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COSTA RICA'S LEADING ENGLISH LANGUAGE NEWSPAPER

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Tourism in Costa Rica that Dare not Speak its Name

I was seated in the bar of a downtown San Jose hotel, waiting for friends to arrive.
An attractive young woman took the seat next to me. We exchanged holas. Then
she told me that I reminded of her of that ‘galan’ in Hollywood, ‘’como se llama?”

I looked at myself in the bar mirror—with my recent haircut and beard trim, and
the gray in my beard offset by my still dark head of hair, I ventured: “George
Clooney?”‘’Si, si,” she said. “Yorzh Cloney!” Then she offered to have sex with me
for 100 dollars.

I looked back at the mirror, and I had the amazing realization that I really looked
nothing like that Hollywood galan after all! I declined politely, realizing she had
mistaken me for just another tourist. But the night was young, and she would
likely find her galan soon enough.

I remembered the words of one of the many ‘working girls’ I had met while
running bars in Costa Rica over the years. Her job was risky, she admitted, but as
she casually informed me, sipping her wine, she could make in an hour what I
worked all day to make. And it was true, too true—I wasn’t even offended by her
seeming putdown.

I don’t know how many young women there are in this country who can make in
an hour what I need all day to earn. The mecca for them, and the tourists who
pursue them, is a few square block area of downtown San Jose.

I had walked past probably the most famous place to meet these women hundreds of times over
the years without ever entering. I was married, knew what was inside, and saw no
reason to check it out.

One bleak November Tuesday, I found myself in San Jose in the early afternoon
with a couple of hours to kill. At the time, one of my businesses was baking, and I
had read that this same place made deli sandwiches using real rye and
pumpernickel breads. I went in to check out their bread.

Honestly. I was likely the first man ever to enter this establishment in search of rye flour.
I took a seat inside, and quickly saw that I was being looked at, appraised, by a
couple of dozen attractive young women, scattered throughout the restaurant.
Every time I glanced at one, I got a smile, a kissy face, a come-hither gesture.

My thought was this: Good lord, is this what a woman feels like entering a bar full of
aggressive men? I enjoyed the attention briefly, but quickly buried my face in the
menu.

I ordered a beer, which I drank in about 2 minutes, consulting my
uncharged cell phone the entire time. I paid and left without asking about rye or
pumpernickel.

Though it is not mentioned in any of the better known Costa Rica guide books,
there are still thousands of men who travel to Costa Rica annually to participate in
this type of tourism.

It is an alternate reality where single men can feel like kings,
and married men can leave behind their wives and families for a night or a
fortnight and be told they resemble Yorzh Cloney, manboobs notwithstanding

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