Thursday, December 23, 2010

What I Did On My Winter Vacation, Part Two

After a grueling 3k drive a bit farther south we arrived at La Costa de Pepito in the pelting rain. We were wet, we were tired. My arms hurt from surfing. We smelled. And we liked our bungalow.

What to do? Easy! A six-pack of Imperial, a few good books, a magazine or two, a camera and a hammock.

I am reading about people learning to swing from treetops wihle Bill reads
about quantifing academic progression in undergraduate writing assessment.

Then it was off to happy hour at the little hotel bar. Then to dinner at the hotel restaurant, attached to the bar. Then Advil. Then bed.

Peace out. Time for bed.
The rain continued to fall throughout the night. The thatched roof kept us completely dry (I was impressed) but holy mother, it was loud. Fortunately, in the morning, it had mostly stopped. We hopped in the car and headed as far south as we could until the road literally ended. We weren’t far from Panama but we left our passports behind in the room and didn’t want to find ourselves stuck south of the Costa Rican border.

A soccer field near the end of the road.

Near the end of the road was windy, abandoned and had
old boats scattered around.

The literal end of the road.

Bill, a hungry doggie, a boat and our car.
On the ride back we passed a sign that said “Jaguar Rescue Center.” Neither one of us had seen a rescued jaguar before so we decided to stop. It was 11:29 a.m. The place is apparently open for only two tours a day, and one was at 11:30. We paid a few bucks and hopped in with a group. Our guide was a woman with a tiny, tiny baby howler monkey clinging to her neck. She (the lady, not the monkey) explained that the animal’s mom had been killed by an uncovered electric generator and the little one was found clinging to her. Sad, but also so cute that I sort of wanted to squeeze him a lot.
Seems to be contemplating where his hat went.
The center apparently takes in injured and abused animals from all over Costa Rica, patches them up, rehabs them and then works to re-release them into their natural habitat.

I was actually pretty impressed. Just two people (the place was run by our guide and her husband) and a few volunteers. Eventually we made our way to a giant cage containing 8 or so monkeys that had either been brought to the center after being injured in the city or after being confiscated as illegal pets.

“Ok, go in there and see the monkeys,” our guide said. “They don’t have rabies or anything you can get. We test them frequently. If you have a cold though, please don’t go in. For you Americans it might seem strange that we let you in because you come from the land of lawsuits.”

Yeah, it did seem a bit strange to be allowed to go hang out with a bunch of monkeys, but it also seemed a bit awesome.

So in we went. The monkeys wanted to be Bill’s BFF. One immediately climbed onto his head, swung around his neck and wiggled its way into his arms. As for me, they seemed perfectly happy to perch on my back for a few seconds before bounding onto someone taller.

Why do I have to share my baby with a monkey? Why can't he
set his monkey free?

After monkeys came the sloths, my favorite animal of all time. There were three sloths – one that had to have a shattered arm bone repaired (through Facebook, they finally found a vet who knew how to perform sloth surgery) and two rescued babies. They moved like they were practicing tai chi and seemed to have permanent smiles (which, I think, I would have too if I lived in Costa Rica). I decided to pull a Veruca Salt by demanding a sloth of my own right away.

Hi. I am a sloth. Be my friend.
I didn’t have a chance to though because, very suddenly, a rouge monkey swung up my arm and onto my head, squeezing my forehead with its little hands.

“Bill,” I whispered. “There is a monkey on my head.”

"Yeah, I can see that," he said.

The guide, fortunately, immediately intervened, plucked the monkey off of me and took it back to the cage. Turns out that every day for a few hours, the monkeys with a chance of being released back into the wild get taken a mile or so from the rescue to practice being on their own. Volunteers stay nearby to make sure things are going okay. Apparently, a wild male monkey had a little crush on the monkey that made its way onto my head. He tried to hump, she ran home and jumped on the first person she saw. Nice!

