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Costa Rica Trip, Day 3 and 4
Saturday, 2005 December 3 - 2:46 pm
Traveling to Jacó.

Wednesday, November 23

I wake up at 6:00 AM and have the hotel buffet breakfast again. I'm really starting to dig the gallo pinto and the fried plantains.

At 8:00 AM, I get on the Interbus, which is one of the inter-city shuttle van services in Costa Rica. I have nothing but good things to say about this service: they're inexpensive, they provide door-to-door service, and they're on-time. Well, except in this case, when two people got on our van that weren't supposed to. Twenty minutes into the trip, there's a discussion between the driver and a guy in the front, the van pulls over, and then the guy says to his girlfriend, "Sarah, why did you put your bags on this van?" So we have to go back to the hotel to drop them off again, and that puts us about 45 minutes behind schedule.

The rest of the drive is uneventful, if crazy. The potholes and winding mountain roads will test your constitution if you're the type to get carsick. And the Interbus drivers are hell-bent on getting you to your destination as fast as possible, meaning the gas is to the floor whenever possible, and fifty feet of straightaway means "passing zone".

We arrive in Jacó, and the driver isn't quite sure where my hotel, the hotel Docelunas, is. The place is relatively new, and it's not exactly easy to find. We finally see a sign for the hotel, and the sign is alarmingly beat-up and old-looking. Then there's a few hundred feet of dirt road, on which there are very poor-looking houses with chickens running around loose in the front yard. But suddenly, there's the hotel, a gleaming tropical oasis of opulence in the middle of the ghetto.

It's quite a beautiful place.

But I only have a couple minutes to check in before I'm off on my next tour, a zip-line tour of the rainforest canopy. This is the first thing that feels like a real tour: there are nine of us there, it's pretty well-organized, and I get strapped up in a bunch of zip-line gear:

The zip-line tour is great fun. I would find out later that there's a better zip-line tour in the Monteverde area, but I have no complaints about the tour here. I meet a guy Jeff from California; we agree to take pictures of each other, since it's hard to take pictures of oneself in the middle of all the zipping.

Afterwards, I get back to the hotel, and I finally meet up with Anna. We have a light dinner (ceviche, another Costa Rican national dish; it's fish that's cooked by citrus acids). Docelunas has a great chef, but the service at the restaurant is interminably slow and inefficient; a number of folks would complain about that over the next several days.

A lot of wedding guests and family members are staying at this hotel. We decide that Room 5 is the party room, and that's where all the liquor gets stashed. We sit around talking and drinking in front of Room 5 for several hours; no one complains because we account for 19 of the 20 rooms of the hotel. It's nice to have people to talk to; I feel more comfortable because of that. (But of course I still have to sneak away to call Amy.)

I go to bed at around 11:00 PM.

Thursday, November 24

I wake up at 6:00 AM again, this time because I have a crocodile safari tour. I have breakfast with Aunt Jane and Uncle Morton. They're not my aunt and uncle, though I would end up getting to be such good friends with them that I wish they were my aunt and uncle. They're going on the same tour as I am.

It couldn't be a more beautiful day for the tour. It's just the three of us, me and Jane and Morton, plus the three tour guides. The tour is excellent; you can tell the guides really enjoy their work and respect the beauty of the environment around them.

One of the highlights of the tour is when we get up close to a crocodile and the guide feeds him a chicken.

Amy definitely did not want to see me this close to a crocodile, but really, we never feel like we're in any danger. I mean, I would have felt nervous swimming in the river, but from the safety of the boat, the crocodiles seem almost tame.

On the way back from the tour, the tour bus breaks down. I have to think that, with all the potholes and difficult roads, breakdowns must be common.

Back at the hotel, I'm getting ready to go to the pool, when the maid arrives to clean my room. I tell her luego ("later"), and she understands that I want her to come back later... I'm terribly pleased with myself because that's the first time I'm able to communicate something in Spanish to a Costa Rican. I mean, that seems like a small thing, but for me, it was as if I'd just built a bridge.

I have lunch with Anna's friends Jesse and Heloisa. I would end up spending a fair amount of time with them over the course of the trip. One of the cool things about this trip is that I felt like I got to know Anna's friends a lot better. Before I'd always felt like a bit of an outsider.

In the evening, Anna and Erik have a pre-wedding party at the hotel. Remarkably, just as the party is starting, a brilliant rainbow appears.

We all take that to be a good omen.

The party is fun; there's good food, a bunch of socializing, a bunch of drinking... and then Erik gets thrown into the pool. In my drunkenness, I keep attempting to make a joke that if someone were to bare their ass, we could call the hotel trecelunas ("thirteen moons") instead of docelunas ("twelve moons"), but no one ever seems to find that funny but me.

I go to bed at about 11:00 PM again.
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