Saturday, August 10, 2013

Manuel Antonio Nightlife: How To Stay At A Beachfront Luxury Condo For Free

Backpackers Manuel Antonio Hostel

Nightlife?  Manuel Antonio is totally dead by midnight.  When the word "gentrified," is applied to tourist locations, this is Costa Rica's first entry.  Once I left the backpacker scene at Backpackers Manuel Antonio Hostel, I felt a lot poorer when I saw all the exclusive restaurants, hotels and villas lining the one winding street that is the "downtown."

Oh well, there's only one street.  Even if I get wasted, all I have to do is follow one road back to the hostel.

As I often point out, Costa Rica's beer scene sucks.  The good thing about this is I don't have to think much about where to go out.  Costa Rica Craft Brewing is pretty much the only microbrewery in the country, so I always start at whatever bar or restaurant they are sold.  In Manuel Antonio that place is Barba Roja, the Red Beard.

It was about 9pm.  Barba Roja was a 10 minute walk from the hostel; it could be done in flip-flops.  I had walked no less than 500 feet, when not surprisingly I heard, "Hey man...Jew want sum weed?"  It's impossible to go anywhere without some annoying, small-time drug dealer heckling me: on the street, on the beach, in bars and in clubs.  I smoke, but I'm not stupid enough to buy off the street.  Usually a simple, "No, gracias" is enough to make them go away, but some of the aggressive dealers respond to my polite "No" with a violent "Fuck You!" followed by threats.  Fortunately this pusher was on the opposite side of the street, so I ignored him and walked faster.

El Gringo Rojo
I was greeted at Barba Roja with, "We're closing soon."  'Soon' meant 'less than an hour,' which is plenty of time to get buzzed.  A quick look around told me that, as with most of the places CRCB is served, this was not in the typical backpacker's budget.  The restaurant is a giant open-air patio that sits high on a hill overlooking the ocean.  They specialize in sushi, feature local artists on their walls and usually require reservations due to their popularity.  The CRCB beers were 3,300 Colones ($6.50), so two would be enough, then I could go somewhere cheaper.

My request for Libertas or Segua got a blank stare from the bartender.  This is normal in Costa Rica.  Your average Costa Rican knows nothing about craft beer, and even if they know of CRCB, they rarely drink it since the beer is about twice the price of a Imperial or Pilsen.

I pointed at the colorful CRCB Segua tap handle to help the bartender.  "Ahhh, la roja!"  He apologized, then actually gave me the first one free.  It's amazing how speaking decent Spanish makes you stick out from every other gringo in Manuel Antonio.  We fell into a Spanglish discussion about the tiny craft beer scene in Costa Rica.  An older American guy at the bar asked about my strange 'red' beer.  Like my homebrewing profesor, Chema, who owns La Bodega de Chema, I prefer to educate and help out people who drink crappy beer.  Just call me a craft beer charity worker.  Or a motivated alcoholic.

Soon we had all ordered another round of Segua, and were discussing national soccer (bad) and pickup lines for Costa Rican girls (even worse.)

Barba Roja was closing.  The Libertas tap was cashed, so the bartender give me a free half-pint 'zarpe' before I left.  If you learn no other word in Costa Rican Spanish, learn "zarpe," which roughly translates as "one-more-for-the-road."  Typically there are 2 or 3 zarpes.

The bartender sent me to Bar El Avion down the road.  'El Avion' translates as 'The Airplane' because it is an authentic replica of Mount Rushmore.  No, seriously, it's a real C-123 Fairlane cargo airplane.  It originally was one of two planes purchased by the CIA in order to attack the Sandinista guerillas in Nicaragua during the Iran-Contra Affair of the 1980s.  It's surprising that this airplane even exists since, according to Ronald Reagan and Oliver North, none of this ever happened.  As with the Iran-Contra Affair, my activities in El Avion are all allegations, since it was closed.

El Avion crash-landed, and most of Manuel Antonio already had too.  There is Mar Luna next to Backpackers Manuel Antonio, but an ugly incident there put me off it.  Some Costa Ricans, like the bartender at Barba Roja, truly appreciate gringos who can speak Spanish.  But many, thanks to years of American influence, would much rather have their gringos remain ignorant, "Uhh-No-Hablo-Espanol" tourists.  They're usually prostitutes, drug dealers, or sketchy guys trying to hook up with foreign chicks.

The previous night I was at Mar Luna talking to some cute, blond American expat chick who had recently moved to Manuel Antonio.  Three Ticos asked if they could join us to "practice their English," which of course meant they wanted to practice with the girl.  She wanted to practice her Spanish, and they obliged.  It quickly degenerated from there...

I spoke Spanish, but they responded to me in broken English.  They talked to the blond chick in Spanish and complimented her even though, quite frankly, her Spanish sucked.  They tried to sell me weed; I declined.  The girl smoked for free.  At some point one of them started talking about Che "El Comandante" Guevera.  He had the cliched, mass-marketed image of Che Guevara as a symbol of the struggle against capitalism, oppression, the Western world, blahblahblah.  In other words, he got his information from a t-shirt sold at The Gap.  Nothing capitalist about that.

