A reason to smile

We just returned from our Costa Rican expedition. A few pictures are forthcoming, but we took them the old fashioned way, so we still need to get them developed. We did, however, have many brilliant moments that were not captured on film.

Monday night, which was the final night of our stay, we took a shuttle bus to a restaurant that sat on a cliff overlooking the cities of San Jose and Alajuela. We sat at a candlelit table, gazing at the thousands of twinkles in the distance. We ordered some mixed drinks and enjoyed a steak dinner. We shared a small piece of tres leches cake and then waited for our waiter to bring la cuenta — the bill. Our waiter had other plans.

He brought us two small glasses of liquor and said they were on the house. He told us it was the national drink … or at least I think he said that. He insisted on speaking Spanish in order to help us improve our language skills. I tried a sip. It went down buttery smooth and a little warm. If only the flavor had been different, maybe an orange or raspberry. But no. Licorice.

I did my best to drink it because I didn’t want to offend the waiter, but I didn’t get very far. Greg downed his in a few minutes, going with the notion that it’s best to get painful things over with as quickly as possible. Then he did his husbandly duty and finished my glass as well. And then he got a big grin on his face and started talking in rapid clips, a sure sign that he was licorice-whipped.

I glanced hesitantly toward the doors of the restaurant and the waiting shuttle driver. We had to trek up a hill to reach the shuttle.

“Are we going to have to take those stairs to get out of here?” I asked, unsure whether I had the balance to go up a flight of stairs — and almost certain that Greg did not.

Greg melted into a Cheshire cat grin. “Nooo,” he said in an enchanted voice. “They have a ramp.”

I think that moment was the highlight of Greg’s trip.