I’ve found that when you don’t speak the language you never really know what’s going on, so when Marce’s cousin, who came down to fetch us from San Jose and spent the night on Escape Velocity, suddenly pulled off the coastal road I just looked up and thought I wonder what we’re up to now. Just ahead I could see a long, low bridge with no sidewalk or sign and little else. Earlier that day we’d pulled off the highway and found another black steam engine and a whole collection of stone spheres unearthed while Chiquita Banana tore up the jungle planting banana trees. The authorities had the foresight to arrange them in a nice little park.
So as I was saying, we teetered along the narrow concrete curb on the bridge while trying to avoid the wind blast from trucks thundering past just a few feet from the tenderest parts of our bodies, towards a low-lying gravel river. Soon, as we closed in on the river, snowy egrets came into focus and an unusual collection of large logs. Where are we going? Something always gets lost in the translation but I suspect an intentional lack of information. Wait a minute. Did I just see one of those logs move?
As it turns out, a while ago somebody started throwing frozen chickens off the bridge and soon, as any self respecting reptile has a wont to do, several dozens of the beasts set up shop waiting for the next frozen chicken popsicle, kinda like a cargo cult, but with crocs. From the size of these monsters I can only conclude that chicken agrees with them.
Let me emphasize that this is no Tarzan-like theme park and if they decide to cut us off at the end of the bridge, we become the de facto frozen chickens. And what’s to stop them? Nothing, and I really don’t think I can outrun Marce, so I’m hoping that it’s just easier for them to wait for the next cargo plane.
The amazing thing is that this is not the first time I’ve come face to face with these monsters without a plan B. I think it was Florida 1971 and my band’s equipment manager from Gainesville Music decided to show us the sights. This included a park with nesting eagles and to properly see them we were told to walk out on a particular peninsula and look up at the large nests in the trees. In a few minutes Mr. Gainesville Music, let’s call him Fred, showed up and quietly said, hey guys do you know how fast an alligator can run? No? About twenty miles an hour and those two logs about ten feet away from you are alligators and you are way too close. Of course you can always zig-zag, he added, they’re not good at that, but after a day with Fred I knew that zig-zagging was out of the question and in my present state, I wasn’t sure if I could outrun our drummer either. With hearts tapping out a lively tattoo, we beat a timely retreat.
So as I was saying, back in the car with all limbs present and accounted for we decided that lunch was next and somehow managed to miss a charming little falafel joint but stumbled upon a restaurant built inside a 727 Boeing jetliner. Allegro Airlines apparently went belly up owing the maintenance company money so they sold this plane to a restaurant. It was closed.
After a circuitous climb up a mountainside, as luck would have it, we stumbled upon another airplane/restaurant combo.
We walked right in the tastefully appointed restaurant, amazing when you consider it’s built around a Fairchild C-123, opened the menu and there staring back at me was Eugene Hasenfus, whom the owners proudly display right there on the inside cover.
Maybe you remember this bizarre crime in recent American history. Ronald Reagan wanted to support the Contras fighting the Sandanistas in Nicaragua but Congress voted an emphatic no. Undeterred, Reagan and his band of clowns devised an elaborate scheme to illegally sell arms to Iran and use the profits to illegally send munitions and parts to Nicaragua. The CIA bought two C-123’s and built a runway on private land in Costa Rica to secretly ferry the cargo across the border. In October 1986 one of the planes was shot down with Mr. Hasenfus parashooting into the jungle and the waiting arms of the Sandanistas. His capture eventually exposed the whole scheme and lead to fourteen indictments and eleven convictions of high-level members of the Reagan administration. They were all pardoned by Bush the First.
Of course Reagan swore he couldn’t remember anything and for once I kind of have to believe him. He really couldn’t remember much of anything.
The other plane was abandoned in San Jose and eventually bought by these restaurant owners and transported to Manuel Antonio. Eugene’s butt may have actually been in the seat of this very airplane without tail numbers.
It’s a long bumpy slog from Golfito to San Jose so when we found ourselves deposited into the relative luxury at the tennis club a long relaxing sigh escaped from both of us. San Jose awaits.