After scouring the beaches, trying to find the scoundrel who stole my things… and an unsuccessful trip to the police station, I arrived at my hotel in Quepos (Manel Antonio) in a FOUL mood.
I hated the lady at reception.
I hated the guy who helped me park.
I hated the man who showed me to my room.
I hated everyone.
I was miserable and inexcusably rude to anyone that came within 10 feet of me. Once I was safely in my room, and each staff member had successfully escaped my presence, I broke into tears.
I just sat on the side of that stupid bed, and I sobbed.
Everything about this hotel pissed me off. The high walls surrounding it bothered me immensely, like they were attempting to impersonate some kind of medieval, boundaried fortress. The place was a circuitous maze of steps and paths and directional signs and extreme garden overgrowth. I got disoriented at every turn and I was hardly allowing myself the patience necessary to explore my little hideaway. Being confused only served to contribute to my anger.
Nothing was humouring me.
Nothing was impressing me.
Everything was shit… and I was starting to boil over. There was not much that did not have the immediate capability of pushing me right over the edge.
I sat by the pool for the remainder of the day, attempting to drown my misfortune in white wine.
I was not in the frame of mind to lend myself well to social situations, but once I was confident that I might be somewhat approachable again, I sent Lisa a message. I let her know where I was… but... first ensuring we were in agreeance of not discussing the whole theft ordeal or the activities that followed.
I was doing everything, in my power, to try and put it out of my mind… or at least push it back slightly.
We set out into the town to find something for dinner and we hadn’t walked long, before we came across a lovely little falafel cafe. It was cozy, comfortable and inviting.
I was more than slightly dismayed to discover almost everything on the menu contained cilantro.
What is it with this herb?
I have mentioned this on more than one occasion, throughout my travels, cilantro has taken over the 21st century. People!!! We need to get back to basil before it’s too late. Cilantro is killin’ me.
I ordered the hummus and the staff talked me into upgrading my order to their idea of a better version. Ok… I was only half-heartedly listening to the Spanish description, but managed to pick up that it had a spicy tomato sauce on top of the dip. Seemed fine. I like spicy. I like tomatoes. Basically, anything was fine with me, as long as they held off on the cilantro.
I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I would be when it arrived with two soft boiled eggs nestled on top of the hummus… but they were easily removable. Perhaps I should’ve tried it, but it just seemed a little too out there for me at the time.
Runny eggs. Spicy salsa. Chickpea dip.
The staff were lovely… and when they found out about my recent theft, they brought me over a free glass of wine AND a chocolate truffle.
They were exactly what I needed.
It was their kindness that helped push me through the day.
I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to go to Manuel Antonio National Park.
Yes, I absolutely wanted to go… it was one of my final stops on my Costa Rican bucket list… but the thought of putting on a facade of fascination seemed altogether unattainable. I knew I wasn’t really going to be impressed with anything and I wasn’t in the mood to fake it.
I wanted to be alone. Alone.
I wanted to be angry.
I wanted to feel sorry for myself.
I couldn’t imagine that sloths and palm trees and pristine beaches might be successful in bringing me out of my slump.
It took a lot for me to talk myself out of this resolution. I wasn’t very eager to budge.
Like any good traveller, I picked up the pieces, put on my big girl panties… and got the FUCK on with it…
If there is a place that is capable of lifting low spirits… it is Manuel Antonio National Park.
I was mesmerized.
Forbes was absolutely correct when they named Manuel Antonio as being one of the world’s most beautiful parks. It was so tiny, but still had three beautiful beaches, as well as approximately 12km of rainforest trails. Every step was a photographers dream.
I had heard that Manuel Antonio was teaming with wildlife, but I didn’t see much… aside from the usual monkeys, jumping about!
Lisa and I are very different.
I’m a fast walker… always have been. I’ve always been excited for what is around the next corner. I get bored with meandering and dillydallying, regardless of what there might be to discover. Lisa is a slow walker, taking in every breath of the forest… and photographing it.
As much as I have a moderate interest in seeing wildlife, it has never taken precedence.
… unless it’s hippos, crocodiles or sharks…
Then you have my undivided attention.
I desperately wanted to see a toucan, though, in saying this, I would never categorize myself as a bird watcher. I am more along the lines of; see a toucan... take a picture (maybe)… be really happy I saw a toucan… move on... brag that I saw a toucan.
