Storm in Puerto Jimenez – Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica

Storm in Puerto Jimenez

Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica

Sunrise over Golfito. Redemption!
Sunrise over Golfito. Redemption!
Acting on suspicion, I dump my colones onto the bed amongst the haze of mildew and sticky air inside my gated room. I count up the silver and damp bills and it amounts to 10,000 colones, or about $20 (US). I walk down the main drag, a potted dirt road, past the residents on bike and foot, past the bad karaoke bar emanating tuneless folk songs. I try my ATM card once again, punching in any combination of denomination and card type I can think of. I give up and yank on the door until a cute tica signals me to push and we both laugh.

Exhausted, not knowing where my next dollar will come from, I find a pay phone in a dark corner of the street and punch in the code for my phone card, which has six minutes remaining, and take the action of last resort, calling my credit card bank. They put me on hold. A credit card PIN cannot be handed out over the phone and a cash advance is not possible, because tomorrow, I had forgotten, is Sunday, Domingo.

I had enough money to eat, pay for my room, or take the bus out of town, probably not enough to do more than one, my choice.

Sign in my room
Sign in my room
It was enough, alas, to take a ferry across the bay to a small fishing village, Golfito. I circled three banks in the vicinity of the village, one of which, I established, did not accept my card. I had no alarm clock, so I climbed into bed early attempting to tune out the chirping geckos chasing each other around my wall. My ferry would be leaving at 6 a.m.

As I started to doze, rain started pounding on the tin roof with countless thwacks and thunder roared with such violence that it shook the home down down to its foundations. Sometime during the night the power and water cut off.

I awoke to the crowing of a rooster several hours before my ferry would be departing. In my initial stupor I wanted to strangle the thing, until I realized that, like an overcautious mother, it got me up in time to save my hide and get some breakfast in the process. I wandered down the alley to a soda the catered to early birds and ordered some cafe negro and eggs with black beans and rice, which was my breakfast almost every other day as well.

My roommate, the gecko
My roommate, the gecko
As I walked towards the dock, the sun rose spreading a sublime glow across the bay, an auspicious sign, I hoped. I departed the ferry and wandered out of the dilapidated fishing village and walked towards a duty free fortress sure to find an oasis of banks therein. Large cement walls were reinforced by barbed wire giving the whole place the look of a penitentiary. I found the entrance, but I was so intimidated that I located one more bank on my map and decided to return to the fortress only as a last resort.

I carefully monitored the way to the last bank. I found a small cooperative bank tucked along the street, punched in my information with bated breath, and the cash that sifted out shortly thereafter felt like casino winnings from a one armed bandit. I collected my colones and gave thanks to a god I didn’t particularly believe in until that moment.

I stopped in the supermercado in Golfito and, secure in my finances, gathered my lunch, ham, cheese, an ice cream bar, and some corn rings. I sat on a bench and a half naked derelict approached me and asked me in English what I had for him. I gave him some ham, and he wanted to give me his coffee in return. I walked to an open air soda near the dock and drank cafe negros until the next ferry arrived.

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