Today’s WOD Brought to You by the Letter R

R as in Reserve Tank.

To prep for this WOD you must forget to flip your gas tank gauge from Reserve to Tank the last time you’ve filled up. Also, do this WOD in the early morning so that you are bundled up with a sweatshirt underneath your motorcycle riding gear for maximal sweat potential. Finally, be on your way to an important meeting in order to feel the high intensity levels of stress and adrenaline.

Warm-up:

Pull over on the side of the highway making sure you and your motorcycle are safe.

Angrily stomp around your motorcycle and pull your helmet off while shouting Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck.

Text your boyfriend for sympathy.

One Round for time:

(Dressed in full motorcycle gear with 12lb backpack)

Hike 1.5 miles up Sylvan Hill (just off 26W) from Zoo exit to Sylvan exit.

Retrieve 1 gallon of gas. (this will require you to either pay $15 for a gas tank or to leave your drivers license to borrow the tank)

Angrily wonder why your boyfriend has not returned your text.

Hike back downhill with extra weight.

(expert tip: Find a location on your backpack to hang your helmet so that when one arm gets tired from carrying the gallon tank you can switch without spilling gas into your helmet. Don’t wait for spilling to have happened already, because just like with perfumes, when it comes to the scent of gasoline a little goes a long way.)

(It is not a DNF if a kind stranger gives you a ride for about a half mile from when he picks you up to the as close as he can get you to your bike).

Cool Down:

Walk from drop off spot to the motorcycle and put the gallon of gas into the gas tank.

Ride back to the gas station and fill up.

Retrieve your driver’s license and remember the gas guy is trying to be friendly not annoying.

Retrieve text message from boyfriend saying he got your message late and asking if you are OK.

Miss the exit onto the 26W on your way to work – which is fine because riding the back streets is probably more relaxing.

Have a good laugh at yourself with your coworkers.

I’m Bringing Klutzy Back

It’s not so much that nothing’s happened to me since I left Costa Rica… in fact a LOT has happened since then. But, most recently, the things that have happened actually fit in this blog.

About 3 months ago I accidentally tore my oblique while doing sit-ups. Just as I was given the all-clear by doctor, I got into a slight motorcycle accident (bike was totaled, I scraped my knee, bruised my hip and mildly tore muscles in my neck and shoulder). The doctor gave me the all-clear to start up workouts again yesterday.

One day, maybe before I turn 40 next year I will be able to complete a simple activity such as “walking down the completely empty sidewalk in the middle of the day with no obstacles and no drugs in my system on a sunny dry day” without spraining an ankle scuffing a knee and losing skin from my hand.

Today, was not that day.

Tomorrow is looking spurious.

All Good Things Must Come to an End

I learned many things in Costa Rica. Like how to ditch crazy people in the jungle. How to be the perfect garnish in a monkey drink. And most recently I learned that if Andrew doesn’t sound like he’ll be interested in a specific area of a country we visit, I must 1) plan everything, or 2) not take him there.

Andrew was less than plussed about staying in San José. But, I really wanted to try it out, maybe check out some night life. Thursday night we blogged and afterwards I looked over and Andrew looked like he had been sleeping for an hour already. So we went to bed and planned a run the next morning and a tour of downtown.

All the walking and hill runs we had done in the week had made my right quad a little tight; but, I figured a nice light jog would definitely unstick it and help me heal. Or possibly a 2 mile jog around the park near us would strain my quad so much that walking would be a chore for two days. But, that was super unlikely knowing me.

As I iced my quad after our run, Andrew read up on the downtown area. We walked (I stumbled) to the corner for a cab and went to Mercado Central. This is an indoor mall of food stalls and cheap trinkets until you walk into the center area where all the fresh meat and vegetables are. It’s like a Super Wal-Mart without the blue smocks or geriatric cart handlers.

At first glance I thought this was the seasoning aisle - rosemary, oregano, dried herbs and spices.... But, it turns out the reason food is bland in Costa Rica is because this was the apothecary. I mean, I wouldn't season my chili with Ritalin and Albuterol either.

At first glance I thought this was the seasonings stall – rosemary, oregano, dried herbs and spices…. But, it turns out the reason food is bland in Costa Rica is because this was the apothecary. I mean, I wouldn’t season my chili with Ritalin and Albuterol either.

 

Being that this was our last day in Costa Rica there was no need for us to buy any of these items, and since I hate grocery shopping, there was no real reason for us to stay at the Mercado for very long. So, off we moseyed to the rest of the downtown.

This elaborate building is the post office. Also at the far corner there was Cafe de Correos - the post office cafe. They give you a code then take three days to get your coffee to you - service is slow, but cheap.

This elaborate building is the post office. Also at the far corner there was Cafe de Correos – the post office cafe. They give you a code then take three days to get your coffee to you – service is slow, but cheap.

I also was eager to view the Teatro. Andrew and I had intended to see something there – but the nights we were in San José there was a play showing, and my Spanish wouldn’t have been good enough to have appreciated how much better I could have played the lead role. So we just wandered over during the day to look at it.

The photo I took of the Teatro didn't turn out because the lighting (aka "sun") was in the wrong place and the building came out dark. So instead, here's a picture of a random church we stopped in front of to get saved -from being lost.