After cleaning the monkey drool off of us we went to Jungle Love for dinner. For about $60 we had shrimp from the ocean we could hear just a few yards away, dressed with lemongrass we saw the chef pick from the garden we were sitting next to, salad, two entrees, four glasses of wine and mousse that made Bill very, very happy. As an added bonus, the owner’s cat, Elmo, joined us for a bit.

The next morning was more beach and then I decided to go for a run. I packed a small pack and headed north. We’d only seen one runner the entire trip so far but the town was friendly and I felt safe.

One thing, however, that I hadn’t considered, was that this part of the country is apparently not used to runners, let alone female runners with a backpack. People literally stopped and stared, a few joined me for a few strides, one offered me a bottle of Gatorade. I wasn’t expecting the attention but it reinforced my perception that most people in Costa Rica are welcoming to tourists and quite friendly.

We awoke to sunshine the next morning and immediately headed to the beach. Bill rented a board and headed out for a bit. I was a bit nervous to try and surf in the chop without a teacher by my side so I wussed out and practiced on land instead. It was a crowded beach day – about 20 surfers and 50 people on the beach, the most crowded we had seen it.

After a few hours we brushed off the sand, packed up the car one last time and headed west to place number three. Not wanting to have to do the entire drive from the coast back to San Jose on the day of departure we decided to go two-thirds of the way back, see another part of the country and go rafting from there.

We backtracked a bit before turning off of the main road into an amazingly beautiful series of mountains. I kept wanting Bill to pull over but, instead of a shoulder on the side of the road, there were cliffs to plummet off of so we kept going.

Next: The end. So sad.


Mallory said...

Looks like a wonderful trip!! Sounds like a lot of fun. Great pics!

Abby said...

Wow, your trip to the jaguar rescue puts yesterday's trip to the NOLA zoo to shame...

And what's the name of the book that Bill's reading? Actually sounds like something I should check out...

Bill said...

Abby: Laurie is being a bit sarcastic, listening to every other word I say about my research interests and mapping it on to some words she picked up in a stats class. This association technique lends itself to the "humor" of this blog.

If you are interested, the book in the picture is actually Waterland by Graham Swift. The more academic books I had with me included Living the Narrative Life by Gian Pagnucci and Teaching Composition as a Social Process by McComiskey.

If you are interested in writing assessment I recommend Brian Huot.

Kevin @ Half TRI-ing said...

This wield. I stumbled onto your blog when looking at other runners blogs and saw the picture of your Costa Rica vacation.

The town you ended up at was called Manzanillo. There is a bar called Maxis just to the left of the soccer field picture. "The literal end of the road" looks like the road the runs to my house. After you cross the creek there is a house on top of a rock. Then there is a house with a dolphin on it. I am the two story house next to it. It has a little security house on it with a big flower painted on it in pink and yellow.

The boat in the picture is my friends boat. And I believe that is my friend's dog. I believe his name is Hook. My mother named him after she removed a fishing hook from his paw when he was a pup.

That was so funny that I found this post by luck.

This is our house in that town.


Laurie said...

Kevin -- How crazy! We loved Hook! He was friendly. We felt bad that we didn't have any snacks for him. Decided to drive south just to see what was there. We felt like we were the only people in the world. The ocean was rough and we only saw one other person the entire drive. I kept thinking we were somewhere we weren't supposed to be but all was well. How long have you had your house there? It looks gorgeous. I am sure that at some point in our lives we will be back in Costa Rica -- your place looks beautiful so don't sell it before we have a chance to go back :)
I will have to check out your blog.
Thanks for reading!

Kevin @ Half TRI-ing said...

It is my mothers house and she has built it about 17 years ago. The two boats in the pictures I believe are owned by I believe Doba, Bacalow and Willy. I am friends with all of them. On the weekends that beach is hoppy with people. It is where the locals go to party. I believe where you were surfing is only a few feet from a piece of property we also own.

Small world isn't it!!

I am training for two 70.3 in 2011. What are you up to?


Abby said...

Thanks, Bill - humor or not, I'm always looking for tips on teaching writing!