Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Creature Comforts Part One

Currently I am sitting in my backyard taking this small widow of opportunity to catch some rays before my bug spray wears off.  Today we are treated to hot weather and blue skies which Southern Alberta has not been so gracious to provide much of these past few months.  Aside from the vampires attacking my blood supply and my husky dropping slobbery toys in my lap, I am day dreaming of foreign destinations, one in particular I wish to revisit.

At a time of transition in my life, I took a chance and vacated my life for a month in exchange for a Costa Rican adventure.  I met up with my Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Pete who had been there for a month prior and were staying on for another two. In preparing for this trip I was advised to pack light as we would be traveling around the country and the warm muggy winds coming off the ocean would decide the fate of my hair instead of a blow dryer or curling iron. 

Upon arrival, we traveled painfully by bus for two hours to the small village of Playa Potrero. The large and consistent potholes in the dirt road had us bouncing in our seats at the back of the bus which I naively chose for us to sit.  The country side was incredible and the monkeys jumping power lines fascinated me. In fact the power was out in Potrero for several days and it was rumored the monkeys were responsible some how.  We stayed directly in the village in an apartment complex.  My room had two small single beds, white cement walls, and a large screen door with bars on the outside.  The bathroom was located across the small courtyard. The apartment had a lovely little pool and sitting area that we spent many days reading and swimming in the hot sun. I noticed right away the odor of the village streets.  The dirt roads were not paved but every week the village people would lay down a  molasses substance on the roads to keep the dust down. This made sense considering there were acres and acres of sugarcane fields in the area.  It had a very strong smell and when first applied was unbearable to my nose.  We spent several days in Potrero walking to the village store, swimming in the warm Pacific waters, and enjoying cold beverages at a local bar.  The local bar was like a large open hall with picnic tables and a bar.  My aunt and uncle from a previous trip had befriended the owners and were very welcome there.  On Valentines Day we attended a little party there and I had the pleasure of meeting a southern gentleman from Arkansas who gave me much advice on what kind of man I needed in my life. With a southern drawl and through many pints of ale he explained that I needed a, “cowboy boyfriend” and that he had planned to take me back to Arkansas to introduce me to one of his nephews. “It’s a sh#t life being a cowboy boyfriend’s wife” he explained. “You have to travel several hundred miles on horse back for groceries”.  I passed on the opportunity but was very flattered to be considered for a bride to his cowboy nephew.

We ventured by van along with a tour guide into the mountains to view the sights of a volcano in the town of Arenal. The journey was long and at times nausea was present as we bounced along winding roads through the jungle. The jungle was thick with flowers, plants, tall bamboo trees, and vines that Tarzan would have a hay day with.  I fantasized about exploring the jungle floors clearing a path with a machete like Indiana Jones. 

It was best that I was not exploring the jungle floor because I lacked survival skills and the jungle would have swallowed me alive. The town of Arenal was hopping with tourism all there to climb the volcano by horseback to a waterfall, swim or fish in Lake Arenal, or bath in the Arenal Hot springs. The volcano is 7000 years old and began erupting in 1968 burying three small villages and killing 87 people.  The volcano is still active but visitors can only see smoke rising from its mouth and sometimes can see a glow from the lava on a clear night. There are six active volcanoes in Costa Rica.

  We stayed in a “cabina” at the bottom of the volcano where the eruptions thundered above us.  It was at this destination that I saw my first lighting bug.  I couldn’t believe that I was witnessing a bug with a light on its butt flickering on and off. We spent two days in Arenal. The first night we attended a local rodeo in a circular arena.  The cheers from the crowd were deafening as locals in their every day attire took their chances on raging bulls foaming at the mouths.  People in the crowd would jump into the arena acting like rodeo clowns baiting the bulls to chase them only to leap head first over the boards to safety at the last minute. Many of these daredevils were nine or ten year old kids!   It was the most intense rodeo I have every witnessed.

Unfortunately rain cancelled our horseback tour up the mountain and sent us home (Protrero) for a rest before embarking on a road trip up the coast to meet up with an old friend of my aunt and uncles.  During our last days in Protrero we toured around the countryside watching sunsets, and teaching me how to drive the tumultuous terrain.  We stumbled on a hotel far off (literally) the beaten path.  We decided to stay for a cocktail and watch the sunset.  We met two gentlemen traveling by motorbike across the country on one of their “manly” tours away from the wives.  They took this trip every year and were familiar with the country.  We spent the evening visiting with them and learned interesting information that would keep us often talking about them through out our own touring.  One gentleman was a sex therapist, the other gentleman’s sex therapist actually. I believe that is how they met. He was very intellectual and an interesting man to talk to.  He gave me a book to read, “The Four Elements”, about finding peace and harmony in your life. He said he carried the book with him always and it was like a bible to him.  I was honored he chose to pass it on to me.  I read the book and I can understand why he was so passionate about it.    The other gentleman was very mysterious, or at least he wanted to present himself that way.  He asked me to accompany him up to the bar where he asked the bartender for a piece of paper.  He then wrote his signature and asked me if I recognized it.  The signature resembled a scribbled tornado.  He was shocked that I did not recognize it.  He would not tell me what his “fame” was but told us he traveled a lot and was very wealthy.  At one point during the trip we thought he might be a professional surfer.  I learned long after the trip was over that he was an inventor.  He apparently invented the machine that sucks up all the little balls in the play area at McDonalds, washes them, and spits them back into the play area.  I am not sure how he figured I should know his signature. 

I am writing this blog in three parts as I have a lot to cover and little time to write it all.  I hope you have enjoyed this adventure so far! Next blog I will write about a visit to two towns, why we had to pay a policeman twenty dollars for no reason, and we will meet some interesting characters!

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