Here is a new edit of the footage from Costa Rica with the old journal-style website still intact. Enjoy.
August 31, 2009 - Kyde:
We've made it through our first night away. Thanks to Thom, we had a
good place to sleep and an awesome commute to the airport. I've been listening to the Bright Grey cd by The Steel a lot lately. The first song repeats several times "the possibilities are endless." I sat in the car last week pondering what that really means. There have been many times in my life where I felt it was all plotted out, and I really didn't have options, like being in college for 5 years (yeah, I said 5) and not being able to sell a house (screw that house). Anyways, at the present, I'm sitting at Dulles Airport really knowing that we have a million possibilities in front of us. Enough about not having any idea where we're going to end up at the end of this crazy adventure.
I've been getting a couple questions about the trip and in all honesty, never have enough time to actually think out the answers or enough time to verbalize them. So, I'm gonna put a few of them out there, so that I can look back at this post in the future and see how things may have changed. Here goes...
Q. Are you excited?
A. Who wouldn't be? Keep in mind that the past month has been a whirlwind of shit! We've been working on selling a house (good luck with that Christy), moving from one place to another it feels like almost repeatedly, doing crazy yard sales on paper, getting visas, traveling on the metro rainbow. Those are a few of the things we've been preoccupied with and it doesn't include the many months we've already been getting things together. I'm excited to be starting this adventure, finally.
Q. Where are you going?
A. Costa Rica, Thailand and then anywhere we can from there. We are hoping to hit Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, China and India. Perhaps, a little Japan on the way!
Q. When are you coming back?
A. Whenever we want or have to. If the money runs out or we get hurt or we aren't having fun anymore. Here's to those things never happening though!
Q. What are you taking with you?
A. I just packed all this up yesterday. Here's the run down...
Odds & Ends
3 reading books
lots of hair ties
conglomeration of electronic bits and pieces
mp3 player w/headphones
flashlight that I can strap to my head
passport photos for visas
day pack (to carry stuff when I can put my backpack up)
extra bag for dirty clothes
whistle/flashlight/thermometer combo (Jesse we had one of those things all along, just no clock/carrabeaner!)
3 types of antidiarrheal meds (I will not have the runs)
doxycycline for malaria
probiotics for what doxycycline does to your system
2 pairs of pants
1 pair shorts
as much underwear as i could fit
2 tank tops
1 long sleeve shirt
2 pairs of socks
1 pair of shoes
I just crammed my entire backpack under the seat in front of me, and it contains all that stuff! All my needed supplies are under a seat, hard to believe!
Q. Where are you going to stay?
A. Anywhere that is safe. We want to see each place from multiple locations and multiple pay scales. I think it's important for us to really see each destination from multiple angles and for a decent amount of time to really say we've been there.
Q. What are you going to miss?
A. I'm going to miss all the friends that I have back home who support me, especially the ones who have been there for me on a daily basis. I'm going to miss my family who have really made a huge effort to help us make our way! I'm going to miss Champ and driving! I'm going to miss turkey (which I eat on almost a daily basis - ask Jenn) and all the other foods that I love! I'm going to miss having a bed of my own. Having the internet whenever I want. Most of all I'll miss laughing with everyone, I hope you don't have withdrawal!
Things I won't miss... some patients, work schedules, getting up at 6:15 (totally woke up at 6:00 this morning - damnit), rt. 3 (good riddance), I'm sure this list is a lot longer, but I'm on fucking vacation!
Sounded like something in the plane may have just broke. Just thought I would write that so I could remember how terrified I was for that split second.
Q. What are you looking forward to?
Going to crazy places. Finding new and interesting people and activities. Getting out of the everyday routine and doing things that I never thought I would do.
Things I'd like to do
Eat tons of delicious food
Ride an elephant
Do or see something new every day
Relax on the beach
Read a book or two (good luck)
Learn more Spanish and get to know other languages
Enjoy time with Eric's parents
Take things slow when I can
Q. What are you worried about? (Stop reading Mom!)
A. Language barriers, getting sick, being homesick, getting lost, losing stuff, Eric and I driving each other crazy, plane rides (not a big fan, as you may have noted above). Other than those things, everything else is small potatoes.
Q. Jesse, are you going to miss your buddies when they are gone?
A. No! (liar)
Those are all the questions. We are almost on the ground in North Carolina (that bitch) and then one more flight to Costa Rica. It's nice to know in a few hours Eric's parents will be awaiting us on the ground!
