Cooking and eating through a new culture

Traveling through Eden

We will now return to our regularly scheduled broadcast…

Rafa and I have taken on the responsibility of running,managing and repairing his family’s property on the Caribbean. They are sweet little cabinas set between the ocean and jungle.  With a little elbow grease, and lots of bug spray, they will be lovely. So any opportunity to go there is amazing…including traveling on a bus, with Rafa’s mom.

At the moment, we are not actively renting them  since we want to do more renovations, but the family has had long-standing occasional renters and some wanted the cabinas for the weekend. Are you familiar with the word entropy?

a : the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity b : a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder…or c: anything in a humid, tropical, bug infested environment for more than one hour.
I have SCRUBBED those cabinas until I my hands were raw and I was high from cleaning products, only to go to the beach for the afternoon and come back and find the place like it had been left for a month…with the doors open…after an insect frat party. There are times when I thought I needed a chair and bullwhip to chase those critters out of the cabinas. So needless to say, things need to be freshened up before people can comfortably sleep there. So when Rafa asked me to accompany his mom, without hesitation, I agreed.
“Great! Bus leaves at 6am.”
Bus? Hmmmm….
 I must admit, I had visions of chickens running down the aisle and the ungodly aroma of bus funk but Rafa assured me that I was overreacting and that he would be there the next day after work with the promise of foot rubs and mimosas. How could I refuse? So yes, I overreacted. The bus was fine and lacked any safety requirement that makes US bus travel so horrible…the windows opened! The occupants consisted of a handful of Ticos and a majority of gringos, so lively and fresh-faced I wanted to slap them.
Now the road to the Caribbean…there’s one. Only one. And it’s not for the faint of heart. Comparisons to the Yungas road in Bolivia are very accurate. This is not a overstatment…trust me. There are no lane dividers. The small stretches of guard rails have been completely encased in jungle. How does galvanized steel grow ferns? The only thing that may keep you from plunging to your certain death should you happen to leave the narrow confine of the road, would be the encroaching rainforest. This is not the friendly, divine, jungle of the lowlands but a vicious black/green mountainous biomass that would swallow you in a heartbeat. Any break the jungle allowing you to see beyond 20 feet will only reveal a milky cloud of rain. The mountain will occasionally slough off of rock and mud wiping out sections of road and any unlucky vehicles too. Velociraptors regularly pick off slow-moving cars. Just kidding. But the bus did stop for more than two hours only to creep past the smoldering remains of semi tractor. The charred trailer still somewhat intact.

No exactly the needs to be rainy-er.

And then the bus got hit by a truck too.
Nothing serious. After passing the first accident, drivers jostled and sped, jockeying to get down the mountain as fast as possible, our driver being one of them. And while passing a line of vehicles on an unmarked, twisting stretch of road, a utility truck turned into us, scrapping down the right side.
Both parties knew what happened, but the narrow road does not allow for any room to pull over. Miles later, when the road finally widened enough, we stopped again.  This time, the passengers got off too, copping squats on the side of the road and sucking down cigarettes, banging away on their useless cell phones. A couple, dressed in their finest hippy chic, tried in vain to hitch out. People were justifiably cranky. I joined the crowd to stretch my legs but eyed the green edge warily, wondering if some huge green tentacle wouldn’t snatch one of us and drag us into the rainforest.
What I found ironic was, even though I had only traveled this route a couple of times before, I had a good idea we were close to civilization…namely my fried plantains with cheese and a bathroom. You would think it would be to the benefit of all parties involved to at least find a parking lot and not have people milling around a treacherous highway. Silly me. Another hour later, we were back on the bus. The driver didn’t bother with a passenger count and I stared at an empty seat with dread.
Within minutes, we passed El Yugo and my delicious plantains. A small whimper escaped me. Even though Rafa’s mom and I cannot communicate, she honed in on my distress. Digging through her bag, she beamed at me offering me, of all things, an apple.

Single Post Navigation

One thought on “Traveling through Eden

  1. Alicia on said:

    An apple! Excellent. Gracias mama!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: