Sunday, October 24, 2004

Survived Costa Rica

This story starts a little ways before October 11th. It starts on October 9th really. We were in Phoenix visiting family and getting together with Jeff. In the few days before arriving in Phoenix, I had lost my sunglasses and cell phone. We were at the grocery store and I said 'I should get some cash so I don't have to deal with it on Monday. The ATM machine ate my debit/VISA card. I figured I would just come on Monday and get it back. Of course they don't service the machine and it was destroyed by the time I got to the bank. They gave me a temporary ATM card that would shut off when my new one was issued while I was in Costa Rica. Let me just say THANK GOODNESS my boyfriend was going with me. There is so much to tell really that I might leave some of it out. We were going with not much of a plan. Jeff, Murray, and I were ready for the adventure of it all though.

October 11 We arrived in San Jose at 930pm. Ginger Love said she would pick us up, but upon leaving the terminal we didn't see her. We were immediately attacked by taxi drivers wishing to help us. We said possibly, but we had a friend coming. One of them followed us across the street and waited. As I had my back turned, Ginger passed by and cross the street. Jeff said is that her and I said Ginger. Taxi man immediately starting yelling GiGi, GiGi. Jeff burst into laughter as I went to get GiGi. That was her name the rest of the time there. She whizzed us though the streets of San Jose in a crazy mode that we would realize is how everyone drives down there. It made us a little comfortable having a good place to stay the first night even if it was filled with mud because her house had gotten flooded.

October 12 We would make reservations to go rafting and then head back into San Jose. While waiting for the bus, I made mental notes of our surroundings because we would have to get back here at some point. We arrived in San Jose and followed the GiGi map perfectly to our destination. We stopped at the post office because it also had a tourist information office. I had noticed that the police were out in great numbers, but didn't think anything about it. As we stood in the tourist office, we heard what Jeff thought was a parade. And then we saw things starting to fly. Jeff was standing on the stairs and was immediately ushered into the building as they locked the building up and storekeepers were closing up shop. We did what any other tourist would do--snap a photograph.The Riot Upon leaving the building there was spray paint and broken windows, but the shopkeepers were already cleaning up. We spent the rest of the day in a bus (minivan) traveling to Monteverde. It was one of the bumpiest, suckiest, rides I have ever endured in my life. We stayed at a great B&B where Yolanda made great breakfasts.

October 13 We had arranged the night before through Yolanda to do a canopy tour. This included 15 zip lines, a Tarzan swing, and a walk through the rainforest by ourselves. Jeff on Zip I loved the zip lines and the walk. I hated the Tarzan swing as I hate that feeling of flying. Me on Tarzan swing Jeff kept saying that this isn't something he normally does. I think he was a little worried about going on vacation with Murray and I to begin with as we are a little crazy. He enjoyed the hell out of all of it and said the Tarzan swing actually relaxed him. We did our walk in the rain as we would so many other days. We just got used to it, me especially considering I hate the rain and water dropping on me.

After missing a bus to hit the national park, we ate lunch. Murray had no idea what it was like to get Jeff and I together laughing. While eating lunch, this Australian had diarrhea mouth sitting at the table next to us. The gentleman with him got up and Aussie immediately engaged us in conversation. Murray did most of the talking because after Aussie described his projectile vomiting and diarrhea experience in Cuba, Jeff and I were laughing uncontrollably. We got up to pay and the gentleman that had been sitting with him said the guy had been talking nonstop since 8am the previous day.

That night we went on a Night Walk Tour with Johnny. We saw a kinkajou, a possum, tarantulas, sleeping birds, and other night creatures. Johnny spent a little too much time on ant hill, but overall it was a great tour.

October 14 Yolanda had arranged for us to take a "jeep", boat, "jeep" over to La Fortuna. The "jeep" is actually a minivan. How he got us to the boat (Lake), Jeff and I are unsure as he just seemed to turn at the weirdest places. The only thing I didn't like about driving with others was that we couldn't just pull over and take photos when I wanted to. Plus on this trip, Chatty Cathy talked the entire time. Murray finally realized what Jeff and I had meant about Gabby on the bus ride to the canopy tour. We got in the boat and skirted across to the "jeep" that would take us into La Fortuna. Have a reservation to a hotel, get in this "jeep". No reservation climb aboard this one. They took us to La Choza Inn.

