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Costa Rica Trip, Day 2
Friday, 2005 December 2 - 1:39 am
A day full of tours... well, sort of.

Tuesday, November 22

This is to be a busy day. I have four tours scheduled: a hike, a horseback ride, a trip to the Tabacón hot springs, and a "lava party" to watch the volcano. The idea of the tours was that I would meet a bunch of other travelers doing this... it didn't really work out that way. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I get up at 5:00 AM, partly as a result of my early bedtime the night before, and partly because I'm still feeling anxious about whether my tour arrangements are all set up properly. At this point I notice that my itinerary for the tours doesn't match what's printed on my tour vouchers; that just adds to my anxiety.

The hotel has a fantastic buffet breakfast; gallo pinto, eggs, sausage, bacon, fresh fruit, little pastries, pancakes... yum. I don't usually eat big breakfasts, but I figure I have a busy day ahead, so I'd better get some food in me. This would turn out to be a wise decision.

The tour company comes to pick me up at the hotel at the scheduled time of 8:00 AM, so my anxieties about the arrangements are eased a bit. The tour guide's name is Grevin (or something like that); he's a really nice guy, and his English is pretty decent. We chat for a while, and then we pick up a few more folks for the tour. It's an elderly couple and their son, and they're from Georgia. The older man is very chatty... and every bit the stereotypical loud American tourist. The son seems embarrassed about it.

We start on the hike, and the old folks slow us down quite a bit. The son says sheepishly, "Sorry to put you on the geriatric tour." I tell him it's okay, though actually I'm feeling a bit cheated.

The hike is quite interesting; Grevin is very knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna. And he's very gracious to all of us, though eventually he starts quietly complaining to me at how loud the old man is, and how he's probably scaring off a lot of wildlife with his incessant chatter. I nod sympathetically.

The highlight of the hike comes when we run across a bunch of black monkeys in the trees. We are no more than twenty feet away from some of them. It's very cool.



We watch them for a while, and I take some pictures... and then we notice that one of them is peeing. Directly above us. And then we hear some noises, thock thock, of something falling near us. This is when I realize that I've been hit by poop. I get a little wad of it on my shoulder. The old man has got a giant chunk of it on his pants. I rinse myself off with a bottle of water that I've brought, and I immediately start thinking, "I can't wait to blog about this." I also think to myself, "They were really trying to hit Old Loudmouth over there; I'm just the collateral damage."

The tour ends at around 11:30 AM, and they take me back to the hotel. They tell me they'll return at 1:00 PM to pick me up for the horseback ride. That's a little later than the 12:30 PM scheduled time, but I don't think much about it.

I take the opportunity to shower and change, and to rest for a while. I don't really feel like eating a meal at this point, so I just eat a candy bar and some nuts. I go out in front of the hotel at about 12:50 to wait for the tour company to pick me up again.

And I wait. And I wait. They don't actually arrive until 1:30 PM. Anna had warned us about "Tico time", the propensity of Costa Ricans to drift off schedule. I'm beginning to get the idea.

My next tour is a horseback ride, to a waterfall at La Fortuna. This is even less of a tour, because it's just ME. We go to a house where there are two Costa Rican men, a father and son, waiting. There are two horses there. The son, who's name was Geovanno (I think), is going to take me on this "tour". We mount the horses and get moving. No one ever asks if I've ever ridden a horse before... in fact, I'd only done it once, about fifteen years ago. Fortunately, the horse is gentle and it seems to respond to my clumsy steering efforts. The horse does have a tendency to pull to the left, though. Geovanno tells me the horse is named "Mr. Right" (señor derecha, I guess), which I find troubling for several reasons.

It's about an hour to get to the waterfall, and it's a pretty nice place. I go swimming for a bit at the base of the waterfall; but I feel weird because it's cold, raining, and because Geovanno just stands there watching me. Suddenly I think about Ned Beatty in "Deliverance".



We ride back; it's about 4:00 PM by this point. I'm driven back to the hotel, and Grevin says they'll come pick me up again at 5:00 PM to go to the hot springs. I note that originally, I was scheduled to go to the hot springs at 3:30 PM. Mmm hmm, there's that Tico time again. And when do they actually come to get me? 5:50 PM.

They take me to the Tabacón hot springs and they deliver two pieces of bad news. First, the "lava party" has been cancelled, due to the weather. And it would have just been me at this "party", anyway, since no one else had signed up for the tour. So that means I don't get dinner. Second, they wouldn't be coming back to take me to the hotel; I was to take a shuttle bus. The bus was free, yes, but I found it weird that they were just dropping me off and essentially abandoning me. At this point I realize that these "tours" didn't quite match up to what I had expected: I didn't meet anyone except the tour guides, plus one irritating family from Georgia.

Now, the hot springs themselves are fabulous. It's a maze of several dozen pools of varying temperatures. There's a swim-up bar, several waterfalls, a water slide... and thankfully, there's food there, which I desperately need because I hadn't eaten hardly anything since breakfast. But it's a bit sad because it's such a romantic place and I'm just sitting there by myself. I think about Amy and how much I wish she were there with me.

I go to the swim-up bar and start drinking vodka tonics (that's the official drink of Ken and Amy)... and then something grand happens. I look to my left and there's Toby, and his wife Laura... they're friends of Anna and Erik who are also going to the wedding. And though I don't know Toby all that well, we hug as if we're the best of friends who haven't seen each other in a decade. I guess we both felt kind of the same thing, the feeling of finding a bit of familiarity after days of being surrounded by so much foreignness.

So we hang out and chat and drink and eat, and we all take the shuttle bus back to our hotels... and I end the day feeling okay about everything. I still miss Amy terribly, but at least I found a familiar face and someone to talk to at the end of the day.

I pass out a little after 10:00 PM, exhausted again.
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Posted by Ken in: lifetravel

Comments

Comment #1 from olafandyjon (Guest)
2005 Dec 2 - 8:54 am : #
The good and bad of it...you certainly got to see so many beautiful sites but, yeah, I can imagine that not being able to share it with anyone was a bit of a downer.

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