This was one of the rare years that I did not attend the Fourth of July Picnic put on by the American Colony Committee. For a change, getting there did not seem to be half the fun, and certainly getting back from there, in case it rained, was something I did not look forward to.
So, instead, I went with my friend, Sandy to a restaurant in Sabana Sur that I have not tried. Sabana Sur, on the other side of the park is totally different from Sabana Norte. The street is bustling with pedestrians and restaurants are popping up everywhere. El Beso is on a corner in (and outside of) a building that once housed a furniture store and probably before that was a large private residence. I wanted to try it because it is actually a sidewalk café. At least half of the restaurant is on what was the front lawn, now cemented and protected by a canopy. From there one can watch the pedestrians and (unfortunately) hear the trucks and motorcycles pass by.
I noticed that most of the other diners seemed to be enjoying before lunch cocktails. Some had huge stemmed globes in front of them almost filled with what looked like a delicious but lethal double or triple Margarita. We ordered two waters.
The menu was complete with a wide choice of everything from entradas to platos fuertes, and even ejecutivos (lunch specials) for under 4,000 colons. Although they had a special on Thursday that if we ordered two main courses, one would be free, we did what we usually do and shared a main dish and a salad. Since many of the dishes had an Italian accent, I asked the waiter if the owner was Italian. I was told “Italian and Arab.” Interesting combination. Later a saw a woman who I figured was the owner because she picked up a paper napkin that had fallen on the floor.
In some restaurants when we say we are sharing, they bring two plates, each with half a serving. In this case, they did not. It would have been difficult to halve the baked Mediterranean trout that was stuffed with tomatoes, capers, shrimp, olives, and then I stopped counting.
Between the loud music and the traffic on the street bordering the park, conversation was not that easy. Just as we finished our meals and called for the check, the rain began. It didn’t just rain. It was a cloud burst and a monsoon combined. The covered area was probably 25 feet by 45 feet. It seemed safe, although we were close to the edge of canopy. Pretty soon there were rivers just outside the canopied area, and then the rivers overflowed and began to invade the restaurant area. Thanks to the wind, the downpour was invading our space. I have seen rains in Costa Rica but never as strong and blinding as this. We could not easily make our way to the indoor area because the rain coming down in the open space between the two sections would have drenched us.
But eventually we all had to move. We had our umbrellas which we opened for the three-foot walk in the rain. Others made a dash for it. I wondered at the poor waiters who had to have been getting wet walking back and forth.
I also noticed a young woman sitting alone, wearing a sort of uniform that could have indicated a medical job. She sat outside calmly eating, not looking around, during most of the rain. Even she had to retreat to safer ground, and once there, she settled herself and calmly finished her lunch without once looking around, displaying a concentration that a brain surgeon would envy.
The waiters were a happy lot, joking about the displacement and the rain. It was contagious and everyone settled at their new tables. We ordered two coffees but resisted some truly inviting desserts on the menu.
Once the rain had become a healthy pelo de gato (hair of the cat), also known as a light drizzle, we went in search of a taxi. It didn’t take long.
After an hour or so as I was relaxing at home, the sun came out to dry everything up as it does so efficiently here. I thought about the rains that have brought floods to so many parts of the world, and even parts of Costa Rica and my heart went out to the people.
This little part of the world that is the Central Mesa is indeed lucky.