Another Getaway Weekend with my (almost ex) wife

Ξ September 2nd, 2007 | → 9 Comments | ∇ Costa Rica, Ewwwwww!, Humor, Life in Costa Rica, Living in Costa Rica, Maria Luisa, Travel |

So ML says to me, “I have this meeting in Puntarenas. Come with me and we can spend time together after the meeting. The meeting only lasts an hour!”.

I have an immediate issue with this. First, I have been to Puntarenas several times over the years, mostly to take the ferry that departs from there to cross the Gulf of Nicoya to a really nice part of Costa Rica. Every time I have gone there, I told myself I will not go there again. Every time I go again, there is some overwhelming reason why I do go there again, in this case, the wife.

Might as well get this over with now as I know I am going to lose the battle. “No… I really don’t want to go. Silly to drive all the way there just for a 7 PM meeting, then return.”. “We can spend the night!”, says she. Great. Just what I want to do. “So what is the name of the hotel?” says I, knowing that Puntarenas is not a exactly hotbed of tourist activity. “The Portobello” says she “or something like that”.

It is pointless to argue this, so rather than risk the obvious result, I give in. “OK, I’ll go”. She is happy. I am…. umm, doubtful.

So I call my trusty Costa Rica based travel agent and ask if he knows this hotel. He says he has never heard of it. It is not a good sign when a travel agent actually located here in Costa Rica does not know a place.

OK, I Yahoo it (Yahoo being the only search engine that actually gives a hotel’s web site rather than 3,298 travel agents as does Google). Nothing! A few TA’s give very little info. I am now really worried.

It gets worse. We are going to leave San Jose at about 2 PM for the 2 hour trip to Puntarenas. The problem of course, is that we are in the middle of what some advertising guy has dubbed “The Green Season”, a really clever way of saying that it rains like a sonovabeech every afternoon. I am powerless to stop what I am sure will be a disastrous overnight stay.

So Thursday rolls around, and we find ourselves in the car heading for dismal, smelly Puntarenas and the probably no-star Portabello. It begins to rain as we leave the house. No biggie. Just normal for this time of year.

I hop on the Pan American Highway near our home and plug in the iPOD to ease the way. However, about 45 minutes later, as we pass San Ramon and begin the gentle ascent into the mountains, it begins to really come down hard… like no visibility hard. Traffic comes to a near halt as we edge up the mountain. We proceed at about 15 KPM (about 10 MPH) for what seems like an eternity. This two hour trip will soon be a 4 hour adventure.

Past the peak and heading down the other side, I begin to really worry about what this rain is doing to the mountains. It is very common at any time, but especially in heavy rains to be exposed to a derrumba, or landslide. Derrumba actually is a word that I think means to demolish… but here it is used to describe these landslides where earth and often huge rocks fall from great heights. I am giving this some serious thought and I conclude that if there is a landslide, our only course of action would be to place our heads between our knees and kiss our butts goodbye. There is no place to go.

As I complete this thought process, there is an E N O R M O U S crash and this huge bolder lands on the highway about 5 inches outside the passenger side door. Luisa and I jump so hard we hit our heads. The boulder does not move. Does not roll or touch the car and we glide safely on by hoping to get soon to anywhere that we can change our underwear. Another foot or so and I am a widower. Another three feet and my kids get to read the will earlier than expected. Oh well…

The rain does not let up and we eventually take the turn-off to Puntarenas. We have semi-directions that tell us that the hotel is just past the Yacht Club. To even think there is a Yacht Club in Puntarenas is pretty funny,but lo and behold, there it is. The Puntarenas Yacht Club in living color. Go figure.

Another couple of hundred yards gets us to the Portabello. We drive in to register and ML hops out to go to the registration desk. It is barely visible. I am thinking power outage, but then I realize that the light source is perhaps a 40 watt bulb suspended in the lobby. Not a good sign.

She finishes registering and we head to our room.

It is worse than I imagined. First, you could smell it before you actually got there. As my male readers undoubtedly know, many men’s bathrooms have a roundish disk emitting some “disinfectant” odor, conveniently placed in the urinals. In fact, I was always told that you could tell a really “tough bar” if you saw the men’s room sign that said, “Please do not eat the big white mint!”. Anyway…Our room has that same odor… a STRONG odor. I am wondering if there is a negative star rating.

There are two queens beds, but I am not at all comfortable with the thought of actually touching them. I say this as there are many things moving around on the walls. Some are mosquitoes… others…?

The toilet seat is not screwed down. I can tell this from my wife’s scream as one cheek plunges downward.

