By Bob Corbett
Iím injured and am not sure how. My left elbow is extremely sore, like a bone bruise. Maybe I had dreams and was fighting off some bad guys left over from the Carlos Fuentes novel The Hydra Head which I finished just before going to sleep. Maybe, when I jumped a small creek yesterday and slipped, but didnít fully fall, I banged it. I donít know, but wow, is it tender.
My day started a 4:30 AM. I had finished the Fuentesís book just before going to bed at about 8:30 last night, and wanted to write comments about it before I took off. Then I had some cold fresh pineapple in my refrigerator and cold water, so that was my breakfast and I made it to the bus stop at 6 AM.
Yesterday I had splurged a full $10.00 (US) and purchased some ďsand shoesĒ for walking in the surf and I wanted to try them out. I arrived at Manuel Antonio beach before 7 AM, but not without some wake-me-up excitement. The bus was packed with Tico workers going to the various resorts in the mountain, and me, the sole tourist and only person to ride all the way to the beach. The driver came around a turn and slammed on the brakes. He slid some and everyone screamed, then everyone was running to the windows and yelling and I hadnít a clue what was going on. Finally the commotion turned to the back of the bus and people were beating on the window and something leaped from the bus into a tree. Everyone was going crazy.
I asked half dozen people what was going on and the bus driver, but no one could tell me in English, but they kept saying this one word. When I got off the bus the English speaking guides are there who lead tours into the rain forest, I said the word to them and they got all excited and wanted to know if I saw it and I said NO. I seem to have been the only one who didnít just saw something jump into a tree. One of the guides got out a book and showed me a black funny looking animal -- I donít know the name, but began with a t and was short. The book said it was a nocturnal animal of the weasel family.
The guides were excited since none has been cited in this area in a few years and they were going to get the bus driver on the next circle to tell them about it since they wanted to report it to the national organization they have for species survival -- and I didnít ever see it, the only person of the 50-60 on the bus to miss it. Blast it.
[Later note: Two days later the same driver had the bus when I went to the beach. When we stopped at the end stop I called over one guide I had gotten to know and he spoke with the driver. It was a black jaguar he had almost hit and they were excitedly discussing it. Evidently one does see many in the Manuel Antonio forest any longer.]
It was overcast and looked like it might rain, but it was cool. I had on shorts and put my shirt in my fanny pack, tied my tennis shoes to the fanny pack and took off walking on the beach. The tide was about Ĺ way, but I never could tell if it was going in or going out. No matter.
My new sand shoes will change my life. Theyíre awesome, best $10.00 Iíve ever spent. I walked up the beach for two full miles according to my pedometer. I ran out of beach in 1 1/2 miles and climbed over a large rock outcropping, not my favorite thing to do; just me and 1/2 million crabs. Then another small inlet beach, over another even larger set of rocks, to a second and then third beach. There I was at 2 miles from where Iíd started and now facing a gigantic mountain of stone, so I turned back. Very disappointed. I was hoping to walk on the beach and surf all the way back to Quepos.
When I got back the guides were all there, and asked where Iíd gone. When I told them they said that was stupid. That set I had claimed was very dangerous and the sharp coral would slice me up if I had fallen. I allowed I thought it was pretty dumb myself, but Iím fairly stubborn about going where I want. They said NO ONE could walk back to Quepos from Manuel Antonio. Youíd need to swim around the huge outcroppings, many, and would probably be dashed to death against them. They warned me not to go that far again. I wonít. Tomorrow Iíll just do the first two again, and not the third. It was pretty scary. The crabs didnít seem a bit afraid. I sure was.
But this was one on the neatest things Iíve done in years -- just the walk, even without the second last climb. I hope to do it many days more.
In 1962-64, beginning three weeks after I was married, my wife and I lived on Grand Bahama Island in the Bahamas. They were just building the now famous resort of Freeport. There wasnít a hotel in the area, just about 100 small five room American style houses they had built to start a community. The houses were given to the butcher, bakery and candlestick maker (well, I never really saw the candlestick makerís house) and us, the school teachers. Jane just taught Ĺ year, the our first son was born there and the next year our second.
In those days Grand Bahama, which is 80 miles long, shaped like a banana and only five miles wide at itís widest point (and only five foot above sea level at it highest point) had a population of only 1800. Most of those folks were not in Freeport, which they were building, but in native villages and the West End of the island, a small resort called The Jack Tar.
I would often walk the utterly deserted white sand beaches for hours on end, looking for stuff that floated up on the island.
Well I felt so much like that in Manuel Antonio today, but the ocean was the Pacific, not the Caribbean and I did see three other people on the entire two hours I was outī I got back and things were picking up in Manuel Antonio itself, and the sun was coming out and it was getting very hot. I was so happy to be FINISHED my walk at that hour.
I got my shirt and tennis shoes back on and walked up to the lovely Mar & Sombra (Sun and Shade) to have breakfast and had the Tico breakfast. Black beans and rice, two eggs fried with soft cheese, and cafe con leche.
I sat in the deep deep shade (thus the placeís name) on the beach, just at the edge of the sand line, under thick palm trees at a round stone table and started reading my new book, a marvelous little book by a Czech author.
I purchased two bags of fresh cut slices of pineapple from the man I had gotten my pineapple from yesterday (large bags of fresh full slices, peeled for $1.00 a bag). I put them in my refrigerator. Might even be lunch, Iím not much hungry today.
Now it is really hot out today. Hottest day since Iíve been here. It rained some last night, but not much and so far none today.
Iím just loving this place. I like starting my day about 4-5 AM and ending most of it by noon, when it gets so hot or rainy. I just lounge around in the afternoon doing e-mail and reading, having a beer or juice now and again, and try to stay awake long enough to have a nice fish dinner about 6 PM. It gets dark at 5 PM, and I sit in front of my cabaŮa and read, sip a little rum from the lovely bottle of 18 year aged Cuba rum I have. Wow, tasty. Not at all as good a the five star Barbancourt from Haiti, but quite good stuff.
And head off to sleep about 8 to 9 PM. I just love these days. So restful and peaceful and fun.
People tell me La Fortuna is neat and well, maybe.... But honestly I donít see any reason to go anywhere. I donít much care to ďsightsee.Ē I like the sights here. I love my cabina, the restaurants, the bus to Manuel Antonio, the rain forest there, the beach... I may well just spend all 7 weeks right where I am.
But, I know me. Something might come up later this afternoon and I would write you from somewhere else tomorrow.
I never know where Iíll be, just donít have any plans at the moment to go anywhere.
Bob Corbett firstname.lastname@example.org