Costa Rica :: Part 17

This story is being told as a series. Here’s a link to Part 1

Part 17

The kiss had been disappointing, and it was getting late. My tour had an early excursion departure in the morning. We picked up the phone to ask the lobby to call him a cab — and there was no answer. We checked for a local phone book to call for ourselves; there was none. We tried to get an operator to assist us, but could not even get an outside line.

Stumped, we headed back out toward the front desk. When we opened the door of my hut, it was pitch black outside; aside from the lights of the huts themselves, the public lights had all been turned off. I grabbed my flashlight and we headed up the road to the lobby. It was closed; no signs of light or life inside. We had no way to call a taxi.

Eddie half-joked that he could always stay with me. I smiled in the dark, as if this was funny. Ha ha, no, he has to leave, I thought. But there was no one to contact, no way for him to go, the walk back down the hill long and dark and treacherous. No, no, he has to leave.

I responded — in what I hoped seemed like light-hearted teasing, but was in fact a matter of worst-case scenario planning and a setting of boundaries if necessary — that I did have that extra bed, if we couldn’t find any other solution.

Eddie suggested — I hoped he was just joking — that we wouldn’t need an extra bed, would we? Oh this is bad, this is very bad. Oh Lord, please help me; he can’t stay here tonight. I need him to leave.

And just then, coming up the hill, I heard a motor. A single headlight. Chucho’s motor bike. The motor bike I only knew about because of that morning’s flat. Oh, thank you God. “I think that’s our bus driver!” I said. The engine cut just ahead of where we were standing, out of view on the other side of the bus. “Chucho?” I called. The only response was the sound of the bus panel slamming shut. I hurried over to the bus, looked around the corner, called louder this time. Chucho was walking away from the bus, toward one of the huts. “Chucho?” I called again, and this time he heard me. He turned suddenly, visibly surprised at my presence.

I can’t imagine what I looked like at that moment, but desperate comes to mind.

“Susan? he said to me, perhaps only then recognizing me from the tour group contingent. His accent made the middle “s” in my name softer when he said it. I smiled, nodded. “I need your help,” I began. I tried to explain that we needed a taxi. He came closer, looking hard at me, trying to decipher what I was saying. I stopped, took a breath, remembered that he needed to translate whatever I said. I needed to go slower. Simpler. There was no need to rush. He was here, he would help me, he wasn’t going to leave me stranded here.

“My friend,” I began again, gesturing at Eddie, “Mi amigo. Needs to get a taxi. Necessito un taxi.” I knew I had the conjugation wrong, that I had just said that I need a taxi, but figured that was close enough. In any case, I seemed to need it far more than he did. “But we have no phone. Pero… no tengo… telefono? Ayuda-me?” I knew I was massacring his language, but between the slower English and the pidgin Spanish, he understood the need in broad strokes. He said something I didn’t understand, then gestured “one moment.”

He ran into his hut and came back out. He had his phone out. “No se… I don’t know… number taxi,” he said, but Eddie had the business card of the cabbie on him. While Chucho made the phone call for us, Eddie told me that he’d been using that taxi service the whole time he’d been in Arenal, but had never bothered to get the number. He’d just happened to take the card tonight, for some odd reason.

Some odd reason, indeed. They say God watches over fools, and that night I was one of the fools He was watching over particularly closely.

In another minute Chucho let us know that the taxi would be here shortly. I thanked him profusely, and he wished me a good night. Eddie and I leaned on the bus, in the still, humid air, and waited. He gave me a quick peck on the cheek as he got in the cab, and said he’d see me the next night as we’d originally planned. And then he was gone, into the dark of the night, and I was weak with relief.

Copyright © 2010

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~ by lorakceel on May 14, 2010.

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