Thursday, March 11, 2010

photos by Julia Aron (except for the one of us!)

Back at the school, I notice our names on the whiteboard by the pool announcing the all you can eat sushi night at 7pm. That’s strange, ‘cuz I doubt Julia signed us up. Maybe it’s a joke since Julia and I are always keeping to ourselves.

When I return to our room, I ask her about it.

She sighs. “Yeah, Carlos talked me into it.”

Carlos is her photography teacher and a surf instructor.

“He said, ‘Why you girls no go?’ He wouldn’t take no for an answer. I’m sorry girl.”

Her attempt at Carlos’ accent cracks me up; in fact all of Julia’s attempts at replicating accents are hilarious as they always end up sounding like an elderly Chinese woman.

I’m cool with going tonight, though I'm still not keen on eating the sushi, however, I’m ready to party a little.

After a hot shower, we'e ready to join the others for the big sushi night. Two taxis take us to a place in Hermosa Beach, just 10 minutes north of Jaco. On the way, everyone’s excited for sushi and Ladies' Night at The Backyard Bar which is next door. Julia and I are already agreed that we’ll skip the Ladies' Night festivities. It just screams of college night and that has no appeal to either one of us.

The buzz from one of Mike’s beers has me feeling pretty good, so when it’s time to pay the taxi, I hardly notice that it’s a lot more expensive than it should be. Kim, who’s with us, points it out and Julia’s not happy, especially because we’re not paying the taxi driver directly. One of the surf instructors, who was on the Crocodile Tour with us earlier, is collecting money. I didn’t like his energy this morning, but I just figured it was because I was cranky. As he’s asking for more money, I realize I still don’t like his energy, but I just want to get inside and keep my buzz going. I leave the details to Julia.

Inside, it’s immediately clear that we’re not at a Sushi Restaurant, but at a bar. Okay. Still not feeling that all-you-can-eat thing, but right now, I’m all about a buzz. Julia seems a bit peeved and when I ask her if she wants a drink, she declines. This is strange because she’s usually up for a drink, but I chalk it up to her wanting to be a bit cleaner on the trip.

Kim and I are chatting at the bar with our beers and I notice that Julia’s not really joining. This is a challenge for me. I know I’m more of an outward personality than Julia, but habit throws me into caretaking mode and I ask her if she’s okay and she says yes, but I know something’s up. I try to prod her into telling me, but she’s clearly not in the mood. I should just leave her alone, but I don’t. I can’t. I feel responsible for no logical reason at all – old habits die hard, I suppose. I continue to ask her things like, “Do you want to sit down and eat? Do you want to check out the other room?” She keeps shrugging her shoulders as if to say, “I don’t care.” Now, I’m frustrated because I get the sense that she doesn’t want to be here and what am I supposed to do? I’m not crazy about the majority of these people, but I wouldn’t mind socializing with them tonight to break it up a little. I can’t just leave her on her own – or at least I decide that I can’t leave her on her own. I’ve never been the person to say, “Okay, well, I’m going over there. You do what you want to do.”

It’s truly the only moment of frustration for me on the trip and I finally say something like, “Look. I don’t know what you want to do here. Clearly, there’s something wrong. If you don’t want to be here, that’s fine, we’ll go….but you’ve got to give me something here.” In hindsight, I realize that as I said, I’m more outward. If something’s bothering me, you’ll know it. The mistake I sometimes make with others is expecting them to be the same way.

In the end, we sit down and eventually, things start to flow. I later found out that she was very upset about the whole taxi thing, feeling the same thing I felt just before surfing – the frustration of the surf instructors and their attitudes.

Me and Kim showing off or long tongues

The sushi, on the other hand, is quite good and we definitely eat our money’s worth.

Rodriguo shows up and it's the first chance I get to really sit down and talk with him. I realize a few things about him. For one, he’s not a big joiner. There’s a shyness about him as well as a bit of a language barrier, which I took to be arrogance. Once again, I’m reminded of another one of my flaws – taking things personally, without all the information. I learn a lot about him:  He’s got a 1 and a half year old son; he loves house music and cooking. I don’t think he’s a big partier because when everyone is ready to move onto The Backyard Bar for Ladies’ Night, he stays behind.

Julia, Ben and me hitch a ride back to the School with Ricardo, another surf instructor. Julia spends the ride teaching Ben all of the Spanish slang she knows which is a far cry from what he and I are learning from LAOra.

Not a bad day today - Crocodiles, Surfing, Sushi and a few life lessons.

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