Pop The Question
The last three months have been absolutely nuts. I literally have not had time off since Christmas. It seems everyone wants out of the rat race and are flooding to Costa Rica. I mean who could blame them? Who wants to be up there, in that madness, when you can be down here in paradise? I have had so many clients in my car, it is insane. Somedays, I am juggling two and even three couples; dropping off one, just to race across town to pick up another. If you were watching our websites, you would see everything going UNDER CONTRACT. Between COVID and lockdowns: monster storms with freezing cold weather (hell San Antonio got snowed in): escalating violence and rising stress levels; Cancel culture and the corrupt media; everyone is fed up. Throw in the politics, and you have a negativity stew that is just brewing over. People are flocking to the land of Pura Vida.
So, after a long day of negotiations, I was looking forward to getting home, pouring a Jack Daniels and kicking back at Casa Pila with the pups. And that is when she popped the question.
“Honey. I have something I want to ask you?”
Uh-Oh, I thought.
As we approached the Pan American Highway, I was starting to get excited. Liberia is an adorable little city, I love it, just 30 minutes away. It has so much Costa Rican flavor, it is special. But it is also very Americanized. There is KFC and Taco Bell; malls and movie theaters; car dealerships and tire shops; there is even a Walmart and the Costa Rican version of Costco; PriceSmart. As a tourist, you could care less about this stuff, it might even turn you off. But when you live here; trust me: these places are very important. I mean sometimes you just NEED an Egg McMuffin to slow yourself down from the urges of becoming a serial killer. You can only eat so much beans and rice without snapping.
As you head east out of the city, you very quickly start to gain altitude. Directly in front of you is the massive volcano, Rincon de la Vieja. The road passes through charming little pueblos and quaint petite villages, as you drive around rolling farmland and ranches, loaded with horses and cattle. It is VERY Costa Rica, and brings me back to a simpler time. Everything is so demanding today; so critical; so, pressing; so instant gratification? It takes away from our harmony and our peace. Why is it so important that we return that text on the spot; answer that phone call immediately; pull over on the side of the road to send that email right this second?
It reminds me of my first trip to Costa Rica in July of 2000. I drove up and down this entire coastline, until I found MY Pura Vida; Playa Hermosa. As we went through town after town, we kept seeing these signs, every couple kilometer; I.C.E. Now, I was not fluent in Spanish then, and I am still not completely well versed today, I must sadly admit, although I can fake it when I need to; but I did know that the word for ice was hielo. I mean, I had ordered margaritas in a Tex Mex restaurant years before I started slinging ocean view lots. Yet, maybe because of my excitement of my journey, or the fact we were pounding Pilsen beers like they were bottles of water, I remember saying to my buddy “Man, they sure sell a lot of ice in these towns. I guess it’s a pretty lucrative business.”
Well, boy, did I feel like a fool when I found out that I.C.E was the abbreviation for the communication and electric company and that it meant there was a landline in that specific municipality, as cell phones were basically nonexistent at that time. I tell everyone. I miss payphones, I truly do. Life was just easier then. You would go about your day, without anyone demanding a response. Then, after lunch, you would find a phone booth, hope Clark Kent wasn’t using it; pull out a pile of change, and check in with your secretary. She would give you the update, on who you needed to contact next and who could wait until tomorrow. You might call your better half at work, to see how her day was going, and give a jingle to your bookie to check on the score of the game. Then you would get back into your car, and get on with living. The best part was when you got home, and there were messages on your answering machine. Man, did you feel important if there were 8 or 10. You truly felt like a rock star. Hell, I get a dozen texts now, every 5 minutes, it makes me want to vomit. You know what I really miss? Emergency break throughs! “This is the operator calling, we need you to hang up.” I loved that stuff. Young people reading this are thinking “WTH is he talking about?” LOL. Anyway, I am done rambling, back to our volcano trip.
You come to a little guard station with the arm gate, and a nice man waiting to greet you. There is a small toll to cross through his property, as the public road, takes another 30 minutes to go around. We gladly paid the small fee and continued our journey up the mountain, and in no time at all, we were at Hacienda Guachipelin, one of the most impressive tracks in Costa Rica.
The entire property is 14,090 Hectares, which is almost 35,000 acres! They have every possible adventure you can think of; zip lining and rock climbing; mountain biking and horseback riding; canyoning and tubing; and the most beautiful hotel and spa imaginable. It has always been one of my favorite places to visit, and it is only 75 minutes from the beach.
