Tuesday, October 7, 2014

THE WEEK I SOMEHOW ENDED UP ON A HIPPIE COMMUNE

The worst vacation I have ever had.  But looking back on it, it's actually pretty damn funny.


  Man do I have a story for you!  It's kind of long (like seriously, I wrote a book), but you'll definitely get a laugh out of this one.

Ok...so my senior year my best friend's parents, Deb and Mike, invited me to go to Costa Rica with them as a sort of graduation present.  Incredibly nice of them, I know, and I still appreciate it very much.  But there is no denying that this vacation was a complete shit show.  Even they admit to that.

I have travelled a fair amount, through seven different countries, some territories, and a variety of states.  So although I'm young, I have a fair amount of experience with travel, and all that it entails. From the very beginning, I was a little skeptical.  Let's just say that I wasn't confident in their travel plans.  The first thing they told me is that it's better to travel with just carry-ons, and I thought to myself, ok, they're paying for this trip, it's their decision if they don't want to pay for luggage.  But in all honesty, it just ended up being a pain in the ass.  This was a 9 day trip, and there was going to be no way to wash our clothes, and no way was I going to wear something twice.  Not because I care that much about my fashion, but because of the hot sticky humid weather I was not used to mid-March.

The day before we were supposed to leave, they had me stay the night at their house, and we left for Denver at 2 am (it's about a 5 hour drive).  Although we were completely exhausted, we got to the airport, through security, and onto the plane with no problem, amazing considering I was travelling with people who didn't share my last name.

After a few hours on a plane, our wheels touched pavement in San Jose.  We tiredly dragged our luggage to the exit of the airport, and to our surprise, there was absolutely NO customs.  We literally just walked right through.  The cop on guard was even asleep at the door.  We froggered our way across the road to a car rental place, literally.  Cars were swerving all over the place, the roads weren't marked and they were criss-crossing each other all over the place.  There was no order at all.  I'm amazed there were no accidents, and even more amazed we didn't get nailed by a truck.

As we walked down the road under the hot sun, I asked them "so where are we staying for the night?"
"Staying?" Deb replied.
"Yeah, the hotel?"
"Oh, I just assumed we could find some place."
Already I could feel my frustration.  I like to have a plan.  We had plans to stay at a resort 8 hours south along the coast, but we wouldn't be able to hit the road until the next day, so we were definitely going to need a hotel for the night.

At the car rental place, the clerk asked us what car we would like in some pretty terrible English. Deb asked for a minivan, because it would provide the most room.  However, I suggested something with four wheel drive, for I recalled something in the brochure saying the resort was at the top of a mountain, and would take an hour to get to it via dirt roads, but she insisted on the minivan.

We all piled in, and prepared for our first out of country driving experience.  It was terrible.  I distinctly remember a series of mini heart attacks due to us nearly getting hit by a bus almost 5 times within 10 minutes.  There was no hotel in sight, the area we were in was highly industrialized.  On top of that, none of us had any cell service, so we had no idea where we were going.  I went in to a local gas station and asked for a map in the best Spanish I could muster (let's just say 8th grade Spanish didn't serve me well as a senior in high school).  This map was extremely outdated, but it would have to do.

We finally found a rinky-dink hotel, but hell, it was a bed so I wasn't going to complain.  That night, we went to this restaurant that the car rental guy suggested.  It'll sound pretty obvious that this was a total scam, but we didn't even think of it at the time.  It was this run down open-air building, but I've heard some of the sketchiest-looking places will have the best food when you're travelling so I thought, eh, why not?  This place was completely empty except for us, and the staff was acting pretty shady when we walked in.  But I just assumed that they must not get very many customers, or at least, not many Americans.

We ordered our food, and it was all pretty disgusting. The steak was still frozen in the middle, and the fish looked a little green.  Once we got the check it was even worse.  We converted the money to figure out what the total was, and it was $475 USD.  I'm guessing that the car rental place sends all of the clueless tourists over to his buddy's place, where they give you a menu with jacked up prices.  Needless to say, we were all pretty upset.  But we begrudgingly paid, and went on our way.