The photo I took of the Teatro didn’t turn out because the lighting (aka “sun”) was in the wrong place and the building came out dark. So instead, here’s a picture of a random church we stopped in front of to get saved – from being lost.

After the Teatro, we were near several museums. Andrew asked me which I would like to go to, the gold, the money, the jade, or the art. I told him I could be equally entertained at any of them for the same length of time. He quickly understood that meant I had little to no interest in any of them and agreed.

We opted instead to find a park to sit at and relax. Throughout our walking downtown I did notice that the mannequins in Costa Rica are shaped differently than in the States. Sure, there waists are still too thin and bellies too flat, but they have hips and butts.

The one in the middle (without the head) is the mannequin.

The one in the middle (without the head) is the mannequin.

Andrew had read a lot about San José prior to our going downtown. That meant he was fully prepared to see how not charming it was. The downtown is full of stores and loud people and loud cars. As we walked to the park we would laze at, it became clear to me that the run in the morning had definitely option-2’d its way into my quad. I was having trouble bearing weight on it without pain. We sat on a park bench and I came clean to Andrew. “I need to go home and put ice on my leg. And I need ice cream too.”

A very trafficky cab ride later where I determined that the dotted lines in the road were meant more as a suggestion in Costa Rica, followed by a swing to our local Fresh Market for ice cream, landed me back on the couch and learning to program in Ruby (yes for fun) for the afternoon instead of hanging out. I am glad we got back when we did because we got to see a better show than we would have expected at the Teatro.

Crazy Portland lady was on the phone loudly complaining to the airline that she didn’t understand why they wanted her to pay an extra $500.00 to change her ticket, the nerve! And, also, why was it taking them so long to search for flights anyway – if she had a computer herself she could do it much quicker. Didn’t they know the flight availability and times could be changing as they spoke??? She hung up mad. Then looked at me and my computer.

“Do you get good Internet speed on that?” (translation: I am about to ask to borrow your computer. Also, I think you met my sister the other day when she asked if she could join you and your boyfriend on a romantic walk on the beach?)

“It works for me.” (translation: I will cut a bitch. Or ditch you in the jungle.)

It turns out that not only did Crazy lady not know how airlines work she also didn’t know how reservations at AirBnBs work and had to hastily pack her room up and find somewhere else to stay because she hadn’t let the landlord know she wanted to stay longer than her reservation so he rented her room to someone else.

In this playlet – I could not have played the Crazy lady better than the Crazy lady.

By 4PM I was super antsy so Andrew and I went to the park near us (I hobbled) and watched the Muscovy Ducks clean themselves.

Animals like us. We like them too.

That night we grabbed a light bite at a cafe on the corner and went to bed for early airporting in the morning.

The next morning we got up extra early and headed to the airport. Me for my flight, Andrew for his chance to become thoroughly acquainted with the Costa Rican Airport. I reluctantly paid the $29.00 tax to leave the country because I didn’t think I could convince my boss for very long that I had to work from Costa Rica indefinitely.

I got through security and bought a bottle of water. There was a guitarist playing in the terminal, which was very enjoyable, despite the set list containing, Fire and Rain, and Tears in Heaven. The airport was checking through everyone’s bag as we boarded the flight. They opened the outside zipper pouch of my backpack pulled out my bottled water and said, “No liquids.”

Me: What? I bought that in the airport.

Them: No liquids.

Me: Why? What? Why? (the guy in front of me just carried on FOUR bottles of alcohol which to my knowledge were in liquid form).

Them: Do you want to drink that water?

Me: Yes, I do. It’s why I bought it. To drink. On the plane. During the flight.

Them: Drink it now. No liquids on the flight.

I can only assume it was Frontier’s attempt to charge me $4.00 for a bottle of water. But, I was tired enough to sleep through the flight and I wasn’t going to buy their damn water. I gave the bottle to Andrew – who may have had to use it to shower while sleeping at the airport. I am not sure, you’ll have to read his blog for that.

We flew separate airlines because I have to fly super cheap and he had free miles on American. His flights were a little less reliable in schedule than mine. But, we both flew American Airlines the exact same amount of times on this trip.

To hear more about Andrew’s flight/trip – http://www.andrewberkowitz.com/blog/costa-rica-day-12-and-unexpectedly-day-13/ It’s like a she said/he said.

The Good, The Bad and The Annoying

There comes a time in Costa Rica when you have had enough of the monkeys. I would like to stay here for as long as it takes to get to that time. I imagine it will be about 30 – 40 years.

To give you a sense of what I mean, here is 2 minutes of monkey time.

This is only two minutes out of about 30 minutes that Andrew and I were sitting in a secluded part of Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio just hanging out with monkeys. These monkeys are the Capuchin. It turns out the monkeys at our AirBnB were Squirrel monkeys (an apt name from the way they frolicked – as opposed to the more laid-back nature of the Capuchin). Getting to the parque was a bit of a puzzle. Andrew had read that there were people dressed up as parking attendants and they are not to be trusted. This turned out to be good advice when we missed the turn off to the entrance of the park. However, once we figured out where the correct entrance was, and Andrew had fleshed out the evil guise of the fake attendants his high-alert stance would not calm down and he tried to get me to run over the park ranger that came up to the truck to help steer us to proper parking. Luckily, despite noticing the park ranger’s flip-flops, I decided to believe his tattered shirt patches and followed his instructions instead of Andrew’s.

