Meeting the Legend

The hostel “Rocking J’s” in Puerto Viejo is renown for its tiled structure, party atmosphere and mysterious owner named “J.” And while my friends and I were almost able to leave our mark at the hostel by creating our own mosaic on the wall, we met the infamous J himself.

Before our trip to Puerto Viejo, a chill beach town on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, one of my friends intently researched the infamous Rocking J’s. She gushed about full moon parties, nighttime bonfires and the chance to create a mosaic. And to top it off, the hostel offered hammocks or tents for guests to sleep in.

Upon arriving at the hostel, we marveled at the gigantic size of Rocking J’s and how the entire infrastructure was covered in multi-colored mosaic, resembling a scene from Alice in Wonderland. We unpacked our luggage into our brightly painted lockers and double-person tent, and decided to enjoy the beach as one of the hand-written signs at the entrance instructed.

One of the beaches at Puerto Viejo
(photo courtesy of Nellie Mitchell)

Over the next few days, we explored the town of Puerto Viejo and its beaches via bikes, relaxing on the sand by day and playing card games by night. However, we had neither seen nor heard J or anything about his mosaics or full moon parties by the third day, and began to suspect the hostel’s “coolness” was more than hype than real.

However, we were proved wrong. A middle-aged man in swim trunks walked by us after we had finished a game of cards in the lounging area, and asked my friends and I if we wanted to do a mosaic.

“Sure, but where?” one of my friends replied.

“By the hot showers, of course,” J said.

“Where are those?” another friend asked.

A mosaic staircase inside Rocking J’s
(photo courtesy of Nellie Mitchell)

“You don’t know where the hot showers are? I’ll show you. Come on, let’s go!” J said in an exasperated, but cool, tone as he began walking away.

We ran to catch up, following him through different rooms of mosaic and archways. Finally, we arrived at a huge, army green boat. It turned out this gigantic box-like vessel was “The Ark,” or J’s home. He showed us various outdoor showers, a hospital room, a recording studio, dorm rooms and his two-story apartment all on this huge boat sitting on land.

After the grand tour, he invited the five of us to sit down and hang out with him as he smoked.

Throughout our 30-minute long conversation with this mysterious J person, we found out that he was a 43-year-old bachelor who founded Rocking J’s when he moved to Costa Rica 10 years ago. He had recently broken up with his girlfriend, but showed no signs of regret as he began calling one of my friends “baby” and showing off his bachelor pad, which included a “Batman cave” where he kept weapons and survival kits in case of the apocalypse.

After another hour of chatting about J, he ushered us out of The Ark, claiming he needed to “do another round at the desk and then smoke a joint on the beach.” So we followed him back to the hostel while munching on green beans from his all-organic garden, and then went out to the beach with him.

Three of my friends in J’s tree

After lighting up his second joint, J showed us his “tree” where he and his friends smoke at night because it has the best view. Three of my friends managed to scramble up the tree and awkwardly sit in the branches for a couple minutes before slowly working their way back down to the sandy beach.

And after bidding this strange, self-centered bachelor farewell, we went back to playing cards. However, I soon realized that while we knew so much about J and his exotic, adventurous life, he didn’t even take the time or courtesy to ask our names.

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