way about me. I have such strong memories attached to good friends and hard work there. After chatting with the teachers and my roommates at the school I walked back towards home. The old familiar walk was comforting. I walked past the little ceviche place and Soda Blankita where I used to escape school for a lunch break. Goodbye school, goodbye little ceviche place, goodbye Soda Blankita.

The bulk of my last days in Quepos was spent clowning around with my home stay family and the current batch of students staying there. We had a good group in the house my last weeks there. I became good friends with Matt and Lindsay, a couple from Missouri, as we tried to figure out when the family was being serious or when they were just messing with our heads. They were almost always just messing with our heads. Juan tried to convince Matt one day that a bag full of little ginger pieces was really dried caterpillars that we were going to have for dinner. Carolina would use half a lemon as an underarm deodorant and then tell us that she used the same lemon in the salad we were having for dinner. Yorleny was the ring leader. She was always playing with us and if you did something goofy you were going to hear about it for a long, long time. One new student came home after a few too many cocktails and demanded food at 2:00 AM. When the request was denied and she was told to go to bed she had a mini-tantrum. Yorleny reenacted the scene for us nightly, laughing and laughing, with the offending student present. That was the end of late-night food requests. I had some prior experience with the constant stream of B.S. coming from our hosts so a lot of times I would just sit back and enjoy the show while the family played around with unsuspecting new students.

Have you ever had tres leches? It’s delicious milky, cakey goodness. Yorleny makes a great one. When I first moved into the house I mentioned the dessert and how my family and I loved it. A few days later she made it. Cool. That was easy. I requested it every other day for the next few weeks. Yorleny told me to take a hike every other day for the next few weeks. When the next batch of students came in I told them about tres leches and as planned they asked Yorleny about it. She’d roll her eyes at me or give me the “well played, gringo” look but I’d get my tres leches every time a new group of students came in. Carolina got three tres leches, elaborately decorated, on her birthday. I was in Samara at the time so she sent me a picture to torture me. I got one last tres leches a couple of days before I left Quepos. Delicious.

GoodbyeDrinks

GoodbyeDrinks

The day before departure I spent my time packing (and then Yorleny would sneak in and unpack), getting Dollars, and walking around the town one last time. After dinner we headed over to Monchados and met a few friends for drinks and goodbyes. I drank a bunch of wine and then tried to power through the goodbyes. The next morning I said goodbye to the roommates and the family and jumped on the noon bus to San Jose. I slept the entire way. I stayed the night at El Tucan, a great little hotel in Alajuela about ten minutes from the airport. My flight left at 6:30 AM. I arrived in Denver around noon and then had my life examined by a customs agent. He went through everything, and asked me questions that I would normally respond to with ‘none of your damn business’. The same thing happened to me when I returned from my three month trip to Southeast Asia. Maybe they are suspicious of people that go on long trips. Maybe I look naturally guilty. I don’t know. The customs agent ran out of stuff to unpack and obnoxious questions at the same time. I grabbed my gear and walked through door that led from customs to the shops at DIA. The Costa Rica trip was over.

Posted by dfilipia 18:42 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged backpacking

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Hi Dan! Robyn told me about your blog and I have been catching up and really enjoying it - what an adventure you have been on! Hope you made it home safe and sound :) Christy

by christy baker

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