Running a little behind on photos. Give me a day or two to fix this.
Events have rode out in ways that I expected and in ways that were most unexpected and, shockingly, very welcome.
After the beaches of the Pacific, the Caribbean Coast was our next port o’ call. We set up camp at a place known as Puerto Viejo, a hazy old fishing community now known for its surfing and reggae. There is a wave right next to the beach itself known as Salsa Brava – a formidable wave over vicious rocks that is most definitely not for amateurs. The locals are mostly black, but more and more ex-pats are muscling in with wealth and business plans which have radically altered the village over the years.
Maybe some music will enlighten:
It is a cover of Pink Floyd’s Money by the Easy Star All-Stars from their album Dub Side of the Moon. It’s fantastic. Get it.
The atmosphere is calm and simple here. Greed and want of wealth are seemingly absent, though the foreigners are getting more of a foothold and pushing out the locals. The music is getting less reggae all the time, much to the disappointment of the tourists who come looking for it and end up listening to The Best of the ’90’s or some other form of musical dysentery. Using a cover of Pink Floyd’s Money encapsulates many of the themes of the village itself: old-school reggae that has incorporated some old-school foreign music and an omnipresent psychedelic vibe. Too many bars are run by foreigners and the horrible sounds of country music ruined at least one night out on the town.
Puerto Viejo (click for map) is still very rustic. The main streets are just about paved or cemented, but most are still dust tracks. Cars and modern technologies are rusting at best and broken at worst. The Rasta community is strong here and local cuisine is very Caribbean. The local herbs add great flavour to the Jamaican jerk chicken, delicious fish, local crustaceans and other delicious meals.
We received a new member of the group in the form of an American, whose humour was thankfully similar to my own and his presence was a great relief all round. To be honest and open, I’d found several other members of the tour quite tiresome in past weeks, so I’d spent more time meeting other people and partying with them instead. In Samara, I went out and partied with a Chinese-American woman, several Swiss girls and a Swedish lass. In Montezuma, I mostly hung out with some Germans (who were 10+ years older than me…) and now it was a relief to have a good friend without having to talk to too many people and play too many social games with before building up some form of companionship. We were joined by other volunteers from San Ramon who were working on other building sites or at the Orphanage, but I unfortunately didn’t get to hang around with them as much as I would like. They were, for the most part, a great bunch of people from Sweden, New Zealand and Australia.
Out of great coincidence, one of the volunteers was a Swede from Malmo (where I was last December) by the name of Emily who just graduated from S:t Petri Skola (where I was last December) in the same class as Karolina Jönsson (a brilliant EYPer and all-round lovely person who organised the EYP session last December that I was at). Of all the places I expected my EYP contacts and friends to be useful, I can’t say I expected that this would be one of them. Such an awesome network!
So it transpired that I didn’t really have much in common with several members of the tour group. Oh well, this is to be expected – probability was not in my favour on this one. It was a rather eclectic mix to begin with and with only 7 people, the chances of finding great success were always going to be pretty slim. Admittedly, I could have tried harder to integrate myself, but I preferred to meet and play with others instead. This method allowed me to meet far more interesting, intelligent and fun people so I don’t mind at all – none are in a position to be allies in the future and the odds of our paths meeting again are quite slim.
So though I have met several awesome and fascinating people, I will continue to seek them out and gain wisdom from them. There is still a long way to go on my journey and many great people left undiscovered.
Onwards To Realms Unknown
So we made goodbyes in San José on mostly amicable terms. The majority were flying home that day, but I am officially only at least a sixth through this Odyssey. I am now free and solo, my orientation complete, sufficient Spanish to get me places learned and a good feel for custom that affords me a level of flexibility necessary to get by – if not thrive. I departed for San Isidro de El General (click for map) on the morning bus. For the next few weeks, I will be staying here: Ecojoya. I’ve unfortunately been plagued with a mild dose of ill health over the past 48 hours. I think I picked up a mild stomach bug, so I have yet to really explore the property or volunteer properly. As you can see from the website, it is a stunningly beautiful place in the mountains surrounded by jungle. Clouds roll in early evening, food is fresh, organic and healthy to the extreme. The company is, most unexpectedly, wonderfully intellectual. There is far more to be revealed here (I promise you it is worth the wait), so I shall leave that for another post. I think this place will be perfect for a relaxing and exercise-filled month or so. If I don’t get a solid six-pack of chiselled abs, bulging biceps and a sharpened mind by the end of it, I shall be sorely disappointed!
Next update Thursday!