Let me just interject for a moment and tell you that you are not supposed to flush the toilet paper down the toilet, but instead put it in a waste paper basket next to the toilet. As some of you might know from my bathroom issues, this didn't sit very well with me.

Anyway the room didn't have its own bathroom but for $28 bucks a night per person which included a Volcano tour and a soak at the hot springs, I wasn't going to complain. The tour was great and sitting in the hot springs watching lava rocks roll down the sides of the volcano was great. They had one hot spring that was 187 degrees. No, we did not go in it. During our tour, we saw monkeys, turkeys, birds, and of course leaf-cutter ants. Volcano

October 15 We woke up to the light. We dressed and then started to head down the stairs. I stupidly asked what time it was and was told it was 5 minutes to 6am. I about cried. We ate breakfast and then headed out to the waterfall. It was 5 km away. After walking for about 5 km or more, Jeff and I finally flagged down a taxi and asked about the waterfall. He laughed at us and said get in and I will take you there. We picked up Murray who was looking at some sort of bird and drove to the entrance of the waterfall. Upon going to pay, the cashier informed us he didn't have change. This would come to irk the shit out of Jeff as time went on. We paid and hiked down to the waterfall. It was quite beautiful I have to say. Upon returning to the top and heading back to town (walking), we somehow picked up a companion. This dog followed us the entire way into town until our hotel miniature dog scared it away. It was a long walk back it felt like, but we made it in time to catch the bus into San Jose. I attempted to use my atm card but had no luck with it. We arrived in San Carlos where there was a bus change. All the locals got off, but the 5 white people stayed on unsure what the hell to do. Jeff, thank goodness for us, could speak enough Spanish to figure things out for us. When we arrived in San Jose, the same thing would happen.

So we arrived in San Jose and hired a taxi to take us into the heart of the city to grab something to eat before heading out to GiGi's. The town was busy and scary and I kept my head looking at my knees. I was also sick of being in a vehicle by this time. Jeff was looking around and getting a little nervous as well. His nervousness broke loose when he looked over to see the prostitute have her breast flapped up and down my her little pimp. He turned to us and said I am willing to pay for the taxi all the way to GiGi's. Having taken in the landmarks by GiGi's the first day on the bus would prove helpful. By this time, I was in full anxiety attack mode. Murray was trying to keep me calm, but my heart was racing 90 mph. There are two lanes-one turning left and one going straight. Taxi man pulls between the two lanes and cuts in front of the straight lane. I told him he would have been shot in the states if he had done that.

We arrived at GiGi's safely thank goodness. We went out to dinner at this great restaurant where we were treated to an Argentina show. Glenn and Keith had showed up at the house before we left, but they had to return to rental car. Upon returning to the house, introductions were made and then we went to sleep as we were awaking at 5am to go rafting.

October 16 No rest for the weary. We were back on a bus and then another bus. I attempted to get cash again from an ATM, but it didn't work. Once again, thank goodness for the boyfriend being with me. Our time was going so quickly. Our boat crew was made up of Jeff, GiGi, Keith, Glenn, Murray, and I. All friends of GiGi's visiting from the states. Our guide was Juan. After our bus trip to their headquarters and paying for the trip, we headed to the river via another bus ride. Getting around places seems to take an entire day sometimes. We started rafting on Class II and III rapids. We arrived at the lodge. Now for those of you that have taken Colorado River Trips--the accommodations are not tents. We ate lunch and then went on a short hike to this small waterfall. We started down this other trail, but decided to return the way we came since we didn't know where the other went. The next day we found out that it came out right at our cabin and we all had quite a laugh about it. That night we had a great meal and then headed to bed where a stream ran right behind our cabin. The boat crew

October 17 We awoke to rain and an amazing leaf bug on a plant outside. We ate breakfast and then hung out while the rest of the rafters left. We were the only ones staying over 2 nights so we would have the place to ourselves. The 6 of us, two guides, and the daughter of the owner along with her friend. We threw on wet clothes and hiked back up to the waterfall and then climbed up the waterfall. A place where even our guides had not been. There was also a waterslide on the rocks there. Before arriving at the waterslide, I would slip and hit hard on the rocks. I grabbed my arm and said "no bones sticking out, we are good to go". Since the rain was still pouring, we skipped the canopy tour and just relaxed all in our own way.

