The past few days have melded into a blur. I got the news that my beautiful grandma had passed away on Monday, and decided to leave the center shortly after. It still hasn’t sunk in that she’s permanently gone; I think due to the fact that I’m not home to feel the emptiness. I will always remember her as being the most selfless woman I’ve ever known, apart from my mom. She never sat at her own dinner parties, because she was busy tending to other peoples needs. I wasn’t as close with her as I would have hoped to be, but love is a strange thing, and though I didn’t know much about her, I love her fiercely all the same.
I left the center Wednesday afternoon with the infamous Johnny, one of the salaried cab drivers for the center. He’s young, and very friendly. We have inside jokes between us, which makes me feel like a real-life spanish speaker since I understand them! I had plans arranged to meet up Friday with all the ladies I had become close with, since they were leaving the center shortly after me. Johnny drove me the half hour to my hotel, called Hotel Cristina, which is an absolutely beautiful apartment complex, with every anemity I’d ever need or want. I got it for a bargain too. Jaco and I (I renamed my sloth because he deserved a worthy identification) took a shower immediately, and I felt as though I was scrubbing off 2 weeks worth of sweat and dirt, probably because I was. It was so refreshing and HOT. You don’t appreciate the gift of warm water until you don’t have it.
Let me give a current update before I move on; I’m in an Uber right now, literally racing through the jumbled streets of San Jose, and the burger I just ate is dangerously close to destroying this man’s freshly detailed interior. Driving in this country is fucking insane, sorry for the hard F but seriously, people are selling tortillas in the street, meanwhile 3 or 4 motorcycles that seem to be holding way more people than they should be try to wiggle their way through the crevices of cars. And everyone’s always honking, like constantly.
Okay, so anyway, I brought a few of the leftover groceries I purchased while at the center, but decided I needed to visit a market to get a few more essentials. Normally I’m all about healthy eating habits, but these past two weeks of vacation I’ve consumed more peanut butter and Nutella than I’d care to admit. As my British friends would say, “It’s alright Olivia, you’re on holiday!” I didn’t get a phone plan while here, so I rely solely on WiFi to connect me to data. For that reason, venturing to the grocery store on foot, with no means of communication was a little intimidating. The last thing I needed was to get lost in the city centre of San José. However, I surprised myself and made it there quickly and without issue; thank god I didn’t get my dad’s sense of direction… if I did, I probably would have ended up on a Nicaraguan coffee plantation or something. The markets here are great; big and open and fresh. They even have sample stations like in Sam’s Club! I spent a solid 2 hours in the store, walking around looking at all the different foods that they don’t sell in the states and mysteriously ending up at the same sample station 2 or 3 times. Don’t judge me, it was fried cheese over bruchetta; I’m only human. They have an entire section dedicated to alcohol as well, and I spoiled myself and got a $6 box of wine. So the way to the store had been relatively simple since I was hands-free and fueled by adrenaline to get some food, however the way back to the hotel was not as glamorous. I only bought enough food to fill two plastic bags, but I mistook the size of San Jose’s sidewalks and literally was dodging people’s legs as I tried to walk in a straight line. At one point, a man threw himself off the sidewalk when he saw me coming, and landed in the little divet between gutter and street. It was equally scary for both of us.
I spent most of Wednesday and Thursday by the pool reading. The weather in San José is much cooler than Alajeula, a brisk 84 degrees on average. There’s free continental breakfast included with my stay, and it’s sooooo yummy. Pancakes, made-to-order omelettes, prosciutto, mango, pineapple, watermelon, donuts with chocolate sauce, homemade marmalade with fresh bread, yogurt and granola, an entire platter of different cheeses, brownies, orange juice and of course, coffee. Needless to say, I need to hit the gym hard upon returning home.
On Friday I decided I’d take an adventure to the largest mall in Costa Rica: Multiplaza Escazú. I ordered an Uber, and was dropped off in front of a very large, very new mall about 10 minutes later. When I walked in I was shocked by how few people were there. It was a Friday morning and I think there were about 50 people, including myself. It had basically every store I could ever want, but the prices are so ridiculously high here, it’s not even worth it. For example, at the Forever 21 at MOA, I could buy an entire outfit for less than $50. At the Forever 21 in San José, a pair of shoes was close to $45. I ended up finding a cute, relatively inexpensive outfit from a department store that reminded me of Younkers, and I also bought an ice cream cone and spilled half of it down my front because I’m a 12 year old girl. I was ready to leave, but here’s the tricky part, I needed to find WiFi so I could schedule my Uber back, and there is no such thing as free WiFi in the mall. I sniffled a bit to a bike cop and he left his post in front of Chili’s to ask a McDonald’s employee for their WiFi password. The only thing I could think of during this whole thing was, why did they need patrol in front of Chili’s? Who the hell steals from a restaurant… like, is someone going to run out holding handfuls of guacamole or something? I thanked him and got an Uber back.
In times of desperation, one finds a way to get the job done. In my case, this meant finding a pair of tweezers, because my eyebrows had been neglected for so long I was starting to look like that scary Russian woman from Dodgeball. I asked the front desk, (yes I really did this), for a pair of tweezers which they, shockingly, didn’t have. But they did have scissors. Life hack: YOU CAN SUCCESSFULLY PLUCK YOUR EYBROWS WITH CRAFT SCISSORS. I did it, and they look bomb. I met my lovely UK ladies and Jo, my boo from New Mexico at their hotel around 7. It’s a 8 mile drive from my place to theirs, and an hour drive. The traffic here is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Imagine literally inching forward on a highway for an hour; it was painful. The girls were about 4 drinks in when I got there; to be expected considering their hotel has a happy hour from 5-8, and the drinks were crazy cheap. Since I was a late arrival, I ordered a few at a time to play catch up. I had a couple strawberry daiquiris, blue Hawaiians and Bahama mama’s and the sugar rush made me feel like I might go into a diabetic coma. I love those girls to death; they’re so kind and funny, but also really naughty and cunning-like me! 😉
After we all had enough of the blended booze, we made our way to the Hard Rock Café across the street. Again, it was insanely expensive but the burger, fries and mac and cheese I ordered tasted like heaven on a platter. I’ve never felt so full in my life, including the aftermath of the Minnesota State Fair, so that’s saying something. The girls and I agreed we’d meet up again sometime this year, preferably in London since I’ve never been, and they’d show Jo and I around. Another trip to plan!