“Toto, toto, totally Ra…. toto, toto, It’s totally Rasta..”
From Ivory Coast to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, the Ja Rythyms of Alpha Blondy floated upon the soothing breeze bouncing off the ripples of the ocean and up to the humble local restaurant in Puerto Viejo.
We hummed nonchalantly as we awaited the arrival of our seafood delight and soon found ourselves lending our voices to Alpha Blondy’s hypnotic chorus.
“…toto, toto totally Ra…” and laughed simultaneously at the symmetry and coincidence of my travel buddy having carried the nickname ‘Ra’ since her university days.
It was our first night in Costa Rica and the song served as something of an omen.
Throughout the rest of our sojourn along the Caribbean coast, from Puerto Viejo to Manzanillo, to Punta Mona and Gandoca, and even during our little excursion to Panama, everything great was “Totally Ra!”
Every eye opening experience, every delectable delicacy, every magic moment, was Totally Ra.
The organic food we feasted upon at the Permaculture Farm of Punta Mona, was Totally Ra. The chance to harvest food we ourselves had grown was Totally Ra.
The weird and wonderful characters we met and the stunningly breathtaking views of the coral fringed, black sand beaches were Totally Ra.
The storms we saw, and smelt, and heard and felt rolling in from the Atlantic, were impressive, thunderous, angry and, if they terrified us, they were Totally Ra.
The hilarious failures of our attempts to master Spanish were Totally Ra, as was the search for a copy of the album featuring our new favourite song, upon our return to San Jose.
We’d expected it to be quite straightforward.
Walk around the huge central market in San Jose, spot a music store, and ask them if they had a copy of the CD. Easy.
Even for a couple of ‘extranjeros’ with limited Spanish, this should not be too hard.
So we approached the first shop. An amiable young chap fielded our enquiry.
No, no he didn’t know the song.
We tried the next shop.
No, no luck there either.
We tried the third shop.
How can it be that hard?
This was getting frustrating and slightly embarrassing, but it was to become more so.
When we realised that our helpful hosts did not recognise the name of the song, we started singing it.
“…Toto, toto, totally Ra…” in the middle of the shop in the middle of San Jose’s most crowded market.
It elicited only a blank expression from the shopkeeper and a suggestion to try the next shop.
“…toto, toto, totally Ra…” we sang, with more enthusiasm.
This met puzzlement, not recognition. Try the next shop.
“…toto, toto, totally Ra…” we sang, more loudly and with even more gusto than before, certain that someone would recognise the song and produce a copy of the CD.
Another attempt. Even more passion and volume. This time we danced too and this attracted an audience of curious locals, grateful for a moment of comedic distraction at our expense.
“Aaaaaaahhh,” said the sprightly young chap whose expression denoted bemusement, glee and sympathy.
“You mean Cocody Rock!”