Ahh, the Pura Vida! It is hard to beat life in Costa Rica: surf, sand, waves, and pineapples that don’t burn your tounge… Yet… everything down here feels just a little off. Not enough to derail the good times, just… something doesn’t seem to make sense, like debating politics with one of the many Canadians in the area:
Canook: “Sooo, like what’s up with you guys being all patriotic, eh? It’s like flags everywhere, eh? Soorree, to say so, but when we see you guys on television jumping oop and doon aboot people taking yer guns, it’s like, what’s up with that, eh?”
Me: “Don’t you guys still swear allegiance to the queen of Britain, sometimes in French, who technically has the authority to remove your Prime Minister… eh?”
One fine example of Costa Rican oddities would be the national food: Gallo Pinto. For the sake of any non-Spanish speaker who may be reading this, allow me to translate: Spotted Cock. Even if it is the national dish, it is important not to shovel into your mouth just any spotted cock the service staff may wave in front of your face. The dish is a highly complicated mixture of ingredients only found in Costa Rica – namely rice… and beans. The Bay Area Bohemian who took responsibility for educating the world about this cornerstone of Costa Rican cuisine via Wikipedia did a heroic job of describing the versatility of this dish: “The dish may contain more rice than beans, or more beans than rice.”
I hope you are sitting down for this next part: Costa Rica isn’t the only country that claims spotted cock as a national dish! Nicaragua, their neighbor to the north claims it as their national dish as well. For years, this has been a sore point of controversy between the two countries. After decades of controversy, they managed to find a common ground – again best described by our Bay Area Wikipedia documentarian, “Most Latin Americans agree that the dish is part of both countries now and that they share more similarities than differences.” If this story of people putting aside the cultural belief that somehow one person’s spotted cock tastes better than another doesn’t move you in any way emotionally, it is time to see a doctor – because there might be something wrong with your heart…
It is quite possible that the “strange” aspect of the country has even more to do with the people it attracts to its yoga dojos than anything the locals may bring to the table. As luck would have it, most of the great vortexes of energy in the universe happen to be close to beach towns with access to public transportation, sewage systems, wifi, and juice bars. Yogi’s eager to feel this power coursing through their meridians (not to be confused with any sensation related to the ginger-juice cleansing diets, sobriety, constant exercise, 95 degree weather, and a complete lack of work/city stress) flock to the little township of Nosara, Costa Rica all winter. For the most part, the demographic consists of professional women from NYC dwelling in resorts scattered through the hills overlooking the beach. There’s nothing particularly strange about the crowd, and frankly, they are farther down the sane side of the mystical bell curve than the average Bay Area resident…
But then, there’s the Dutch:
I’ve always felt that if one bat-shit crazy person is enough to create an assumption about an entire culture of people, then two makes for a pretty iron-clad stereotype… For the purposes of describing the two outlier exceptions to Darwinian laws that created my new Dutch stereotype, I’ll use stereotypical Dutch names: Arabell and Gusta. Both women are in their early-30’s and arrived one fine afternoon at the Kayasol Hotel/hostel where I’ve been living. The first red flag in their life stories was that they had just arrived from a jungle commune where they had spent a week cleansing themselves of the “toxins” that had built up in bodies over years of exposure to modern civilization…
The commune is called Pacha Mama, and on its website it describes itself as, “At once an experimental village, a spiritual commune, and a centre of transformation.” Pacha Mama offers many different methods of achieving transformation, including an extensive variety of enemas. The Costa Rican jungle offers up the most biodiversity of plant and animal life per square mile of anywhere in the world. Highly trained colonic mixologists will mix up just about any part of that biodiversity into a “cleansing” brine that will give those impacted McNuggets no quarter. The enemas come in several sizes: Maud’Dib, Vinyasa Squeeze, Not-so-Ginger Ginger Wash, and (the ever daunting) Na-MAS-Tea. The students aren’t expected to be able to take the Na-MAS-Tea at first, and it can be discouraging to try. One video from Pacha Mama shows a discouraged Na-MAS-Tea first-timer and a mixologist explaining the kind of power it takes to get all of the brine in there on the first squeeze:
At this stage, you are probably saying “What’s the big deal? Enemas??? Really? Ever been to Sedona? What happened to Arabell and Gusta? Why all of the character development of two Dutch girls, just to go on a Family Guy aside with a Star Wars clip? Why am I still reading this? I didn’t even like you that much before you moved from New York, so why am I following this shit?”
