So, there were a couple burps and blunders that in no way diminished the awesomeness of my trip but I thought would be worth reporting because on screen,  it seems relatively blunder-free aside from the wreck..

I left my credit card in Chile… In the airport. I was on the way to Rio and that was how I was supposed to pay for my hotel. I called my bank and they sent me a card. Three days it took. and $8.  Not too bad, considering.

The awesome bicycle I bought in Colombia only lasted a week and a half.. I made the mistake of leaving it locked up outside one night..  It was gone when I went for it in the morning… I had been warned.

All but one of the pants I brought on my trip was ripped, horribly stained or missing. You must inventory all laundry. Every time. You must be proactive about getting it back. And returning all things that do not belong to you.

I’m struggling. My flying vacation is over. I am in Costa Rica “relaxing” but I’m not very good at that. I am anxious to get back and find work.
Also, I am sorting out my love life. Which is to say, a bit confusing right now…

I’ve spent almost three years chasing around the same woman. She’s a short, chapstik femme, super buff firecracker with an appetite for the ocean, exercise, and travel.  We both live for fresh air and laughter. I love her family.

She is more of a people person, I’m a little more reserved initially. That’s the short story.

We met up here in Costa Rica.. I’m a puppy when I see her. I love the way she looks in her sporty little getups. She’s got laugh lines and freckles on her face.. And loves to point out anything she sees beautiful… Or funny. I love that she thinks it’s fair game to stop any conversation to show each other a strange looking bird, cloud, tree or piece of shell…. anything, really. She’s an elite athlete… And a scary good skier.
It makes her crazy if she can’t get up in the morning and go outside right away… Even better if she can sleep with a cool breeze. We both wake up early.. We  like our coffee dark and strong.. But lighten each cup of rocket fuel with a splash of cream and swirl in some sweet… Just to make it friendly.

We talk pretty often. She told me she was coming to Costa Rica and asked that I join her.  Really, I had planned to go to Peru instead. I had already purchased the ticket there. I was asking if some friends would like to go with me and my new friend Paul rogered up for nine days.

At that moment, I felt responsible for someone other than myself, so I checked out what I was planning and discovered that I had purchased tickets for the rainy season… The trail to Maccu Pichu wasn’t even going to be open. Flying is no good in the rain and I felt an emergency push to make a better decision.. Switched flight to Costa Rica and told  Paul about the plan change.  We would meet in Playa Hermosa and all three of us split lodging.
I spent my first week in Jaco. Alone. It was very nice, actually. I met some personalities.. My favorite… Celine. She has a charming French accent (shes very French) with an adequate but not firm command of English. Which makes everything she says either more interesting or just funny. She was the person who convinced us to go to Manuel Antonio… Because the “slowth” was there. I would have been mildly interested in the sloth, but for whatever reason, I wanted desperately to see the “slowth”… and then tell her about it.
Paul and I went… If you haven’t already seen the video on my FB page, this is a great time to watch this crazy booger in close up action. He comes down once a week from the canopy to poop…

Paul and I pick her up at the Liberia airport after her week in Tamarindo at surf camp. I love to see her. She brightens my day, but this time when I saw her standing outside the sliding glass doors playing her ukelele, there was a semi-sweet sadness too.
We drove down skinny, bumpy roads, made a wrong turn and went in the back entrance to the resort hotel she had booked for us. We laughed when we were scolded about going into the poorly marked entrance and again when we found that this was more of a retirement community than a vacation casita. No matter, it was close to a fun time, was clean, well staffed and we were going to be diving during the day anyhow.

Paul got in four dives and proved to be a superior beginning diver. (he got certified for this trip back in December)
I was surprised at his natural ability and grace in the water.. I am curious if he will pursue this sport.
She was equally as quick and adept in the water.. I hope she gets to continue her diving hobby in some other tropical paradise. While we had fun, Costa  Rica is not known for it’s amazing dives.

We returned home early in the eves to listen to music and unwind at the casa, watched episodes of “Little Britan” and get ready for our next days adventures. Vicki Pollard in the boot camp scene.. Or the hospital.. Not sure which one is worse for a broken rib.. They are both worth at least a dozen views. We  kept the neighbors up laughing our asses off.

We heaped Paul onto a bus in Puntarenas rather than spending the four or more hours traveling to the San Jose airport. This may have been the biggest adventure of the trip. It was with much difficulty that we found the right place to board the correct bus… and then the ferry for our small econo-car.

