The notoriously colorful Caribbean was so beautiful that I had to shoot it in black and white. The weather report had been ominous, but we’d ignored that, deciding with the impetuousness of youth to not waste the glorious free week in front of us.
But in spite of grey weather, we trouped intrepidly through. It helped that the Caribbean is rife with adventure, at every turn.
I mean, the moment, the very moment we stepped into the hostel we were recruited for party preparations, even before we’d checked in. Coincidentally, we’d walked in on the day of the biggest party of the year in sleepy little Puerto Viejo. The rager was in honor of the owner of the backpacker’s paradise, Rockin’ J’s, a beachside tangle of mosaics, staircases, tent platforms, hammocks, and gazebos. It was heaven for every backpacker who had once been a kid who dreamed of a Peter Pan-inspired tree house. And it was filled with quintessential backpackers. You know the type, with their clothes collected from around the world, sun-bleached hair, fresh and healthy from so much sun and the great outdoors and a penchant for walking around barefoot. I like to pretend I fit right in, especially since I was accompanied by my very own backpack, but really I’d brought a few too many shirts to truly support the cause.
The drizzly day washed into night over a few games of pool, a game at which I do not suck anymore. The band came out and lit up the darkened hostel with all manner of music and songs that made a San Francisco girl proud (Though, I do believe at one point I shrieked “they’re playing The Dead! I LOVE this song” and I’m pretty sure that the shrill pitch of that shriek thoroughly ruined my carefully crafted flirtation with the boy in the white shirt, a flirtation that consisted wholly of the fact that I told a friend that I thought he was cute, occasional glances in his direction, and nothing else. It’s an art form, and mine resembles a three-year-old’s finger painting.) The dancing was as wild and to cool down, all one needed to do was step out from under the roof and be wrapped in the midnight mist. And at the end of the night, everyone’s respective hammock or tent was close at hand and welcomed its patron’s collapse with open arms.
The next day dawned as groggy as we all were. I took a moody walk down the beach to feed my tortured artistic soul with desolate beach scenes of the supposedly vibrant Caribbean coastline. I like to think that I added something, the lone figure, dressed in blue, picking her way along the reef to the cliffs where the fury of the sea beat against its captor, the shore.
The only downside to our amazing hostel was its pitiful excuse for a kitchen, so lunch was a can of garbanzo beans acquired on our soggy journey down town. We rented bikes, and, just around the time that half of the group decided to go back, the rest of us ventured out in the significantly heavier rain to see if we could reach Manzanillo, a neighboring beach which was rumored to be beautiful. Our epic journey began with the four of us pushing our bikes through ankle-deep mud for two blocks. As we were doing so a van inched by which ended up holding two of our new friends from the night before, Eduardo who has a tattoo of a toadstool and Oscar who is the driver for the tour company the two of them started. They were being thwarted in their attempts at returning to San Jose, and so we stopped with them to go swimming at this little beach just off the road, I mean, after all, we were already soaked. We waded in just to our waists but the currents, angered by the stormy weather, pulled and pushed at our legs. Eventually we continued on, undeterred by the afternoon hour and the daunting distance to Manzanillo. Apparently, I was the only one struggling with the most uncomfortable seat in the world, or at least the only one vocal about it…
Suddenly the forests stretching up around us were filled with deep, threatening grunts. Terrified that we were about to be attacked and by giant Gorillas, I caught up with my friends. In an attempt to pacify my fears, one of the girls tells me “they’re just howler monkeys.” Right. That makes me feel better. Now we’re going to be attacked by howler monkeys that are going to drop down 50 feet from their trees into a ninja circle around us, 200 strong, armed with rocks and feces scowling at us. Scowling howling monkeys. How did this not scare everyone else?
We never made it to Manzanillo. Not because of the monkeys though. By the time we reached the half way point, we were too nervous about night fall to continue. So we turned back and repeated the whole journey, minus the swimming, but with the addition of Disney song sing-a-longs.
The night’s goings on were highly unremarkable, save a jubilant bike ride to the club “downtown” and, as follows, the 2am bike ride back which consisted of the 10 of us weaving through the streets solely to avoid mud-filled pot holes.