29 November 2007

The Bridge

We’ve been staying in Atenas at a bed & breakfast named Ana’s Place. This joint is in the most run down part of town down at the bottom of a hill; but, the entrance is tucked back up behind a bunch of plants. If you are not determined to find the place, you’ll see the unattractive buildings at the end of the road (a dead end) and you’ll quickly turn around, assuming that it couldn’t be down there.

But it is. Once you turn up Ana’s driveway, passing through the huge iron gates, you’ll round the bend and see an imposing, beautiful mansion of a place with perfectly manicured gardens and lawn. Opposing stone stairways curve gracefully towards each other, rising from the parking area up to the porticoed grand entry way.

The great front door was open and we walked into a reception area. A young lad welcomed us and began to escort us to our cabina out in the back, in the real gardens.

Eden. Unreal. Tropical birds were going off, butterflies were making out, gardenias were in riotous bloom and the air was tauntingly touched by that fragrance. And, there, reigning over all, was a gigantic red, yellow, blue & green parrot.

We were in the Jaguar Room which means we occupied ½ of a cabin about the size of a shotgun shack, nested in among the greens of this manicured jungle. The room was just “O.K.” with a suicide heater for the shower’s hot water and a prominent sign admonishing us in 4 languages not to put any toilet paper of any sort into the toilet. It is not toilet paper here. It is “papel higenico” and it belongs in the little waste basket. Eeeek.

Aside: I didn’t know what a suicide shower was either until Pat filled me in on this distinctly Tico bathroom accessory. Here’s how they got their name. Between the wall and the shower head sits a little cylindrical box, about half the size of an old time Quaker Oats box. That is what makes cold water into hot water as fast as it can flow through the device (allegedly.) Running out through a hole knocked in the wall are two 110 volt wires that disappear into the side of “the device.” In ages past, you’d get the water running into the device and out the shower head, and then reach over to a BARE KNIFE SWITCH (are you paying attention – you’re wet and standing in a shower!!) to power up this evil machine. Oh yeah. Let me. Get it? Suicide Shower?

O.K., they’re safer today because the knife switch has been replaced by a circuit breaker switch over far enough from the shower that you’d have to be Yao Ming to touch the switch and the water pipes at the same time. Oh, I almost forgot. To control how hot The Beast makes the water, you have to adjust the flow volume. A trickle of flow is too hot for comfort; a "reasonable" (Spartan) flow is about right; and, a healthy, drenching flow doesn’t quite make it all the way to “hot.” Can anyone guess what happens when you are enjoying a “perfect-temperature” shower and somebody flushes? Oh, buddy!

Pura Vida. I’m not going to let little things like simple electrocution and keeping a bucket of poopie paper in my room affect my attitude.

We got some pretty fine French Scotch (no kidding) and settled in under a big outdoor cabana, near the pool and sipped our way to nirvana. We also had a great time listening to some obviously well-to-do 30-somethings sit around the pool and sagely solve every world and family relationship problem that has ever burdened man’s soul. ‘Em were some REALLY smart folks, if they didn’t say so themselves.

And that would be a cool segue into a little blather about philosophy … but first I gotta tell you about The Bridge.

We’ve been corresponding with some folks in Atenas that write a little e-publication called “Atenas Online.” They have a section that cites neat things to see and do around Atenas, so we decided to look up some of some of these attractions.

  1. Nope, Rick’s Internet Café does NOT have a Steak Night or a special or steak anything on Thursday nights. Once again, a waiter looked at me like I was from Mars. (Maybe it was the huge Caballero hat and bright yellow size 3X tropical shirt parked above and below a wildly bearded head. Ya think?)
  2. There is a Railway Museum just east of the little village of Rio Grande and there is a breathtaking old riveted iron bridge spanning the biggest, deepest chasm around these parts. It is worth the walk of about 500 meters up the old rails. This bridge towers 345 feet above the raging Rio Grande. Vertigo is the order of the day as you look out over the unguarded stone ramparts. I wasn’t brave (crazy) enough to walk out on the “no–railing” deck of the bridge. I’ll bet that will get your head swirling. Go if you get a chance. The Railway Museum is only open on Sundays so we can’t give a report on what treasures it holds.

Just a quick backtrack -- overall, Ana’s Place is worth a visit. The ambiance is wonderful. The food is gourmet and, of course, the coffee is to die for.

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