Sunday, March 9, 2014

Feeling like S***, I do…

SUITCASE DIARIES: Costa Rica - week 1

I came down with a cold a few days before we left on our trip. Laryngitis set in. Maybe it's clearing out, yeah! Nope, it was just getting started. DAMN!

DAY ONE in Costa Rica - Mon Feb 17 - Not actually in Costa Rica; spent in transit. We arrived last night, getting in to Jack and Flo's at Villas Sol (See the villas on the hillside, we were in one of them.) Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste province in Costa Rica about 10 p.m.

Flight was brutal as I was hacking and coughing. I was the person everyone dreads to be on the same flight with, let alone sit next to. The pressure on my ears got worse with each flight - Victoria to Vancouver, Vancouver to Houston, Houston to Liberia. In an effort to clear my plugged ears I blew my nose so hard that it bled like a burst pipe. Poor woman sitting beside me on the last leg must have felt like she was cursed. So I arrived coughing, with laryngitis, pretty much deaf from plugged ears; holding a tissue under my nose with one hand, the fingers of my other hand pinching the bridge of my nose and juggling my bags.

I really hope this thing clears soon (It didn't. It lasted the whole trip and my ear is still plugged as I write this.) as my energy is low even for talking - English let alone Spanish.

NOTE: I end up being sick for the whole 2 weeks of our trip.
I'm grateful for the wisdom of David K Reynolds' CONSTRUCTIVE LIVING that I'd discovered in the '80's and utilized since then.
Paraphrasing one of his principles - "Feeling like S*** (my word), I do what needs to be done".
In this case what needs to be done is to get out there and take advantage of this opportunity to live the Pura Vida even though I feel like I'd rather stay in bed all day and be tended to by my kitty therapists. Disappointed in myself that I don't have my usual enthusiasm and energy; it is a reality I have to accept. I adopt this attitude - Just get out there and appreciate what happens and I was showered with simple delights.
(NOTE - The lack of photos is due to my lack of energy to take them - apologies.)

DAY 2 - Tues Feb 18 - I slept in today and we lounged around the beach, walked the beach and collected some garbage (numerous plastic straws, plastic utensils, plastic bottles, bottle caps and plastic bags) and swam. Boy, the sun is soooo bright! Good thing I've got my sunglasses. My Vancouver Island adapted eyes can't handle the brilliance of it. (Lesson #1 - The brightness of the light should have been a clue. The sun in Costa Rica is brutally strong. In a place this far south, never say no to sunscreen no matter how much you hate it or you, like me, will be bursting blisters for days, wake up to puffy face and peel like a snake for the duration of your stay. My legs are still peeling as I write this.)

DAY 3 - Wed Feb 19 - I was able to get a good night's sleep for the first time in days. Takes a lot of energy to talk and so I'm not too social. Haven't been snorkeling but I swam in the ocean and the pool, putting my head under the water. "F*** it" I said. I discover that swimming underwater seems to equalize the pressure in my ear providing me with some temporary relief. Once again on dry land, I can't seem to clear my ear and it's driving me nuts. I think it's the congestion from my sinuses + ear wax that must have gotten lodged. I'm trying everything I know but may have to get it syringed out. (Wrong self-diagnosis. Unbeknown to me, I will later find out from the médico in Tamarindo that I have a throat and inner ear infection.)

We went zip lining. The guys taking us through the stations were a lot of fun. When asked if I was scared I said, "No. I'd like to do some tricks: wonder woman, upside down…" these were some of the ones Flo had told me about. He called me "una mujer loca" as he took me through the paces. We had a blast. The pressure in my head was pretty excruciating when I went upside down but well worth the ride.

Una mujer loca aka a flying squirrel.
 We walked into town tonight with Flo and Jack and met some friends at The Embassy a quirky cinema in Playa Hermosa and saw THE WOLF OF WALLSTREET with Spanish subtitles (I read the movie as much as I watched it - Spanish lesson + entertainment all at the same time!).
I love local independent movie houses and this was a real treat. For $6 you get the movie, a glass of wine or a cerveza (beer); for $1 extra get a popcorn too. We enjoy both seated on primary coloured retro plastic bar stools at the multicoloured, poured resin bar til the movie is ready to begin. We saunter into the theatre, plonk down into comfy seats and they start right into the movie. No trailers, no ads; awesome!

DAY 4 - Thurs Feb 20 - We started to watch the Women's gold medal Olympic hockey game on TV at Flo and Jack's but thought it would be fun to see it at a public venue with others. Got down to Villas Sol restaurant/bar and resumed watching it on the TV there. Before 20 mins were done the coverage got switched to…skiing, skating and now…golf?!? GOLF…WTF?!? Wandered over to Condo Vac in hopes of finding it there but nope. The coverage is the shits. Don't they know this is THE EVENT for  Canadians everywhere?
I write to an American born Canadian friend, "We found out that we lost, boo. The American part of you may not be so sad about this; it's win win whatever had happened for you, eh?"
A day later we find out that we'd in fact won in an incredible overturn of events which must have been crazy exciting to see. This discovery makes it seem even more unjust for the game to have been dropped, ack!!!

