Something striking about Costa Rica is the number of people who do menial jobs. We walked one block over to the AM/PM store for bottled water and a package of Bauducco Dulce de Leche wafers, and this meant passing through several ranks of bellhops (one of whose given name is Wilson) and security guards. At least two holstered men stood on the sidewalk near the store. The booth in the hotel parking lot is occupied by an attendant who manually raises and lowers the barrier, whereas Susan and I are used to automation in such circumstances. (Of course, he’s also guarding the cars against emissaries of Midnight Auto Supply.) The hotel restaurant had more staff than patrons, multiple levels of personnel, and a shift change seemed to be in progress, which meant the people who saw us in were seen out by the time we finished. For a while we had a waiter named William, a wiry guy with a shaved head, who said he is from Colombia and has been in Costa Rica ten years, working in the San José suburb of Escazú, where the U.S. embassy is, until five months ago when he started here; and it was hard to imagine this being a step up the ladder. The restaurant is on a veranda with clear plastic curtains to shield guests in case of rain (it’s the dry season, anyway), and when I complained about the odor of sulfur that occasionally wafted by, William said it’s from a coffee processing plant nearby.
Another thing I observe is how the TV shows the victims of accidents and crimes. The camera gets right up to the wound or the cuffs as the pedestrian who suffered the broken leg is wheeled away or the perpetrator lies in the street with his hands bound behind his back. There was a story yesterday about a horse that had been electrocuted after contacting a downed wire, and of course it had to be shown.
We’re about to go for our complementary breakfast. The restaurant was supposed to open at 6.00 a.m. but the staff was making itself scarce. Then we get into our little BeGo and head for Tamarindo, which will probably be eight hours on the Panamerican Highway (called Interamerican here).
Breakfast report: The kid who set out the buffet of fried eggs, fried bananas, cooked rice, and all the delicious ripe pineapples and papayas and the cinnamon rolls with jellied fruit apologized for being late, but he was the passenger in a taxi that collided with a motorcycle, and the rider had been injured, with serious abrasions at least, and it was necessary to wait for the ambulance and police. We admired the table runners instead of place mats and the Corona hotel porcelain from Colombia.