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Clambering Round Costa Rica

Hey fella.  Got the time? 

I tagged up with the Larrys and we went looking for Cuban cigars during the pre game show.  We found them and struck up a conversation with an American who owned a book/cigar store.  He asked us how we intended to spend our last day in the country.  We told him it was a “hamburguesa con queso” (cheeseburger) in front of the game, followed by gambling at the Blue Marlin Bar and Casino.  He mentioned the “ambient hooker atmosphere” at the latter setting.  THE WHAT???

In Costa Rica, unescorted women are not allowed in bars.  Any “single” women are hookers.  According to the store owner, when girls are sixteen, they can apply for their hooker license.  They are given cards to carry.  Bars will admit the ones over 18 after looking at their cards to be sure that they had their required weekly physical checkup.  Those under 18 (including what appeared to be a few 14 year olds) work the street corners.  There are no pimps.  The women (in general) appear to have no drug problem.  The legalization of prostitution seems to keep it out of the underworld and all its accompanying social ills.  Supposedly, most of the hookers have children and have been abandoned by their boyfriends/husbands.  They work to support themselves.

The gambling hall was something else!  Scantily clad women of all ages and levels of beauty waiting for men to approach them and pay the $15-$25 fee to go with them to the “Asia Hotel” down the street.  The price (and quality of women) goes down as the night progresses.  The Larrys and I stayed out till about 4 a.m. drinking, gambling, and laughing at the events surrounding us.  In answer to your next question: No, we didn’t partake of the pleasures.  Besides speaking no Spanish of the type necessary to bargain in this realm and being too frightened to approach them, we were also afraid of bringing back some virulent strain of several incurable tropical (or other) diseases.  And for those of you who want the truth: the answer is the same; Really! We just watched.  That was excitement enough.

Retired lifeguard jumps into action again!

We’re heading home (there are fingernail marks left behind by me on the San Jose Airport runway).  We are packed like sardines onto the charter plane and are about two hours into the flight when I see the woman in front of me stand up and start yelling at and slapping her husband.  She is yelling “Ernie!  Breathe Ernie!  Oh my God!  Ernie!  Ernie!”  I get up to see a man lying back in his seat, eyes glassy and staring into space with no blinking.  I feel for a pulse in his throat.  None.  I feel for a pulse at his wrist.  Nothing.  He is not breathing.  I lean over the people next to me and the seat holding Ernie, and breathe twice into is mouth.  If he didn’t respond, I was going to get passengers out of his row and start CPR.  Fortunately, he gasped and started to breathe again.  The wife and flight attendants take him to the back.  A flight attendant asks me what happens.  I tell her.  She goes to the back without a word.

I would leave the plane in Toronto without a word of recognition from the man, his wife, fellow passengers, or flight attendants.  Did this peak event in my life actually happen?  Couldn’t someone have given me a “thumbs up” or at least an “at- a-boy”?  Oh well, I guess saving lives is like peeing in a dark pair of pants: It gives you a warm feeling, but no one notices. 

Anyway, I’m back home and in the grind again.  Despite some less-than-complimentary comments uttered above, please understand that I truly came to love Costa Rica and its gentle, friendly, helpful people.  I’ll be back there someday soon.  Who’s up for an adventure vacation?

More by this writer at, most of the way down under ‘Other stuff’.

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