In my mind the fix was in. I mean the kindly customs lady in Puntarenas knew that our mastil for the barco would not be in evidence at Quepos for a few more weeks so it was with a certain confidence that we planned our return to the customs office for another extension to our permit and turned our check in with the authorities into a kind of mini vacation. What could go wrong my dear Escapees? What could go wrong?
We planned to visit the cheese factory in the funky but charming Quaker town of Monteverde, the awesome volcano at Arenal with the tony lake in its shadow, and the waterfall at La Fortuna. But first, business.
Business took us to the Aduana Caldera, a modern building tastefully set behind a full Monty of steel cage and razor wire, complete with the usual bullet proof vested armed guard. I can only surmise that at some point, they pissed off the wrong crew. Holas all around, we are well known at several customs offices. Our very own custom officer greets us with a lovely smile and stands as though she wants to hug it out. A little awkward, what with that official desk between her and us. I make a mental note that she has not worn her red four inch spiked high heels or her leopard print low scoop blouse today. Everybody sits.
We are ready for our two month extension please. Well first I must visit the barco. What today? No no, tomorrow. That’s two and a half hours each way and there’s that volcano, and the lake not to mention the cheese factory! Marce and I confer. You can visit the barco without us, it’s ok. Oh no the fuel and it’s such a long drive no no. You’re kidding, right? She wants us to spend our precious rental car time ferrying her to the boat and back. There goes our planned trip to the mountains.
An hour or so of frantic phone calls later and with the help of our marina’s yacht agent, Ernesto, a plan was hatched. They would send the marina driver two and a half hours up to Puntarenas, pick up the customs lady first thing Saturday, drive her two and a half hours back to Escape Velocity in Quepos, examine the barco or whatever, then drive her two and a half hours back to Puntarenas and then simply reverse the process two and a half hours back to Quepos, taking time out for meals of course. I don’t want to even know what this is going to cost. But at least we were free to go.
So as I was saying, we were determined to have a damn vacation, mini or otherwise, and come hell or high water we were going to effing enjoy it!
Upon leaving Puntarenas the basic lumpy macadam lane and a half road quickly morphed into a half lane of what can only be described as railroad ballast and we shuddered and bounced up a switch back trail.
Marce showed great prescience suggesting we rent an SUV for the “vacation” instead of the usual Escape Velocity two-door Speck, which by this point would look like a crushed beer can at an NFL game, and an unheard-of full insurance.
Tico driving style can only be called super aggressive with foolhardy tendencies. So with Marce keeping up a steady chant, demanding that I move over further away from the steep drop off cliffside into any oncoming traffic, we bounced back and forth rattling up the mountain toward Monteverde.
It became too embarrassing to try to talk, it sounded like a billy goat in heat, like trying to talk while strapped into one of those reducing machines with a big belt around your middle.
In near dark and a rising damp we quickly found a promising cafe while circling Monteverde’s triangular main square. Let’s give it a surprising B plus, with New York cheesecake and cappuccino mocha which warmed our hearts after a long day of overcast rain. Something called the Rustic Lodge brought the long day to a close.
The morning brought the sun and the usual eggs with beans and rice. They love their gallo pinto, and so do I but they say the only way to tell that it’s dinner is if the beans and the rice are separate. I opted for the Americano breakfast expecting two eggs, bacon, and home-fries with maybe a slice of tomato but they simply left off the beans and rice leaving just egg. We lingered long enough to watch Formula 1 qualifying live from Singapore on the iPad. Yep, too rustic to have a television but with a decent WIFi signal good enough to watch F1 qualifying live streaming from Singapore on an iPad with a Chicago VPN. Marce gave me all those words.
We were in danger of missing our appointment for the cheese factory tour so we quickly packed and headed out hoping for a little asphalt paving. The asphalt gave out as soon as the last souvenir shop sank out of sight in our rear view mirror. It grew quiet in the little SUV, but the scenery was just as beautiful but with a kind of double vision, what with all the jiggling, pitching, and bouncing off the headliner.
Finally we saw what had to be the cheese factory, just minus any signage. After looking through the full length viewing windows we passed on the cheese tour, reasoning that once you’ve seen a couple of large vats of curds and whey stirred with big stainless paddles…well you know.
Cheese is like that I suppose.