September 1, 2009 - Kyde:
Yesterday was quite tiring. We got off the plane and within an hour we were standing at a fruit stand with the nicest man who wanted to let us try everything. I have seriously had more fruit to eat in the past 24 hours then I have had in the past few months. 90% of all the fruit has been phenomenal. After a 2 1/2 hour drive from the airport, we landed at Eric's parent house, which is no where near as rustic has sarcastically explained. We almost immediately got in the pool and got our relaxing on. We had hot dogs on the grill and about an hour later (7:30) I was asleep. Let me tell you, I had some of the best, must have left my body, sleep I've ever experienced. I don't know if it was exhaustion, knowing that I didn't have anything planned or the bed, but goodness it felt good. I slept for at least 12 hours.
The next morning, we got up and immediately found ourselves taking a morning swim. I showered and watched the palm trees outside while I got cleaned up. We went to a restaurant and I got Sopa de Pollo. I wish my Spanish was a little better. I would really like to be fluent. I went to the bathroom and am happy to say that I have definitely got off my home-based #2s. If you don't understand, then don't worry about it! Anyways, I went to wash my hands afterward and a bird flew through the room. I thought "that's a nice bird," and then I realized that bird looks drunk. Flying pretty crazy. I then realized that I was hanging out in a small room with a BAT! I left the water running and hauled ass outta there!
After a delicious lunch, we went to get some meat at a carneceria. I noticed as we drove into Baton, a pretty low class area of Costa Rica, that people were really getting a load of Eric's dad's vehicle. In America, you wouldn't even bat an eye at this car, but here it's a luxury item. I found myself worried that people would treat us differently because I was riding in a "fancy" car. I resisted sitting in the car to avoid discrimination to find out what Costa Rican butcher shop was like. Eric's Dad certainly knows how to order his meat, and it was inspiring to see someone who is on my same "just came from America" level communicating. Watching the interaction made me worry a bit about talking to people in a language that I have no idea about. We'll get to see how that all works out.
Today, I also thought something that I shouldn't be surprised about. Even when I step out of the nice car, I still look different than everyone else around me. I have never felt that way before. I've been to a few places where I have not been in the race of the majority, and honestly didn't feel odd. The vulnerability of being able to be singled out is catching up with me, and I know at some point I will feel the results of that, whether it be having someone treat me meanly because they only look at the surface or being swindled because they know I don't understand.
I'm not sure if the great sleep from last night has started an addiction or if the bumps in the road had lulled me to it, but I came home and took a nap. If you know me, this is an extreme oddity. I hate naps and maybe took 3 of them in 2008. The nap was incredible and 2 hours went by like it was nothing. I got up to find my buddies hanging out in the pool again. I'm really enjoying tico time! I just walked into a screen door!
September 2, 2009 - Kyde:
Let me tell you something about doing nothing! Day 3, I managed to get myself outta bed and go for a swim. I laid around after that reading and then took a nap. After my nap, I took another swim. You may wonder why I haven't gone out to do stuff. Let me explain. Eric's parents live in a subdivision that is about a mile or two from a major highway. Eric's dad is the only one who is a allowed to drive their vehicle and they do check papers to make sure you aren't messing around. Eric's dad spent the morning and a chunk of the afternoon at a meeting. I have met my first bit of not feeling well. I had something the night before which caused me to have a pretty terrible case of acid reflux. I've never had it before I couldn't figure out what was going on with my esophagus. I explained my situation to Eric's Dad and he promptly helped me find a solution with some generic CVS pills. They don't have CVS here, but we did learn that before they left the States for good they went to the drug store in SC to get all the meds they could. Thank goodness! I was so happy to know that relief was on the way after more than 12 hours of pure annoyance. That night, we went to the super market and got some necessities. I managed to get the aloe that Eric and I sorely needed. Yeah, we both know our doxycycline causes us to be sensitive to the sun, but that pool is so much damned fun!