Everything else was luck of the draw now and I found myself more intrigued by the royal palms, the hanging vines, the twisting branches, the stunning vistas and the white beaches.
I even swam… and enjoyed myself so much at the beach, I could have stayed for the remainder of the day. Lying on the beach… Comatose. I would’ve been blissfully content.
Then I met Marta, from Poland. We had both hoofed it up approximately 81 million Shrek steps, to a particular view point, over looking the ocean. At the top, she was attempting the usual solo selfie, so I offered my professional photography services… and we just started talking from there. Marta was also traveling on her own, though in a much more adventurous manner than myself. This courageous girl had traversed backcountry volcanic terrain and reached peaks, far exceeding my steep 4WD inclines.
We hit it off immediately and found we had both visited a lot of the same countries. We spent the rest of the day laughing and deep in discussion about the world of solitary globetrotting.
As much as I adore travelling on my own, every once in awhile, you manage to encounter someone who temporarily embellishes your journey.
We met up later on that evening for dinner. Marta was staying in the centre of Quepos, so I drove down to meet her there. She had read quite good reviews on a little restaurant nearby her hostel, so we decided to give it a try.
OMG - had I encountered this place on a stroll through town, I probably would have given it neither a first look, nor a second glance. I would’ve walked past… and continued walking…
From the outside, looking in, it appeared to be nothing more than a few plastic chairs & tables set amid an open-air garage and front lawn. A small kitchen was located at the very back and two young men ran around, doing all of the work. One manned the grill, while the other served tables, both taking turns with the washing up.
De la Finca.
Tucked away off the street, easy to miss, friendly, relaxing vibe… an absolute jewel of a restaurant.
And the food?? Spectacular.
Both Marta and I ordered the mango & tuna poke bowl. Everything about it was perfection. Fresh, flavourful.. a culinary creation of a very unassuming local, roadside bistro. Anthony Bourdain would have adored this place. Well worth 35 stars out of 10… and highly recommended to anyone wanting to dine in the area.
The best hole in the wall I’ve ever eaten at… and the drinks were delicious as well.
If there was ever a time to try and turn my luck around, it was now.
I could not extend this misfortune any further. Preparing to check out of my room, I suddenly noticed the all-too-familiar envelope sitting on top of the table. These envelopes were left in each room by the housekeepers, as a subtle reminder they would appreciate a tip.
I didn’t have 1 single colon on me. Nothing.
I decided to announce my abundance of ignorance and my obvious lack of funds to the person at reception, before heading into town, with full intention of returning with the necessary gratuity.
Then I ran into Yolanda, who was coming upstairs to begin her day of cleaning, as I was heading down. I was overcome with guilt and dove into my longwinded explanation of why there was, presently, no money in the envelope.
I then invited her into my room and presented her with a full bottle of white wine and an entire bag of clothes. That’s right. Every single item of useless clothing that I had been unnecessarily hauling around this entire country, I gave to Yolanda. Much to my delight, she loved everything in the bag, and as much as it pained me, slightly, to see it go, I knew it was going to someone who would appreciate it.
In addition, I did hit the bank and returned with 10,000 colones.
I checked out of the hotel, but not before noticing that somebody or something had obviously backed into my vehicle and significantly dented the back bumper.
This wasn’t exactly what I needed. Holy shit. I could literally hear my bank account draining…
Confident this had only recently happened whilst in the much-cramped, hotel parking lot… I approached one of the parking attendants, who, I’m positive was very hesitant to speak to me considering my previous temperament. I was a bitch… but with good reason.
I tried my very best to be as Pura Vida about it as I could… depicting myself as all smiles and friendliness. I begged him to try to find something that might be used to push the dent out. His English was nonexistent and my Spanish was faltering under pressure.
We left each other, confused. I had no idea what he kept blathering on about… and, in turn, he probably had no idea where I was going.
At least my stroll through town was nice.
I call it a stroll… but really, it was a long and winding 4km down to Esparilla Beach… and then a gruelling 4km back up! It was quite fascinating though, passing all the restaurants and boutique hotels artistically built into this rainforest hillside.
I will admit… I did stop to catch my breath and enjoy the view, and a tasty beverage, on a couple occasions.
When I returned to the hotel, two of the parking attendants were working on the bumper and had just successfully fixed the dented bumper problem.