From the moment we parked all the way until we passed the entrance gate we were bombarded with people telling us we need to purchase a guide or we would never see any animals. I wasn’t sure if I was to take this as a warning or a threat, but I finally put my foot down and said, “No” (which loosely translates to “No” in English).

Once in the park my neck immediately started craning up to the tree tops in order to put my newly minted sloth-eyes to good use. They weren’t working so well. So instead I kept my eyes level in front of me and watched where all the guided tourists were pointing. A few sloths deep we passed all the crowds and went off on the trail without them. This parque, like the one in Cahuita, is beachside jungle. In fact, a lot of people just go into the parque in order to hang out at the beach. We got to the first beach area and there was a woman sitting alone at a picnic table. When we neared her she asked Andrew, in Spanish, if he would take her picture. He kindly obliged.

Then she asked Andrew if she could join us on our walk.

Andrew was so startled at this request that he accidentally said, “Si” (which loosely translates to, “are you fucking kidding us?” in English).

Then she said something to me in Spanish, I think it was, “can I wear your skin?”

To which I responded, “No comprendo Español” (which loosely translates to, “I think you want to drag us into the jungle to knife us to death you crazy weird lady, but we are on to you and are going to ditch you as soon as we can – also, I will cut a bitch.” in English).

A little ways off the beach and into the jungle the path looped. Crazy Lady was ahead of us – we hung back to take pictures and hopefully lose her to a jaguar attack – we took the other end of the loop when she wasn’t looking. As Robert Frost said, “And that has made all the difference.” Not five minutes later as we quietly enjoyed the jungle sounds around us (here, you enjoy them too), we saw and heard some scuffling nearby. And that’s when we saw the monkeys, hanging out. We just stayed there snapping photos and quietly enjoying them.

We finally broke away when Crazy Lady made it to the spot having gone around the loop. She was so loud and talky that she didn’t even notice the monkeys were there until they started running away from her voice. As soon as she saw them she stopped talking to us to take a picture on her iPhone and we quickly darted along the path out of her reach.

We found a rock to lay upon at the top of a cliff overlooking the ocean. We ate a snack and just relaxed (and gave CL plenty of time to get back to the parque entrance or find another unsuspecting couple to highjack).

The walk back to the entrance was longer than the one in, due in most part to the heat which was suddenly incredibly unbearable. But, we got out of the park with some more stolen glances at animals found by guides. As I hopped in the driver’s seat, I quickly used Andrew’s phone to look up how to lose a tail (just in case) and hurried back to our room to nap.

After napping, Andrew and I went into the pool. The woman from the room next to us (Canadian) joined us and started chatting our ear off about everything from Twitter to working remotely to the pros and cons of child rearing. She is a writer for 4 year old children’s theater or TV or something and was on vacation but for having to work for a little bit because of an emergency having to do with renaming her main character. Apparently, Pickle Pirate has a not-appropriate-for-four-year-olds alternate meaning.

Andrew and I then took her suggestion to go to the marina (which we could see from the pool on the hill of the AirBnB we were staying at!!!) for dinner.

We walked down there and they served me the most disgusting meal I have had in Costa Rica yet. I ordered the mahi mahi. It was the Catch of the Day – it did not occur to me to ask which day. When asked how I would like it prepared I said, “however the chef would like to prepare it.” Apparently the chef wanted to prepare it overcooked and rancid.

Despite having seen fish more rare when cooked by StarKist, I took a bite. The fish tasted like meat that had been left in the sun because even the vultures knew better. I spat it into my napkin, put my napkin on the plate and went back to my ginger martini. They came  to collect my plate and asked if I didn’t like the fish. I explained that it was overcooked, but that didn’t matter because it was rancid. They asked if I would like something else, but having tasted Andrew’s coconut curry chicken I opted for a liquid diet.

About ten minutes later the manager came up to the table. “We tasted your fish. It was awful. I am sorry. Can I get you something else?” I appreciated the apology, but at this point I was really done. Also, so was Andrew. We climbed back up the hill to our room, I changed back into swimming gear and had a lovely evening of dancing to 80’s music in the pool while drinking white wine and chatting with Berkowitz.

I went to bed at 9:30. I awoke again about a half hour later to the sound of hurricane force rains, turned over and went back to sleep.

Something about the weather, or the full days, or the hanging out in the sun, or the bottles of alcohol I have been drinking have been making me really sleepy. Yet every day I wake up to the chirping of birds at 5:45AM. It’s kind of delightful.

Today we came back to San José.

During our trip in Costa Rica I have fallen in love. The coffee here is so amazing. It’s smooth and earthy without being overly bitter or harsh on my stomach – and, apparently it has no affect on my sleep. On our way back to San José we stopped at a coffee roasting tour and learned all about how coffee is grown and picked and roasted. The company is called Britt. They have three regular blend roasts, three unblended roasts, and decaf as well as fair trade and organic. I am not a fan of fair trade (which I won’t go into here, now) but the fair trade they do is a women’s co-operative (which annoyingly, they do not call out on their web page, so I cannot give you more information about it).

