There’s a Yoga retreat at lovely Sugar Beach Hotel on Playa Pan de Azucar, Potrero, Costa Rica. There’s large circular pavilion, probably 50 feet across, where the 15 or so yogettes? position and absorb twice a day while listening to the crashing of waves.

At other times they go on hikes, tours, maybe even zip lining. In the evenings, they sit at a long table in the dining area and, after a short verbal prayer, share a meal.

Yesterday, while they were gone during the day, Susan jumped rope for an hour in the pavilion, then worked out for another. That’s her meditation. I imagined her energy waves lingering in the space, surprising and enervating the quiet contemplation of students when they returned for their evening session.

I’d come up early to the cafe to work on my computer in the morning. Two of the Yogettes were already at the table where WiFi is best. A waiter turned on the local music that fills the cafe.

“At least I brought my headphones,” said one, a thin man maybe in his 50’s, about average for the group.

After one minute, the other, a small dark-haired woman with a prominent profile replied “I’m going to the lobby. I can’t stand this music.”

“Me too,” said the first, and they gathered up their things and left, which let me go over to my favorite chair to work and tap my feet to rhythms I enjoy.

I was at the computer trying to find a something important we’d left behind, it doesn’t matter what. Once again, the generous and efficient personnel of this hotel stepped up.

Sven, Operations Manager,  said a few things to Melissa, a new employee working at his side. She was instantly on the computer, located the item, and started making calls. In a half hour, they found what I needed in Liberia, clarified the ability for it to be picked up, gave me a map.

I am Driver. I was ready for some alone time and took off in the little Daihatsu Bego. All 1,000 ccs of raw power, grabby brakes, bad balance and a tendency to put its nose down and swap ends when it hits rough pavement, kind of like it doesn’t want to see what’s coming next. But I had the windows down and the warm wind rushing through and I was on a mission.

One lane bridges have to be timed just right to get over without waiting for oncoming traffic. Horses on the side of the road are usually staked down, goats and sheep are not. Bicyclists may have one or two kids standing on the frame while the largest kid pedals. And huge trucks and buses don’t necessarily stay in their lane when coming at you, or when you’re passing, because they don’t have to.

On the other hand, while police standing in the road will stop you to see a license or passport, I didn’t see any radar guns. I made it to Liberia in an hour when I was told it would take longer. I don’t tell anyone here why that was possible.

Back at the hotel, after a more leisurely trip that included a gas and grocery store stop (we never covered how to say “Thank you card” in third grade Spanish), I got back to the hotel. I thanked the staff again for doing what I could not do on the phone.

“Thank you so much for doing this,” said Susan.

“You would have done the same for me,” I replied.

“I would have done it for anyone at this hotel, but could not ask for myself,” she said.

“That’s why I didn’t give you a choice,” I said. “Besides, I got to go for a drive. It was really all about me.” Praise makes me uncomfortable. She and I are so much alike.

This morning I went to the lobby to ask Sven, the Operations Manager, what time we needed to check out.

“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “Check out is noon, but you may stay until one, one thirty. Whatever you need.”

We talked for a minute about his work as an operations manager for a farm in the highlands of Costa Rica where ferns for export were planted in the shade under a reforestation project, how he’d been in charge of building a 30 hectare (75 acres) botanical garden, his opinion of various free trade coffee efforts.

We were interrupted by the same small, dark haired Yogette from the U.S. who didn’t like the music the morning before.

“Seven a.m.”  she said. “Driver?”

“Yes?” asked Sven, confused.

“He’s not here.”

Sven looked at the clock on his computer.

“It’s not seven yet…?”

“Maybe you could give him a call, just to be sure…?” It was said as a question but was clearly a command.

“I can do that, certainly,” said Sven, and he reached for the phone. I let him get back to work.

It’s time to leave Sugar Beach. Susan will cry a little; she becomes attached to good people easily, and those here have done so very much for us. But it’s time to move on. We have one more stop we’ll make someplace else in exquisite Costa Rica with its calm, sophisticated, and generous people. Pura Vida.

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About Erik Dolson

Erik Dolson is a writer living in Oregon

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