Costa Rica is a trap, set by who knows to derail my trip before it barely even starts. I can see why so many ex-pats end up here. It’s an easy place to drop out; to show up and decide never to move again.
There were butterflies in my stomach as I walked to the bus station in Puerto Jimenez and boarded the bus to start my journey north. The first week had just been a feeling out, sizing up, grasping what was ahead of me. A pause. Now it was time to truly get moving.
I hate making decisions. That’s why I like the slow form of overland travel, by bus or train or oversea by boat. Travel is an in-between state; before, I have to make the decision to go or not go, once I get there, I have to decide what to do. On the bus, the train, the plane, I’m just there, no choices to be made, just enjoy or endure the ride. I used to be fidgety, ready to move on to the next place practically before I’d even arrived; the next place might be better, after all. Now I get somwhere and I don’t want to move. Maybe it doesn’t get any better than this. An object a rest stays at rest, an object in motion stays in motion; unless some outside force acts on it.
I thought about this as I watched the kilometers to Dominical tick down on the road signs, wanting to be there but also not wanting to have to decide where to stay, where to eat, what to do while I’m there. But the bus arrived, and I found my hotel, and I found someplace to eat. I walked the beach and watched the surfers and took in the sunset. The next morning I woke up and walked the beach and had breakfast and then lunch and watched the ocean, then met everyone on the beach at the unspoken, agreed upon time to watch the sun set again, then had dinner and after dinner sat on the beach on a driftwood bench and watched the stars. I can see the Milky Way, and understand why it was named. I have the same problem here as I do when I’m in the mountains; I don’t want close close my eyes for all the stars. It’s why, when camping, I now sleep under a tarp; I can leave my head poking out, and see the stars until my eyes close in sleep. Here, I just crane my neck to the sky until it gets sore. A woman in a white nightgown walked by me, headed for the surf, which was out. I don’t think she noticed me sitting there in the dark, and she disappeared into the dark herself, as I sat and watched the waves break in metronomic white lines, the constant crash drowning out most thoughts, but not all.
The next day I remembered I had a hammock, and that settled that. There is nothing to Dominical, just a dirt road leading in from the highway that intersects with another dirt road that runs along the beach. You could walk them both in about 20 minutes total. There are three restaurants along the beachfront road and several more along the road leading to the highway, along with hotels, hostels, a few convenience stores, a police station and a football pitch. Between the road and the beach people set up shop to sell tourists the kind of knick knacks you see at anyplace like this; towels, hammocks, figurines made of driftwood. I don’t know who buys this stuff or how the sellers actually support themselves. They all look as bored as any American office worker, staring into their phones, probably plaiying angry birds.
Today over lunch I heard two men, both American ex-pats, discussing money making schemes and with considerable existential dread the idea of having to move back to the States if they couldn’t make it here. I wanted to turn and ask one of them, the one who makes the figurines out of driftwood, why I saw him being hassled by the policia earlier that day, but I could tell the two were the type where it would be impossible to extract myself from politely once the conversation started.
Iguanas are always underfoot, and men ride horses to their futbol matches. Every day I get bored and want to move on, and then the sun sets again, and I want to stay. Tomorrow, though, I think it’s time to move. Being around 20-something surfer dudes is doing horrible things to my body image.