The next day, we hopped in the car and prepared for our 8 hour journey down the coast.  Mike was completely clueless on where to go, so I was appointed head navigator of the group.  Yay me.  The road someone told me we had to take wasn't even built when this map was printed, so it was pretty much useless.  The 8 hour drive turned into an 11 hour one.  We got lost so many times, and no one knew any English to give us directions.  There were also no gas stations anywhere, it was just a two lane road surrounded by mountains.  I don't know how we didn't run out of gas.  Meanwhile, pretty much everyone in the car was ready to rip each other's throats out, aside from me, it takes a lot to make me angry, and it's kinda hard to be openly mad at someone who isn't your family.

Miraculously, we finally made it to our dirt road.  We followed it for about two miles, until it turned left 90 degrees...and UP 45.  I still don't know how our car managed to make it up the steep roads with only front wheel drive, but by God it did.  It only added a mere 2 hours to our car ride.  At the top of the mountain I was expecting to see a large building, as our "resort" had promised.  Instead, we were greeted by dense jungle and a gazebo-like structure with a picnic table under it, behind that a small dirt road that led to 7 extremely small houses, one with a hand-written "check in" sign hanging from the door.

We got our "room," which was just a monster-ant infested shack with no water, no electricity, no Internet, no TV, no books, no games, nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  If we wanted any of that, we had to go up to the main structure.  I was like MacGyver trying to get a message to my mom to let her know that I was alive.  The other houses that were on the road were people who lived there permanently.  From what I learned, this was basically a 100% sustainable totally off-grid environmentalist compound.  Many of the people there were extremely wealthy, retired mid-20s or 30s, whether they made their money from taking advantage of the the real estate market at its peak, or selling beef in the Midwest, it all just seemed a little strange to me.  A bunch of millionaires move to southern Costa Rica to live completely off-grid?  Sounds to me like they were hiding from something. *Cough cough* government *cough* taxes *cough*

A few of the people living there even had kids, and were home schooled. They didn't believe in the traditional education system.  But what kind of life would that be as a kid?  You're always within 100 feet of your house, and there's only one other person your age to play with?  That sounds terribly boring.  I met a few of the kids who lived there, and they felt very Children of the Corn-y.  Too spooky for me.  It was just always so weird, my friend and I were the only people ever around, everything was run down, and felt abandoned.

Every lunch and dinner, everyone met under that gazebo to eat the tiniest meals I have ever seen, prepared for us by some mystery cook.  The food was all grown right there on the compound, so they mostly ate plants.  But occasionally, whatever meat they would cook would have to be bought from the local village.  For entertainment, every Friday they would all gather around a TV and watch whatever "new" DVD they could find in the middle of Costa Rica.  To relax during the day and cool off in the hot sun, the brochure advertised a "luxury spa," which turned out to be an algae filled pool I had no interest in getting into.  No running water in our house and one shower to share, I'm pretty sure I smelled terrible by the end of the week.  But everyone there was pretty "natural" if you catch my drift.  Hey, if you can live that way, power to ya.  That's just not my style.  They constantly talked about how they disapproved of the quote: "outside world.  That it was evil and on the point of collapse, and that they're better off being untraceable by the failing government."  They sounded like total wack-jobs.

We made it back to San Jose just fine, and got back home without a hitch, aside from the fact our luggage gained so much weight from the humidity that they almost didn't let us carry it on.  But it all worked out in the end, I'm just happier here with my feet firmly planted in Nebraska.  By the time we made it back, Deb kept on saying "I am never going there ever again."

The more I look back on it, the more I think that "brochure" was an advertisement to hopefully fill that house we stayed in, permanently.  No thank you.  From that experience, the best thing I can use to describe that place was a hippie commune.  You can keep your hairy armpits and plant diet for yourselves.
This may give you some kind of idea of what it was like.  The only source of power was from the solar panels you see, under that thatched roof is where all of the "meals" were served, and the pool is well...unswimmable.  But there is no denying it, the nature surrounding us was beautiful.  This was the only well built structure in the entire area.



4 comments:

  1. oh. my. gosh. Now THAT is a story, and a good one, at that. I can't believe all that happened to you!!! lol-ing at the 'luxury spa' haha!!!!

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  2. oh my god!! wow! that's just crazy!!! thanks for sharing and linking up!

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    1. I'm really glad you got a kick out of it hahaha :)

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  3. Haha!!That was pretty amazing! Good job ��

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