High season: The halls are alive with the sound of tourists

These past two weeks have been filled with the happy sounds of tourists in my building. First, two mutual friends from Florida visited my neighbor and friend, Doug. As soon as Pat and Joann arrived, they were off on tours. The first two days of their visit were rainy and windy and they were not able to see the Arenal volcano in the fog but loved the Tabacon spa. It was cold and wet on their trip the next day, but they said they had a wonderful time anyway because of the scenery and delicious lunch. Then they were off on a coffee tour where once again, they enjoyed great food and learning about the history and cultivation of coffee, as well as a bit of Costa Rican culture.

On their third day we all welcomed the grand entrance of sunshine and blue skies which made their tour of the city warm and comfortable. Like most people who visit San José, they enjoyed the museums and buildings. I suspect tour companies with destinations in other parts of the country of purposely warning people to stay away from San Jose, but I have to admit I’m biased.

At the end of the week, both women declared they would be coming back for more tours. This surprised me because they are in their 80s. I couldn’t keep up with them just walking in the neighborhood.

Then my son arrived. I delight in seeing him, but I am not used to feeding someone who is a foot taller than I am with an appetite to match, not to mention a different schedule for eating. Like most Gringos, he eats dinner at night, while I have adjusted to having my main meal midday and a very small snack around 6 and I’m good till bed time. In between eating and snacking (both of my children tell me they are always hungry when they visit me), he helped me operate my computer and my Kindle. He is a good teacher.

Then he, too, was off on a tour, zip lining and riding the gentle rapids of the Rio Sarapiquí. It was great fun, he said. He met some interesting visitors from Puerto Rico and India and had a chance to practice his Spanish. And by now the good weather seems to have settled in. This makes me, a non-tourist, very happy.

Because I am not used to cooking three meals a day (how do mothers with families do that!), we ate out a few times. It was my turn for new experiences. We went first, to a Japanese restaurant for sushi, one of his favorite dishes. It is in a local hotel and had the reputation for being the best in San José. Years ago I took my much-traveled Norwegian friend Nina, there and she declared it the best sushi she had tasted anywhere.

This time, the sushi was ordinary and could not be improved because the ginger was soaked in vinegar. When I asked about it, the waitress shrugged. That was the way it came. Sushi needs both wasabi and a slightly sweet ginger.

Another day we went to the restaurant row on the balcony of the Rohmoser Plaza and chose a fairly new Arabian food restaurant. Justin had falafel and I a chicken pita. Both came with french fries. French fries seem to be part of every country’s cuisine. I never order them, but if they are served, I will taste them and decide if I want to eat them.

I have not been to Belgium to try their famous fries, but I have heard how they are twice-cooked and can imagine how they might taste. These also were twice fried (I asked). They were very hot, lovely and soft — almost creamy on the inside — and brown and crisp on the outside, and the most delicious and filling I have tasted in Costa Rica or anywhere.

I’ve never zip lined and have no desire to. Two times river rapids rafting has been enough, and years ago, I was lucky on my first trip to Arenal to see huge red boulders roll down the mountainside. I don’t expect to repeat that.

A new Japanese Korean restaurant has opened just two blocks from me, I will try it. I am, however, counting the days in anticipation of more of those Arabian french fries.

This entry was posted in Friday Column. Bookmark the permalink.