September 3, 2009 - Kyde:
Today has been pretty magical. We got up this morning and I managed to make a phone call to a local white water rafting gig and schedule us a ride for tomorrow. Surprisingly, the people here know when they charge a hefty bit, and most excursion like this will cost you. Our white water adventure will be $99 per person, but it does include the river ride, all equipment, breakfast and lunch. So, you can assume you are going to get a couple of hours of me screaming between meals. After finding out where we needed to be dropped off for that we took Rt. 10 to Turrialba. Rt. 10 is pretty windy and I got a little car sick. Kinda felt like I was back in Blacksburg with Will at the wheel! I managed to get my barrings with a pit stop. We decided we wanted to see Volcan Turrialba, an active volcano which has not erupted since 1866. We GPSed our way into a circle and landed on some lunch at a local soda in Santa Cruz. We got casada which means rice, beans and meat. In this case, we had shredded beef and there was a salad and papas fritas (french fries) on the side. We headed up a pretty twisting road, back and forth, moving up a huge hill. Along the way, we ran into a herd of cattle just making their way up. We got higher and higher and the view got better and better. Crystal said that Costa Rica was hot, and she's right, but once we got in those mountains I found myself putting my jacket on. The air was clean and cold. The volcano finally came into view and you could see the actual steam it was producing. We got excited and Eric and I rode on the window frames for a bit, until we hit some of the biggest pot holes you've ever seen! We ended up having to turn back before the volcano, but seeing all the beautiful scenery on the way down was twice the delight. Right now we're back on Rt. 10 and I'm hoping my body will manage for the ride home. See below for some pictures from today!
September 4, 2009 - Kyde:
We got up at 7:00 AM and got our stuff together to get our white water rafting on! We got lost on the way and while staring at a pina finca (pineapple farm). We managed to find the place after making a very confusing call. 2 hours later and we were in the Rio Pecaures getting ready to set off. On the bus ride there, the guide had told us that people were going to fall out. I looked at the rapids before we set out, and I told Eric that I was getting nervous. The trip went great, and no one fell out. One of the other boats in our group got stuck between a rock and a hard place, literally. They got stuck against a wall of rock and a huge rapid. Everyone had to get out and we were only 10 minutes into the trip. I sat there feeling glad that I wasn't in that boat. Paddling wore me out extremely! We got to jump outta the raft for a bit to float down the river in a canyon. We saw many waterfalls along the way and actually got to see two people jump from about 20 ft off the water. We hit class 3 and 4 rapids and I'd totally do it again, but I might need to buff up before! When we got home, I read some of my book and cuddled with Izzy!
September 5, 2009 - Kyde:
Today, we took a ride down south to check out Punta Uva and Cahuita. On a narrow patch of road, we heard a bellowing roar. Eric saw the panic in my face (and later made fun of me). The sound was a howler monkey. We managed to see one up in the tree running around. Very cool! I got to see one of the most beautiful beaches I've every seen and the water was warm! We swam around for a while and got back into the car. The road to Punta Uva is littered with some of the biggest pot holes, but it was totally worth it. The little bit of Cahuita we saw was pretty touristy. Little tid bit that our travel guide has to say on Cahuita... "Women should know that Cahuita enjoys a free-love reputation and evidently some female traveler do come here for a quick fling. Be prepared to pay your gent's way around town and bring (and use!) your own condoms." Get you some ladies! Although it felt like we were in the seedy underbelly. We met Eric's Dad's business partner and got some free internet in the open air basement of a concrete hotel. We knew there were some illegal actions going on around us, but we got to use the internet, so it worked out well!
As we drove around today, I got to thinking about what I was smelling and that made me think about all my senses. So, here's a run down on Costa Rica and the senses...
Costa Rica smells like burning. When driving around, almost every 10 minutes you smell something burning. When ticos are done cleaning their yard they burn the brush. They also burn their trash in some places. Whether you are on the Pacific or the Caribbean side, you are going to be constantly bombarded with smoke!
Costa Rica tastes like delicious fruit. Within the first hour of being here, I had some of the ripest fruit in my mouth! We have had fruit everyday we have been here from pineapples to rambutans. I totally love it!
Costa Rica sounds like vehicles. Even in the far reaches, you can still hear 18 wheelers loudly downshifting. Everyone loves to get where they want to go fast, and they do pass on double yellow lines. I rode behind Eric's Dad who was driving, and the whoosh of the cars actually scared me a few times. And this country may have cars that are missing headlights, good brakes and many other features, but every car has an intact and operating horn. BEEP BEEP!
Costa Rica feels wet. And if you are in the sunshine, you're sweating your ass off. Both the shores allow to cool off and break away from the sunshine. Eric's parents have a pool which we were constantly finding ourselves drawn to because of the heat. When you aren't able to get in a pool or the sea/ocean, the hotels offer cold water showers. Which sounds crazy, but it's totally what you need on a hot, muggy day!
Costa Rica looks like a never ending rainbow of green! I've never seen this many shades! I've spent hours in the car just staring at the foliage because there is so many different greens to admire.
September 6, 2009 - Kyde:
Today was the day that Eric and I made our first move outward. We've been staying with his parents, but we needed to go and find out more about Costa Rica on our own. After a pow wow, we made our way to the bus stop. We managed to hop on a bus for San Jose while it was heading out of the station. Close call! During the ride, our bus came up on a man standing in the middle of the road yelling at the top of his lungs. No idea what he was upset about, but he got right up to the window of the bus and pressed his nose on the glass!
