Pura Vida: Act III
I was recently involved in a scene so touching I feel I have to share it with the rest of my TDA touring family, especially those signed up for our 2021 Pura Vida tour of Costa Rica. Like any great story, it has elements of intrigue, suspense and romance.
All the accommodations for the tour had been organized, except for one. This town, Puntarenas (pictured), also happens to be the home town of Jairo Corrales. As many of you know already, he is our Costa Rican colleague who has organized all the hotels and stages on this tour so, understandably, he was feeling some pressure to make sure his home stage was an awesome one. He had two hotel options planned and wanted to use me as a sounding board to help him decide which one to choose. The first hotel was great. Nice rooms, parking, a pool, easy access from the ferry. What more could you want? Yet Jairo insisted on showing me the other one. Cool, I can go with the flow. The second one was just as well suited. I liked the first one more but Jairo kept pointing out issues with both and I could tell something was afoot. On the way out, Jairo’s restlessness was obvious and finally he cracked. “OK I am going to show you one more.” he confessed.
We stopped in front of a charming hotel with rooms arranged around a big swimming pool. He gave me the much awaited back story. He had booked the hotel three times this year for TDA but has had to cancel it each time due to COVID. So by this time the hotel has had enough of Jairo Corrales. They have not answered his emails in weeks and, in frustration, Jairo had also embarrassed himself over the phone. So I understood my part in this theatre piece. I was to be the gringo staffer who had been sent ahead as proof that this time the tour really is happening while he was playing the role of humbled Tico (Costa Rican) who was desperate to secure this booking in front of his ‘boss’.
We approached reception and Jairo introduced himself. “Oh, you are Jairo,” the pretty receptionist replied almost sarcastically. Jairo blushed and we watched her go fetch the owners. We sat down with the elderly couple that ran the hotel and discussed the terms. Jairo explained my presence and I watched the scene. The couple’s hands were stained with paint and plaster and it seemed that they had invested quite a bit of money in zhuzhing up the place in hope of attracting clients for the much anticipated upcoming season. It had been a slow two years. The lady of the house was elegant and strong and the husband was more quiet and through his half unbuttoned shirt you could see the scar of a previous operation on his chest. They were clearly in a position of power, yet were handling it gracefully. While the humble Tico was negotiating, the elderly couple would, every now and then, tenderly but discretely touch each other as if to say ‘this is a big one’. I had to hide my enjoyment of the scene which wasn’t really difficult due to the requisite face mask. Jairo asked if they could show me one of the rooms and once I left the table he closed the deal, rounding it up in their favour while the ‘boss’ was occupied. The whole play was a huge success! On the drive out, Jairo ranted in excitement and I’m sure the couple were as excited as we were for the business.
We spend a lot of time and money arranging these tours well in advance, securing bookings and finding several options for difficult days when the roads are often washed away or become otherwise unusable. This takes a lot of effort and we pride ourselves in not only finding the best and most suitable accommodations but also in discovering them in the right places and fostering relationships for future tours. More often than not, as is the case in this story, the right place is also the best place. Those of you who are lucky enough to have signed up for Pura Vida are in for a much needed adventure. “Hasta la proxima!”