General Ramblings

Finally reaching a point of equalibrium with schedule and caffiene and sleep and relaxation - one day before leaving. Ha. The right way to do this town in hindsight, would be to be here one week - get all the zip lining and surfing and snorkeling and hiking and waterfall jumping and ATV rentals and eco tourism and boat trips done in the first couple days, then spend a good four days just walking around town meeting people and taking 2.5 hours for lunch and playing cards and napping on the beach. There are a couple of activities worth doing here, but Montezuma and probably the entire Nicoya penninsula are at their best drinking batidos in a hammock reading a book or taking a nap.

Also people living in this town have an interesting way about them I would like to get further familiar with - which is probably only possible by spending time in conversation and more conversation. Travelers in general actually have an interesting way about them. The whole idea of being so in the moment that you're really not sure what's going to happen in a week or a month or a year - just taking it all in stride... while probably crippling for a career does indeed have a certain appeal. Probably in that kind of a suspended state of mind could you reach depths of exploration of self that are simply not possible with the cluster of daily activity in normal agenda-based life back home. Also getting that empty minded is a sure path to getting connected with nature and others and a higher power and other energy. I can see the lure of filling that empty mind - I'm as restless (or probably more) than the next guy - but getting open and connected while traveling could be an amazing thing and I see the appeal and I guess what I'm saying is I'm intrigued by the agenda-free meandering I see others participating in.

I have a great video clip of us getting ready to head out for the evening dancing in our cabing acting goofy - but will have to post it later when I can find faster Internet.

Tonight we're going to a fire dancer performance thing with a latin band afterward for a dinner show thing for fiend de ano, and by ano nuevo we'll be dancing in the street with 500 others at the town center.

Tomorrow headed back to San Jose where I'll meet a family friend for dinner then back to San Francisco late Thursday night. Happy New Year!


Sunburned and Smiling

True to it's reputation, Costa Rica is proving to us it's abundance of wildlife. We lounged around town yesterday evening, woke early to head out on a snorkeling trip to Tortuga Isle. Besides the tropical fish we saw underwater, we also saw a pair of dolphins, a (probably grey) whale, pelicans and myriad other water fowl, one member of our boat got stung by a jellyfish, we saw sea-rays, small 1 cm long fish that swam in schools of literally thousands and lept from the water in unision, a flying fish, and we're under constant assault from insects and bugs of all sort basically everywhere we go. Oh and there was a "wild" boar that wandered around the lunch tables letting people pet it and bury it in the sand. On the snorkeling trip we met cool people from Majorca, Barcelona, Manhattan and Toronto. Tonight we're scouting New Year's Eve parties and laying low... we're all sunburnt and starting to tire - tomorrow we're scheduled to wake up slow, eat a big breakfast, and if we can find them rent 4 wheel ATV's and trapse through the jungle for a few hours... hasta la manana and Feliz Ano Nuevo!


Another Day In Paradise

People congregate in the streets here at night just talking and drinking and dancing and socializing. A picture of me dancing and yes, that's (a) a polo shirt and (b) a business school shirt which makes me (c) nerdy by any count.

Yesterday we went zip lining in the forest canopy. There were 9 lines going from canopy of tree to canopy of tree - and we unhooked part way through to walk down to a waterfall area with a 70 ft. cliff to jump off into a pool.

Also a picture up here of an impromptu yoga/stretching session we did in the lobby the other day, evidence we're getting relaxed and letting our guard down and letting it all hang out.

Today we woke at 9:30a and headed out to surf. The waves were mild but the sun was hot and the company was tremendous. Didn't bring cameras to the beach for fear of theft, but did manage to avoid sunburn which will aid in tomorrow's quest for a snorkeling adventure.


Monkey Business

Monkeys are walking around in the trees outside our hotel room, making yelping noises. Pretty strange to see wild monkeys who are close enough to see you and be aware of your presence and also not care that you're watching them. The hammock on the porch of our hotel cabin has a pretty good view of them.

Then at breakfast there's another monkey (the one with the white face) about 20 feet away watching us eat. Kinda crazy - the brochures talk about the wild monkeys but I'm a sceptical person and at first assume it's hype to promote the area as tropical. Nope. There really are monkeys at the restaurants and hotels.

We relaxed after getting into Montezuma, talking on the porch - reading and walking around town to check things out. And by "Town" in Montezuma I mean about 20 stores and restaurants. We ate dinner at a kitchy ex-pat place that plays movies in English on a projector screen - brilliant fruit shakes. We're drinking a fruit shake with every meal, this is the way it works for Costa Ricans.

"Pura Vida" is this concept in Costa Rica - pure life. They greet each other by saying this. It's kinda like saying "ah, this is the good life." It also has some part of a pure - natural way of things.

So after spilling out of dinner we walked to the center of town and there was an impromptu rave that broke out in the street. Surreal, especially because of the ex-pat and hippy (think people with dreadlocks who couln't fight their way out of a hemp seed oil lined paper bag) influence. I think it was some beverage company promoting their drink - but whatever it was kinda cool. Old surfers and children and tourists and just a random group of probably 150 people all dancing to Bob Marley and some house music in the street having a good time.

Anyways, canopy tour and zip lines later today to waterfalls we can jump off.


