I received a review copy of Thomas Ray O'Brien's “Clueless Clyde in Costa Rica” and dove in, not quite knowing what to expect. I was afraid it would be some sort of sleazy account of the joys of sex tourism.
Not to worry, my fears were unfounded. Unlike many other books dealing with this subject, there's no macho chest thumping here. Yes, there's a goodly amount of “sexual situations,” as the cliché goes.
But the “sexual situations” are only one part of Clyde's effort to deal with his loneliness and male menopause by traveling to Costa Rica to see if there was some sort of answer in the arms of a paid companions... okay, prostitutes.
The tone of the book is lighthearted and sympathetic, both to the “hero” (Clyde) and those he encounters, both female and male. And poor Clyde needs some sympathy, as he begins his adventure with only the vaguest notion of what is in store for him, both good and not so good. A lot of his misadventures and mishaps stem from his innocence and ignorance. He's not all that different from a lot of us in that way. He has put most of his efforts into his job and (now defunct) marriage and hasn't spent a lot of time studying world geography or different cultures or much of anything outside of his own everyday life.
But by chance he overhears a conversation that leads him into an entirely new world, and his learning curve isn't always smooth. Within his first few days he learns a fair number of lessons such as not to fall asleep by the pool under the tropical sun and not to buy his 'date' too many tequilas. He learns that Costa Rica is not Puerto Rico, and requires a passport to visit.
He learns how to send money via Western Union. He learns that neither tequila nor Corona beer are cheaper in Costa Rica just because the people there speak Spanish. But for all the miscues, he has his share of fun, enough to bring him back for a second visit, and even consider living there.
Although it's unlikely that any one single visitor would go through everything that happens to Clyde, nonetheless, there is nothing he goes through that hasn't happened multiple times to different men who have visited the country looking for 'adventure,' and many things that have befallen tourists of all types. There is a realism about the story that provides a nice backdrop that makes the humor and poignancy more effective than it would be in a more absurd or exaggerated setting.
This book isn't for everybody. Although the book isn't pornographic, it contains a fair number of sexual situations. Some may find the whole idea of a middle aged man paying for the company of a young and attractive woman offensive. For those who don't fall into either of those groups, the book is a lighthearted but realistic and informative look at a side of Costa Rica that the run of the mill tourist is unlikely to encounter.
Andy Johnson is a male nurse from Atlanta, GA who loves to travel and who happens to spend half of his time being a Guide in Atlanta, GA and visiting Costa Rica. An avid reader and writer, who loves to work on his house Andy is currently working his siding replacement Atlanta while at the same time planning his next trip to Costa Rica.