Day 1 in Costa Rica — Goodbye Comfort Zone

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Greetings!  I’ve always wanted to start a blog about something important to me, and I’ve always wanted to go on an adventure.  So what better time to start one than about my trip to Costa Rica!  I’m going to try to write from the heart so please forgive all the grammatical errors, punctuation, and rules of our English language that frustrate us when we communicate.  So my blog will feature things like : ), LOL, “dicrickulous” (my fun way of saying “ridiculous”), and “choc-nilla-berry” (what I call Neapolitan Ice Cream.  I understand that the people of Naples may have invented the combination of three flavours to mimic the three colours of the flag of Italy BUT, Choc-Nilla-Berry is much more fun to say, and I think it is easier to market than Neapolitan Ice Cream, or Napolean’s Ice Cream, or whatever : ) ).  Hope you are still with me because I think I just PO’d every English teacher out there.  And I thought that was unpossible (Simpsons quotes will also be featured on my blog) !

My idea for this trip came from a burning desire to overcome fear.  I am deathly afraid of going swimming in open water.  I’ve taken swimming lessons before and have swam in swimming pools of various lengths, but those are in a controlled environment.  I wanted something more challenging.  Also, I have a fear of heights.  I’ve been on roller coasters and rock climbed before, but those always started from the ground.  I wanted to start from the top this time.  Waterfall rappelling seemed like a good start.

With my fears in tow I marched into the Adventure Travel company and told them that I wanted an ADVENTURE.  No resorts, no shopping in malls, no fancy restaurants, no ritzy hotels, and no one else telling me what they want in this trip.  This is MY vacation.  I wanted to be uncomfortable in an unfamiliar place with complete strangers.  I want to GROW as a person.  So the trip “Costa Rica Active Adventure” was recommended to me and I booked it!

The Friday night before my flight I didn’t sleep!  For the first part of the evening I was out with my fight family Team Bushido MMA celebrating my coach’s birthday (FYI the Score Fighting Series stated that Nabil “The Thrill” Khatib still fights like he’s in his twenties.  He’s an ageless wonder).  For the second part of the evening a long time friend visited the city so we danced the night away until I had to leave for the airport at 3:00 am!

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ImageGoing through security checks is always fun.  How is the “random selection” random if I’m picked ALL THE TIME?  You put your arms up in this chamber and the walls spin for about 3 seconds and apparently the guards can see you naked.  Whenever I go through the body scanner I think of the scene between Will Ferrell and Jon Heder in the movie “Blades of Glory” :  “Just thought you’d like to see what a skater’s body really looks like.  Go ahead.  Drink it in.  Don’t be shy.  Looking is for free, touching is going to cost you something.” 🙂  The full scene is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwGZDfu-PZI  (Movie quotes are also featured on my blog).

My 6 am flight first took me to Washington.  I swear the plane was smaller than a city bus!  And it was cold!  Thank God I had a jacket or it would have an uncomfortable ride.

I landed in Washington and then I saw something that I have never seen before:  a line-up in the men’s washroom.  I had to walk pretty damn far for this washroom so I swear this was the only men’s washroom for like an entire wing of an airport!  Men always joke about how women take so damn long in the washroom.  However, when men wait in line in the washroom we turn into women!  Guys are complaining about the line, we start re-designing the airport to strategically place washrooms to benefit us, we talk about other washrooms in other cities, etc. . . . One guy came back in panicking about leaving his cell phone and bag in the washroom!  Women!

During my stop over in Washington I met someone who was also part of my group on this Active Adventure tour!  She was also from Canada — hailing from the great city of Toronto!  Perfect!  I now have someone to trip if I am being chased by jaguars : )  She’s a Toronto Maple Leaf Fan so I didn’t think anyone would miss her.  LOL!  Go Jets!

The second plane was much better.  I had the full three seats to myself.  I thought this was going to be a comfortable ride.  Direct TV on the flight?  F Yeah!  I have to pay?  BOO!  I just passed out.

