Reflective Costa Rica.

By Nicole Renee

The best thing about living in Costa Rica are the walks. Even on a hot day, nothing is better than taking a walk here. Which is why when my alarm goes off for me to start the day with a few tasks, I don't mind in the slightest.1 With my book bag in tow, I head down the hill and into the valley towards the church square. Arriving at the photo printing store on the corner, I sigh heavily with the relief that the store is actually open. Then only to find out they are no longer taking head shots and printing photos. Right, Costa Rica is great but be aware that if a shop sells a product or service one day, the following day their is a high possibility that the service is no longer available. So, I strap myself in mentally for what may be a bumpy ride through the mean streets until I can find a store that will immediately print a picture my mug.

So, I went into the very next shop advertising the same services and while they can't do the picture and printing there, the dude did point me in the direction of a 'mom and pop' store next to the pops shop.2 I make my way through this little city on foot towards a landmark I know and even if it turns out to be a dud, its nice to know that I know this place so well. Finally after 800 meters or so, I make my way in the door to be greeted by a tiny old man and his wife. I explain to him that I don't speak Spanish very well but this is what I need and through gestures we understand each other well enough. He sits me down at a stool and takes a few photos, then immediately places himself on a chair next to a computer that is close enough for me to reach out and touch. Next to this desk is another computer in arms length of both me and the desk he is sitting at, making a close triangle. In a rush he plugs in his camera and then starts shouting at the computer, his wife comes over and sits in the chair/desk next to him. He turns off this computer and then makes his wife change seats with him so he can answer the phone at the other desk. Once his phone call is done, they switch seats back again for about a minute until he gets up to go check on the computer at the other desk. At this point he asks his wife for something, to which she puts them item on the chair behind him, and in such a way so that its resting in the small amount of space between his butt and the back of the chair (where he cannot feel or see it). Unsurprisingly, he had no idea she put anything there because she also didn't tell him so when he gets up and makes her switch desks again... he misses the item. So now hes sitting in the opposite chair and shes sitting in the chair with the item in question. He asks her for the item and she points at her butt and I sit quietly in my chair watching my personal Laurel and Hardy show. This up and down-back and forth goes on for another few minutes while I just sit on the stool whistling. Don't despair though because he does eventually toss a few copies of my face my way and I get out of there before I'm sucked into their black hole. I immediately call my girlfriend to tell her that the first place is off and head to this place for her picture before he takes the photo sign off of his shop and will no longer provide this service or alternatively, there is just a giant hole in the ground where his business used to be.

I take a few steps towards the market and instantly feel waves of heat across my back, telling me its about eleven AM. Today is one of the rare days in which a task ended up working out instead of me having to comb the city. Thereby also giving me a little extra time.

The direction I'm walking goes past my second favorite pipa-fria-amigo in the country.3 I part ways with my 1500 colones to which he hands me one open coconut and a bag containing the other two. Since my task took way less time than expected, I walk slow and sip slower basking in the sun. From my vantage point (next to the round about) I can see the super market ahead and it occurs to me that I don't want to carry outside produce into the store and besides I took the trouble of bringing an empty backpack. So, I squat down using one hand to maneuver the coconuts into the bag while drinking the other. Just as I set up everything inside I hear this terribly loud almost alien sound in front and around me. My brain takes a few beats to try and recognize what it could be, because although I'm next to a busy roundabout...it definitely wasn't a car crash. I look the few feet in front of me and see thousands of shards of glass on the sidewalk where I would have been walking if I didn't stop to pack my book bag. Still sipping my coconut I straighten my knees from the squatting position and see the entire road is covered in glass of various sizes. I start scanning for a crash but then on the road next to me a pick up trick is wildly veering back and forth in a small space on the road and pulls over so fast a foot behind me that the truck crashes into the hedges. So, clearly they took the roundabout too fast with a large protruding pile of unsecured glass in the back of their truck! Still somehow left in the back of the truck is what looks to be like seven or eight sheets of glass, that were by now half falling out of the truck. So, even when the dude 'pulls over' a few other panes of glass, still intact fly out of the truck crashing onto the ground. By this point cars are starting to come and I can hear the sound of the tires grinding the glass on the ground. A line forms behind the truck and people are honking and the two dudes are throwing the glass around yelling and then just take off without doing much of anything with whats left of their glass transportation. I wonder how tiny of a piece of glass will actually make it to the destination. Which is my cue to get the fuck out of there, being as my face is saved from being cut up in a thousand pieces. How ironic would it be if right after I got my picture taken for documents, I would have a super cut up face that's unrecognizable by the picture, making the entire day void?

  1. Also it helps if you've lived in Romania. That helps perspective on pretty much everything. []
  2. "Do I know the Pops"?! Of course, they sell the ice cream. []
  3. The dude has a little hut next to a busy roundabout where he sells coconuts, onions, and a small selection of other produce. Almost everyone here has modified a part of their home into a little business selling ice cream, tamales, or fruit...its super cute. []

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