I was already annoyed with their tag team cock-blocking.  I pointed out that Che was a brilliant doctor and writer, but as a military commander, he had shot himself in the foot (rimshot!)  During his failed campaign in Africa, he thought Blacks would be easy to control because they were an "inferior race."  Oh, and by the way, he killed lots of innocent people.  This was all said in Spanish, and judging by the look on the guy's face, he wasn't expecting actual facts in his language:
"You think you ares so smart.  I am warning you.  You are alone here."
Better a smartass than a dumbass, I say.  I left before it got ugly.

That incident was out of my mind tonight.  I followed the sound of loud salsa music to the Bar Billfish that was pretty dead, but at least it was still open at 10:30pm on a Friday.  It had a typical Costa Rica late night tourist crowd: drunk local expat business owners; Costa Rican locals who worked for them; old, dirty whoremongers on a "business trip,"; Costa Rican women with dresses that were suspiciously too tight; and twenty-something tourists still energetic enough to drink all night and surf/hike/zipline/drink all day.

Fine Ass Blasian
I was talking to one of these twenty-something tourists about an ATV trip her group of friends were taking the next day.  She was Blasian, and she was hot.  For the uninitiated, a Blasian is a half-Black, half-Asian person (she was half-Korean.)  As the name implies, they are usually blazin' hot, and consequently the subject of many rap songs.  Being from St. Louis, I must mention Kimora Lee Simmons as a prime example, also sexy Amerie, and of course, Tiger Woods.  The Wu-Tang Clan's Blasian status is questionable.

Her friend was half-Black, half-Mexican, or as she put it, Blaxican.  In fact, the whole group was a multiracial reunion of former TCU (Texas Christian University) classmates.  They had rented a fancy beachfront condo for a week in Manuel Antonio.  Everyone was already back at the condo except for the two girls and a Mexican/Filipino/White(??) friend.  He was trying to convince the Blaxican girl that they should be "more than just friends."  That left me with the Blasian.

The tequila shots came fast.  The girls were on vacation, the bar was pretty empty and none of the other guys there stepped up to these chicks.  When the bar did last call, they invited me back to their beachfront condo.  We stopped by a liquor store first.  Unfortunately, Manuel Antonio being the gentrified tourist location it is, had already closed all its liquor stores, even though it was only 11pm.

The guy remembered the fancy condo had provided beer and some liquor, but didn't know if it was included in their payment package.  This wasn't my problem, so I convinced everyone to get beers at the house

Damn flip-flops: the condo was at the bottom of a long rocky winding road on a cliff, and we were pretty drunk by then.  After several cuts and falls, we finally reached the door.  Hooking up with this hot Blasian chick was already motivation enough, but when I saw the property, I knew I wasn't going back to the Backpackers Hostel that night.

Five stories stretched down from the cliff face to the beach below.  When we entered the main door, I saw the blue starry sky stretched out over the dark Pacific Ocean through a glass wall vista that opened onto a deck with an installed firepit.  The marble and steel kitchen was stocked with food and drink.  "We have a French chef who cooks us breakfast and dinner everyday.  His accent is funny." said the Blaxican.  Far below the deck, in front of the beach, was a long, illuminated pool with a waterfall flowing into it.

"Let's go swimming...maybe skinny-dipping?"

We grabbed beers from the fridge and stumbled down the five flights to the pool.  Some of the other friends were awoken by our loud, drunk group.  I expected some issues.  One Puerto Rican(?) guy, who was clearly the mastermind of this TCU class reunion, interrogated me for a minute.  Once satisfied, he shrugged, and in a fatherly tone, reminded his drunk friends that they had to be up early the next day for the ATV tour.

The MexiFilipino and the Blaxican jumped into the pool.  The Blasian and I avoided the pool, and lounged in two recliners, already deep in conversation.  Being a fine half-Asian, half-Black, college graduate working in a big business, she's what you might call a bougie-bitch.  Fine by me.  I hook up with more girls by being a sophisticated intellectual then by trying any bad boy, alpha male bullshit.  Well, not quite: there's a fine line between intelligent, multimillionare, technology-obsessed super-nerd Bill Gates, and intelligent, multimillionare, technology-obsessed super-badass Tony Starks.

Indeed, Ms. Blasian was rolling her eyes at her friend's drunken antics now.  The Blaxican had taken her top off, and I tried my damnedest to ignore her nice tits.  The Filipino guy seemed like was he making progress, but an unfortunate accident ruined his chances.  Drunk Blaxican went to the toilet, and in the process fell up the stairs.  We heard a thump, Ms. Blasian ran away, and she returned helping her friend, whose head was now bleeding.  After some ice, she was put down for the night, and Filipinexican called it quits.

Finally.  I spent the night rolling around with Ms. Blasian on a plush king-sized bed that put my empty bunk bed back at the Backpackers Hostel to shame.  To say the least, she was flexible.  The room had a great view of the beach, but we didn't need any of the TCU crew to peek in on us.  The shower was more of a small pool than a shower.

I missed Backpacker Manuel Antonio Hostel's free pancake breakfast, but getting a Gruyere Cheese and Prosciutto Omelette with fresh pineapple prepared by a French chef with a funny accent is not a bad Plan B.


  1. It's really an informative and well described post . I appreciate your topic for blogging. Thanks for sharing such a useful post.

  2. Hello John. My name is Alex.

    I would like to publish a sponsored post (with one link) on your great blog. Could you please give me the price for the placement of it?

  3. Hey Alex, my name isn't John. It's Raleigh. But I'm guessing we met when I was in Chisinau in November??