Costa Rica - Tales of the Guaro
By Rick Chapo
Every country has a unique beverage it claims as its own. In Costa Rica, the beverage of choice is Guaro.
There is a certain national pride associated with claiming an alcoholic beverage. Think of Mexico and tequila immediately comes to mind. Vodka, of course, goes with Russia. Visit Greece and an ouzo headache can't be far behind. Aquavit in Sweden will definitely turn your head"and stomach. Costa Rica, of course, couldn't miss out on the fun.
Depending on which bartender you speak to, Guaro is either a mind erasing alcohol beverage or an energy drink with a little kick. Guaro is the national beverage of Costa Rica. Despite visiting Costa Rica on multiple occasions, I have never tried. And for good reason.
The Guinea Pig
Ten of us were hanging out in the beach town of Carrillo just taking in the evening after another day in the sun. Carrillo is a great town for fishing and a few epic surf spots are close by. It is similar to Tamarindo, but without the overwhelming ex-pat influence. Unfortunately, Carrillo is extremely tame at night. Put another way, there is really nothing to do.
A bit bored, the ten of us had congregated in a caf overlooking the ocean. Tables and chairs had been pushed together and we had reached the point in the evening where we were telling lies about how great we used to be. The bartender/owner approached our table and suggested we hadn't experience Costa Rica until we had sampled Guaro. One of our merry band was selected.
Known humorously as Mexico Mike, our guinea pig was experienced in the ways of Mexican Tequila. Mexico was remotely close to Costa Rica, so the drinks were probably similar. Indeed, Mexico Mike was the man for the job.
The shot glass came. Jokes were made. Mike through it back. A small grimace, a lime, slaps on the back and general laughter. Just as we started egging each other on to be the next person to experience Costa Rica, a funny thing happened.
Mexico Mike was becoming Pink Mike. Laughter stopped and concern spread across the table like the rash developing on his arms. We were probably three hours from a hospital and the term "pink eye was taking on a much larger meaning. His skin was turning pink! You could actually see it moving down his arms and across his chest. His girlfriend, Stuart, was not happy!
It has to be an odd feeling to sit there and watch your skin change colors. Mike was cracking jokes as is his nature, but there was a definite tension to his laugh. Fortunately, the reaction soon slowed and retreated. Within 20 minutes, he was good as new and we had a new story to tell.
We universally passed on further offers of Guaro. A traveler has to know his or her limits!