We arrived just as a tour was starting but decided to wait for the next tour. It ended up being just me and Andrew. Instead of an hour and a half it took an hour and fifteen minutes, and that included a bathroom break in the middle. The tour guide was adorable and seemed only slightly off her game by not having a large group and having only one person in the group who actually likes coffee (hint: not Andrew). However, when it came time to the coffee tasting Andrew actually tasted the coffee – several times.

I believe he will now be awake until 2 AM.

January 7th.

2023.

After the tour we got lost only twice heading into our new accommodations. The landlord here is delightful. He has another tenant who is from Portland. She is ANNOYING.

Tomorrow we will tour the city and Saturday we will head home where, according to Facebook, the weather is rainy and everyone is sick.

Sunday we will start planning our next trip.

Andrew is blogging this trip too. He is at andrewberkowitz.com/blog. His blog will be up as soon as the jitters wear off.

Monkey Shines

The pain of the 6AM wake up call was non-existent once I realized that my alarm was monkeys jumping on the metal part of our roof. In fact, if I could have cute animals pouncing on my roof every morning at 6AM I would never be late to work. Not that I am late to work now, but I would definitely get out of bed to watch animals frolic.

Yesterday morning’s early rise was at about the same time as our alarm was going to go off anyway as we had scheduled an early morning tour at a vanilla farm. On the tour with us were three expats from Canada. There was another couple as well – also from Canada. I have met more Canadians on this trip than when I lived in Niagara Falls. Also, I think all we need is to meet someone from The Yukon Territories and we’ll have a full set. Finally, along for the tour was a woman with her very old mom – with whom I hit it off immediately by cracking an Alzheimer’s joke at her. I’m not very good at people.

Villa Vanilla is a biodynamic, biodiverse farm. They grow various plants in order to let nature kind of do it’s thing. They don’t use any pesticides; instead, they have plants that distract the animals from eating the crops they want to maintain. So, to prevent the squirrels (ardilla) from eating the vanilla, cacao, and ceylon cinnamon they distract them with pineapple, birds of paradise and pizzas.

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This is not quite what I imagined a pineapple plant would look like, but it did distract me.

The other interesting thing about the vanilla is the flower has both male and female parts in itself, but it doesn’t much like having sex. The people on the farm have a two hour window of opportunity, when the flowers on the plant open, to go and provide … ahem … manual stimulation … er … with a stick. But, in the end it is worth it. I left the farm with two sticks of vanilla that are as thick as my finger and as long as my ulna. When we got back to our apartment I made pork shoulder with vanilla, ginger, onions and wine. It was delicious.

As the pork cooked, Andrew and I swung in a hammock and watched the sun set.

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I win at hammocks.

Then, because I am still on Pacific Time, I went to bed at 9:30PM CT (that’s how time zones work, right?). I don’t know if it was the walk, or the sun, or the half bottle of wine, but I was zonked.

I awoke at 6 again this morning in preparation for today’s trip. It was a mildly disappointing wake-up as no monkeys were hurling themselves into our building. We ate a light breakfast al fresco and waited for the truck to pick us up at 7:15. By 7:30 Andrew had to call the event place and give them the correct name of our AirBnB (Casa Pargo) as opposed to the name of our bungalow, because apparently The Jungle Villa is an actual hotel in Quepos.

We were on the road with 8 other tourists. Andrew asked the couple in front of us where in Canada they were from.

Couple: Boston.

Andrew: Oh there’s a Boston in Canada? What Provence?

The guy looked at Andrew like he’d just grown a third eye.

Andrew: Oh. You mean Boston, Boston! Sorry. We’ve met a lot of Canadians. We just assume.

Another couple claimed to be from Texas but then kept mentioning all the things that are similar to Costa Rica in Arkansas. I hadn’t realized Texas was an upgrade…

There was a French couple. She weighed about 80 pounds and he wore gingham patterned Daisy Duke’s. They constantly had their camera out and were kind of nerdy and awkward with each other. So, I immediately assumed they were on an elaborate first date a la The Bachelor.

The final couple was our Canadians. Unfortunately, not the Yukon Territories, however.

Our tour that day was zip lining. It was awesome. One of the lines was a mile long. I want to zip line everywhere. I wonder if I can set a zip line course up from my house to work. If I had that, I would never be late to work.

We got back to our place and passed out for a nap.

When we awoke, I reminded Andrew that we live on a very steep hill that it would be super hard to run up. So we got dressed and did a WOD. The hill is maybe a quarter mile long, but it is 180 ft elevation, within that quarter mile. and most of it is at the end. We raced down the hill and back up. Then we took a breath and revisited the WOD I did in Cahuita (this time Andrew joined me). Then we cooled off in the sun-warmed pool. At this point I was thinking the day couldn’t get better, as we watched the sun slowly drift closer to the horizon.

