July 2: Monteverde, on the Pacific coast, near Nicaragua
An eco-tourism "To Do" list
1) After eight days of sweat and rain, find the piece of clothing in my pack that smells like monkey urine. Burn it.
2) Practice the salsa with Tanner. Last night we went to a dance in the tiny mountain town of St. Elena, near Monteverde, and watched work-hardened farmers and ranchers in white shirts and jeans dancing the most graceful and tender salsas with mothers, wives, girlfriends, and daughters. We tried to copy, but ended up just watching, big-eyed, with cold beers in our hands.
3) Buy more barf bags. They're cheaper by the box at the local market. Remember not to eat before tomorrow's bus trip.
4) Find the Swiss from the next room who kept us up all night with his snoring. Kill him.
5) Find more touristos for Costa Rica. The country, riding an annual $800-million dollar wave of eco-tourism in recent years, now has 25 percent more rooms than arrivals, and the government is predicting bankruptcy from many small hotels and tour operators. The eco-tourism goose is fresh out of golden eggs.
6) Open a seviche franchise in the United States when I return. Raw seafood and onions marinated in lime juice and vinegar and who knows what, served ice-cold, is the blessed antidote to 100-percent humidity.
7) Find a Tico without dollar signs in his eyes. See number five.
8) Learn the Spanish word for diarrhea.
Next: Leaving the cities for the cloudforest of Monteverde
Other info on travel in Central America
| Notes of an accidental eco-tourist
Postcards from Central America. Our correspondent
rambles in search of answers to the eco-tourism myth.