3 hours later, we were in San Jose confused out of our minds. Apparently, the bus system in San Jose is composed of many stations all over the city and each one caters to a different destination area. So, were standing in the station that could take us back to Eric's parents part of Costa Rica, and had no idea how to get to another station which would take us to our destination, Playa del Coco. We found a security officer and said "Liberia" to him and he got us to a guy with a taxi. As we were riding to our drop off, Eric and I shared a glance that meant "Welp, this could end in many ways." It actually ended with the guy taking us to the right bus station, but he did over charge us. We have learned our lesson on that, negotiate before leaving. He only got 4 bucks from us, oh well. We got our tickets and some food and waited for our bus to arrive. The ride on the bus was 5 hours long. I learned a lot about our destination on the way using our Lonely Planet guide. I read my book til it started to get dark.
The darkness outside made me realize that we would still be needing to find our hotel when we got there. Honestly, I was a bit nervous, but that bus wasn't taking us anywhere else, end of the line. We got off and within 10 minutes we were in an avenue and quite confused about where to go to find the cabinas. There was a really well lit office, but it had a different name then what we expected. We rang the bell and no one answered, then rang again, no answer. We had Eric's parents cell phone with us, so we used that to call. On the other side of the door, I could hear the phone ringing. An American voice answered and I said "We're outside, come get us!" He came to the door and I asked to take a look at the room which they wanted $10 per person per night for. The room had a bed and a shower. That was it. There was no a/c and the shower only had cold water. It was very clean and we actually had a little patio for our room with a table and chairs. I told him that we would take it and we put our stuff down. We went to pay him and he told us his name was Ray and gave us a little tour of the town via a map. He was very nice and we got settled. We were pretty happy to have made it clear across Costa Rica and managed to get a good cabina for a nice price. Even better, Ray had free internet for us!
As we sat outside Ray's office, two stray dogs (big thing in Costa Rica) came running up to us. Scary shit for the first time. They didn't want anything to do with us though. Several animals have taken to investigating us, but they lose interest quick. We continued our interneting and a loud car came down the street. A lady got out and went to the door of the office. It was very apparent she was drunk. She told us that she rents the room above the office. She was going in to get some money for a cab ride. When she returned, cab driver waiting, she asked if Eric and I were dating and we answered yes. She told us to never let go of that and that she wished she never had. Not sure how to respond, I told her that I'd take her advice. She then told us about her kids and how much she missed them, she is in her mid-40s to 50s. She then told us that if we were going to have kids we should "hit them over the head all the time so they never grow up." Again, baffled at what to say I blurted out, "you could go to jail for that." She took a minute to think about it and agreed. She managed to stumble over to the taxi and stood in front of it while she told us she wasn't always this dysfunctional. The encounter was awkward, but seemed about right.
September 7, 2009 - Kyde:
I managed to sleep pretty good in our cabina considering we had no a/c. As usual, Eric got up an hour or so before me. We decided to take a walk down to Playa Ocotal, about 3 miles away from where we were staying. The walk was hot and long, and when we finally saw the waves at Ocotal, we got in immediately.
After swimming we hung out with some crabs and decided to climb a pretty big rock and go exploring. Our adventures got us pretty tired and hungry. We couldn't find anything to eat at Ocotal. We started the 3-mile walk back to Playa del Coco which started with a long uphill battle. My legs wanted to give out on me, but I forced them to get over that hill. Halfway home, I spotted a taxi and asked for a ride, cost us a little under $2. I ended up getting nauseous and laid around for a bit, our meds aren't working very well with us. Once I was up and running, we checked out the local super market, and it seriously is like a Ukrops. It was neat, overpriced and best of all air-conditioned. We watched the sunset and then decided to follow a noise we had been hearing all day. It turned out to be the percussion section of a high school marching band getting ready for their Independence Day parade on the 15th. We sat there for a good 45 minutes until they looped, it was incredible! Back at the cabinas, I took some time to get to know Ray. He was a sniper in Vietnam, divorcee with an interesting story ("whether it's 100 feet or 1000 yards, I don't miss!"), loves to cook and can make some really cool jewelry. We really like Ray! I could listen to him talk about anything!
September 8, 2009 - Kyde:
Today, we made our way from Playa del Coco to Nicoya via the bus system. We got a little assistance from the internet to make our trip easier, but I was still biting my nails hoping that everything was going to work out with bus changes. It's still confusing as to how it all comes together, but somehow we made it to our destination much sooner than expected. We found the right place to stay, aka the cheapest ($6 per person) and got settled.
