Saturday, October 1
Shannon successfully caught her 7:00AM flight to San Jose, and I caught my 12:30 flight to Houston and then to Newark. The first leg of my trip was pretty ironic, actually, because I sat next to a couple who had just finished a two-week vacation in CR. They had organized a dive trip to the west coast of the country through – get this – the dive shop THEY OWN.
Me: “Really? You own a dive shop?”
Sheila: “For about 20 years now. But we’re trying to sell it so we can retire.”
Me: *perking up considerably* “You don’t say. Where?”
Jeff: “In Sacramento.”
Me: “Hmmm. How much does a dive shop sell for?”
Friday, September 30 – Liberia, CR
We woke up this morning to blue skies, warm weather, and an ocean with areas of bright turquoise water. I said to Shannon, “You see all those turquoise spots in the ocean?”
“You know what those mean?”
“Visibility. Those are spots of perfect underwater visibility. And I have to catch a $#*(@$ plane this afternoon.”
Thursday, September 29 – Playa Ocotal, CR
My last day of diving. *sniff* We had a pretty full boat since a number of Spaniards decided to join us, but they were rather inexperienced and so the dive staff (who I know well by this time) decided to send them down separately. Jan, Cal and I were quite happy to be off on our own since we dive well together. This proved to be even more true on the second dive, when all but one of the Spaniards opted out of a second tank (who does that? Who turns down a dive?). This one diver was all over the place underwater, running into the reef, the dive masters, and anyone who happened to be within a five foot radius of him – which we had to be because visibility was so awful. After thirty minutes of rough current, awful visibility, and an inconsiderate diver, I quit the dive and returned to the boat. Despite the less-than-ideal dive conditions I still live by the idea that “a bad day diving is better than a good day at the office” because… well… it just is.
More lazing around and reading *are you noticing a trend?*, though Shannon got a motivated streak and took a bunch of pictures. We had dinner at the resort instead of in town since we were running low on cash and couldn’t seem to find an ATM – which was our convenient excuse for why we should be lazy and not leave the grounds. Besides, CR really isn’t known for its cuisine so it’s not like we were missing anything. *g*
Wednesday, September 28 – Playa Ocotal, CR
It was pouring this morning when I woke up for my 8AM dive. That’s what we get for coming here in the rainy season, but of course this didn’t stop the dive boat from venturing forth. Visibility was pretty rough because of all the rain and the second dive had to be scrapped completely due to heavy current. Instead, the dive masters anchored off an island and led us up a path to see some monkeys. Actually, it was more like a slick, wet mountain that we had to scramble up to keep our footing, but it was still fun.
Tuesday, September 27 – Playa Ocotal, CR
Our flight from San Jose to Liberia (the west coast) left at 6:00AM in the morning. There was a little confusion with the taxi driver over which airport we were flying from, but it all worked out for the best in the end because he got us where we needed to go.
The flight itself was a blast – but I love litle planes. We had two pilots and three passengers (including us) and got some beautiful pictures during the one-hour flight.
Shannon boarding our little plane to Liberia
Monday, September 26 – Pacuare River, CR
We hung out with the girls until it was time for them to leave on their big rainforest hike to a village in the mountains, where they’d see the local shaman. After they left Shannon and I lazed around on the hammocks in the common area, watching the wasps make nests in the roof and waiting for our raft to arrive. When it finally did, it had two white-water guides: Andreas and a guide-in-training whose name I never quite got.
Sunday, September 25 – Pacuare River, CR
Early the next morning, transportation arrived to take us to the Pacuare River for our two-day white-water rafting excursion with Adventure Costa Rica. Shan found this lodge on the river that is only accessible by white water raft. No electricity. No hot water. And – thank goodness – no telephones or beepers calling her for consults! We couldn’t wait.
We shared a raft with three fabulous women – Karen and Tauna from Pheonix and Monica from Denver. They travel everywhere together and the five of us bonded immediately. It was so much fun! The white-water trip was spectacular, and not just because our guide (Esteban) loved us to death. I swear he guided us into rocks to purposely throw us out of the raft… unless he did it just to me because I kept yelling “Faster! Faster Esteban!!!” LOL
A shot of the rapids. (more…)
I woke up early to hit the gym and get in a 12 mile run before Shannon arrived. Running on a treadmill is beyond boring, so I’ll save the dull details and just say I did it so yay me and my training-obsessed lunacy.
Shannon wasn’t scheduled to arrive until 2:00 that afternoon so I had time to kill, and it was raining. I did what any red-blooded traveler does: I hit the mall across the street. Now, before you tell me what a lame-ass I am let me explain — I don’t get to go to malls. We don’t have them in NYC so I count this as a cultural experience of its own. Plus I needed flip-flops. I took a shopping break in the afternoon to grab Shannon from the hotel room and bring her back with me since I needed a second opinion on a skirt.
But our day wasn’t completely devoid of Costa Rican culture. We had dinner at a favorite local restaurant called La Cascada, which the Rough Guide reviews: This difficult to find restaurant (there’s no sign) with ho-hum decor is actually the best steakhouse in San Jose. Hugely popular, it’s often full of Tico families, especially on Sudnay afternoon. The hunks of beef are fantastic, and the terrifically filling plates come with rice and veggies.
We ordered a carafe of wine and toasted the start of our newest adventure.
I flew out of Newark and arrived in San Jose at 8:30ish CR time. No big excitement, though when I landed I belatedly realized I’d neglected to research anything about the taxi deal there. Some countries have organized taxi services, others have chaotic free-for alls where freelancers jostle and cajole for your money. San Jose appeared to fall into the latter (though Shannon would later tell me that she walked right up to the organized taxi service line and easily procured a taxi *head desk*). Anyway, after navigating the taxi touts and finding one that looked vaguely respectable, I piled into his taxi and took off. Fifteen minutes later the driver repeated the name of the hotel, as if confirming the location.
Me: * Blithely practicing one of the 10 words I know in Spanish *: “Si.””
Taxi Dude: “You know where?”
Well, crap. “Uuuuhhhhhhhh….. No. Yo no say. You don’t know?”
Taxi Dude: “No. No say.”
I reached into the backpack at my feet, hoping I was bright enough to print out that map the hotel so handily pasted on its website. Nope. I’m not that bright. No worries, though, because the taxi driver solved all our problems by pulling alongside another taxi, rolling down the window, and asking for what I suppose were directions. Did I forget to mention that we were driving 55 on a freeway?
So there we are, two taxis cruising along on the freeway, having a lovely conversation about hotel locations in greater San Jose. The other cars on the road weren’t very happy with us, but it’s Costa Rica. What are you going to do? *g*
I got to the hotel, showered, and went to sleep.