The time was December, 2003, and I was on my first visit to Costa Rica. For reasons I can’t recall, I was up and about very early my first day in San Jose. It was so early that the morning heading-to-work crowd was just getting going. I had a map on which I had marked a few points of interest. One of them was the famous Hotel Del Rey.
Back then, there was a web site with a discussion area called “Costaricasex.com” What I knew about the “scene” in town was almost exclusively from this site, which, I learned shortly, was falling into neglect. Nevertheless, considering the depth of my ignorance, provided plenty of raw materials for my search for willing female companions.
Based on what I read, I had mixed emotions as I approached the Big Pink Hotel for the first time. I have to admit feeling somewhat intimidated. The mental picture I had gathered from reading the various monger posts was a mix of sleazy allure and a den of predatory female sharks out to take advantage of a newbie like me. The logical part of my mind knew I was basing my feelings on zero personal experience inside, but all I had were posts from other mongers, many who were pretty cynical and negative (despite partaking repeatedly).
All I did was a walk through that morning, and spent the next few days trying to find a now-defunct massage parlor, where I was able to spend some quality time with some very sweet working girls.
When I actually moved down for a trial run a few months later, I became reasonably comfortable within the confines of the public part of the hotel. I met quite a few experienced mongers, including some I recognized from the discussion board. Some offered sage advice, others spewed BS. But the main attraction were the chicas. And when I wanted a change of pace, I could walk across the street to the Key Largo, where bands played every night and the atmosphere was a little more laid back. With a sufficient stretch of the imagination, it was possible to imagine that it was just a nice dance club full of sexy girls who were quite friendly.
From 2004 through around 2008, it was fun city. In addition to the Del Rey, there were several other gringo-oriented bars nearby. Fellow gringos were easy to find to shoot the bull with while recharging batteries between ‘dates.’ This was the heyday of ‘gringo gulch.’ I would be lying if I said I didn’t have fun.
Ah… those were the days, my friend. But times change. I won’t try to explain all the causes and effects of these changing times, but almost all the gringo bars are gone and even the busiest venues have seen a significant drop in business. I haven’t been inside the pink hotel in years, but those who still live in San Jose tell me it’s pretty quiet lately. Oh well… I’ll never forget ol’ what-were-their-names…