Tuesday, June 03, 2008

saturday soundtrack

I went into town this morning. It was a beautiful morning, sunny yet cool and my bike is finally good to cover the 18km to town and back. I also have the gift of music (some dear friends sent me an ipod!), and that makes so many things better. It was a quick ride into town, this is low season so the road was quiet. I passed by beautiful golden beaches and super blue ocean. The two brand new 5 star hotels – the first ‘luxury’ hotels on the coast not counting the floating ones that put into Limon – are slowly and unfortunately coming together. There are already enough SUVs in this part of the world, and while I know that change must come there are levels of change are there not? Strangely they decided to build these luxury places in Cocles (named after the cutlass sword and home to at least one shipwrecked pirate vessel). Cocles has two parts – the main surf beach and another lower key local part with the local public school, market and soccer field. This is where the hotels have gone up next door to each other in very small lots. They look very crowded, and are across the road from one of the biggest rubbish dumps this side of Puerto. I wonder how they will market the hotels, I think they will attract rich San Josians: I think 5 star hotel goers from the States would be sorely disappointed in the locality, and size of the pool. Who knows? I don’t think I’ve ever been in a 5 star hotel, what do I know.
I got into town as Los Fabulosos Cadilacs were playing – a perfect soundtrack to Puerto: latino reggae calypso regaton fusion. Real rondon. Town was quiet and clean this morning. It really is pretty, the Caribbean lapping right against town, kids of every colour boogie boarding, the odd wandering pig, the dreadlocked streetmen, the bewildered peeling tourists, the highly clothed indigenous and the barely clothed ticas. It was Saturday so farmers market was happening but it was after 9 and they were already packing up.
I bumped into a welsh friend in the internet place. She left the UK 2 years ago to travel Latin America. She came here last June and stayed, she doesn’t have plans to return home. We talked about family, lifechoices, life here. It is always nice to connect with her, her perspective has a ring of familiarity and sounds clear and stable.
I ended up having lunch in café rico. Café rico is one of those places from a novel. It’s an old ramshackle structure with cane walls almost overgrown with mango, almond and heliconias. There are books to be exchanged – the typical mix of counter culture, sustainability pamphlets, tourist guides. There are 3 enormous dogs lying around and there is a pall of hash smoke one has to fight through to get to the hole in the wall counter. Today very loud Led Zep was competing with some heavy salsa from the neighbours. Rick himself was there, a Robert Plant lookalike with a mountain of graying blond curls, surf shorts and camo vest. He was stoned and talking loudly on the phone to some counter culture friend, “hey man, to hell with the system . . . do it, just do it man, the world’s heating up, there’s no time left . . .”. At café rico one can order pot from the menu. I had a veggie burger and some really tasty fries.
It’s a small community and on my way home I waved to familiar faces: French, Californian, indigenous, tico, Jamaican, Nicaraguan. I passed a stunning group of big black women, maybe 3 generations walking along the road. Big black women talk while they walk and they talk in a group, meaning they don’t get out the way for no man, nope, not even a bus. I came round a corner and there they were, maybe 8 of them spread 2/3rds of the way across the road, kids of all ages dangling from them or following along all looking up. I saw the backs, big black shiny broad beautiful backs with dark dark hair tied up above in an incredible concoction of bright rainbow colours. They were wearing sarongs and the material clung tight to their shapes. So beautiful to see these women, so strong in themselves and in each other, such a reflection of humanity or what humanity could be, their ties to one another so easy and tight. I see their strength in their backs, the way they hold their heads, their gazes, the smiles of the younger women and the steady looks of the elder. To come round that grey rubble road and see such colour amidst the jungle green makes me catch my breath. I passed them and looked back and smiled, one of the kids waved, I know him.
Saturday soundtrack:
Elvis Crespo, ‘Pintame’
Kumbia Kings, ‘Boom Boom’
Los Fabulosos Cadilacs, ‘Calaveras y Diablitos’
Matisyahu, ‘Sea to sea’
Bob Marley, ‘Sun is Shining’
Brooklyn Funk Essentials, ‘Istanbul Twilight’
Led Zepplin, ‘Babe I’m gonna leave you’
Tupac Shakur featuring Talib Kwell, ‘Fallen Star’
Thomas Mapfumo, ‘Hansvadzi’
Ricardo Lemvo y Makina Loco, ‘La Milonga de Ricardo en Ch-cha-cha’