We were not in the mood for adventure this day, as I was personally wiped out from the last few months. So, this was going to be a nature day; a revitalization of our minds and souls, a time for us to spend together. No Whatsapp, no clients, no contracts. Just us and the backpack cooler of beer, that I bought specifically on Amazon for days like today. It was then, just as we arrived at the National Park, that I realized, I left it on the kitchen table, and we were without the precious life’s liquid, known as Imperial Ultras. That is kind of like being a bass player in a band, and leaving your spare strings back at the studio, right when one breaks in the middle of a gig at Coconutz.
Days like today make me appreciate that I am a Permanent Resident of Costa Rica. Being a Tico, has its advantages, as the cost to enter and enjoy these magnificent locations is substantially less than you pay as a tourist. We jumped back into KING KONG, and drove about 15 minutes up the mountain where we came to a small entrance. We were smart enough to buy a couple brews at the hotel, though, before we left, so I was still able to enjoy my newest favorite nectar, as we set out down the Las Pailas Trail. As you come over the crest of the ridge, there is a hanging bridge, and it is a tad hairy to cross. It is swinging, and dipping; waving and rocking; and the last thing I wanted to do was spill my cold beer. But once you are across, you are truly in another land. Rich in minerals, thermal waters have rejuvenating and therapeutic properties, that people around the world have been appreciating for centuries. The 10 springs at Rio Negro, are naturally heated by the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, which is the largest and most active volcano in Guanacaste.
As you bounce from one pool to the next, you are surrounded by the dense dry tropical forest, and you are consumed with nature in every direction. You can SMELL it! You can FEEL it! And the stress just melts away. The crystal-clear waters of the river flow from one pool to the next, and the thermal waters are filled with minerals, naturally heated in the depths of the volcano. There is a bubbling mud hole, right there, where an attendant pull buckets out at a time, allowing it to cool. You then slobber this gook all over your body like a spa masque, allowing it to dry. Afterwards, you jump into the cold waters of the adjacent river, to wash away all the toxins you have stored in your skin. This is where that tub of beer would have come in great!
We exited the springs and started the hike up to the Rio Negro Falls. There are 4 individual waterfalls, a couple hundred meters apart. It is a spectacular hike, and a great practice for the final run. At the base of the actual volcano, is the start of a 20-minute hike to Oropendola Falls. It is not difficult, but it is not a cake walk either. There are challenging sections, where you have to exert yourself, but trust me when I tell you, the goal is worth it. As you come into the final leg, you find yourself in a canyon, with steep walls on both sides. The sound of the rushing water ahead, gets your adrenaline pumping before you even see it. The path leads you to a ledge, just at the base of the waterfall, where there is a metal ladder to climb down. You can also walk out to the edge of the rock, and just fling yourself into the massive pool below. YEEEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!! Let me tell you; when you hit that water, you are alive man!!!! The water is COLD; and I mean COLD. Wow! Super refreshing; it truly makes you appreciate your life. We swam for a while, and then headed back down to the hotel, for a positively delicious buffet lunch, and a couple more cold pops.
As we exited the gate, the arm was broken and laying on the ground; Pura Vida as we say LOL. We made it back to Hermosa just in time for the sunset. I didn’t turn my phone back on until the very next day, and I could swear I felt a pile of dimes jingling in my pocket.
Come on down baby!
Hope to see you soon.
I have always had my Ted Bundy moments, but I have consistently been honest about my faults; I know I am a little rough around the edges. I have regularly said, that if you need an emotional support dog, I am the wrong tool for the job; although, I’m trying every day to improve, I promise. Why anyone would put up with me is the million-dollar question, but as I have routinely maintained: “I would rather be lucky than good.” My girlfriend on the other hand, is constantly positive, and the happiest woman I have ever met. Anyone who has been lucky enough to meet her, knows that she is a shining star. She lights up every room, as soon as she enters, and is the sweetest, most precious, gentle human being God ever put on this earth. She has a beautiful soul and on top of that, she is gorgeous too. I am a lucky man.
“Honey, can I ask you a question?” she said the other day.
“Can we do something that NORMAL boyfriends and girlfriends do together?”
Hmmmmm. I had to think about this for a second.
So, you mean, sitting at the beach, drinking cocktails with clients, writing offers for condos and houses all day, is not what normal people do?
Her face got serious, and her light started to dim. She looked me very seriously in the eyes, and definitively and distinctly answered “NO!”
Why don’t we go to the hot springs baby?
I have never seen her shine so brightly.
This song is for you.