Costa Rica - Day One

Got off the plane and had a couple hours to kill waiting for Ethan and Cleary to land in San Jose, Trish was a couple days ahead of us and meeting us in Montezuma. So I took off to downtown San Jose, where everyone was preparing for a parade. It's an annual parade where 3000 horses from all over Costa Rica converge on San Jose to celebrate the "cowboy" culture. (No TLC graffiti) Vendors are walking around selling cowboy hats, thousands of people lined the road to listen to music and wait for the horse parade. I wanted to see the Teatro Nacional but it was closed due to the horse fiasco - oh well, maybe on our way back through San Jose on the way out of Costa Rica.
I caught a bus back to the airport and met up with Ethan and his brother Cleary, we were picked up by a couple Ethan knows - family friends. This couple Margarita and Ralph run an Eco Tour business in Costa Rica - they import 1000 students a year for Eco Tourism projects like trolling the beaches looking for turtles laying eggs (to prevent egg poaching - the eggs are sold in bars as afrodesiacs!). We stayed with Ralph and Margarita in a small town 30 minutes outside San Jose called Atenas (picture of Ethan in their pool). They took us into their home and fed us - amazing hospitality. They are growing their own coffee (picture here of coffee beans and coffee plant), growing fruit trees, buying up all the land around them on the mountainside - looking to build a sustainable life as much as possible. They have cows on a farm nearby, are planting fruit trees, and trade with other neighbors for chicken, eggs and dairy. They are starting to make cheese and wine, and within a few years hope to entirely self sustain - perhaps using barter with neighbors for healthcare (a doctor is moving near soon) and other goods and services.

So we woke up early in Atenas and started making our way to the airport for a 30 minute flight to costal, beach town, hippy and surf hideout Montezuma. We'll spend 5 days in Montezuma. The plane that brought us here fit about 12 passengers - both our luggage and persons were weighed to ensure we meet the weight limits of the plane!
Today in Montezuma will be settling in, booking a canopy tour for tomorrow (zip lines!) getting car rental and surfboard rental figured out, and relaxing in a hammock reading Accounting!


Costa Rica Factoids

* Costa Rica is about the same size as Maine;
* Dry season or summer is December to April;
* Currency is the Colon, about 500 Colon per USD;
* Costa Rica is GMT -6, the same as CST in the US;
* The indiginous people of Costa Rica - originally Chorotegas people from the North (think Aztec) and Chibcha from South America once numbered 400,000;
* By the year 1675 that number dwindled to under 500 - fewer than 1% of current population decends from these 500 - current population = 4.1M;
* Gil Gonzales Davila first settled Costa Rica from Panama in 1522, natives wore gold wrist bands so he named it the "rich coast" (aka Costa Rica);
* 09/15/1821 Costa Rica gained independence from Spain, however didn't know it till October when a mule messenger brought the news;
* Coffee and Bananas, Costa Rica's primary exports, are not indiginous to the area;
* Current President Oscar Arias is a Nobel Peace Price winner (1987);
* Costa Rica speaks spanish, but often -ico or -ito is added to words to make them more cute - chiquito becomes chiquitico;
* This -ico appendage is the birth of "tico's" - which is what Costa Ricans call themselves;
* Costa Rica signed recently a Domincan Republic - Central American Free Trade Agreement - very controversial among local unions, and called Tratado de Libre Comercio (TLC) in Spanish;

** Interesting plant and animal facts **
* Home to over 10,000 plant species, 240 mammal, 850 bird, 180 amphibian and 230 reptile species (known).12 distinct ecosystem zones exist in Costa Rica;
* 25% of the geography is protected by national reservation;
* 6% of the worlds plant and animal species exists here, while only .03% of the worlds land mass;
* 7.5% of the worlds snakes exist in Costa Rica;
* There's a red flower in Costa Rica called, "Labios de Puta" or "Hooker's Lips";
* Costa Rica has 52 species of hummingbird;
* There's a species of frog called "Glass Frog" who's stomach skin is transparent and shows it's intestines

Costa Rica - Surfs Up !!!

Well, Christmas in Seattle was a brisk three day adventure, as apparently no rest for the wicked: I'm off to Costa Rica through New Year.

The family decided to not do presents this year and have a low key Christmas. It was nice to see them all and spend some time. It's interesting the proposition of completely obliviating the holiday presents - I'm glad we did that, actually. It feels strange to not have stockings, but I feel in the Christmas spirit since working on the Toys for Tots event the other weekend - putting up a tree and lights - and sending out Christmas cards over the last couple weeks.

So it's Christmas today, and I'm off to Costa Rica. The crew going includes college friend Ethan, Ethan's brother Cleary, and random adventure seeker and new friend Trish. We'll do canopy tours, sit in a small village for one night, and hit the beach for a few days, then back to San Jose for New Year's Eve. Hopefully I can get a chance to post once a day while there... stay tuned!


Laguna Seca

Went to the track with friend Brad. I bought a Kendon bike trailer to tow behind my station wagon a couple weeks ago, this was the first time using it. It's a bit much to load/unload with one person, and I need to learn how to strap the bike in better, but all-in-all it worked great. Laguna Seca is in Monterey, California - which is two hours from my house in San Francisco. It is one of the premier tracks in the US and is so far the only MotoGP track in the US (next year the Indianapolis Speedway is also going to hold a MotoGP race also). My second time at the track, I can tell I'm getting better but also have a lot to learn. Some guys zip by me like I'm standing still. My bike engine siezed up and started spewing oil after lunch. Fortunately (a) it's still under warranty, and (b) it was at the end of the day so Ialready got some good riding in. Brad unfortunately had a rough day - his tires weren't warmed up and he ended up high siding fairly early in the day. His wrist got a hairline fracture and he separated his shoulder... ouch! Here's some pics - Brad: if you see this speedy healing buddy