Then all of a sudden the monkeys descended. They played games all around us.  If I had monkeys dancing around me all day, I would never be late to work. They talked to us. They chased each other around the pool. Three of them kept coming up to the pool and drinking from it, while Andrew and I were inside it!!!!! We were like the olives in their pool-martini. This party lasted for what seemed like an hour. Both Andrew and me are still smiling from the encounter.

I don’t know how to describe the feeling of being that close to a monkey. The only thing that comes to mind is, SQUEEEEEEEE!

See Andrew’s version of our travels at andrewberkowitz.com/blog. It’s a she said/he said.

Sloth See Sloth Do

5:00 in the morning doesn’t seem quite as early when there is already a little bit of daylight coming into the window. Which is what I kept telling myself to try and coax my body out of bed. I knew that if I forced myself to get up the reward would be worthwhile. After a plate of scrambled eggs and a scramble of getting clothes on and teeth brushed and daypack packed with amenities (mostly snacks) Andrew and I were off to Parque Nacional Cahuita.

We were on a mission to see animals in the wild. At 5:45 we approached the “locked” gate – it had rope slung over both sides to keep it together. So, we went around the gate on the beachside and started walking in to the park when a voice said, “Chicos!”

Then a man who was obviously very lonely rattled off a bunch while Andrew and I stood there smiling and nodding and Andrew saying, “Sí.” every once in a while. My Spanish is así así – unless I am ordering at a restaurant, then it is perfectó – but the basic gist of the diatribe was that we had to wait until 6 in order to sign in to the park and to please remember that it is a donation based entrance fee but if we were entering on the other side of the trail it would cost us $6.00. Also, we have to sign the guestbook so if we don’t sign out within 12 hours they can start the search party.

We waited until 6 and watched the sun actually come all the way up over the cloudy horizon. This was not as exciting as it could have been had there been no clouds, but we were thankful for the cover as we were about to enter into an approximately 8 to 120 kilometer hike through beachside jungle.

I love starting my morning with coffee, sometimes a latte, sometimes a cappuccino. But starting my day off with a family of Capuchin Monkeys woke me up like no caffeine would ever do.  Right as the lady with the park passes was opening up the roped gate, a family of monkeys came to watch us enter, pose for photos and determine the meaning of “SQUEE!!!!”

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This was right at the entrance to the Parque before we even signed the guestbook.

I think for an iPhone camera the photos I got aren’t so bad.

We signed as the first visitors into the parque and trod onward through sandy jungle. The Capuchin were swiftly replaced by Howlers. I would post my Howler pictures, but they basically look like brown blobs in jungle so here is a link to Howler images instead. I saw them. Up close. Pretty neat.

I have to say that despite my morning cup of squee, I was exhausted. It was like I had caught Andrew’s slothiness from the prior day. Andrew often teases me that I can go from asleep to Ethel Merman in 30 seconds or less. But this day I just couldn’t find it in me. Instead, I was kind of grumpy. The hike was magnificent, but mostly silent. About another hour into it and I was getting ready to call it a day.

Then this happened:

IMG_1287Andrew and I almost became spider lunch. This spider was as big as my palm and his web was made with steel guitar strings. Andrew used the web to sharpen his machete to cut down the tree that this spider had spun itself to in order to clear the path.* At this point my heart was beating so fast I was never going to sleep again, so I figured I may as well continue to hike.

Not more than ten minutes after that I paused to kick some sand out of my Venice H2 Persimmon Orange/Rust Keen’s (which I LOVE for travel – seriously this blog is not supported by commercial dollars, though it should be. Buy these shoes they are fantastico!) when there was a rustling beachside on the trail. All of a sudden a family of raccoons were hanging out eating noni.

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Seriously, how cute is this? There were three of them. Cute cubed!

If you’d have told me that I was going to be enthralled by raccoons eating fruit while in Costa Rica I would have scoffed at you and shown you the sloths in a bucket youtube (find it yourself). These raccoons were more foxlike than their Norte Americano cousins and were fricken adorable. At one point I had to remind Andrew that they were not cats and to stop calling them over to him. When we turned away from the raccoons to continue hiking I checked his pockets and the daypack just to make sure we were only going to smuggle a Bichon Frise** back home and not a family of raccoons to boot.

Onward we hiked. We saw many a hermit crabs (aka squatters). We were more careful about watching ahead of us for spider-traps. So much so that Andrew spotted this:

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Yes, that is a tarantula. Yes that is Andrew’s hand for size comparison. No I do not have a picture of Andrew’s hand next to a regular sized man’s hand for comparison – you’ll just have to use your imagination.

Soon thereafter we ran into some park rangers who were coming up from the other parque entrance. They stopped and chatted with us for a bit and asked us if we’d seen any animales.

Me: Sí.

Them: Peresoso?

Me: Andrew? Huh?

Andrew: Sloth.

Me: No. No Peresoso. Monos! Y arañas, y tarantula, y parrot. Andrew, how do you say parrot?

Andrew: Loro.

Me: Loro.

Them to Andrew (in Spanish): You speak good Spanish, where’d you get this silly girl?

Andrew (in Spanish): Thanks! My mom taught Spanish for college students and I picked it up by osmosis. This girl? Just super lucky, I guess! She’s dumb, but cute.

