THE LONG WAY HOME FROM COSTA RICA â€˜I just called the airline to confirm our flights going back to Canada,â€™ Mike told his wife, Bobbie, as he sat down in the lounge of the Costa Rica Plaza, â€˜and all I got was a damn answering machine that told me the airline had gone out of business and we would have to find another way home.â€™ â€˜My God, Mike, what are we going to do,â€™ she replied, â€˜we donâ€™t even have enough money to survive for more than a few days, let alone pay for another flight to Canada.â€™ â€˜That means weâ€™re screwed, too,â€™ said Brandy, one of the two other young women at the table, who had been talking with Bobbie - Samantha and I were on the same airline and we donâ€™t have a lot of money left either.â€™ â€˜This really sucks,â€™ said Samantha, â€˜I think Iâ€™ll just go and call the airline and see if I can get through,â€™ rising up and leaving the lounge. Brandy started to cry - â€˜My parents are on vacation in Europe and Samanthaâ€™s are away camping in Alaska - and itâ€™s Friday night so we canâ€™t even call the bank until next week - damn, I donâ€™t have anything there either - I spent nearly everything on this trip.â€™ â€˜Mike, I have to be back at the office by Tuesday for sure,â€™ Bobbie said, â€˜Iâ€™ve already been away longer than Iâ€™m supposed to be - they gave me two extra days since youâ€™re always away working and we hardly get to see each other.â€™ â€˜Yeah, honey, me too,â€™ he told her, â€˜if Iâ€™m not on that company plane to the north this Wednesday, Iâ€™ll lose two weeks work, maybe even more - thereâ€™s got to be a way that we can get another airline and get home - what about our credit cards.â€™ â€˜Weâ€™re already up to the limit,â€™ Bobbie said, â€˜well, pretty close anyway - thereâ€™s no way we can get two airline tickets back to Canada on them.â€™ Samantha came back to the table with tears streaming down her face, saying â€˜itâ€™s true, we are stuck in Costa Rica, the airlineâ€™s gone bankruptâ€™. â€˜Damn, weâ€™re really stuck,â€™ said Brandy, â€˜we have hardly any money and thereâ€™s nobody we can phone for help.â€™ â€˜Wait a minute,â€™ Bobbie said, â€˜we could try the Canadian embassy - they could help us.â€™ â€˜Theyâ€™ll be closed for the long weekend,â€™ Mike pointed out, â€˜they wonâ€™t even see us until Tuesday and thatâ€™ll be too late - we have to be home by then.â€™ â€˜Excuse me,â€™ a voice with a latino accent interrupted, â€˜perhaps I could be of some help with your dilemma - forgive me, I couldnâ€™t help but overhear your conversation as I was at the next table - I might be able to help you raise the money to get home even today - my employer is a wealthy and influential man here in Costa Rica - I think that he might be willing to help you.â€™ The latino man returned after some fifteen minutes and sat down at their table - â€˜my boss, Don Ricardo dela Rosa, is willing to invite you to his hacienda this evening and he will have airline tickets for all of you - the only catch is that you will have to play one of his special games - at least, the three women will.â€™ â€˜Yeah, right,â€™ said Samantha, â€˜so weâ€™ll have to screw some latin millionaire to get our plane tickets home - no thanks latin man!â€™ â€˜No, thatâ€™s not the case at all,â€™ he said, â€˜there are many beautiful women in Costa Rica and my boss is very handsome - he could have any of them - he will only ask the three of you to play a gambling game - if you win youâ€™ll have some money as well as your plane tickets - if you lose heâ€™ll tickle you but at least youâ€™ll still have your plane ride home.â€™ â€˜Wait a minute,â€™ said Mike, â€˜this guy you work for, this dela Rosa, will play a game with these girls and if they lose they get tickled but if they win he pays them - and for sure we get four plane tickets home - is that right?â€™ â€˜No way Mike,â€™ Bobbie said, â€˜you know how ticklish I am - what if he tries to get at my feet?â€™ â€˜Yeah, me too,â€™ Samantha said, â€˜nobody touches my feet and lives to talk about it - that is the most ticklish spot Iâ€™ve got.â€™ â€˜For me itâ€™s my belly and my breasts,â€™ added Brandy, â€˜I canâ€™t take it there.â€™ â€˜Letâ€™s just see what his boss has in mind,â€™ Mike suggested, â€˜if itâ€™s a game that we can win fairly easily it shouldnâ€™t be a problem - you wouldnâ€™t be taking much of a risk.â€™ â€˜Itâ€™s easy for you, Mike,â€™ Bobbie said, â€˜they donâ€™t want to tickle you - youâ€™ll just get to sit and watch.â€™ â€˜My employer, Don dela Rosa, is a very nice and fair man,â€™ the man pointed out, â€˜he only has a great love of tickling young women - he loves the sound of their laughter - I suggest that the four of you take him up on his offer to have dinner at his hacienda tonight - at the dinner he will explain exactly what he has in mind and you can then decide if you would like to accept his challenge or return to your hotel - meanwhile, if youâ€™ll provide me with your names, I can see that the airline tickets are prepared for you this afternoon.â€™ â€˜Okay,â€™ said Bobbie, â€˜Iâ€™m willing to have dinner with him and see what he has to say as long as Iâ€™m not obligated in any way.â€™ â€˜Yeah, me too,â€™ Samantha added. â€˜Okay, me too,â€™ Brandy conceded, â€˜but Iâ€™m trusting you guys.â€™ The four stranded tourists then provided their names to Don dela Rosaâ€™s assistant and the arrangements for a pickup at six oâ€™clock that Friday evening were made. At the hacienda, the four met Don Ricardo dela Rosa, an elegant and handsome Latin gentleman in his early sixties - the man reminded them of Mr. Roarke, the owner and host of Fantasy Island on television - in fact, Mike remarked quietly to Bobbie â€˜I wonder where Tattoo isâ€™ for which she gently slapped him - Samantha said softly, â€˜never mind Tattoo, itâ€™s the plane, the plane Iâ€™m afterâ€™. The four were seated with Don dela Rosa and his assistant, whose name turned out to be Jose (go figure), for a wonderful steak and lobster dinner with all the trimmings and fine Mexican wines - apparently Don Ricardo owned several of the wineries - dinner was, of course, accompanied by great conversation in which everyone got to know each other a little better and Don dela Rosa was able to learn of the four young peoples life and work in Canada - the social worker, the bank teller, the store clerk and the oilfield mechanic. â€˜Well, my friends,â€™ Don dela Rosa began, â€˜I have a proposition for you - all four of you must accept my offer or it will not be completed - to demonstrate my good faith I have had Jose purchase four tickets on the American Airlines flight to Dallas on Sunday, and the connecting flight from there to Canada - here they areâ€™ - he placed them on the table for all to see.