Mal Pais:
We arrived and got the tour of our new living arrangements… Wendy had booked them with solely herself in mind and reasoned she would tough out any circumstance because she would be surfing her buns off during the day and sleeping like a rock at night… She’s a tough bird..
Community kitchen ground floor. Refrigerator is locked at dusk. Bathrooms, restaurant and showers ground floor. Our room and yoga studio on the second floor. No AC.  It is blazing hot. and humid. The air is still.
We are, however, quite relieved that our accommodations are set back from the horribly dusty dirt street.. Many people wear masks or scarves when they walk or ride down it. The dust has settled on everything within fifty or more feet of it’s edge.
Some of the shops and restaurants spray molasses on to the street. It’s very cheap here because of all the sugar cane production. It works well to keep the dust down, but surprised us when we first smelled it.
The waves and beaches are beautiful…palm trees and monkeys everywhere. A surfers paradise.. Locals and ex-pats that came down for vacation and never left are working many of the restaurants and shops. I love meeting these travelers.. The people that have checked out of the race… or are running. or are just wandering. They have fabulous stories. If you met five of them in one night you could write a book.

I didn’t see many sedans in Mal Pais. It is a much better idea to have a four wheel drive.. If you can afford it. My little car did the job but with a little less driving experience, it would have been easy to wind up high centered or stuck in a bad piece of road…not bragging, just saying, you might consider something a little more robust…
Which is why I believe it is such a nice area to still visit. I’d recommend coming here now before the road is paved and it becomes saturated with touristas, and big hotels..

We boogie boarded, walked, drove around, found shells, surfed…
I got a nasty gash on some rocks when we weren’t paying attention to our drift in the surf.. It wasn’t bad, but the foot with a slice on the bottom did need to stay out of the sand a while.

We left a day ahead because of the heat.. and no AC. Went to check the ferry schedule online but the Internet was out, so we asked our host. Three O’clock the ferry leaves for Puntarenas she says. That last one is at five but I don’t want to try to look for a hotel in the dark.. I would have made reservations… but the Internet… We stopped on the way to the ferry in Montezuma and hiked to some waterfalls where she  took a refreshing dip and then to a delightful lunch at a small Soda.. (that’s what they call the  local restaurants)
We had casada…rice and beans with fish… I had with chicken and a beer.
We arrived early at the ferry… But alas, it had already departed at two o’clock.  We could see it sailing away.
There was another one that left at three from a terminal north of us.. I thought we could make it.. If we hurried and left immediately, But I had underestimated the time it would take to get there on the little  unpaved road.

A couple miles in of chunky, choppy, dusty, rocky dirt, we bagged the idea in favor of an easy afternoon at our original ferry. She played her ukelele and I drank a beer. A local Costa Rican sat beside us and enjoyed her playing. He said it was joyous and peaceful.

We chatted with the Costa Rican guy for most of the trip. He tells us… Like everyone else does,  beware. Watch your bag, pockets and don’t go anywhere alone in the dark by yourself. Don’t carry more than you need, and don’t be out after nine at night on side streets. It was dark when we rolled off. The nearest town I knew anything about was Jaco… An hour from the ferry. I figure we could roll in and try to get a room at the great place I stayed before.

This plan works fantastically and we are delighted to be settled into a safe, friendly haven on the outside edge of the busy surf city. We share cocktails and dinner at a quiet, salty beach bar I know. It is outside, you can see the waves, white foam and palm trees in the dark.
We finished a fantastic dinner of giant fresh fish tacos and meet an American fellow that shares a  story about the volunteer work he does with the local transvestite/transgender HIV+ clinic and the football games they play in lovely white dresses and sun hats.. Apparently, when the football comes out, boys will be boys no matter what kind of accessories, high heels or hairstyle they may choose. Game on!

At breakfast the next day in Jaco, it became more and more clear to me that the dynamic of our old/new relationship was out of whack.
Maybe it was me. Maybe we’re just not right for each other.
This I know….It was our last chance. We parted that morning with an honest promise that we would be friends.
I feel like someone has simultaneously kicked me in the guts and took a backpack of stones from me.. I am floating neutrally in the hum of tires on smooth pavement and warm wind buffeting me with half open windows for three hours through tropical paradise to San Jose.

Costa Rica Video

Here’s what i put together here up ’till now… i think this is going to be the last flying video I will have for a while. I’m not sure what is going to happen now, I’m at the end of my very first big trip and have loved this adventure. There is always something to tell you about, so I will post, but less frequently now, as my very greatest interest is flying. I hope you will stay with me until my next adventure.

