Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Costa Rica - The Tale of the Beach Town and the Suitcase

We had over packed for the trip. Or, more accurately, my husband had over packed for the trip. Upon our departure we were informed by the desk agent that our main suitcase was 8 pounds over the limit allowed by the airline. Although the agent said she would overlook it she made it clear that we could not expect to be so lucky on our return trip. So this meant it would be necessary for us to pick up an unexpected memento of our Costa Rican adventure, a new suitcase. At the beginning of the tour we asked our guide where the best place would be to find one. She suggested the small beachfront town of Tamarindo near our Pacific resort. She also let us know about a shuttle operated by the hotel which would, for a small fee, take us to and pick us up from the town. There was a free day with no activities scheduled, other than a open bar happy hour, which we would be loathe to miss, So the plan seemed perfect....seemed perfect.

We, along with several others from the tour, got on the shuttle and ventured into the nearby hamlet. It was a typical beach town, although it did seem to contain more that the typical amount of smoking paraphernalia for sale in the various shops there. There were a number of kids who looked as if they might have an occasional need for such wares, which could explain the plethora of items vended. There were also a number of surf shops, surfboards and surf bums, which could explain the plethora of items. There were also what seemed to be a number of ex hippie expats, which might also help explain the plethora.

We soon discovered that the words "suitcase" and "luggage" seem to have no direct Spanish translation. We then discovered that, once we made them understand what we were looking for, noone seemed to know where we could find such a thing. We were beginning to get desperate. Each shop owners suggestion led to another dead luggage end. Passing by a surf rental store we heard a young blonde girl speaking in a vernacular that was unmistakeably American. Asking her if she was from the States she replied "Yes, from Chicago". We said "So are we!" She then said "O.K., actually I'm from Rockford." Rockford is a small, somewhat provincial, speck of a city in Illinois. It is not Chicago. We explained our problem. She had no idea where we could find a suitcase but she might, using the neighborhood merchants communication online site, be able to come up with a duffel bag. At this point we were ready to settle. She said to come back in 15 minutes and she would tell us what she was able to come up with.

We decided to kill time in the local souvenir shops. Entering the first one I looked down and saw a large size roller board suitcase. Hot pink with flowers, bigger than what we needed, but in my glass half full manner, I thought "At least we'll be able to spot it on the baggage carousel." I called my husband over. The shop owner, with some but not total command of English, understood our problem. Laying the suitcase on it's side he unzipped it to reveal a medium size suitcase inside. Unzipping that he revealed the perfect size carry on bag we needed, only downside was it was covered in a motif of hot pink flowers. My husband informed me "You're rolling that thing through the airport". He took over and got across to the shop owner that we would prefer something that size but less festive. He ran upstairs and returned with a dark blue version, slightly more expensive than the pink flowery one but we didn't care to argue. There was only one other issue at hand. Would the suitcase adhere to the stringent size standards of the airline. This is when we discovered that the term "tape measure", like suitcase and luggage, seems to have no Spanish equivalent,.My husband then remembered that a one dollar bill is 6 inches long. I found myself on the floor of the shop laying a U.S. greenback end over end measuring the dimensions of our purchase. As we left the store the shop owner pulled two painted wooden key chains from a bowl and gave them to us as a thank you.

Our hard won treasure in hand we shopped for more asetheticly interesting mementos and walked along a driftwood strewn beach. We took the picture of another couple on the tour posing in front of a full sized tree, lying on it's side in the sand, heavily weathered from exposure to the salt and sea. Judging from the number of surfboards and surfers this beach was a place of great waves. We found it to be a spot of great  natural beauty as we walked along it listening to the pounding surf.

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