I’ll try to answer some of those questions. Arabell and Gusta went to Pacha Mama seeking to rid themselves of toxins and years of impacted rookwert and snert. They quickly learned there that toxins aren’t just stored in the colon. Turns out all of your organs harbor deadly toxins that can only be excreted through your sweat glands. This poses an obvious problem: How do you get your sweat glands to play ball with your detoxification plan? If only there were some force of nature that could get your pores to open up in a humid environment ranging between daytime highs of 95-100 degrees and lows in the mid-70’s? (Apparently, the jungle is a very different environment than the coast. If there is so much as a step in front of your cabana, you sweat like a fat kid in a sauna climbing it any time after 7AM. Even the geckos leave little trails of sweat on your wall here.) Luckily, the shawmen of Pacha Mama have figured out a natural solution to the trapped toxin caper: the poison dart frog.
This little amphibian has been used by natives for hundreds of years to tip darts used to kill monkeys. The toxin is so deadly, that some of these little frogs have the power to kill over twenty grown men. More importantly, the toxin is, like, organic and natural and makes you sweat a lot! So, under the watchful eye of a shawman, whose spiritual abilities are perpetually focused with a hallucinogenic tea called ayahuasca, Arabell and Gusta cut holes in their right arms and rubbed highly toxic frog poison into their blood streams. They both described feeling horribly ill and sweating profusely for hours during the “cleanse”, as one of the worst toxins produced by nature pushed the pretend civilization toxins out of their systems.
It would be hard to argue that it didn’t work. Only half of the commune fell horribly ill with some mystery disease that would eventually land Gusta in a Costa Rican hospital for several days. Unfortunately, civilized toxins – in the form of big pharma produced antibiotics and IV fluids were re-introduced into her system to bring her back to life… One of the women at the jungle commune somehow managed to develop an infection in the cut she had been rubbing poison into… an infection that would eventually turn into endocarditis and kill her. Arabell came out of it feeling like a million euros.
So Arabell, having had a great deal of success so far flying under Darwin’s radar, went on a date with one of the local Ticos two days into the Nosara leg of her “journey”. After the date her wallet went missing, and when she went to talk to the hotel staff about it they all told her that the guy she went out with was a well-known robber of tourists in the area. When I asked her if she confronted him about it, she said that she was going away with him on a weekend trip to a near-by beach. When I asked her if she would like extra applesauce with her walking helmet, she said that she “Doesn’t want to stereotype, so I’m going to ignore what the other locals say about him… and not read into the coincidence of losing my wallet on our date.”
Yeah, maybe Costa Rica, controlling for tourists, is actually not that weird at all. I have a strange desire to go find the robber that Arabell is going out with to warn him about what he is getting into…
So, what have I been doing? Yoga and surfing. My day is simple. I get up at 5:30AM, turn off my alarm, get up again at 7:30AM, and go for the morning session. Surfing is followed by some eggs, spotted cock (just the right amount of beans), and a glass of fresh squeezed oj. Other than a yoga session and Bikram jog, I am not sure what happens in the middle of the day and would rather not talk about it. The evening consists of surfing until the primary light on the water is the moon. Sometimes there are bats on the water when I am coming in to shore. When the moon doesn’t come up, bioluminescent phytoplanktons create what look like hundreds of stars in the water when the waves crash around you and appear on the wet sand around each step. It is like living in a lazy safe Avatar, where the only things you have to worry about are the temptation to move here permanently… and the Dutch.