Costa Rica

The hot grill girl wrote me back. Like, a week ago. I would have written a reply right away, but she addressed the letter, “Hola linda ” so,  I had a melt down and couldn’t think of what to say next… No one has called me “linda” in many years. I really don’t even care if she’s just being nice… It’s nice to hear.
I finally replied tonight.  It sounded really sophomoric. 

 San Jose has a big city feel. It was very crowded, noisy.. Not that fun or friendly….I keep comparing every city to Medellin…  

I spent an extra night at the B&B catching up on sleep, planning the next week in Costa rica, writing e-mails and paying bills. 
I was online trying to find out where there might be some flying in Costa Rica, I found a spot near Puntarenas. It’s a ridge called Caldera. I will try to head that way and find more information about it. There is a paragliding B&B there, it seems to be reasonably priced.

On the bus to Puntarenas, I realized I had no idea where Grandpa Ninjas was. Usually, I have good forethought as to where I might be heading but on this occasion, I completely forgot to take a screen shot or write down an address..
The gal next to me on the bus is my age, attractive and conservatively dressed. She’s very busy texting on her phone and I think she might be local. 
Twenty minutes pass, and I’m trying to think of how I’m going to find this place… and I thought I better break the ice with my neighbor to see if she might know something….
She speaks perfect English and is delightful to talk to. I show her some paragliging video which she’s crazy about and she tells me she’s a diver.. She tells me some good spots here.  She is a native, met her American husband ten years ago on Match.com and now lives in Austin, Texas. She’s here in Costa Rica for two months visiting relatives and doing tourist things with her husband. This is her first time on the bus… She feels uncomfortable riding it… she is worried for her safety.

She asks where I am going and I have to admit my little problem.
Graciously, she calls her friend, has them look up Grandpa Ninjas on the computer, gets a number, calls and arranges for me to be picked up at the bus station…. I am to be retrieved in a white Toyota Yaris driven by a long haired lady. 

She gave me her phone number… She told me to call if I need anything else… Or if I just want to hang out. We might be in Montezuma at the same time… I’d love to meet her family.

Kathy is late. Almost forty-five minutes.. but when she gets out of the car, I forget how blazing hot it is outside because she has a knockout figure… Her legs are exquisite.. She’s got a tiny pair of white shorts, high sandals, tight top and dyed blonde long curly hair. Sassy, big stylish sunglasses. She looks crisp and fresh, like she has just walked out of a magazine ad. She walks like she’s on a runway…. 
She opens the trunk, smiles.. big, sparkling smile.. “sorry I’m late.” 

We drive around, can’t find the guys we’re supposed to hook up with. It doesn’t really matter. She’s refreshing to spend time with…  we stop for ceviche and cerveza. I find out she is raising four children by herself. She’s my age and single. 
We finally make it back to the house. It is a giant house on a hill with a beautiful, if small pool. Deep though. It was designed so that you can jump off the second story balcony into the cool,  crystal water! 

I discover a few things. First, that I have to purchase a tour to go flying. It is normally $120/day. The ridge I so wanted to soar is not open to the public during the week, but for $60 US, I can enjoy a weekday flight there.
Second, that my hostel is in Jaco…. An hour away.. not Puntarenas. I am dismayed by my mistake, but Kathy tells me that I scored. She loves Jaco. I can’t stop looking at her legs.

I didn’t want to pay for a tour. I’m all toured out. I just want to fly an easy site.. Let my feet leave the Earth and fly like a bird for a couple hours… But this does not seem possible here with the information I’ve been given. I’m a little grumpy until I learn that there is a site right in Jaco. The cab ride there is exactly $60. The wheels make a couple turns and I throw out the idea… I’ll pay $60 for a flight at Jaco… And a ride to my new hostel.

The deal is made and we drive out to the site. It’s a little windy and the thermals are getting blown apart but there is still plenty of lifting air. I fly only for about fifteen minutes, have a great time and  a tippy-toe landing. Banner. Also, as it turns out, the two handsome, huggy Fenchmen that were staying at the house are also here flying…well only one is flying it’s a little too rowdy for the other guy.
I love them. they are hilariously irreverent about everything. And nice.

 We joined forces and had lunch in Jaco…. a busy, small surfing town, lots of little local and boutique restaurants, with a giant beach and good waves.