Thursday, January 13, 2005

Costa Rican Adventures...Volume 1

Pura vida, mi amigos!!
Greetings family, friends, and people whose email addresses I've gathered from commercial mass-mailing sources. Welcome to the second volume of updates from abroad. (Is Central America considered "abroad"? Do you have to cross an ocean to be considered abroad?) I recently arrived in Costa Rica for about a six week stay here, and as with my European travels a few years ago, I'll be sending out an update every so often to let everyone know I'm not starving in a jungle prison for attempting to smuggle arms. In fact, this time I'll only be smuggling internal organs, and maybe a few legs, but absolutely no arms.

So I arrived in Costa Rica late Sunday night and was immediately treated to classic Tico hospitality (well, after getting taken for a ride by the currency exchange counter in the airport). In my typical fashion, I hadn't bothered to make any reservations for a place to stay even though I was arriving at 10:30 pm. So as midnight approached I found myself in a cab driving around the streets of Alajuela as the friendly driver woke up the owners of small hotels and explaining my situation to see if they had one more bed. It all worked out in the end and the next day I made my way to San Jose, which is the capital and transportation hub of Costa Rica. It also happens to be where Backroads, my employer, rents a house for leaders to stay in while working here. I'm not exactly working here, but they made room for me. And coincidentally one of the Backroads leaders was heading to the same destination as me the next day. So with great disappointment, I passed up the chance to ride a bumpy, overcrowded bus for four hours and instead was stuck in a roomy rental car for a leisurely drive to Quepos, with stops along the way at a nice little restaurant overlooking a gorgeous valley. On the way into Quepos, I was forced to stop with my co-worker and hike through a private reserve with the largest canopy bridge system in Costa Rica. Though I really wanted to pay $60 for a tour with a bunch of strangers, I had to go for free with just a guide & my co-worker at whatever pace we felt like going. The next day I took a wrong turn or something and wound up rafting through a Class IV/V section of the upper Naranjo River through an amazing jungle valley. And after an afternoon siesta I headed up to the Rafiki Safari Lodge ( for a going away party for one of the family members of the owners who's going off to school for several years. OK, I can't even pretend to sound like I'm not having a great time anymore. Rafiki is gorgeous, and to anyone with the time & money, or time & connections as in my case, I highly recommend a visit. So we partied all night in a secluded lodge in the middle of the jungle and woke up to a hot breakfast prepared for us by the staff of the lodge. After a couple of vehicles broke down on the way out, I finally made my way back to Quepos and caught the bus back here to San Jose. Tomorrow I head to Turrialba, rafting capital of Costa Rica and one of the premier spots in the world for whitewater. Provided the Pacuare River comes down out of flood stage, I even have work lined up as a river guide.

Anyway, I wish I'd had time to make this update more entertaining. If I can stop having such a good time here, then next time I'll put a little more effort into making my updates entertaining. Hope everybody's well. Pura vida! Devin


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