As I stood on the corner in downtown Atenas, Costa Rica, waiting for my friend, Jan, I mentally tapped my toe on the sidewalk. I don’t have time for this, I thought. I mean, really, can’t we just go to breakfast here in town? I have a million things to do; important things – you know like rearrange my sock drawer, wash the dog, write a book. I’d a been happy with breakfast at Kay’s Gringo Postres right down the street, but no, she wanted to contemplate the mountain while we discussed an artist retreat at my folks’ mansion in Nosara. Fine.
I saw her coming down the street and hopped in the car before she even came to a complete stop. “Buenos Dias!” I chirped. She smiled, returned the greeting, and said, “Let’s hurry and get up there before the biker crowd arrives.”
“Biker crowd? We’re going to a biker bar for breakfast?”
“Well, not exactly. It’s just a popular spot with the weekend motorcyclists. They come en masse, so it’s best to get served before they arrive.”
Great. Not only is this gonna take up my whole morning, I have to look at a bunch of big-bellied bearded guys with tattoos and schmatas on their heads. O.K., enough, Carole Jean. Shut up and go with it. “Alright then. So how’s everything going?”
We made small talk as we wound up the narrow mountain road. It took less than fifteen minutes to get there, and I had partially let go of my too-much-to-do-not-enough-time anxiety. The moment I crossed the threshold of the restaurant, the rest melted away. A hush came over my being and I felt one with the universe. Okay, that’s a bit much – I felt peace and tranquility.
Breathless and speechless, I followed Jan to her favorite spot at the counter which runs the length of the restaurant so everybody gets this view. Jan has brought art students to this very spot where they learn the basics of capturing the happy, electric greens with the varied velvet textures. And the neighbors contribute to the magical scene by throwing in some cows grazing and walking the trail.
I was snapped out of my reverie by the sound of roaring engines that became increasingly loud and then abruptly stopped outside the restaurant. Tables were rearranged to make one long table to seat twenty-plus. I silently stared as the leather-clad men stripped away their riding gear, and sat down to breakfast. I was astounded at how clean-cut, well groomed, and handsome they were. Not only that, they exuded a friendly, family-style energy.
I couldn’t resist. I marched up to the guy at the head at the table, leaned down to his ear, and whispered (stage whisper), “Could I have a photo with you guapos (good looking guys)?” To which the others surrounding him started nudging each other and slapping backs.
By the end of breakfast, I thought I might like to hop on the back of a bike and take a ride. “So, where are you going today, Jacó?”
“No, Nicaragua.” He said with a straight face. I don’t know if he was pulling my leg or not, but I took the hint, wished them a safe journey, and went back to my perch at the counter, where Jan and I continued our discussion about the happy, electric greens.
By the way, the food is good, too. I had a delicious omelette with tasty fresh vegetables and Jan had gallo pinto and eggs. The café con leche was freshly brewed and came from my favorite organic coffee farm in Atenas, El Toledo. I liked it so much, I wanted to show the place to my friend, Bob, a San José editor, who had come to Atenas a few days later to help me with my new book cover layout. I bragged about the spectacular view, the peace and tranquility, and the cows.
We wrapped up our business, had a huge breakfast in town, and got a sudden burst of energy. “Come on, Bob, I’ll give you a little country tour before you head back to the city.” I know a place …
Well, those that know me know, sense of direction is not my strong suit. Someone once said I could get lost in a tunnel. So, off we went in the little red chariot, in search of La Casita del Café. I remember thinking it was a straight shot up a windy road; ah but then there was a fork in the road. Naturally, I took the wrong one. I realized it when it turned into dirt; that was my clue. And then I looked up the hill and, “Eureka!” There was the cow shed. I would know it anywhere.
We recovered nicely and found the place just in the nick of time. As we entered the restaurant, there was the picture postcard view I promised. Lunch was out of the question since we had just finished breakfast. A glint of a green bottle caught my eye in the fridge. “They have beer here!” I squealed. “Come on. It’s 5:00 somewhere.”
As we settled in and got mesmerized by the brilliant greens, a few fuzzy clouds gathered. And then a few more. Before long we were staring at a solid wall of white. I turned to Bob and said, “I feel like we’re in Stephen King’s ‘Mist.’ I’m getting nervous.”
His eyes widened and he said. “Drink up. The clouds are now in the restaurant.” I chugged and bolted for the door. Who knows what creatures could be hiding in there?
I know, I know; I’ve been watching too many Stephen King movies. The point is go there for breakfast before the afternoon fog comes. I heard it comes daily in the invierno (winter) which, technically, I suppose it is, even though the temperature is still in the mid-80s, mostly sunny, with afternoon … yeah, clouds!