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Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Dancing Gringa!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

It finally rained the other day, on my birthday Thursday, as I recall. Much like Camelot, however, the rain fell mostly after sundown. Only in late afternoon did a light mist begin to fall. It was through the soft spray that I noticed a rainbow running all the way across the sky. In spite of a few drops on my glasses and perhaps on the camera lens, I did manage to capture a shot or two. As I took this one, I saw that it was actually a double rainbow, with a faint second arc above the darker one. Quite spectacular!

The big birthday came and went without much to-do here but we did go out for a nice seafood dinner at a local restaurant, La Barca de Mariscos, which means The Seafood Boat. We had been told it was good but more expensive than our fave next door, La Cubana. (La Cubana deserves a post of its own. It’s truly a Costa Rican classic!) One of the best things about La Cubana is Monica, the barmaid that waits on us each night and who has become something of an amiga, due to our efforts to communicate in Spanish and the frequent laughter that results. Now when she sees us arrive, she automatically brings over two Imperial beers for us oh-so-predictable Gringos.

At La Barca, the extensive menu was entirely in Spanish and included numerous terms unfamiliar to me so out came the Palm Pilot and I began looking up first one word then another. But our smiling waiter soon came to the rescue with an English language version. When we ordered, I told him “Hoy es mi cumpleanos!” Today is my birthday, I said, by way of explaining the bottle of Chiliean wine we had ordered. Soon our generous plates arrived and as we were finishing up, the young man surprised us with a small cake sporting one lighted candle on it! I don’t know what kind of cake it was but it had a delicate custard-like character. Muy delicioso! I glanced into the kitchen area and saw the owner smiling with delight at our pleasure. Happy Birthday to me!

In our walks around town, we had seen a bar and restaurant nearby that advertised Musica Viva - live music - several nights a week. So last night, we decided to check it out. After watching part of the Olympics, we headed to La Caverna, splurging again on dinner out. But since even the high priced dinners here are less than half what the same meal would cost in the states, we figured our budget could handle it. Located only about two blocks from our villas, La Caverna lived up to its name. The music was down some steep stairs in a bar area decorated just like a cavern, complete with fake stalactites hanging from the rocky grey ceiling. With table seating for perhaps 35-40 and no obvious dance floor, it was a cozy cantina but almost empty when we arrived.

However, not quite empty. Seated at a table with another woman and a man was Monica, our friend from La Cubana. She saw us come in and greeted us warmly, laughing as we ordered wine with our dinner instead of our standard cerveza.

The dinner was excellent, one of the best we’ve had. I’m very fond of a certain fish here, corvina, which I think basically means sea bass. I’ve had it breaded and fried or grilled and last night I ordered it with a salsa de aguacate, or avocado sauce. Along with some nicely spiced mashed potatoes, a side of sautéed broccoli and cauliflower plus a small salad, it was fantastic! Layne’s steak was flavorful although not as tender as one might wish but the mushroom sauce with it was tasty.

Then the Saturday night crowd began to filter in and slowly the place filled up almost to capacity. Advertised as beginning at 8:30, but on Costa Rican time more like 9:30, the two-man band finally began, one on guitar, the other with a drum and bongo set up, and both singers with strong voices. It was great music, flavored with lively salsa and Latin beats, interspersed with apparently humorous bits from the musicians, based on the audience reactions. As the only Gringos in the crowd, we never got the jokes but certainly enjoyed the ambiance and the saucy music.

Suddenly, during one particularly lively song, Monica began waving me over to her table. Not knowing what she might want, I scooted over and quickly found myself being pushed onto the tiny dance floor in front of the band with her male companion!

Well, if it’s got a beat, I can dance to it! And I’m not known for being shy so I immediately got the picture and started to dance, joyfully and with wild abandon to the energetic music. Before I knew it, the audience was clapping to the beat, encouraging my dance partner and me in our improvised entertainment. What fun! Now I’m probably known around town as La Gringa Bailando, or “the dancing Gringa!” I can’t wait to see Monica again and ask why she chose me to put in the spotlight that way. Do I have “dancer” tattooed on my forehead or something?

Today was farmers’ market day again and after the regular Sunday morning phone call to my mom in Texas (free, thanks to Magic Jack!), off we went to replenish our supply of fruits and veggies for the next few days. The festive atmosphere of this weekly event brings out the entire town, it seems.

The park was filled with adults and children, many of them watching skateboarders practice their tricks on obstacles set up on the school basketball court, converted into a mini-Olympic course for the teens. After Layne took a few photos of the athletes

in their trials, we shopped for pineapple, strawberries, watermelon, cilantro, avocado and, of course, mango. A couple of the vendors, after weighing my selection, added extra mangos to my bag for free! Muchas gracias!!

1 comment:

  1. Just want to let you know I'm enjoying your posts. And I love the pictures! It all looks so sunny and bright and colorful there, and it sounds like a fun adventure so far. And your descriptions of the food are making me hungry!
    Love, Gaylie