As I walk the beach later in the day the troop of howler monkeys, adults and tiny youths, which were earlier settled into the trees over the lounge chairs at Condo Vac (A surprisingly a number of unwary gringos had plonked down underneath them. I can only wonder who will be the first to be inadvertently peed on.) are travelling soundlessly, effortlessly through the trees to their evening resting place. One of the females has a tiny little babe clinging to her belly; the little tail curls over her back and tips to the sky giving it away. Brilliant! Only me and one other person witness their silent passage.

Tonight Flo, Jack, Rod and I meet at Aquasport Bar Restaurant on Playa Hermosa for night of entertainment - pop songs sung in Spanish by local duo one playing guitar, the other on drum box, while we sip cerveza con limón against the backdrop of the setting sun. Ah this is the Pura Vida.

DAY 5 - Fri Feb 21 - Kayaking with Flo and Jack - we explore the bay; witness a short, tremendous flurry of fish stirring up the water all around us; pick up some garbage floating in the water and explore a small beach in front of the future site of another development. The water is warm and inviting but I have to get back for my massage on the beach with Maria. Life is tough.

Maria begins by massaging my feet with a mix of sand and oil and for the next hour I am hers. Though not a trained RMT, her treatment is a "folk" art and she is skilled with great hands. I'm thrilled that we can talk in broken English and Spanish. She looks tired, has had the cold herself and works long hours. She needs some TLC so I offer her a lomi back treatment which she readily accepts. The table is high and there is sand everywhere but somehow I slip into a rhythm, enough for her to get a feel for the modality. She looks blissful as she declares, "It is very spiritual". Success! I smile. It's as good to give treatment as to receive and I have missed giving.

Guests of Flo and Jack's join us for one of Jack's fabulous dinners. We eat on the patio. A lively and stimulating conversation is had regarding the book WE THE ARCTURIANS a book I'd bought for Flo and took to Costa Rica for her. I'd only scanned through it but in an interesting bit of synchronicity: I'd forgotten to add this last night as I was writing and then this morning I get an e-mail from Amazon, a new recommendation…CONNECTING WITH THE ARCTURIANS.

With our host Flo after a day on the beach
and a massage by Maria
DAY 6 - Sat Feb 22 - Went on a boat trip with SEA OF LIFE PAPAGAYO - our host, Michael and his crew mate Armando show us their method of fishing and we catch lots of small groupers, red snappers and one eel. It's a small boat and we share this adventure with Betty and Chris, friends of Flo and Jack's.

I was awestruck as manta rays leap out of the water and land with an audible smack like pancakes. I snorkelled in a secluded spot amongst coral and rock formations, swimming amongst schools of brightly coloured, salt water fish. We are taken to a white sand beach and explore the caves.

The tide is coming in sending walls of waves crashing through one cave. I walk into progressively deeper depths, let myself get sucked out towards the cave's mouth and wait with excited anticipation for the next big wave to wash me back in. Like a kid, "just one more" I shout after each exhilarating ride.  Bonus, nature provides the best neti pot ever; afterwards an endless quantity of snot pours out of me. "I'm cured!"…well maybe not everything but my sinuses are for sure!

As we motor home in high spirits we dig into skewers of chicken, rice and veggies. This private boat trip is so much better than the many overcrowded "booze cruises" that are popular down here. Disembarking is rather dramatic as rogue waves arise from nowhere, crashing over the bow, tossing the small boat around and threatening to capsize us. Michael shouts, "Get out now!" when safe moments arise. We jump into chest high water and get clear as fast as we can. His boat is swamped but they manage to get into calmer waters, bail it out and returns when the waves have subsided with the gear that we had to abandon when we jumped ship. He checks to make sure we are all unharmed and then we say our goodbyes.

The night is capped off with a walk along the beach to a local pizza place for pizza and…of course, a cerveza con limón.

DAY 7 - Sun Feb 23 - We wake up to coverage of the men's Olympic gold medal hockey game and cheer as our team wins gold. The day is for lounging in the pool, on the beach and chill in' before we head out to Tamarindo tomorrow morning.

Down at the beach a representative from Villas Sol helps me contact Michael and arrange a ride with him to Tamarindo for the next morning - yet another service that he offers and for a much more reasonable price than the shuttles that come into the resort.

Coffee and baked sweets are offered daily from 4 - 5 p.m. at Villas Sol and we go down today, as we have many days this week. I've loved watching the cheeky, sneaky, hoodlum Magpie Jays fly off with whole muffins and buns, treats they've stolen from the bread baskets at the serving area. Another, wearing his trademark black necklace, bats his long eyelashes and tosses his feather tufted head back as he brazenly devours packets of sugar looking like an addict with his beak covered in the snowy stuff.

THE HIGHLIGHT was, of course, spending time with our Ontario-based, long-time friends Flo and Jack. Such great company: awesomely delicious food provided by chef Jack (I gladly, gratefully do the dishes and clean up afterwards - a small return for such a great favour.); morning Spanish lessons; spiritual and philosophical discussions on the patio and evening cribbage for the guys. On the mornings that I feel up for it, we do yoga on the patio which gives me an opportunity to give something from my heart in return for their kindness.

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