That girl you’re talking to, she’ll tell you that you’re handsome and sexy and intelligent, and she’ll make you believe it no matter how fat or dumb or ugly you are because she knows you’ve got a hundred bucks burning a hole in your pocket. “You might be sure that this type of tourist are not wanted here,“ says one Costa Rican official.Back home, you’d spend that on dinner and a movie, and for what? Down here, that gets you laid, and by a woman who pretends she doesn’t think you’re a pig. The tall one in the tight white pants, the one who’s been eyeing you for the past hour, she’s at the table asking for a light, but she’s speaking in Spanish, so you don’t realize what she wants until she grabs a pack of matches from the ashtray.“Where you staying? “We only want the people that want to spend a Pura Vida’ time.“Yet the whoremongers came in droves anyway.The Del Rey’s Web site is respectable enough—“Children under 12 stay free“ is a nice touch—but the bad shit, the stuff that’ll get you in trouble, starts on the first link that comes up on Google. The hard-core-sex destinations—Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines—require major investments in airfare and flying time, twenty-two hours to Manila on a direct flight, twenty-three to Bangkok.(“Hotel Del Rey and Blue Marlin Bar, the best known Sport-Bar and Casino of Costa Rica, are San José’s number one meeting spots, specially for single men looking for sexy girls, and night live activities.“) No, better to stay at the Holiday Inn. Costa Rica, on the other hand, can be done in a long weekend.Have a few more drinks, let it get late, way into the early morning. “ She knows a little English, enough to get by.“Why? Bad teeth, but otherwise pretty: slender, long dark hair, coppery skin that makes her halter top seem even whiter. ““Holiday Inn.““Nice hotel.“No, it’s an average hotel with an intermittent ant problem. And by the early 1990s, they’d branded Costa Rica with a reputation as a sex haven—a reputation that stuck and then exploded near the end of the century. For one thing, prostitution is legal, or at least isn’t illegal: The business isn’t tad or regulated like, say, casinos or bars, but there is no law against an adult selling his or her body for cash.What’s nice about it, though, is that it’s a Holiday Inn. So you’re not going to come down to San José and get busted by an undercover cop.“It’s very easy to become like a kid in a candy store when you first go to San Jos é,“ as Death says. No, at the better bars in Costa Rica, at the Blue Marlin, you’ve got to give a girl a signal, make eye contact, let her know you’re interested. What’s the tattoo, the one crawling up the small of her back? “But the little girl kitty is lonely, and she needs a big, strong male tiger.“ She means you, even though you’re neither big nor strong and have never been mistaken for a tiger. The Costa Rican government, of course, would prefer that its wedge of the Central American isthmus not be so well regarded among American men trolling for sex.“There’s so much available talent down there, and it’s all done in wide-open public spaces. Sure, every few minutes one leaves with a guy, wiggles out the back toward the hotel lobby or out the front to a cab, but the selection never noticeably thins. When she slides up next to you, she’ll ask if you’re alone or if you want some company. The tourist board is much more enthusiastic about their beaches, rain forests, and volcanoes, and the country’s official slogan—no artificial ingredients—would seem to have nothing at all to do with picking up prostitutes in bars.
The Red Zone, a few dirty blocks around the Central Market. There’s four by the pay phones at the edge of Parque Morazan. They’ve all got their own turf close by, and the cabbies all know exactly where they are.(The company won’t say how many men they take down each year.In fact, the guy behind the desk in the Miami office won’t say anything at all—he just shakes his head at every question.)But the commercial tours account for just a fraction of the gringos renting women in Costa Rica.And then somebody hears in a bar about [it]—wife or sister-in-law hears—and it’s sad because not everybody goes there and does it.“ Yeah, the problem—they talk too much.Not surprisingly, though, every other guy that WXYZ asked about the trip denied cavorting with whores.