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We land in Costa Rica and I moonwalk through security check!  I was sure that my powder detergent was going to be mistaken for cocaine.  Good thing it wasn’t because I didn’t plan on visiting Taser City!

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Hot damn it is HOT DAMN in San Jose, Costa Rica!  38 degrees C!  There was a G Adventures taxi that picked us up.  However, the third person listed on the Welcome sign above was not the same person who got in the taxi with us . . . Wherever you are Miriam I hope you are alive and well!

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We arrived at the hotel, dropped our stuff, and me and my new partner-in-crime ventured out to explore San Jose to find some local cuisine.  Wow there is a lot of barb wire in this city — houses, schools, grocery stores, the “Rehabilitation Centre” (and that’s when we turned around and started walking the other direction because we know what a jail looks like : ) ).

Guess what I discovered today?  I don’t speak Spanish!  And we look like Gringos.  This is going to be a fun expedition : )  I tried to ask a cop for a good place to eat and all he said to me was “No English”.  I’m sure everybody is nice and willing to help, but conventional communication is taking a backseat right now.  Not a lot of people took USD either, so finding a local restaurant (which is my #1 priority when visiting a new country) proved to be challenging.

And then it rained.  Wow did it ever rain.  It was “build-an-ark-and-start-collecting-two-of-every-animal” type of rain.  Mini-rivers started forming on the street (I recall seeing a coconut float by).  So we sought shelter under awnings.  So here’s a rundown of my first 30 minute experience in Costa Rica: we are drenched, hungry, have no usable currency, kind of lost, and are unable to communicate with the locals.  I wanted to be uncomfortable on my vacation and boy did I get it!

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So what did we do?  We LAUGHED and went on our merry way : )  I guess its that old saying “Life isn’t about weathering the storm, but dancing in the rain.”  I’m not dancing in the rain, especially not on an empty stomach.  So guess what we find?  It’s the quintessential North American oasis:  a McDonald’s!  And they take Visa!  Again, I don’t speak Spanish but I know a what quarter pounder with cheese looks like!  So after a game of charades during our order we got our food and I rock my meal like a champ!  I was thinking “F*ck the folllowing hashtags: #eatclean #fitness #healthyeating #leaneating #diet #stayfit #eatwell”

In the evening we were back at our hotel meeting the other members in our group.  People from Germany, Holland, UK, the US, and of course Toronto.  6 people actually from Tranto!  6 chances to escape jaguars!  Go Jets!  LOL!

We had a briefing with our tour guide who was also from the region.  Here are the first few things I learned about Costa Rica:

1. Toilet paper goes into the trash.  Not the toilet.  Costa Rican plumbing is not equipped to take the extra debris;

2. ATMs open from 6 am – 10 pm;

3. 500 Colones = 1 USD;

4. “Pura Vida” means “Pure Life” — it is used in the same context as “Cheers”, or “Yay”

5. “Tico Time” means punctuality is not practiced here : )

After our briefing we had a chance to all eat dinner together and learn about our team.  I love meeting new people.  I think it’s one of the most underrated joys in life.  Either through professions, sports, school, movies, or whatever . . . finding connections with other people, especially when you are worlds apart, is always a trip worth making : )

I will end today’s blog with a MOMENT OF ZEN: A resident of Costa Rica (who spoke English) said to me:  “It’s a dream to live where you live.  You pay to come here to see the jungle.  We are sick of it.”  I guess for the next 12 days I’ll be trading my concrete jungle for the real jungle.  Even though our environments are very different, we each have our own dangers and threats to fend off.  Back home I have to meet deadlines, beat traffic, fight with IT, and constantly think about advancing my career.  What’s in the jungle of Costa Rica?  Not sure, but I’m going to find out.  The grass is always greener from the other side my friend.  I’m hoping to discover the colours of your country during this trip, and develop a stronger appreciation for the palette of paint in my life : )  PURA VIDA!!!

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2 responses to “Day 1 in Costa Rica — Goodbye Comfort Zone

  1. Pingback: Day 7 in Peru — Into the Arms of Pachamama | Holy Jeebus a Travel Blog!·

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