While sitting on the porch at Casa del Mar in the early morning hours, my day started with some monstrously loud animal noises which I could only imagine came from a howler monkey. I had never heard one but reasoned, “What the hell else can that be?” It sounded somewhat like a pig squealing, only much deeper and more jungle-y. And not at all squealy. I looked over the railing but I couldn’t see anything. (It was a howler monkey; I saw and heard them later in the trip.)
Totally excited about hearing this creature since Priscila still hadn’t seen any monkeys on this trip. But with the wildlife refuge on the agenda for later that morning, she would see them then, no doubt. After getting a little coffee and doing some work in the lounge, Priscila made her way down, we ate some delicious made-to-order breakfast from the menu and began getting ready for the day ahead.
Oddly enough, it was immediately after leaving the wildlife refuge that we spotted a giant male howler monkey in the wild. Like I said, I had never seen them before and the males are enormous. We stopped to watch as he mosied off into the distance. Neat.
Walking up, what we found was Bar Aloha, a very nondescript tent campground. Nothing really stood out about it but in a few moments, both of us would be so glad that we decided to take a closer look. As we walked into the campground, we spotted an older man sitting down in the distance. We said hello and made our way over to where he was. He introduced himself as Alex and as we talked, he remained busy carving wood. Beside him was a small little xylophone which he had been working on. Soon, his wife Lily came out and, as with everywhere Priscila and I went, we immediately sunk into another extremely pleasant conversation.
(I include myself in the list of participants in the conversation because I was an awesome listener and would sometimes say things. Mostly “Sí.” And “Serio?” It counts.)
But that wasn’t the biggest one. No, not at all. He uncovered that next and then… Then this happened:
We talked some more, laughed some more, and eventually said our goodbyes. Right before leaving, though, I purchased a hand-carved wooden man holding a Costa Rica flag. My father, in his retirement, has taken to woodcarving (small figurines of people, mostly). Nearly every time I skype with my folks, my dad runs off into some hidden part of the house, grabs a carving he’s working on, and brings it back to show me. So in the conversation that night, I was excited to share with him a hand-carved little wooden man from Costa Rica.
It’s a nice little reminder of a good moment in time, the wooden man. It was such an unexpected surprise, walking up to a place we knew nothing of and finding not just this incredible woodwork but also two very lovely, lovely people. Alex and Lily were so gracious and kind. Good people.
In the evening, Priscila and I hopped about from bar to bar as we had the previous night, retiring back to the hotel relatively early. “Somewhat” smashed and unusually hungry, I was sent out to acquire food stuffs. It turned into a long mission, actually, since it was after 10pm and I would learn that the mini-super next door closes at that hour. Remembering that Zen Den served food, I ended up walking over there, ordering a burger, and waiting (not long) until it was ready. Pleased with going above and beyond for the mission, I headed back to the hotel, burger AND drinks in hand. Back at the hotel, I was applauded for my efforts after which time we quickly split and descended upon the burger.
Now… Yes, I was inebriated. But that was pretty much the best burger of my entire life! I included an exclamation mark in that sentence just to drive the point home. Don’t ask me what was in it. Terry, the eye-catching bartender at Zen Den (rowr!), had suggested it and I was all like, “Okay, that sounds good” trying to be all nonchalant and smoov and stuff. But holy hell, that thing was insanely good! It tasted like free range unicorn smothered in rainbow and sandwiched between buns!* I don’t know. But It. Was. Delicious.
In fact, it was so delicious that one of us (and I won’t say which one but it was totally Priscila**) ended up channeling the Hoff. So in addition to all of the awesomeness of Sámara, I had a celebrity sighting!
A perfect end to another great day in Sámara. I dig that town, I do.
The next morning, we were planning to leave for Malpais which is why we retired early. The upcoming part of our trip was going to be a serious pain in the butt because of the route we would have to take. We already knew that it was going to take us forever by bus and we weren’t at all mentally ready for it. Even with our bellies full of unicorn. So off to sleep and then we’d get up and go.
* Little known fact: Unicorns are a super-food. Free range unicorn offers the most health benefits with magic in every bite. NEVER eat canned.
** It wasn’t Priscila. It was me. And hot damn, I’m a sexy beast when I’m eating burgers!