A Town Caught with it’s Pants Down

When I spent 3 1/2 months in Costa Rica in 2007, I wrote some journal entries. Here is a snippet from one of them:

Tuesday 9th October, 2007

This morning we went for a walk before breakfast. Our morning constitutional obviously caught the usually pretty town by surprise. She had not had time to apply the lip gloss, worn daily for the benefit of the tourists. Nor had she yet donned her shiny crown, instead we caught her in a mauve flannel dressing gown, leopard skin mules with a fag nestling in the corner of her mouth.

It seems that at 7am, Puerto Viejo is at a junction. Coming are the hard workers off to their jobs. School children bustle into the school yard, and a single fruit stall is setting up for the day. Heading off in the other direction are the nocturnal beasties. But at 7 am there are a few stragglers. An American Crackhead sits outside a restaurant, an orange scarf tied around is ankle, covering presumably a wound, rather than a reminder of some spiritual exercise. He asks us if we are looking for a good time as we walk past. We buy some fruit for breakfast, then have to walk past him again. He is obviously too fucked to remember that we have just walked past, but somewhere in his head, the part that has not yet been completed extinguished by his self loathing habit, recognizes us from somewhere. ‘Are you the guys from last night?’, he slurs, showing off a far from beautiful set of teeth, with what appears to be paper stuck to one of them. ‘Yeah, you are!’ he shouts after us. We deny the charges. ‘Yeah, you are. C’mon I’m not stupid!’

The group of stragglers also includes a flock of black vultures, who usually circle over head during the day, powerfully, and with status. They are breakfasting in a ditch of stagnant black water. As black as the birds themselves. The whole scene looking like something from an animated film, portraying the most evil of evil places. I half expect one of those scary horses from Lord of the Rings to thunder past.

The town has also not yet hidden away her pack of stray dogs. She usually keeps one or two of the finer looking ones to mooch around the beach. A beautiful white spaniel cross with brown patches and an elegant fluffy tail trots about town. We have seen before that she is a patient dog, allowing another tiny dog (belonging to one of the stall holders) to play relentlessly with her tail and pretty ears. We can see that one of the other dogs is half blind. It’s heartbreaking. The pretty one follows us for a bit, and I am concerned for its safety when trucks tear past us, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they are driving through a village.

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