She wants to shower, even more so after the toilet seat incident. Sadly, all there is is a suicide shower. For those of you not knowledgeable on this, it is common in Costa Rica to NOT have a water tank for all hot water needs. Many showers (though normally NOT in hotels), are equipped with a coil type device that heats the cold water as it passes through. This might be an OK thing if you thought for one minute that this device was attached to a good earth ground, something that is found almost never in Costa Rica. Thus the term, “suicide shower”. She forgoes the shower.

I walk her to the hotel conference room that is amazingly located off a very nice looking restaurant overlooking the water! HUH? THIS is a shock and makes no sense whatsoever! Here is this very nice appearing eatery part of a hotel that you would choose only if you had no other choice. Why the hell the owners would not invest in upgrading the rooms is a question that must go unanswered. Some stuff is just inexplicable here in the tropics!

The moment she enters the conference room, I am G O N E. I jump in the car and head out looking for other accommodations knowing that there are but three chances I will sleep in that place. Slim, fat and none.

Heading back out of Puntarenas, I see a sign for the Fiesta Hotel and Casino and I lose no time in getting into the lobby to check availability. There is S P A C E! I nearly break my wrist getting my credit card out and in five minutes, I am back in my car heading back into Puntarenas to collect my wifey. While she is busy presenting, I am packing and loading the car. As she steps out of her meeting, I grab her and we are on our way to our news digs!

Now the Fiesta is an all inclusive hotel. Normally, that means crummy food and not too clean rooms. I am happy to say that our room was very clean and spacious and the food, while certainly not award winning, was at least quite acceptable. There are nice facilities, tennis courts, and maybe 38 swimming pools. In fact, the Fiesta must have the largest baby pool in the world. It covers about an acre and has islands and trees!

So… the rest of the weekend took a upward turn! We stayed a couple more days. ML aged herself nicely by the pool and returned to me every daily a darker shade of woman. Love those tan lines!

The bar had wireless so I kept my businesses going during twice a day visits while sucking down umbrella drinks.

Wudda been nice to have Internet in the rooms… but that may be asking too much… this being Puntarenas!


9 Responses to ' Another Getaway Weekend with my (almost ex) wife '

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  1. Saratica said,

    on September 2nd, 2007 at 10:24 pm

    Everybody puts down Puntarenas as a not-very-nice-place-to-stay… but heck it’s close and apparently it’s not over run with tourists? Sounds fine to me… You are too funny with your hunting for another place. I would have done the same thing!!!

  2. Judith said,

    on September 3rd, 2007 at 8:50 am

    Loved the story, even more this writing style! Tu eres muy terrrifico, muy generoso, seimpre compartiendo tanta informacion. Gracias por todo!

  3. Jim said,

    on September 6th, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    A friend of ours had a “Condo” in Puntarenas, which he let us use for a weekend (this must have been 10-15 years ago). The pool wad green and the bats were crawling around the ceiling (you could hear them and see the dust falling from the crown molding when they moved) Turn back the covers on the bed and “las cucas” scurried for cover. Stayed up all night and slept on the beach in the morning. The best part of the trip was a “pipa con guaro” I’m now a “socio” at Punta Leona and loving it. They say Puntarenas has changed a lot (for the better) over the years; but your story only exemplifies why I’m reticent to return.

  4. Tim said,

    on September 7th, 2007 at 9:04 am

    I actually think Puntarenas IS better than ten years ago. It has potential, and one day, someone with a lot of $$$ and some vision is going to buy some land cheap and make a silk purse outta that sow’s ear.

    Maybe I’ll be alive… doubt it though.

  5. on October 19th, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    Puntarenas looked like Beverly Hills to me after coming back from Nicaragua.

  6. Carole said,

    on November 11th, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    Interesting. I’ll shortly be in Puntarenas. Do you have the ferry schedule? I heading for Playa Naranjo. Thank you

  7. Jack said,

    on April 10th, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    I just discovered your site today, and I am amazed at your story-telling talent. I don’t know your occupation, but I hope it affords you the opportunity to use your great gift. Thank you for all the valuable information and especially the entertaining way you present it!

    Kindest regards,

  8. Tim said,

    on April 11th, 2008 at 6:18 am

    Gee! Thanks!

  9. ignacio said,

    on May 6th, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Tim I like better the one of the good honest food where you got the bigest drink and where ML got off your car on the midel of the road tell that story would you.

    Thank you for the ride into town

    PS you got my email let me know where to find the bug story.

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