Saturday, April 4, 2009

Playa Tamarindo By Night - Wednesday 4-1-2009

I move from Hostel de Leche to Cabinas Marielos because Hostel de Leche 1) is too loud at night, 2) has workmen in front of my window all day performing maintenance work, 3) put me right next to a road, and 4) just didn’t feel right. Cabinas Marielos is quiet, but it has a beautiful garden right in front of my room with mango trees that drop the sweetest mangos I’ve tasted in years. I’m also right across the street from the beach and can hear the waves crash on shore at night. I’ve made friends with Nicolas who I met yesterday when I first visited the property. Nicolas is French Canadian. He and his Dad, Michel, left Canada October 1, drove through the US and Central America, and arrived in Costa Rica November 24th. They have been living at Cabina Marielos for four months. Nicolas has a masters degree in computer programming and works by contract as a web page designer and computer programmer, a job he can do anywhere in the world. He is starting a new life in Costa Rica after a divorce and is leaving Tamarindo on Friday to move to San Jose and look for a job there. His Dad leaves the country on Saturday, leaving Nicolas to start his new life alone.

Nicolas is good company. His father grills some sausages and pork for lunch, which he shares with me. After lunch, Nicolas and I head to the beach and walk south on the beach all the way around and past the point that separates Playa Tamarindo from Playa Langosta, about four kilometers each way. It’s low tide so we pick our way carefully on the exposed rocks. Much of Playa Tamarindo and Playa Langosta are totally deserted. We do not see other people until we reach a portion of Playa Langosta in front a luxury hotel. Also remarkable is that a line of luxury condominiums set just back from the beach seem empty, no one in them and no one lounging on the sand in front of them. Nicolas tells me about his ex-wife, his divorce, his two children, his life in Quebec, hunting moose, and the confusion he feels about how to proceed with his new life. I can relate.

We go swimming after our nearly two hour walk. While I try body surfing, he chats up a trio of Spanish-speaking women. Nicolas is on the beach with two of the three women when I walk up after a couple hours in the water. His new friends are Argentine, have been in Costa Rica for nearly two weeks, leave for La Fortuna in the morning, and then leave for home a few days after that. They speak little English so I listen as the two women chat with Nicolas in Spanish. They bid us goodbye fifteen minutes later, promising to meet us at La Barra around 11:00PM tonight. Nicolas and I head back to Cabinas Marielos where I shower, change and work on my blog posting. An hour later he and I walk to Walter’s Seafood (I think) for seafood soup, a tasty bisque that includes shrimp, crab, lobster, fish, squid, and some vegetables that costs about $10. Afterward, we head to El Esquina where we shoot pool for almost two hours at $1 per game. From there, we head to Pacifico, a two-story surf bar with cheap beer, pounding rap music, and few patrons. It seems alright for the college set, but not for me.

We walk to La Barra, and I finally find Tamarindo’s crowds. La Barra is an open air bar, garden, and dance floor. About one hundred people are crowded around listening to recorded salsa music, drinking, talking. At its peak, latecomers swell the crowd to double this number. Not long after our arrival, the band starts. Men take their dance partners and lead them through turns and spins and dance patters both complicated and graceful. The dancers are very good and very fast, easily the match of anyone I saw in San Francisco.

I remember salsa in San Francisco. It was fun for a while. I took the hobby too seriously, demanding perfection from myself and becoming frustrated whenever I was not flawless. I ended up liking the people I met in my salsa class much more than the actual dancing. I remember my best friend Nathan, newly arrived in San Francisco and looking to meet new people while picking up a hobby. I remember Alexandrina, with whom I still exchange emails about what I should do with my life, and who once invited me to visit Africa with her – a nice fantasy during a time of great work stress. Most of all, I remember Tianne, without whose salsa class I would not have made the friends that made my life outside of work in San Francisco such a happy time, andwhom I thanked at my 31st birthday party for just that.

The band plays long sets of salsa, meringue, and bachata. A tica girl with a pink top catches my eye with her grace and flash. She moves fluidly, easily, stylishly. The women Nicolas met today at the beach enter. We walk over and greet them. Nicolas speaks with them in Spanish. I am not dancing tonight. I am happy simply to be present. I push Nicolas to dance with his new friends, but he shyly refuses. "I don't dance," he tells me. I remember saying the same thing once.

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