As I looked out the passenger side window, I decided I could live here. The car was puling itself up and down the mountain roads and out in the distance was a jungle. Or a forest. Or just Costa Rica! The hour before I had thought, yeah it’s pretty but… not that pretty. I thought a lot of it looked like a lot of California. I often compare pretty places to Cali. (No matter how much of a New Yorker I am, I am always Cali!) But as we trudged along this road and grew closer to Samara, which was to be my new home for the next month, I got it. There we animals in those trees I had never seen before. The tops of the trees were covered with a vibrant purple that made me want to stay thru a full year to see all the colors the mountains go thru.
We passed little towns each with a futbol game going on. It was Sunday and it was CALOR! Finally, we pulled into Samara and turned right off the main drag. The car pulled a ways away from Main Street and stopped at Sol Mar. One of the passengers was to get out there. I overheard the couple behind me say “the main drag is behind us; this is like the outskirts.” And then the driver got back in and drove even further before pulling over and looking at me. It was my stop. I got out and walked down the street looking for the apartment. The map they gave us looked like it could be Santa Cruz, California and said things like ‘shopping plaza’ and ‘apartment complex’. But as I got out of the van I saw no such thing. On one side of the street was nothingness- nothingness and cows. Past the nothingness was the ocean.
And to the right I saw the Samara Inn and a wooden hand painted sign that said ‘Apartments’ pointing to the narrow dirt road. I walked and saw an unmarked building and I thought to myself “I don’t have enough information!” I don’t know anything about where I am staying. I thought it would be obvious from the map and that there would be…oh I don’t know…a reception office! Have I really learned nothing from my trip to South East Asia? I stand for a while not sure where to go or what to do when the man across the street asks me something in Spanish. I am not ready to hear the Spanish yet. We blunder thru a conversation that amounts to me thinking I must be in the right place. The woman upstairs with beautiful black skin overhears and helps! She is staying upstairs and has phone numbers for the people who own the place.
The place is a small yellow building with many chairs out front and quite a few doors to suggest the apartments are small. I don’t worry about that. I don’t need a lot of space. I just need to pee!
Well, after about 30 keys are tried we still cannot get it but there is a belief the cleaning woman will be here soon. Honestly, I don’t care. I am just sitting in the heat trying to stay awake after my overnight flight which resulted in maybe 2 hours of dozing on and off and I’m watching a rather large iguana walking around a few feet away. Even the squirrel in the tree across the street is beautiful; he has such a beautiful brown and white pattern to his fur I wonder if he is a normal squirrel.
When I finally do get let in, I am quite impressed. The kitchen is a whole room with a small table and a bar like counter with bar stool chairs and a fold out futon. There is a hallway leading to the bathroom and a bedroom with 2 beds. It is so much more than I was expecting. I am a little afraid the place is going to give me an asthma attack since I can feel the mildew in the air instantly and my lungs constrict. But eh…I’m not worried about that either.
I get unpacked because I won’t be traveling for a while. I feel like the initial good feeling just started to ebb. I don’t really know why, maybe it was the air, or because the ceiling fan was the kind that oscillates in the air and you can’t make it blow only in one direction and it was loud and the beds looked like they were going to be very uncomfortable and the sheets were rough and beaded. And I was hot….very very hot. I had previously had visions of sitting on a porch with a breeze but there was no breeze, no porch. I was thirsty but had only tap water which I don’t think is safe to drink. I went for a bike ride to explore the town but it seemed to only result in more and more heaviness. I began to feel slightly claustrophobic. This is where I am going to live for 4 months? What have I done? The restaurants on the beach are nothing like the postcards for Costa Rica…I am not really in a touristy town…this is just a small beach town. Isn’t that what I wanted? Then why is it freaking me out? I find no pharmacy, no place for a pedicure (I know…but it is what I really felt like doing!). Ok…I’m ok! I’ll just go to the grocery store and get ready for my week. Oh man! That did not help. You know you aren’t in a tourist town when…there are no American products, there is nothing in English, you cannot find any soy milk.
Ok, what is your problem, April? You don’t even drink soy milk that much. And it hits me! As much as I LOVE to travel…there is still such a thing as culture shock…Every time. Duh?!
So, I relax and I remind myself it is overwhelming to drop yourself in a new culture, with a new currency and a new language, way and cuisine. You will be fine…just relax.
And then I did. And when I did, I was able to see things from my day I didn’t take note of at the time. When I went for the ride along the beach…I had to pull off the path to avoid a family of condors! Seriously. When I was walking, I had to pull off the street to avoid an entire herd of bulls coming at me! I have a crab and a kitten whose home base was apparently my doorway. All the people smile and say “Buenas Dias” when I pass by. And I saw a sign for a vegetarian restaurant…I will be OK!
(I will add more photos very soon!)