Hola Papi


She said. “Hola Papi,”

I had taken a short stroll in the rain with my super-compactable umbrella from my four-star hotel, which sat on the pedestrian walkway at the corner of Avenida Central and Calle 1 in San Jose Costa Rica. I had just walked past a pharmacy with giant advertisements for Viagra, Lavitra and Cialis.

The streets were crowded and the weather did not help walking a fast pace. As the light turned green, there she was, waiting for me, as I crossed the busy intersection. When I got near her, that’s when she said it just as I stepped up on the cracked Costa Rican sidewalk, “Hola Papi,” and she said it like she meant it. Not like we were friends, because we weren’t. And not because we knew each other, because we didn’t. She said it in a way that led me to believe that I could get to know her really well if I wanted. Her areolas played peek-a-boo half-mooning out of a frilly red top. Her heaving, dew-soaked cleavage stretched a mile long. Her thighs billowed like mushroom clouds out from her tight daisy dukes. She wore big platform shoes and bright red toenail polish. It was an awful lot of woman and exposed flesh standing in the rain without an umbrella. Her hair matted from the humidity. I am not a genius but I knew what she wanted.

She wanted to make love with me, a term that I use loosely to keep things PG13. I knew this because she told me in R-rated terms. Her descriptions of how she was going to do it in both English and Spanish slithered into an X-rating. I think she wanted to offer the illusion that this “love” would have long embraces and tender caresses for a lasting forever. Well, only if I planned on being dead soon after we met. She looked at me with big soulful brown eyes caked in clumpy black mascara, which had problems focusing on me.

Of course the reality is that I would have to wear three condoms and wrap my body in cellophane, while breathing through a straw. Still I had to stop and consider the offer. I mean, Costa Rican women are pretty hot. I never broke stride but she cling to me like a woman possessed.

As we walked, she brushed her phony nails against my arm, pressed a humungous artificial breast into my back, and as she continued to speak I thought I heard hear several of her teeth fall from her mouth and plink onto the concrete below. She was one hot mess.

Most Costa Ricans would say there are no Ticas (Costa Rican women) doing this type of work. They all come from Nicaragua or Colombia. Really, I have no idea.

I love Costa Rica. I love its green hillside filled with animals normally reserved for a zoo. I also love Costa Rica for its oddness. I love that I can short memorable experiences that justify Costa Rica’s official tag line, Pura Vida. Perhaps this makes San Jose sound like a den of iniquity, but this would be judging the city much too harshly from my momentary snapshot.

She walked with me, glued to my side for a minute, and then she vanished like an impressive magician. Though she never revealed her secret, I am pretty sure she latched herself to some other weary-looking gringo heading in the opposite direction. I would eventually walk, unescorted, down the street and into the Central Market for an ice cream in the rain and her disturbing voice rattling around in my mind.

Devin Galaudet is the Editor of In The Know Traveler, an online travel magazine dedicated to international travel and cultural exchange. He also shares his insider information as a working travel writer on his personal blog Travel. Write. Live.. Before travel, he has survived careers in antiques, construction, film and professional card playing. When Devin is not traveling or writing, he lives in Los Angeles with his pixie-like twelve-year-old daughter and his compulsive book buying habit.

Hola Papi