Scene:  Poolside bar in Jaco, Costa Rica.  L and I sit under the bar canopy next to the pool on the two stools that offer the best breeze from the lone ceiling fan.  It is so hot the temperature must be measured in Celsius so it doesn’t frighten people off.  A lone blow-up turtle floats in the pool.  It appears to be melting.  Four Canadians approach the bar.  Canadians are easy to spot.  I know you’ll ask why they are easy to spot or think that I mean something derogatory when I say that, but, honestly, I’ve just never been wrong when I guess that someone approaching me in Costa Rica is a Canadian.  I’ve mistaken an Belorussian for a Croatian, but never a Canadian for anything else.

CANADIAN WOMAN 1:  What are you drinking?

ME:  Something with pineapple.  I finally remembered the Spanish word for pineapple, so I had to order it.

RADIO:  Dura, dura, dura

CANADIAN WOMAN 1:  I want a rye, but when I ordered one earlier they didn’t put Coke in it.  (Turns to CANADIAN MAN 1) Get me a rye.  At least try to.  Make sure they don’t screw it up this time.

ME (looking somewhere between the two):  You should probably ask for Coke in it.  Or go with a pineapple drink.  They are delicious.  I mean it’s simple, really.  Piña, as in piña colada.  I don’t know what colada means.  I guess I could look it up.

CANADIAN WOMAN 1: I don’t know who would give you a rye without Coke.

ME (looking at phone): It says here that colada means laundry.  That can’t be right.  Pineapple laundry?  Tastes better than that.  

CANADIAN MAN 1 (leaning in):  She likes rye.

ME (trying to angle a free drink):  I didn’t know they had any.  I like rye as well.

He points to a bottle of Canadian Club on the back shelf.  I become so confused I can’t utter a word.  In a place I have become accustomed to thinking through translations before talking so I can converse in the native language as much as possible, I find myself unable to comprehend Canadian.  CANADIAN MAN 2 and CANADIAN WOMAN 2 save me by asking me how long we’ve been here, if it was our first time–that sort of tourist chatter that generally leads nowhere interesting fast.  I answer though, which gives them the opportunity to tell me that the four of them have been coming to Costa Rica together for fifteen years.

ME:  Oh.

RADIO:  Tienes el toque, toque, toque

CANADIAN WOMAN 1: My kids don’t know how to do anything right.

CANADIAN MAN 1:  They’re watching the house.  Like that’s a good idea.  (They laugh with a distinctly northern accent.)

CANADIAN WOMAN 1:  My son rinses the dishes before he puts them in the dishwasher.  That’s what the dishwasher is for.  You don’t clean off the dishes before you put them in.

ME:  I always do.  I mean, you don’t know how long. . .

CANADIAN WOMAN 1:  That’s stupid.  Why would you even have a dishwasher if you’re going to do the dishes yourself?  My son’s probably doing that now.

CANADIAN MAN 1 hands her a Canadian Club and Coke.  CANADIAN WOMAN 1 sips.


CANADIAN MAN 1:  She likes rye.

I lean over to L who has been chatting with the bartenders about the music all of us are enjoying on the radio.

ME (in her ear):  I have to get away from these Canadians.  They are crazy.

L (in my ear):  Relax.  You exaggerate.

L begins chatting with them.  I take up her more enjoyable conversation with the bartenders.  I glance over and note that CANADIANS 2 smile and look content, and CANADIAN MAN 1 attends to the needs of CANADIAN WOMAN 1 while she talks.  Two minutes pass.

RADIO:  Al suelo!

L (grabbing my wrist, addressing the Canadians):  Sorry.  We have to get going.  Nice talking to you.  (In my ear):  You weren’t exaggerating.

We exit the fan zone and the shade and are immediately hit by the fists of heat that come from every direction.  Pineapple sweat tries to form a fruity river on my forehead, but is dried as soon as it begins to flow.  An iguana peers at us from beneath a reclining chair.  The refrigerator in our room calls to us with a message of deliverance and peace before the sun goes down.