I woke up in my hammock. I had forgotten why I was there for a moment, looked up, and saw someone taking pictures of the 30-odd hammocks surrounding me. Little did I know that I would be spending the next few days and every waking minute with this blonde photographer.
I sat up and asked if he wanted to go to the beach. I heard his thick German accent and didn’t need to ask his origin. We walked around, swam, walked around. He bought us beer all day, we lay in the sun and talked about our biggest fears. We both refused to tell each other our names, so we just called one another Fraulein for the first 24 hours. He and I watched the waves while eating caramel fudge ice cream. We walked along the beach and found a rusty ‘ship’ washed up on the shore, called this Captain Morgan’s abandoned ship, and searched for his hidden treasure.
This mystery man is Ule. (oo-lee) He is indeed German, and lives in Denmark. We are the same age. Ule will be graduating with his business degree a year from now, and he has two goals post-graduation. One is to open a ski lodge of his own in Canada, Banff to be specific. The other is to open a gay retirement home on the island of Ibiza, Spain. This is not a word of a lie.
Bailey: “What day is it?”
Ule: “Someday between Monday and Sunday. I think…”
And, the romantic setting we find ourselves in is called Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. This town is a fantastic little place, but it also rained us out. One night it was raining so hard I didn’t bother to change from my bathing suit to go to dinner with Ule. We arrived a few doors down from our hostel looking like we had just come from Niagara Falls. The waiter ushered us in with a large grin on his face and once he had returned with our drinks, he asked me if I was cold. I said yes. He asked me if I was wet. I said yes. “Do yooou whaaaanna towelle?” I said yes right away without even thinking. He took our order and then we saw him walk across the street. A few minutes later he came back without a dry inch on his body and under his arm he was holding a beach towel. He put it around me and told me to keep it. Does anyone even think of this kind of hospitality in North America? Anywhere?
I’m not sure how to describe the town. ‘Hella-good’? ‘Fantasmic’? First of all there are Rastafarians everywhere. Grandmother Delores, I would tell you that they were selling drugs, but I won’t. That would be inappropriate. To be honest, Puerto Viejo is not much more than one long paved road that follows the coastline. And packed from end to end on each side are restaurants, surf shops, bars, all exuding a laid-back attitude. It’s very touristy, and I’ve heard there has been speculation as to whether the ‘authentic’ Caribbean flavour has been nearly demolished or enhanced because of this. The decision is really in the eye of the beholder however, and make no mistake you will have an absolute ball here no matter what mindset you are in. All in all it’s a concoction of fantastic beaches, great surfing, and of course the ambience of the Caribbean.
But, as I was saying earlier, it was a bit too wet for me and the German.
And so, a new idea is born. Bocas del Toro, Panama. This is on a little island just a short boat ride from the coast of Panama. But before I get into yet another great place, I need to tell you that Ule and I picked up a Swiss girl. Her name is Amy and we are the three traveling hooligans ready to take on our next adventure.
All for one and one for all…