Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Exciting Conclusion...

Sorry, I have been updating my "professional site" so I've neglected my blog - I apologize to my faithful readers that I've left you hanging! So, where was I?

Day 6 (continued)
So there I am at the top of this platform, with a beautiful panoramic view of Lake Arenal, the volcano, and the vast rainforest. It would have been the ultimate experience if it wasn't for the knot in my stomach that came about when I realized the velocity and angle at which I'd be returning to land. I was petrified. You could chicken out, but had to make up your mind during the first two lengths of cable, which were quite tame (they were used as the training part of the journey - one to learn how to use the clip bar/equipment and how to position your body as you go down and the other was to learn how to slow down - mainly for the heavier people.) I was in this position (chicken out or not) once before. I was in Destin, Florida on vacation with a friend who was also in my improv group (a real smart ass). For whatever reason, I wanted to go on the Skycoaster (I'm sure you've seen it, thy have them at carnivals, theme parks, and all over Orlando - you get strapped into a harness, get pulled to the top of a tower and then come screaming down, like you're flying.) There was no line and I had a few beers (aka "Liquid Courage") prior to this, so I paid my $30 and strapped in. On the Skycoatser, you control your own destiny, you have to pull the cord that sends you down. I got up to the top of the tower and thought to myself "I can't do this". Then I thought of the massive amount of ribbing I'd get from my friend and figured death was much less awful than having all of my friends find out that I'm a big wuss. So I pulled the cord and had one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. It was awesome (I don't know that I'd ever do it again, but I'd recommend the experience to anyone.) Back to Costa Rica, on this trip I was also accompanied by a smart ass - my hubby. I knew I had to do it. Paul went down first. I watched him speed down the line, his figure disappearing rapidly from view. Then, my turn. I was shaking as they hooked me onto the cable. If there was ground, I couldn't see it. The guy who was hooking me up asked "Esta listo?" (Are you ready?) I wasn't (I wouldn't ever be, really), but said "Si" and away I went. Oh my God. It was the coolest thing I've ever experienced, topping the Skycoaster and even the Sydney Bridge climb in Australia. After the initial run, I was yelling "Estoy listo!" every time I got ready to take on another line. (I ended up being a translator on this trip - a few of the guys who worked for the Sky Tour didn't speak much English, and of course all of the turistas didn't speak Spanish - there are so many English speaking tourists over there now that most Costariquenos (or Ticos, as they're also called) are pretty fluent in Spanglish. So I am translating instructions to the other turistas and teaching the staff how to say things like "side to side" and "slow down". 5 years of Spanish helped, I guess!) I was really sad when it was over!

The ride back to Tabacon was amusing. There were a bunch of middle aged guys from California with us, and their pseudo-"leader" was this guy who vaguely resembled Gary Busey. He was kind of (loudly) recapping the information the tour guide provided on the tram, and I don't believe he got any of it right. It was only an hour ago...geez! No wonder other countries hate us...

After all of this excitement, we had a traditional Costa Rican buffet dinner (lots of pork, rice and chicken - and tres leches cake for desert...mmmmmm!) We heard the distinctive rumbling that came from the volcano and got to see lava coming down the side of the volcano - it was truly spectacular. The next day was "GUAPOTE!" and we had to get up early, so we made it an early night.

Day 7
GUAPOTE! Yes, we hit Lake Arenal for a little fishing. Our guide took us out on the lake and we caught a variety of bass - none were really impressive, we've caught bigger (ok, Paul's caught bigger) in our lake - but Paul did finally get his GUAPOTE! so it was a good trip. (Don't ask me what I caught - I think a tiger bass (?), some sort of Costa Rican mullet and, of course, a GUAPOTE! (actually, Rainbow Bass) of my very own! Oh, and a horrible sunburn on the tops of my legs - first one of the trip.)

We went back to the resort, grabbed lunch and then headed out on our ATV tour (no sitting around for us!) It was only my second time ever on a 4-wheeler - the first was when I was 15 and went out with my friend Suzie, I got on, started up, went a few feet and promptly crashed into a bush. Needless to say, I was a little nervous. After a few minutes of getting used to the ride in a big empty field (no bushes!), we ventured out and had a nice 2-hour journey. Since we were off-road quite a bit, I got really dirty. And we had already checked out. Great. I had to grab a washcloth and try to clean up as best as I could in the ladies room before we got a ride back to San Jose. We stayed at the Ramada Herradura, which was really nice. When we got in our room, we flipped on the TV, and imagine my delight when my favorite show, "House" was on (it's called "Dr. House" over there - if it were literally translated it would be "Casa" which really doesn't work. By the way, most North American shows have Spanish subtitles, but I did get to see the "Trapped in the Closet" episode of "South Park" dubbed (surprisingly well) in Spanish as well as "Los Simpson"!) We had dinner at Sancho Panza, a Spanish restaurant. We had a delicious paella and a few Imperials as the hours ticked down to burfday #37 (I managed to translate the first bit of 50-Cent's "In Da Club" to Spanish for the occasion - it is....)

Yo pequeno, es su cumpleanos

Vamos a celebrar como es su cumpleanos

Vamos a beber Bacardi como es su cumpleanos...

...and that's all of the song I know (even in English!)

Day 8
We got up early (again) and jumped on a bus at 6am to head out on a whitewater rafting adventure (See? I am an action figure!) When we got on the bus, there were a bunch of loud, boisterous guys (about our age) already there. They were loudly boasting of their maids and Porsches, so I was not looking forward to spending a few hours with them. Then we went to another hotel to pick up another group and they were late. Real late. They finally got on the bus, we pulled out into the street and immediately turned around and headed back, because one of the new people had the wrong kind of shoes! (I never thought we'd ever be leaving San Jose!) We drove for a few hours to the "operations base" for the river rafting company, loaded up on breakfast (I'm not even going to tell you what I had!) and made our way to the Pacuare River. Since there were only 2 of us, we had to go with some of the loud guys...great. Our tour guide was named Abel and as we headed out, he became less of the friendly tour guide and more of a drill sergeant ("What part of paddle forward do you not understand??") The loud guys became our allies (the ones on our raft were actually nice - they were from Ft. Lauderdale) as our hatred of Abel intensified. At least he was a good guide. We never got caught up on any rocks. The scenery along the river was beautiful - there were tons of waterfalls and cool grottos. There were also some very intense Class III and IV rapids. One group did actually hang themselves up on the rocks and Abel went out to help them, while we waited on the shore. Abel swam back and was floating in the water, asking us to come out in the raft and pick him up. We all just looked at him for a moment - and in that moment, Abel realized what a jerk he had been all day and his demeanor magically changed. The whole ride was 14 miles and took us about 3 hours. It was a lot of fun! We went back to our hotel and dined at the sushi restaurant there (pretty good). Of course, you can't seem to go anywhere in Costa Rica anymore with out some loud North American bragging about his business acumen, finances, golf game, whatever - no wonder they hate us....All in all, an excellent birthday!

Day 9
Sniffle! Today was our last day in this beautiful country. We had an early (of course) flight, but had time for the obligatory souvenir shopping (the coffee there is awesome, so we picked some up, as well as gifts for family and friends) and no trip overseas would be complete without a stop at the duty-free store! We went from paradise to hell in a matter of hours...Miami Airport was a zoo (as always) and the traffic (on a Sunday, no less) was awful. When are we going back? Soon I hope!

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