Me: Y cómo se dice raccoon?

Them: Mapeche. Hasta! (in Spanish to Andrew) Is she always this excited about animals?

Andrew (in Spanish): Oy vey!

And that was when we turned around on the trail and headed back. The next trail map we hit was about 1.5 kilometers from our turn around point and it said there was another 3.5k to go to get back to the start. The whole time back Andrew and I scanned the trees for peresoso but could not find any. We stopped to eat at one point and the park rangers caught up. We were just getting ready to start hiking some more and I was looking at the trees through the binoculars in hopes of seeing a sloth. The park ranger came up behind me and asked me if I was looking at the sloth.

Me: Donde?

Him: Allí (and he pointed with his park ranger stick to exactly the spot I had been looking at through the binoculars and suddenly, out of nowhere a sloth appeared).

Me: SQUEE!!!!!

Him (to Andrew in Spanish): Oy vey!

Andrew and I stayed and watched the sloth do a lot of nothing while the rangers went ahead of us. About two minutes later they came running back for us and told us to hurry. We jogged up to a new location. There in front of our very eyes was a sloth. DOING SLOTH STUFF. It was adorable! We watched and traded up the binoculars with each other, until we could no longer see the sloth. Then we laughed at each other about how many sloths we’d probably seen and not noticed on our trip.They really do blend in well with the trees.

We continued to head back home. At this point I was exhausted. About every .5 k Andrew would ask if I needed water, or food, or rest, or for him to stop asking if I needed anything. Then suddenly, I got jungle eyes.

Hey look, there’s some Howlers!

Hey look, there’s some more Capuchin.

I was so excited at being able to see every animal, I started looking in every tree for a peresoso. And still I could not find one.

Me: It’ll happen Andrew. I am going to have my first unassisted sighting. It’s going to happen today.

Andrew: There’s probably a sloth sitting on the hood of our truck right outside the park.

Me: Hey look, there’s that family of raccoons we saw earlier, they are up in that tree that’s 200 yards away. You can’t see them? OK. See about 100 feet up the tree where it forks? Now look at the next fork up from that. See that tail swishing?

Then I hit a wall. I seriously bonked. Every step was a struggle and I was just out of juice. But thankfully, we could see the open gate to the parque. We signed our time-out by our names and smugged at each other at having been the first ones in and look at all those people who already signed out though they came after us. Then there it was, just minutes from our truck. A peresoso. In a tree. I spotted it. Unassisted.

AND SHE HAD A BABY ON ITS STOMACH (picture of said baby unavailable due to shaky squee hands - you'll just have to take my word on it)!!!

AND SHE HAD A BABY ON HER STOMACH (picture of said baby unavailable due to shaky squee hands – you’ll just have to take my word for it***)!!!

Andrew had very nearly called it with the on the truck quip. So, he gets spotting points as well for the sloth IMO.

We eventuated back to the B&B where I took a quick rinse and slept for 3 hours, followed by 3 hours of forced awake time (During which Andrew and I grabbed some guacamole and more meat on a stick. We also shared a cocktail. Andrew had 2 sips then declared himself drunk and then started being a veritable Chatty Cathy – or as Andrew says when he’s drunk and explaining that he is not chatting more than when sober – Chatty McCathy.), followed by another 10 hours of sleep. Squeeing is apparently exhausting.

This morning we awoke bright and early – Ethel Merman in full force – and headed On The Road to Quepos. I totally think of myself as Dorothy Lamour and Andrew is just like Bing Hope. I drove the entire 6.5 hours (with an hour stop for lunch) because the stress of Andrew gripping the handle of the passenger side door and making a cringy face is less than the stress of Andrew being frustrated by having to pass trucks on a two-lane curvy highway through the mountains. Although, about a half hour into the trip I had to agree to stop looking like I was trying to spot peresoso in the trees instead of watching the road.****

About an hour into the drive Andrew took to saying, every half hour or so, how much more relaxing this drive was than the one to the coast where he was driving and hating every minute of it.

We got to our new B&B in Quepos and settled in.

Then the monkeys came by.

Our B&B is situated right at the edge of the jungle and monkeys play their monkey games right outside our window!!!!

After a trek down the mountain, through a horse parade which made me very upset (do not get me started on forcing horses to walk funny or letting your horse foam at the mouth while riding them in this heat!!!! I could totally be a member of PITA if I didn’t like eating animals so much), a light bite, a grocery store trip and a trek back up, we settled in to dual-blog (in case you don’t read my footnotes, Andrew is blogging about this trip too, kind of a she said/he said: andrewberkowitz.com/blog). That’s when we realized the Internet in our cabin didn’t work. We kept trying and when it did connect it was so slow it was like being in the early 90’s.

The place we are staying in is through Airbnb.com. I believe ratings are everything. A slight complaint to the owner and we ousted a young “couple”***** who had just arrived and moved into their suite with amazing connectivity. We offered to buy them a drink in return but they would have none of it and weren’t the least bit interested in Wifi. The owner also comped us a drink. Well, mostly me. I think Andrew may still be hung over.

*This is how I remember it. If you want a different version, see andrewberkowitz.com/blog 3/2/2014.

