FLASHBACK #1 - COSTA RICA
05 July 2009 | Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador
From my Costa Rican Diary, as yet unpublished portions ...
Second day, Monday, 2nd February, 2009 -
It is still dark, and to the sound of many roosters I am roughly awakened, by a bus starting up. The bus drivers sleep in tiny cabinas like mine and leave their buses outside their doors. One is revving up - on the go now. I dress and walk up the hill, among the farms. I hear a hundred roosters. My cell phone ringtone is a rooster crowing, and coming back, asking for coffee, I thought I heard my phone
crowing in my pocket.
Coffee came, from one of the bus drivers. "Hey you!" - Were they calling me, sitting outside my room, in the sun, or were they calling the little black and white dog also sitting in the sun? "Coffee? - Si, gracias!" and it was brought me in a black and white mug. "You bus?", I asked, pronouncing bus as in boose for Spanish effect. "Bus", he corrects me, saying it as in English. I am touched by the detail, and by the kindness.
On my early morning walk, the sun just rising, a motorcycle and rider had passed me. And by not acknowledging me at all, he allows me to be in the movie, while still in the audience; invisible, I am up there on the cinema screen. Two chairs on a verandah face the dusty road twenty feet away, then an abandoned factory. More motorbikes.
A three-cylinder engine sits under the trees, like some sort of memorial, its head missing, its hand crank poking into the air. Still two buses here, making big shadows; I did not bring a camera, but the lens of my eye will be sufficient.
Most Australians travel. I am a first-time traveler, my first time abroad. To the virgin traveler, two things appear always. One is the care with which one manages one's passport, wallet and belongings including the key to one's room, and two, how fresh and open is one's mind to perceptions, in a world where all one's familiar controls are gone. There is a quite profound not-knowing, which I feel, as I sit at a cool concrete bench and table, under the stunted trees, here in San Vito, by the dusty road back to the border town of Paso Canoas.
Five minutes ago, I heard a noise to my right, and the cabina owner is beckoning me, he wants me to come, so I go through the gate, my mind not so easily as my body, and at his desk - some papers. Gesturing through the window he says something in Spanish of which I catch only todos, I know this means "all", but what is happening? He opens a door and again waves his arm in an all-embracing gesture (what am I supposed to be looking at?) Again, TODOS. Going to the desk he taps some numbers into a calculator and writes something in the margin of a letter, he beckons me over, I am beginning to get worried - this is about money, maybe extra fees? I brush away the fear and look around at the affectionately framed family photos in this clean and tidy room. He has written five million dollars on the paper and says "cinqo millione dollar!"He points to me! Again the gesture and again - todos. We look at each other for what seems a very long time, unable to believe communication has come to a complete nada. What!? You want me to buy the entire farm for five million dollars? Do you think I am a multi-millionaire? Look at my wrinkled shirt, worn down trousers, my high-mileage thongs, and what about my $14 room? I hold out my arms in an I-have-no-money! gesture, and I am trying hard not to laugh. Still friends, we smile at each other - no inglese, no espanol - laughter comes from the café/restaurante/outdoor pinball parlour across the way.
It is ten to eight in the morning, it is going to be a clear, hot day.
And I have NOTHING to do.
[More to follow]