Social faux pas are an unavoidable part of international travel. And adventures, by their very nature, are unpredictable. Our first week in Costa Rica included social faux pas but our adventures were OBE (overcome by events).
Friday and Saturday found us settling in, grocery shopping, and visiting a couple of local eateries. Sunday morning, we both made our first social faux pas. We’d decided to go to 9 am Mass at the local church. Keene decided to wear shorts because of the unusually hot weather. Maaaaahhhh (wrong answer buzzer). Men, and even boys, wear pants to church – caliente o nó. Silly Norte Americano.
Mass went along in Spanish with tiny clues here and there for us non-Spanish speakers. At the Our Father we knew what was next: the “kiss of peace” – the scene of my social shortcoming. Just because they call it the “kiss of peace” doesn’t mean you actually KISS, at least not in the good ole USA. But I kissed Keene (as usual) and when I turned to the old man next to me, he kissed me too. ON THE LIPS. Keene said I was supposed to turn my head more and do the air kissing thing. He read it on one of his travel websites. I wish he’d told me before Mass. The old man didn’t seem displeased by my gaffe.
Our Sunday plan included breakfast at a local café after Mass before the day got too hot. However, in a Catholic country they are serious about a day of rest. The only thing open was the grocery story and a couple of clothes shops. We wandered around for a bit getting the lay of the land, then stopped in the grocery store for a few needed items that included ice cream bars for the walk back to the car. With everything closed and no local cash (we tried three ATMs that rejected our international cards), we went back to our rental, made a lovely brunch that included a fresh mango-strawberry-banana-pineapple fruit salad and then sat by our little pool where we read and relaxed. It was a fantastic day. Pura Vida!
That evening, we made our first dinner, which included mango in the salad, and toasted with wine to the beginning of our wonderful adventure. A few hours later, stomach cramps and multiple trips to el baño told me that Monday was not going to be a good day. Monday brought fever, more stomach cramps, muscle and joint aches, headache, exhaustion, the whole nine yards. A water-only diet, three naps and bed by 7:30 helped so that on Tuesday, I felt marginally better. I decided that rest, liquids only, and sunshine would be my medicine.
By Wednesday evening, I nibbled my first solid food (rice) and by Thursday night I tried a full meal. Things seemed to be moving in a positive direction, so we went into town again on Friday to find local money (yay – the Bank of Costa Rica honored our cards) and a few more things from the grocery store, which again included a little ice cream snack. Maaaaahhhh. Wrong choice. Too much activity and too much food. Relapse by Friday evening. But at least by this time, my tan was looking pretty darn good.
After slow starts to Saturday and Sunday, we took a couple of drives to begin to look around this gorgeous country. We even stopped at a little café in Grecia for a snack of sopa de pollo (chicken soup – I had the broth, Keene ate the stuff). I even had a café negro – delish! Luckily we were a short drive from home because I still need el baño soon after. Exhaustion followed again.
Considering that Keene and I have eaten virtually the same things (and he continued to eat the lettuce that I suspected at first as the culprit), I’m not quite sure if I got food poisoning or something else. But I’m using my Aunt Amy’s advice for medical care. Wait two weeks and if you’re still miserable then go to the doctor. We can go out and about for a few hours at a stretch and I just don’t eat so there’s no chance of any other social faux pas if el baño isn’t readily available. In the meantime, my skin is beginning to look like a local and I am learning the fine art of relaxation.
It wasn’t a great first week, but hey, it was memorable. And paradise isn’t such a bad place to be stuck when you just need to hang out close to el baño.
Here are some photos from our little slice of paradise.