Well, here I am in beautiful downtown San Jose.
Today, I went to the Mueso del Oro (Museum of Gold) and looked at their collection of gold artifacts that had been made by the original indigenous inhabitants, before Columbus and his countrymen enslaved them all and stole their gold (fairly traded them for valued coloured beads, surely!). What’s on display is mainly what the conquerors didn’t find and melt into pretty baubles for Queen Isabella.
Tonight, I had a faint desire to see a film. My hostel deskperson recommended the ‘Mall San Pedro’ cinemas, where there are twelve screens, and therefore something for every taste. I took a ta_i to the mall. (Where you see “ta_i”, imagine a four letter word that means “a vehicle for hire” – the 24th letter of the English alphabet does not work on this hostel keyboard). Ta_is in San Jose are a bit like an amusement ride in North America. You pay your money and they spin you around until you either scream with delight or vomit. When they get to stop signs, they usually slow down to about 70. And of course, the seat belts rarely work. It would probably be safer to walk the streets late at night with a wad of bills sticking from your back pocket than to take a ta_i, but the distance to the mall is a bit far.
Anyway, I got to the mall to find seemingly thousands of people milling about the ticket booth. Sure enough, there were twelve screens, but as it turned out, every one of the twelve screens was playing the same film: El Hombre Araña Tres. The multilingual among you will have already interpreted that as Spiderman Three.
Now, I saw Spiderman One on a flight to somewhere, and if I didn’t think I would have been shot and disabled by an air marshall I would have pried open an emergency e_it and plunged 30,000 feet to escape it. What I should have immediately done is taken a ta_i back downtown to spend the evening curled up on a squeaky bunk bed with Jane Austen. But that would have been too predictable (and would have made for yet another dull blog entry).
No, I stood in line with hundreds of Tico boys with their Tico girlfriends to get a ticket, thinking that I need to stop being so rigid and unadventurous. “How bad can it be?” I asked myself (too bad I never answer myself). And, it’s only $3.50. A bargain. I don’t have to buy the Spidey Popcorn, after all. Once I got my ticket, I went looking for my assigned theatre, “Sal 5”. I followed the signs to discover a line that stretched so far down the mall that the people on the far end looked like tiny dots on the hori_on. (Apparently the 26th letter doesn’t work either).
In for a penny, in for a Colon. I found my place at the end of the line behind three young couples making kissy noises, with two young couples who had apparently spent the last hour trying all the samples at the cologne counter soon bringing up the rear. In between, there I stood, long hair, startlingly graying beard, frayed cutoff pants and hiking boots, looking like an indigent panhandler in their midsts.
Conveniently, my place in line was immediately adjacent to the mall arcade, and I was able to pass the time listening to bells, whistles, gunshots, sirens and an incredibly annoying kiddie ride. The ride is a mechanical see-saw with a kid’s seat on one side and a large plastic “Rocki the Clown” on the other side. Rocki was continuously singing, in a comical tone, “Oh, Susanna”. It was painful. And the line wasn’t moving, at all.
Determined not to give up too easily (“When in Rome…”), I managed to endure this for a full 23 minutes before I finally bolted from the line and fled for the nearest e_it. Five more minutes and Rocki would have been going back to Alabama with that fucking banjo sticking prominently from his gaping yap.
Now I’m back in the hostel, filling you in on my adventures before my date with Jane, whom I should never have abandoned in the first place.
My upcoming mountain meditation looms tantalisingly on the hori_on.