July 7, 2006

Crustaceans And Prostitutes
Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica

A crab living in my shower drain and hookers on the streets.

Prostitution is legal in Costa Rica, and it's really odd seeing it out in the open in this region of the world. Wednesday night was Ladies Night at a popular bar in town (women drink free for two hours). Naturally this attracts plenty of guys, but what I was really surprised to see was the number of prostitutes in and around the area.

The ratio was a little absurd. For every 10 guys there were at least 4 working girls, and 3 female tourists. Some were cute, some looked like former men, a few were aggressive, and all of them definitely looked the part. I have a feeling that some Americans come down and invest in land, while others entertain notions of buying a small collection of women.

Folks are paying around US$350,000 to US$1.5 million for property and homes in the area, but the city roads are still made of dirt.

I got some really good beach time in yesterday. Although the town isn't much to write home about (or photograph, for that matter), it satisfies the craving for coast that's been building in me for several months now. The beach is alive with all sorts of mollusks, crustaceans, and things, all scurrying or sliding this way and that—entertaining to watch.

I know what's been bothering me about Tamarindo (other than the mosquitoes and sand flies): The food situation. I think that this is the first city that I've encountered in Central America without a market (vegetable or otherwise). Typically a major resource for me, street markets provide locals and shoestring travelers with a place to pick up cheap nourishment. This, combined with a complete lack of food vendors on the streets, has made eating on a budget particularly challenging (boring, and unsatisfying—mmm, pasta again).

I suppose the underlying problem is that I'm still trying to live on less than US$10 a day, which can be a bit uncomfortable to do in a town where tourists typically spend three times that amount on dinner and drinks. A week's worth of Internet access in Guatemala buys me one hour here.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Tamarindo isn't representative of all of Costa Rica.

I'll be relocating tomorrow morning. After a full day of busing, I should arrive in the capital city of San José, where I'll wait for my brother to arrive on the 10th. I'm looking forward to traveling around with him as he's exposed to some eclectic international flavor.

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