UNEDITED excerpt from
pony up or eat it
by nora o’malley
costa rica (buena mota, sabor como piña)
Andre Marlon was the first local surfer I met. He intercepted me on the muddy path as I was heading down for round two.
“Where you from pretty girl?”
Andre was a big Tico. Like Olympic weightlifter big. And he had a head of long, wavy, thick hair. He looked about 35-years-old.
“I live here with my momma, behind our souvenir shop,” he said proudly. Then pointed out their home business located on the corner of Playa Carmen‘s main dirt road and the muddy path. Close-knit hammocks, beautiful tapestry, and tropical printed towels hung out front.
“What’s with this town?” I said obnoxiously. “Why wasn’t anyone out early this morning?”
“Last night was reggae night at Coco Loco. Everyone is still sleeping, mi amor.”
“Such lazy asses!” I scolded.
But I was secretly so stoked. Playa Carmen was a party town, which meant no dawn patrol and waking up way too fucking early unless you’re actually fucking sessions that those Californians loved. Taking it slow and easy was the norm here in Tico town. I was happy to adapt.
“You’re so beautiful, mi amor. Your skin, I just want to – ” I cut my new Spanish Casanova off there. Damn Latinos. They didn’t hold back nada.
“Andre! Can I call you Andre?”
“Si, mi amor. “
“Just show me where to paddleout!”
Sometimes I get lucky. Like REAL lucky. In this particular case, I somehow got the entire Hostel Tranquilo to myself for 10USD/night, plus coffee and pancakes for breakfast. I don’t know why or how exactly… It shall remain a mystery.
Now, I know for a fact that Tranquilo was the best hostel on the dirt road strip because I did recon on the other ones before committing to a full week. Tranquilo was it. It had hammocks, a nice big kitchen, clean bathrooms, a fan in the room, an open courtyard with a mango tree, and a pool table. I mean, as far a third world/small Spanish jungle town hostels go, this place was a Goddamn Fairmont.
But for some reason, I was the only guest. I had a room which slept eight all to myself. Not to mention the entire compound, which probably could sleep at least 150 people, to myself as well.
The most hilarious part of it all was that there were these two Tica girls on staff cleaning up the place and making me coffee in the morning. It’s like I was the queen of the fucking manor.
I tried to make friends with the Tica girls, but my Spanish sucked at this point. And they weren’t interested on working on their English either. Fair enough.
So after day six of having no house guests, I was considering packing up my bag and moving to another hostel. Tranquilo was beginning to feel a bit like The Shining. Too quiet. Too lonely.
“You’re the hot girl at surf camp. You could really do some damage,” Shara said.
We were catching up over Skype. It was the eve of my 29th birthday.
“That’s true. I spotted at least three shortboards over at the Mini Hostel next door,” I said.
“There you go! As a birthday present to yourself, go out and get laid.”
Read excerpt from part I: california