**See andrewberkowitz.com/blog 3/1/2014

***We are writing and publishing our respective blogs at the same time, and I am therefore uncertain of specific content; however, it is very likely that Andrew’s blog corroborates. I dunno. See for yourself at andrewberkowitz.com/blog 3/2/2014

****The agreement MIGHT have been to actually stop looking for the sloths, but you can probably find out at andrewberkowitz.com/blog 3/2/2014

*****They had just met that day. He from Alabama. She from Calgary. They were very sweet.

A Sloth In Your Palm…

Sometimes a girl has to weigh her expectations to reality and determine if maybe the disappointment is her own fault.

I mean, I am not really disappointed in Costa Rica from a vacation perspective. It’s warm. The people are lovely. We’ve done some fun things.

The thing is, this is my fourth day here and I kind of expected that by now if I lifted my arms a la Snow White, with a lovely song, that I would suddenly be surrounded by sloths, toucans would alight on my arms to help me dress, iguanas  would scamper about lightly and playfully flicking me with their tails all while howler monkeys came by and fed me fresh cut papaya.

When I type all that out and read it out loud to myself it really doesn’t sound like a big deal to me.  But sometimes, when traveling to foreign countries, the best laid plans go awry. My suggestion, be prepared.

For example, on Tuesday when we got back from dinner we received a letter from the B&B management that the following day there would be no running water because the city was going to shut it off from 7AM to 4PM. Upon waking up the next morning it was clear that water is the Spanish word for electricity. The water was running fine, but there were no lights, no microwave and most importantly no Wifi.

This was a problem in that I was working remotely. No Wifi means little-to-no-work getting done. It also means that as soon as the battery on my computer died, “little” would be out of that equation. I used Andrew’s cell phone to call work and let them know I was going to be unavailable until 4PM CST and would work that evening, and Andrew and I grilled our gracious host for things to do in or near San José.

Immediately Elizabeth grabbed our map and started showing us how to get to Volcán Poás (that’s volcano, not Vulcan – although, I would be interested in seeing either). We headed out for a lovely day trip.

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Apparently we lucked out on the volcano trip. The day before it had erupted mildly – though, in truth, that would have been awesome to see and there was a little part of me hoping it would blow again. Also, it’s situated in the cloud forest, so oftentimes it is not visible due to cloud coverage.

After visiting the volcano we took a hike to the nearby lake. The sign to the lake said the entire lake route was 2.6 kilometers and would take an hour. Andrew and I started up the path scoffing at the time frame – “Heh, that’s for people who don’t exercise.” “No, it’s for the sloths.”

It turns out the sign was for us. The route just to the lake was 800 meters, uphill, at elevation. Within 30 steps neither of us was laughing, but mostly because we had no oxygen and we had to conserve our breath.

The path was beautiful. At one point Andrew said it reminded him of The Princess Bride. So I said, “Well, I’m not saying I’d like to build a summer home here, but the trees are actually quite lovely.” in my best British accent. And then I had to have a lie-down to regain my breath.

The trees were actually quite lovely. And the canopy over us was nice. The entire time a light breeze was playing through the area. But, despite it being a cloud forest, we did not actually walk in clouds.

The trees were actually quite lovely. And the canopy over us as well. The entire time a light breeze was playing through the area. But, despite it being a cloud forest, we did not actually walk in clouds.

By the end of our walk our necks hurt from attempting to spot sloths and monkeys in the trees. We did however get to see quite a few humming birds and some interesting plants.

On our way back in to town we stopped at a restaurant touting, “comida tipico.” I was kind of excited. We are in the tropics – land of banana, papaya, mango, sloth, coconut, melon! This was going to be a meal to end all meals. Instead it was a meal to end all hope of Costa Rican cuisine excitement. Andrew and I each ordered a different chicken plate – the other options were American-style burgers – and it turned out that they had listed the same item on the menu twice once as pollo a la plancha and once as fajitas. We each had a scoop of white rice a scoop of bland fries and a scoop of chicken fried in onions – also bland.

I did manage to spot some cows on the side of the road. But, the pictures I took of them were less than stellar – imagine a cow picture right here with the caption “Costa Rican wildlife.”

By the time we got back to the hotel the electricity was back on and I got straight to work. I also rescheduled some meetings for the following day because we had decided to head out to the Caribbean Coast first thing in the morning  and work the rest of the week from there.

Andrew did some online research, while I worked, to figure out how long it would take to get to the coast. Research came up with 2-6 hours. With a timespan like that I determined we had to be ready to leave sometime between immediately and 9AM the following morning.

Another lovely breakfast of fresh fruits and scrambled eggs and a fond farewell to our host – including hugs, and promises of future visits (really, if you are going to the San José area – Alajuela to be exact – you must stay at Casa Primo. Absolutely fantastico!) – we hit the road. I was the copilot armed with a map, Andrew the driver armed with a copilot and a sense of familiarity of the area being he’d been lost in it so much picking me up from the airport.

Getting from Casa Primo to the highway to the coast was maybe about 10 miles, or as they say in Costa Rica 1 – 700km; it took us about an hour and several u-turns to finally find the highway out of San José. I think that the signs guiding people onto the highway were on strike that day.

