What had I done? I brought my daughter to a filthy house full of potentially dangerous insects, we were peeing in a hole in the shower, the mattresses were probably disease ridden, skinny dogs roamed around our house, the closest grocery store was a 45 minute drive away, and we had no car!!! Sleep elluded me that first night, but the morning did not. It’s funny how the sunshine is able to cast a positive glow on a day, like rays of hope the daylight broke through the leaves and the bob marley stickers on the window. We were hungry, without food, and needing a plan, so we set out to get breakfast and explore Playa Negra. Less than a ten-minute walk away was a pulperia, and a pizza place which fondly would become our “pizzaritza.” Another 30 minutes walking down a dirt road full of muddy potholes brought us to the center of “town.” A couple restaurants, a real estate office, a surf shop and a hotel were all still closed for the season. We saw a sign for coffee, and ventured over to a private home where the couple would allow people to use their wifi when they bought a cup of coffee. We were happy to oblige. The man was American and his wife from Brazil. The had lived in Playa Negra for 10 years, and loved it. They had a couple small businesses, working on cars, ridesharing, the wifi and coffee, and were happy to offer us what help they could. She helped us find a lady to clean our bug house, for $2/hour!!! and we arranged to go with her to the grocery store the following day. They also gave Bitty a plate of the food they were having, beans, rice, tomotoes and cabage. We bought a couple of oranges from them and walked back to our home, feeling much refreshed.
As is the American custom, we cleaned as much as we could with what we had before the lady arrived to clean. When she arrived it was empty handed, and so we gave her cleaning supplies we had just used and were happy to pay her to do the same cleaning again.
When our Brazilian friend came to pick us up the next day, we asked her about walking to the beach directly from our house rather than following the road the long way around. She was shocked that our landlord had said that was possible. Between us and the ocean lay a river, with crocodiles, where small dogs became dinner. She warned us not to go near there, especially not with a child! What we thought would be a few minutes walk to the beach actually took closer to an hour. And so we hitchhiked. And it was great fun.
At dusk and dawn the sky would be filled with the cries of howler monkeys. Mornings were awash with sunshine and almost every afternoon the clouds would become dark and shower brief yet heavy rains. The Pizzaritza was our hangout, and we would walk there almost daily. We also found a favorite beach, Avellanas, where we could rent surfboards, use wifi, and buy a beer or fresh juice to enjoy with the packed lunches we would bring. Lola’s was the only restaurant on the beach for miles and miles, named after a huge pig who lived there and often roamed the grounds. Bitty became a good little boogie boarder and we would spend hours swimming, reading, playing and napping in the sand. We found a rythm. Even the cold water shower at our home became enjoyable. We would give scraps to our chickens and dogs, sweep away the crabs that crawled into our kitchen, kill ants with vigor, and smile while we watched geckos attack and eat moths on our ceiling. Bug bites covered our bodies, yet we remained healthy, and we knew we could endure living in our bug house for a few weeks more…