Thursday, March 17, 2011

Jugando por el oído (Part Four)

We got up early, hopped in the Jimny and rode through town. It took about 5 minutes. The Nicoya Penenisula is known for its many great surf spots. Malpais is one of them. As such, the area attracts people from all over the world. Many of the hotels and businesses in the area are operated by ex-pats that came to ride the waves...and never left. There is a t-shirt shop run by a guy from Newport Beach, a hotel run by a group of Israeli guys, and a bunch of restaurants and hostels owned by French, Australian, and Italians. We found a little french bistro to grab some breakfast and check emails. Finding internet access was never really a problem in Costa Rica. There seemed to be free WiFi everywhere. Once again, the food was delicious and cheap. The weather was awesome, so we went down to the beach for a jog and a swim. The waves were pretty good but we didn't bring surfboards and didn't feel like renting. Neither one of us are big surfers, so instead we asked about other things to do in the area. The guy at our hotel recommended going over to Montezuma and checking out the waterfall there.

It took less than an hour to get from MalPais to Montezuma. We paid a dude $2 to watch our car, and hiked up the short trail to the waterfall. It was pretty spectacular. The water was crisp and refreshing. we swam for a bit, jumped off the rocks, and took some pictures. Afterwards we had lunch in the town of Montezuma. Yep, it was good. We stopped at a little tourist stand to ask about a tour to Isla Tortuga. It seemed like a great deal... speedboat ride out there, whale watching, snorkleing, beer, lunch, kayaking... all for $50 bucks. We put down our money and were told to meet them the next morning on the beach at 9 am.

We headed back to Malpais in time to see the sun go down at Playa Del Carmen. On the way back down the street we saw a sign that caught our attention. "Texas Hold-em, tonight! Dinner included." Seriously? Tim and I both like to play poker. We were understandably hesitant not knowing anything about the town or the legitimacy of the whole thing... but we were definitely gonna check that out. We went back to the Ritmo, lounged at the pool for a bit, got cleaned up and walked back over to "Las Olas" where the game was being played. It was the bar at the Hotel Playa del Carmen. It turns out this was the place owned by the Israeli surf guys. There were two legit looking tables set up, but when we arrived it was mostly empty. Oh right... we forgot about Tico Time. See, part of the laid back paradise lifestyle is sort of showing up within an hour or two of the suggested time...not unlike southern California. At home we call it "rude", here they call it "Tico Time." We made friends with a Costa Rican named Jorge that was chilling at the bar. We traded off speaking Spanish and English and managed to understand one another fairly well. He worked for Taca airlines and lives in San Jose. He was out in Malpais on vacation as well. With not much else to do except talk to Jorge, I ordered a few drinks and was pretty smashed by the time the game started. I was having a great time. The people seemed mostly nice. It was fun to play in Spanish. "Como se dice 'El Perro' en engleis?" I asked at one point. "The Dog," they replied. I shook my head no and slowly said "Gregoooooorio....." while pointing two thumbs at myself. That got a lot of laughs... mostly from me.

So there I was, drunk and gambling in a tiny town in the middle of Central America. The game played pretty tight, but I was doing fine until a spazzy kid from New York sat down directly to my left and started jamming every pot with any two cards. I called him down repeatedly with the best hand only to end up losing. When I was out of money, and inquired as to the location of the nearest ATM, I was disappointed to learn that all the cash machines close after 10 PM. "Yeah its the law... they don't want people getting robbed." Bummer. I was stuck and drunk. It's just as well though. We had to be up early the next morning for the Isla Tortuga trip.

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