The first afternoon in Puerto Jimenez, I simply spent wandering the streets of the little town simply getting to know the area and my bearings. I spent several hours just wandering back and forth checking out all the little nooks and crannies in between private homes that served as short-cuts between “main roads” and all the spaces in between from the landing strip (which actually functions as an airport!!) to the far corners of the town. I of course stopped for some dinner at a local soda recommended to me by Berta and then settled in for the night at the hostel.
There was a storm settling over us as the sun started to set, and since I wasn’t quite tired yet, I opted to hang out with Berta in the front area. We spent some time getting to know each other and chit-chatting when another man came by, calling Berta “Mama”. In fact, this man wasn’t Berta’s son but rather the son of the woman who owned the soda I had eaten dinner at. “F” as he will be known as from now on was a tour guide for the famed Corcovado Park on the Osa Peninsula, a National Park that attracts real adventurous hiker backpackers. As I came to later learn about him, he had a lot of tragedy in his life which either from those events or just because it was his nature, he was also an alcoholic. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Anyway, “F” took an immediate liking to me and after the initial introductions were exchanged he left only to return a little later with some beers. I’m never one to turn down free booze, and since I had yet no idea of his trouble and problem with consuming alcohol, I had no qualms about drinking with him. As we drank we discussed the usual topics of conversation such as “where are you from”, “what are you doing in Costa Rica” etc. I gave my general background and stated that I was hoping to find somewhere I could call home and who knows, perhaps start-up my own business of sorts. When Berta heard this, it became her greatest topic of conversation with me throughout the rest of my stay in Puerto Jimenez, especially since I also stated that I quite liked this particular area.
With Berta sitting at her desk, playing solitaire and listening in to the chatter and interjecting where she had opinion (F spoke English, so at this point the majority was spoken in English with F filling Berta in to what was being said) F and I were steadily becoming intoxicated with beer after beer. We had at one point even gone to the grocery store for more, which was quite conveniently located just across the street from the hostel as well.
Time skipped by and the next thing I recall was Berta announcing that the 9pm bus would soon be arriving and that we should go scout people from the bus to stay at the hostel. When I had arrived earlier in the day, I was the first and only person staying in the hostel. At Berta’s request “F” and I hopped to attention and went off toward the bus station (just down the street a few blocks) to collect any backpackers that may have been on the bus. I chuckled at myself as we walked down the road on how in less than 12 hours I had gone from being the one escorted and lead to a hostel for the night to being the “hustler” in getting new arrivals to come to my hostel! But as I was intoxicated, I really just relished the little trip of something new to do.
We made it to the bus stop just as it had dropped off 3 passengers, one very tired man from France, and two travelling friends from Belgium. “F” and I rounded the trio up and walked them over to The Corner to help get them settled in. The man from France simply signed in and passed out within 20 minutes of arrival and that was the last anyone saw of him for almost a full day as he apparently spent just about all of the next day sleeping!! The other two friends from Belgium hung out with myself, Berta and “F” and joined in the booze festivities. They were interested in hiking and camping in the Corcovado National Park and upon hearing that “F” was a tour guide, became very interested in picking his brain. It was at this point that we had all learned that the Corcovado Park would be closing in 2 days for the entire month of October for Park maintenance. So, if one were to want to go into the Park, it could only be for a single night and 2 days. This greatly saddened the two Belgium friends, as they were quite looking forward to some major hiking and camping in the Park.
In any event, as it was starting to get late, Berta excused herself and retired for the night, while myself, “F” and the two Belgium men decided to continue the fiesta by going to a local bar. There we had several more drinks and sadly the once festive tune began to turn rather somber and strange as the alcohol in “F’s” system started to bring out an entirely different personality. While at the bar he continuously tried to hit on me and though I tried to politely turn him down, perhaps it was the rejection and his drunken stupor, but the demons began to draw out of him. Noticing signs I didn’t want to associate myself with, I began to withdraw myself from his company and instead talked more with the Belgium friends and others at the bar. For those of me who know me, when intoxicated I tend to become a very social butterfly. I love talking with everyone and enjoy festive tones throughout drunken occasions and drift away from energies that are negative.
The final straw for us all was when “F” began telling us about the tragedies in his life (which I won’t share as it’s not my business to) and then turned on the two Belgiums claiming they were giving him a look he didn’t approve of and that he would kill them if they didn’t stop. The Belgiums tried to pacify the now very touchy situation by buying “F” another beer as the three of us scurried back to the hostel, leaving “F” to his tico friends at the bar. I mentioned earlier about the great security at The Corner, and it was particularly in this occasion that I was most happy for it. The upstairs area where we were all sleeping (my private room and the dorm room area for the boys) was padlocked and only those with room keys could open it. We locked the gate behind us and all went to sleep.