I hop on my bike and begin to pedal away from my house. The road is hugged by all sorts of tropical flowers, trees and plants which makes for a wonderful view as I ride by. In addition, the recent storm has left the plant life dripping with fresh water, creating a musical of sounds as the liquid travels from leaf to leaf and, eventually, to the rich ground below.
I am heading to one of my favorite locations; a bar at the edge of town called ´The Point.´ I love this place becuase, no matter when I show up, there are always people I know, sitting at the same outside table at the edge of the bar, overlooking the Caribbean Sea. It is an eclectic mix of people from all over the world but who have chosen to settle in Puerto Viejo.
As I speed through Cocles beach through town, I see many familiar faces. Sometimes I stop for a quick chat and sometimes I simply smile at these acquaintences. This is what I love about living in a small place…whereve I go I can be sure to run across friendly people.
By the time I climb the hill and ride over the last bridge, I am dripping with sweat; 20 minutes on the bike in such a humid climat ensures that I will never arrive to The Point in any other state but soaking wet. And guess what? No one cares. On that note, I don´t wear make-up, so gone are the days of worrying about mascara running down my cheeks or about lipstick on my teeth. I no longer buy clothes that are too tight or too loose in one area or another just because I think it might make my hips look a bit slimmer. It´s amazing how much time has opened up in my life and how much my self confidence has soared after I let go of habits like these.
I set my bike down and walk over to the crowd. Popeye, the owner, is at his usual spot at the head of the table, enjoying a sandwich made out of about 15 slices of bacon crammed into a hamburger bun . Despite all of his tattoos and his menacing looking beard, he is one of the funnies and gentlest guys I have met in Puerto thus far.
¨Popeye…what are you eating?? Is there even a hamburger patty somewhere in there?¨
He looks up at me with innocent eyes, ¨No. But look…there´s a slice of tomato and some lettuce. See? It´s a BLT.¨
I give him a nod of respect as I sit down, greet the rest of the crowd and order a rum and coke. So what if it’s 2:30 in the afternoon? Its Puerto. There are no rules and even less judgement.
As someone who used to be a planner, I have come to detest such an activity. Perhaps that sort of thing will interest me again some day, but for now I am still enjoying the freedom of doing what I want when I want. Therein lies the beauty of The Point. Back in the day, if I wanted to see a friend, we had to look at our calendars and make arrangements far in advance, due to conflicting schedules. Now, when I want some social time, I can simply head to my local ´Cheers´ and there will always be a friendly face to greet me and a good conversation to be had.
As the sun sets over the Sea and the sky turns all shades of pink and orange, I take a moment to look around the table at my Carribbean family. Chatting, laughing, beer bottles clinking. A motley crew of expats all gathered together in paradise, less concerned with appearance, money, job title or social status and more focused on love, family and living life in the now. My kind of people.