As we were relaxing for a few minutes out front of the hotel, a man came up to the office. Then, a younger lady followed him and awaited him at the doorway. They got a key to a room and went back. Eric and I both noted the fact that they did not have bags of any sort. We were positive a trick was being turned in the room next to ours. We headed out for food, which came with an odd moment. We sat at a table against a barred window. This man only speaking Spanish came up to me and it was obvious he wanted money. I told him no several times and he then started to unbutton his shirt to show me his heart surgery scars. It was awkward! Moments after that the hooker from earlier at the hotel walked by and gave us a big smile. Somebody just got paid!!
After walking around, eating and making our way back to the hotel after dark, we got settled in. I took another needed cold shower and lounged on my bed. Eric and I were hanging out for about an hour and then all the sudden the lights went out. For another 30 minutes or so, we didn't have any electricity. The fan which was making the room tolerable was leaving us in some serious heat. We were very happy when the electricity started to work again!
September 9, 2009 - Kyde:
It was time to leave Nicoya behind, so we headed straight to the bus station. Upon entering, a taxi guy pounced on us. He chatted at us for 3 minutes while we continually said no to him. We couldn't tell what he was trying to say, but we were dead set on using a bus that would only cost $3 for both of us, instead of whatever expensive ride he was trying to sell us. We sat around for a few moments and the taxi guy went away. On our way to the sodas (food booths) the guy approached Eric again, and asked "Taxi?"! NO DUDE! We ate our breakfast of rice and beef, and it was pretty good! We knew we had about an hour and a half to wait, so we took a seat. About an hour later, the taxi guy comes up to us again, and asks if we would like a taxi. At this point, I'm pretty annoyed. I just keep saying no, and he just keeps standing there awkwardly not getting the picture. He finally went away, but I noticed that he was staring at me from across the parking lot, CREEPY! Then Eric turned around to look at something and the guy waved his arms up in the air at Eric. I mean, WTF! I've never been so happy to get on a bus to get away from someone before. Our bus ride was three hours long and we got to see a pretty bad car accident, where a guy went full speed into a ditch. In Costa Rica, you can't move your car after an accident and the cops make it look like a murder scene, with the tape and everything. They better find out who murdered that car! Our bus got to the ferry dock where our next move would be. I got jipped on some pineapple, but it was delicious. The ferry was pretty cool. I got to read and Eric got to take a short nap. We arrived in Puntarenas to the sounds of Eric's parents beeping their horn! Right on time!
We drove to the capital city of Costa Rica, San Jose. Eric's parents got rooms for them and us for the night, so that we can be close to the airport for tomorrow. We walked into the hotel (4 stars) and our jaws just dropped. There was such a stark difference from the places we had been over the past several days. We went to dinner at a Japanese restaurant in a strip mall that seemed pretty out of place in Costa Rica. After returning to the hotel, I promptly took a much needed bath! And now I'm looking forward to cranking up the A/C to go to bed under a million blankets. Can you blame me?
September 10, 2009 - Eric:
Last night, we stayed with my parents in a hotel in San Jose, Costa Rica. Had some dinner at a Japanese "Chop-em-up" place. It was in a strip mall that was right out of the states, with an Outback, English signs and white people. The ice cream was AMAZING, the chef made a caramel topping out of cooking some of the ice cream on the grill, it was really awesome. Anyways, we woke up this morning, had breakfast and made our way to the airport. The rest of the day was spent in the air with a short stop in the WORST AIRPORT EVER: Orlando. Confusing layout, signs that make no sense, rude and stupid employees...the works.
A little clarification about Kyde's rant on the airplane in the video: When we were flying out of Costa Rica on our JetBlue flight we went through the normal security that you expect at all airports, but then right at the gate of the airplane they set up a SECOND checkpoint in which they searched EVERY bag that was being carried on. So, in the terminal literally 10 feet away from the second security point we bought two sealed bottles of soda. When Kyde tried to get them onto the plane they wouldn't let her. Even though they were still sealed and purchased in the so-called "secure" terminal. At the same time, they let me through with a open and half empty bottle of Listerine. Needless to say we were pretty annoyed at the whole situation and when we got on the plane we were doing some bitching. After everyone was seated one of the stewardesses came up and asked us "Are you guys doing alright?" and we just explained the situation so she wouldn't think we were annoyed with her. She went right in the back and grabbed us a couple of drinks and gave them to us before taking off, and was super cool about it. Thanks Angela! Onward to Thailand!