My playing partner had snap-hooked his drive on the second hole of the superb, Mike Young-designed Hacienda Pinilla golf course on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. And not long after he had walked off the fairway into the desert-like scruff to find his ball, I heard him holler: “I almost stepped on an iguana!”
Well, I almost stepped on a lot of iguanas here, some of which were the size of dachshunds and all of whom looked
positively prehistoric, heavily armored and almost bow-legged in gait, as if they had been raised in Jurassic Park. I had an iguana walk partway into the swimming pool by the small hotel in which I was staying. I watched another climb onto my golf bag after I had laid it down by the open-air eatery where we took breakfast each day. Simply to sun himself, I figured. So I left him alone as I feasted on freshly cut mangoes, papaya and pineapple. Then, there was the iguana that tried to follow me into my room.
My run-ins with exotic members of the animal kingdom continued when I strolled down the beach one day to a Jimmy Buffett-style restaurant called Lola’s. Reggae music thumped over the stereo, and we sat around wooden tables shaded by palm trees just yards from the Pacific, sipping mojitos and eating cerviche made from freshly caught mahi-mahi. I learned after a couple of rounds that Lola’s was named after a rather portly pig, which had recently gone onto her great reward. But there, in a pen not too far from the bar, was her daughter, Lolita. I thought of reciting a few lines of Nabokov – “Light of my life, fire of my loins” – as I walked over to her sty but gave up when I saw that there was nothing nubile about that sow.
But boy, did she have a great beach bar.