Once on the highway it became apparent that this two lane road was also the truck route to the coast. Some trucks were driving full speed and some at 15kph. What the trucks were carrying seemed to bear no weight as to whether they were willing to risk on-coming traffic to pass the slow trucks. At one point a truck with more “Flammable” signs on it then truck (it may have actually been made of the warning signs) passed a fruit truck driver. It also, quickly, became apparent that Andrew has a real low tolerance for driving and stress. He eventually passed enough trucks to get us to a decent sized town where I grabbed a cup of coffee and the wheel. I asked for the coffee ” sin leche y para llevar” or without milk and to-go and it was given to me in a plastic, recycled coca-cola bottle. I took a sip and it tasted as though they had forgotten to take all the coca-cola out first. Next time I know to ask for my coffee “sin coca-cola.”

I ended up getting us to Cahuita in time for my first meeting of the day. The first thing I noticed was how much more hot and humid the coast was. The second thing I noticed was the hammock.

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I wonder if I can get a hammock installed in my office cube.

The birds were chirping and the dogs were barking in the background of my conference calls, but I get a lot done when working prone.

We went to the town and grabbed some lunch. On our way there I saw a sign for yoga Friday nights.

“Oooh, look Andrew, yoga! You want to go?”

“Yes!”

“OK. Mmm I love hot yoga.”

“Wait, is it hot yoga?”

“All yoga around here is hot yoga.”

 

I was super excited because on the menu was pollo en coco (chicken in coconut). Yay! A restaurant using the local flavors for deliciousness. Unfortunately, it was basically the meal I had had the day before, with a little bit of coconut sauce dribbled on the bland chicken. So much for my expectations.

After we finished work, Andrew and I went back to town to grab some food for the apartment and just see what night life there was. Pretty much every restaurant in town is a photo copy of the others. They are all catering to the tourists but don’t seem to realize that travel food has turned an exciting corner since the 1980’s and no one wants bland chicken and white rice for dinner. We grabbed some food from the Mini-Supermar and stopped at a street-food stand with barbecued pork, chicken and beef skewers served in tortilla. We had a few of those then headed back to our B&B to Crossfit and blog a little.

I was changed into as much workout gear as I could muster in the heat and humidity. Andrew was trying not to nap on the couch.

Me: Are you joining me?

Andrew: Are you really doing this?

Me: Yes.

Andrew: Ugh. I need to digest.

So I did a quick warmup of pushups and sit-ups and squats and then did a workout of:

1 squat 1 breath

2 squats 2 breaths

etc., repeat going up to 10 then back down to 1.

I finished and was sweating a storm and breathing heavily.

Andrew: Was that the workout?

Me: Yes…

Andrew: Was that all of it?

Me: Yes. Are you going to do it?

Andrew: Yeah, but I will probably add pushups so that it’s a bit more of a workout.

I sat back in my chair and did a little more work as I watched Andrew struggle to stay awake. Andrew’s was too worn out from the AMRAP Mock Hadas’s WOD that he couldn’t stay awake to do the squats (and the pushups to make it a real WOD).

I sent Andrew to bed and we fell asleep to the sound of a cooling rain, for values of cooling that equal not getting hotter.

In the morning we grabbed some breakfast and headed off to the sloth rescue place right down the road.

(Yes, I know the camera should have been turned the other way. I was too mesmerized by those sloth eyes to think. Also, yes, that is me squeeing in the background.)

Also:

Sloth

These sloths are rescued and live together, which is a bit of an anomaly. Most adult sloths prefer to be solitary – except when mating – kind of like introverts.

And:

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This sloth only has one arm. When he was found the other arm was gangrenous and had to be amputated.

The sloths are so adorable and there was a lot of squeeing. Also, another disappointment – no hugging  the sloths. In fact, no touching the sloths. And apparently no taking them home with you. It was a bittersweet tour.

Andrew and I viewed the sloths before the Pacific West Coast was even awake. Then we drove to the next town over to go to the Super-Mini-Supermar and got food so that I could cook something with flavor for lunch (sigh, food snob).

I ended up making a paella style dish with chicken and papaya. It was pretty good.

We worked, we ate lunch, then it was time for a run.

For me.

Andrew stayed in.

After I got back I worked some more and reminded Andrew that there was yoga to be had at 5:30 in town so we needed to leave at 5:15 (it’s like a block and a half away). About quarter to 5 Andrew went to shut his eyes for a minute (I guess my run had worn him out). At 5:15 I kissed him goodbye and went to yoga without him. At 5:30 I returned home because class had started at 5 and I don’t know how to read signs properly.

Instead I had Andrew take me out to a romantic dinner:

Our view from our table.

Our view from our table. That hammock was dessert.

The dinner I had was a lobster. It was slightly salty and a bit over-cooked, but honestly it was the best restaurant meal I have had in Costa Rica so far.

Tomorrow we are slated for a hike which I am sure I will end up doing alone while Andrew mocks me, from the B&B, while napping. I guess I already have a sloth of my own.

If you would like to read Andrew’s take on this trip we are kind of she said/he said-ing it. Check his blog out here.