Day 4- The scariest night of my entire life
We were so excited to start our day, we got up early, had the hotel breakfast and got our rental car. Did you know you can negotiate the price of rental cars in Costa Rica? Well leave it to me to find that out and work my magic. Also, we named our car Stephen Blanco Jones, Jr.
The drive started out on a highway with traffic. Kind of a bummer when we were ready to take on the open road, but don’t worry there was plenty of time for that. Soon the road did open up for us and we let the Costa Rican breeze flow through the windows. The car radio had a CD player and we both were bummed we didn’t know. How much fun would it have been to blast some old CD mixes we’ve made over the years.
A little doggie we came across along the way:
About 45 minutes before our destination we were told by our GPS to take a left onto a dirt road. Surely this road wouldn’t last more than a few minutes. Well, 45 minutes later, hundreds of pot holes and near death experiences with other drivers, we made it to our destination, Arenal Volcano. By the way, I’d just like to say that my aggressive driving finally has a place in this world. It’s called Costa Rica and I fit in perfectly.
When we arrived at the hotel I sort of got this funny feeling. It wasn’t like the photos we saw, the people seemed unusually quiet and I could never quite tell who was in charge. Picture the hotel in the shinning.
We decided to make the best of it and go for a drive around town to see what else was there. We were so glad we did. Although there weren’t many more stores or restaurants than we originally saw, we did come upon some amazing beauty. First off, we were at the base of Arenal Volcano. It is breathtaking to see a real volcano in person. Then there are huge mountains that surrounded the town. And lucky for us we found a watering hole at the end of the dirt road. Without hesitation we stripped down and jumped in! We were in Costa Rica after all. And the local who happened to see us, didn’t even blink. I wonder if all Americans have the urge to go skinny dipping upon arrival.
After a few hours of hanging out, chugging some much deserved beers and taking a shower- Holly and I gathered a few belongings and went out to dinner. I noticed that my stuff was sort of scattered all over the place and I remember Holly telling me the night before I should be more careful, so I threw a couple T-shirts over my camera and laptop and went on my way. Meanwhile, Holly put all her stuff in one bag, locked it and we left. As we left they asked where we were going. Smarty Holly didn’t say much other than, “out.” No one really need to know what we are doing she figured, and I agreed.
We went out to dinner and it began pouring. Cue horror movie music. We found one place that was open and grabbed some dinner. During dinner I heard a man who was clearly from America talking to his daughter on the phone. He was trying to tell her that she has to leave her drug addict boyfriend and that she herself need to get drug tested each week in order for him to trust her. My heart ached listening. Although I’m not a parent I’ve dealt with addiction up close and personal with someone I would consider a child of mine and it is a deep pain to want to help someone who doesn’t want help. Before we left I wrote down this note on a coaster and dropped it in front of him. I’m not sure what he thought but hopefully he knew he wasn’t alone.
When we returned to the hotel the workers watched us even closer than they had before. It was chilling to be honest. And as we climbed the stairs to our second story room, the manager (I think) told us to look in our room because there had been a robbery at the hotel while we were gone. We walked in to our room, the balcony doors were wide open, everything appeared the same but then all of sudden Holly said, “My bag!” They missed the thousands of dollars in equipment I had and grabbed Holly’s neatly packed bag. It was all of her belongings or her month of traveling. It was her passport, her money, her clothes, her jewelry, her shoes. It was everything.
We went downstairs and talked to the couple below us who also had their room robbed. They were from America as well. The poor woman who happened to look like the wife from the shinning was crying and said she just wanted to go home. I asked the manager if he had called the police and he said yes. After waiting 25 minutes, I decided to call them myself. This was the scariest part for me- it took me 8 times to get someone to talk to me. Each time I reached a person I would say “Yo tengo un emergencia a el castillo hotel de areanal.” Meaning, I have an emergency at Hotel Castillo in Arenal. I’m not sure if my spanish wasn’t clear enough but I kept be hung up on. It was so frustrating. As we sat and waited for the police to arrive the manager somehow let it slip that there was a robbery in our exact room the night before. Now- this hotel had about 10 rooms in total and instead of putting us in one of the middle rooms of the building- he put us and the other couple on the corner. I demanded to know why he would put us into a room that had been broken into the night before and his answer was- it had the best view. I was so angry.
Finally the police showed up. The type of police that showed up are called tourist police. I’m not sure what that means other than they deal with problems tourists have. But to be honest they didn’t seem to care too much. They shook hands with the manager, exchanged a laugh and attempted to listen to our broken spanish while we explained what happened. We explained that only the owner and workers knew we had left, they were also the only people that knew what room we were occupying. They didn’t seem to care to much. We felt helpless. Once again, it felt like a horror movie and everyone seemed to know something we didn’t. We didn’t know who to trust, so we trusted no one.
Once they left, the manager put us in a room 5 feet away from the room that had just been broken into. We opened the box of wine we purchased the night before, sat on the bed and tried to understand what had just happened. Suddenly we realized that the same people who watched us come in, watched us leave and watched us helplessly explain to the cops that we were robbed also knew were we were now and knew that we were alone and without most of our belongings. Fear overcame me in a way I never remember feeling before. We looked outside on the balcony to see if there was anything going on, all we saw was a person on a motorcycle go up a hill near the hotel, stop, turn around- stare at us and keep going. That was enough for us to get off the balcony, go back into the room, lock everything that could be locked including our bathroom door, and put chairs up against the balcony doors and the entryway. We had nothing to defend ourselves with, Holly’s knife had been taken at the airport. I had a whistle I picked up at Walmart the day before I left. I wrapped the whistle around my wrist, laid down, stared up at the ceiling and waited until the sun rose.
This song felt like the appropriate one for today: