I arrived late last night. My flight was delayed so I believed I had possibly missed my shuttle to the hotel. I emerged to hundreds of people holding up signs with names on them, shouting and waving them. There was no way I was going to maneuver through that to save $10 so instead turned my attention to the hoards of men holding up taxi signs. I saw desperation and competition. Finally, I noticed a man with kind eyes. I pointed to him and reading his name tag said: “It’s me and you Paulo”. Unfortunately, Paulo didn’t speak a word of English and I don’t speak Spanish. He told me an overprice of $15 and I agreed. He grabbed my bag and started running. I didn’t know if he was running for the open elevator, or to freedom with my belongings, so I ran with him. We made it to the top of the elevator and he motioned for me to stay… just stay… I guess he was going to get the car. A minute later, at midnight, standing alone on the street with my suitcase and too much cash to be carrying, I felt a moment of trepidation. Maybe this is how it all ends. And then, Paulo came speeding along out of nowhere. We rode to the hotel in silence, or at least I hoped it was the hotel. Finally, he broke the silence with “manana, tomorrow, taxi???” I actually did need a taxi to Jacco Beach, two hours away. When I told him, his eyes lit up and he said ‘mucho expensive…. $80?) I had researched that it would cost $120 so I agreed. And then the most brilliant thing happened. I pulled out my $15 and Paulo said “no.. no… manana”. I tried again and he was adamant ‘no, manana.” I wrote a time on a paper and he pointed to the lobby where he would meet me. All night and morning, I couldn’t get this brilliant business savvy move out of my mind. Even after I looked on uber and saw I could get a ride for $60, I decided I had to reward Paulo. He gambled. I easily could have left the hotel early without paying him and he would have lost $15, but more likely, he had just guaranteed himself $95.
We drove all the way to Jacco beach in friendship. I think he told me he had two sons and he had been driving for 25 years… who knows. I showed him Lily’s pic. He pulled out his mixed cds (adorable) and played tacky music while he kept repeating fiesta. He showed me where there were huge crocodiles (I thought he meant cockroaches until he pointed to a sign) and I arrived safely. I hugged him goodbye and he kissed my cheek. I only know two things in Spanish ‘ti amo papi chulo’, and “gracias mi amigo” so I went with the latter.
True connection in Costa Rica:)