We reach Playa Hermosa close to 5 p.m., while there’s still daylight.
Our hotel room is like a mini-villa. Shelves! A huge cupboard! A kitchenette! Air-con AND a ceiling fan! AND – most importantly – it’s close to one of the hotel’s TWO pools. THIS is the life.
I am finally ready for my much-missed shower, and am mere moments away from cleanliness and doing something about my hair, which has gotten increasingly poofy from the dryness.
But it has to wait. Zoe and Jenn want to go eat and buy groceries.
(The small challenges – and temporary frustrations – of travelling with other people.)
Jenn expertly drives us in the dark to “downtown” Playa Hermosa for our second proper meal of the day.
I tackle a chalupa – which, it turns out, is MUCH too much food for me to handle.
After, we hit the supermarket across the street from where Jenn parks our vehicle.
The checkout counter is … for lack of a better word, an experience. But not nnecessarily for the best reasons.
The cashier – who knows no English – is chatting with the bag “boy” (actually a middle-aged man). And it seems almost conspiratorial. As if they’re talking about the tourists in front of them. I, of course, have a very minimal knowledge of Spanish, so I can’t say for sure.
Two boys – pre-teen, perhaps – are carrying on in the lineup behind us. One is my complexion; the other is lighter.
I don’t pay them much mind at first. But then I notice the cashier lean towards the bag “boy”, then shush the boys, as if they’re saying something inappropriate or rude, much louder than they should.
And then I heard one of the boys say:
Accompanied by giggles.
Jenn and I look at each other at the same time, with precisely the same quizzical look.
It’s an endangered species of squirrel monkey found in Costa Rica and Panama.
It’s also one of the few words we recognize, in our limited knowledge of Spanish.
So when we’re looking at each other, we’re having similar thoughts about where – or to whom – that word is being directed.
Are they calling someone a monkey?
Are they calling … ME … a monkey?
To this day, neither of us knows for sure. And perhaps in actual fact, the people at the supermarket were speaking about something else.
But even on the drive back home, I can’t shake the vibe of unfriendliness I think I’ve just experienced. It’s as if all the fun I’ve had on our trip thus far, as come to a screeching halt – like the needle yanked across and off a vinyl record.
Even on the drive back, I’m quiet and temporarily sullen, with a bad taste in my mouth. And all I want to do is go back to our hotel and have the longest shower imaginable. And just wash, and wash, and wash my hair.
I also want to head home and immediately enroll in a Spanish-language class – not only because of my desire to learn a beautiful language, but to use said language to cuss out locals who think they can get away with making fun of foreigners.
A drink (deserved, I think), and an evening dip in the pool with Jenn and Zoe, helps to dissolve those ill feelings.
When one is in a beautiful country, in a warm pool under a sky full of stars, eventually, one has to shrug and look to the day ahead.