October 18 We awoke to blue skies. It was great. We ate breakfast and then did the canopy tour. The entire time Glenn kept saying "Murray, we have to open one of these in the states". It definitely would be a blast. Afterwards, we packed our bags and packed the boats for our departure. We would be hitting Class III and IV rapids today. The rapids The other boat that met up with us would lose their occupants several times, including the owner's daughter at one point. She abandoned ship and road with our supply boat after that. I wonder if her guide still works there? Upon ending our trip we passed under a bridge where a couple of kids jumped probably about 60 feet into the river. It was a set up for the visitors as he was waved to jump by our guide and then climbed into our boat. Jeff thought he was swimming towards us to collect tips. We ended the trip with a great lunch at the headquarters. GiGi did her talking and got them to drop us off at her residence instead of downtown San Jose. We BBQed that night and again hit the sack earlier.

October 19 Oh the time is going too damn fast. We took the city bus into San Jose. Glenn would be accompanying us on this leg of our trip, but getting off in Hermosa. We got down to the city early because we had to run some errands. I once again tried to get some money, but it didn't work. Murray and Glenn were able to get some money. As we were standing there, Murray said here why don't you take some of this...I said is this for last night or this morning. Jeff started laughing. I said 'you weren't supposed to hear that'. We went down to pick up the disk of photos from the raft trip. We had paid for 3 and were only given one. Jeff talked to the guy and he said he would meet us at the bus stop. We got to the stop and were approached by this man. When he said something to Jeff, Jeff said No. It was the guy from the raft company giving our disks. We finally got them, boarded another bus, and spent the day traveling to Quepos.

We arrived in Quepos surprisingly. The bridges were the most scariest things I have ever traveled across in my life. We were immediately given a business card by a kid about a hotel room for $6/night/person. We took it, checked in, and went to dinner. The hotel was noisy and had a prostitute standing outside. Oh well, what can you expect for $6/night. Upon returning from dinner, my bag was crawling with ants. I can't stand ants. I felt like I had bugs crawling on me all night. The next night we moved hotels.

October 20 We headed down to Manuel Antonio National Park. Another bus trip. It wasn't that long though. We hiked through the rain forest and along the coast. We saw monkeys, an agouti, lizards galore, a raccoon, and of course birds. Monkey We went swimming in the Pacific Ocean. I hate the ocean, but I went in and hung onto Murray the entire time. When we were almost to the end of the park road, the squirrel monkeys started crossing the path via the trees. Flying monkey I think Murray must have taken about two dozen photographs. And the best part of them was when one shit on Jeff's arm. Of course it would not have been funny if it had happened to me, but I thought it was rather funny. We also saw a deer that was raised by the park rangers. We left the park, ate lunch, and took the bus back to Quepos. We did a little shopping and resting.

Murray and I went out that night to a bar. Everyone in there, 20 people, were whites and probably Americans. Hell, even the bartender was from Austin Texas. We said we were on a scouting tour and he said "be careful. I did that and the second time I never left". We watched history in the making as The Boston Red Sox beat the Yankees. Of course by the time, Murray and I ate and went back to the room, I was drunk and almost fell asleep during the last inning. Murray kept waking me up though.

October 21 Guess what? We boarded another bus to San Jose. This one was an express bus so it wouldn't have so many stops. We checked into a 5 star-hotel compared to some of the other ones we had stayed at. We then hooked up a taxi to take us to the Doka Coffee Plantation for a tour. It was quite a ways away so instead of coming back, he just hung out and waited. I think he was paid well for his waiting. Jeff gave him some rum, I gave him some chocolate covered coffee beans (and women don't part much with chocolate), and his payment was well over the $10 he said quoted. We walked to the souvenir shop outlet which wasn't an outlet at all and then to dinner. We were asleep early as we had another plane to catch at some Godly hour.

October 22 We awoke at 445am and headed out the door to the airport. Everything went smoothly and now I am back home in Moab. My next adventure is awaiting me on Monday I am sure.

Sorry for the length, but hope you enjoyed. Check photos out for a slide show of all the photos I have listed for Costa Rica. Between Murray and I, we took over 300 photos.

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