Day 7 in Costa Rica — Embrace the Chaos

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Before I dive into my Day 7 post I wanted to take an opportunity to thank you my reader for visiting my page.  Also I need your help . . . I have a horrible name for my blog.  “Chris’ Corner of the Universe?”  That sounds like a segment on Sesame Street.  I chose that name because WordPress wouldn’t let me post my Day 1 article without a title for my blog.  Now when I look at the title of my blog I think “Holy Jeebus.  That title is so Takei. (Yes.  He has given the world to use his last name to replace that other word.)”  So I changed the title to “Holy Jeebus a Travel Blog!”  If you have a better name for what I should call this online journal of mine I would love to hear it in the comment section below!

It’s 5:30 am in the morning and I have some time to check out my surroundings:

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This time we stayed at an actual hotel.  It’s not a five star resort, but it does have showers in our own rooms.  This place also has what some of us consider the modern oasis:  Wifi!  The conduit that connects us to people from back home, updates us on the news from the world, and allows us to show off our pictures to our friends.  You know what else wifi does?  Make me bilingual in Spanish!  Thank you Google Translate!  I was able to use my phone to find out that the stores open at “Seis!”

So off we go with my energetic and enthusiastic team!  Anybody want to go for a run?

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Nevermind.  Forget that I asked.

Ever see a volcano near a town?  No?  Well here’s your chance.  This is the Arenal Volcano near La Fortuna.

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After our morning coffee, we went to a nearby grocery store to pick up some local food.  And guess who the owners are:  Chinese people!  Wow!  In Costa Rica too!  I have great respect for foreign entrepreneurs who can operate a thriving business in another country.  Yay Capitalism!  And like back home, they don’t speak a lick of English (I’m JUST KIDDING.  And for that matter why would they? This is Costa Rica).  Good thing my charade skills are level “expert” : ).

After our morning coffee, we had the pleasure of meeting this warm hearted animal:

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She didn’t have a collar so we just named her “Bridgette.”  I think she liked the person taking the photo better than me!  Note:  Check out my shirt tan!  Bridgette actually followed us all the way back to the hotel!

So our first adventure of the day is mountain biking!  I haven’t gone biking in years!  So I embrace this challenge with two objectives:

1. Get freaking dirty!

2. Even out this shirt tan.  It’s f*cking 35+ degrees Celsius with humidity!  Goodbye shirt!

I’ve been biking before . . . as a kid.  On a bmx.  And I was a fat kid.  So when I say I haven’t been biking for years, I mean YEARS.  And my biking experience is me on a flat surface (see my Day 6 post about my hometown being flat).  So biking uphill is a new experience for me.  And so is changing gears.  I was really pulling up the rear on my mountain bike.  Sort of like when I participated in foot races as a kid . . . who was fat : )

Despite the learning curve on my bike, I persevered and was able to catch up with the rest of the group.  Another bad ass shot?  Absolutely!

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After about an hour of riding we stopped for snacks and went for a swim in a nearby river.  And here’s where I took the coveted “Asian shot.”  What do you need for an “Asian Shot?”  Well a camera and an Asian throwing up deuces!  In this case two Asians!  Super Asian Shot!

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After another hour and a half-ish of riding rocky hills, we end our adventure by celebrating with homemade flour tortillas and cervezas!  Also had a treat to hear some flamenco music from one of our team members:

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Pretty fun morning adventure if you ask me.  I got a lot of physical exercise, went swimming in open water (which I’m quite fond of now if you read my past posts), and bonded more with my new friends.  PURA VIDA!

After we go back to the hotel I got ready for my afternoon adventure.  I put on my shorts, dri-fit shirt, and my sh*t-kicking boots for some CAVING!!!!  If you have ever seen the movie “The Descent” this is exactly what I’m doing, without the crazy monsters.

So my team and I are driven to another destination deep in the jungle and are greeted by another set of friendly tour guides.  After some friendly introductions they hand us masks and instruct us to put them on when we get into the caves.  We wrongly assumed that it was to prevent us from breathing in the dust and the debris.  “It’s actually to prevent bat pee from entering your mouth when you look up.”  Gotcha.

Another very important point about going into the cave: This two hour tour will only be one and a half hours long.  This is because there is a storm moving in.  If we stayed the full two hours the rain would have flooded the caves and we would drown.  There’s a chance I could die on this expedition?  What a fantastic trip!  Let’s f*cking do this!  Bad ass shot of my team and I with our “bat-pee-prevention-masks”!

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First impressions of a cave in Costa Rica:  it’s cold, dark, slippery, and there’s jagged rocks everywhere.  Guess what’s on the jagged rocks?  Bat poop.  That’s why it’s slippery Gringo.  Awesome.  If I slip and fall bat poop will break my fall, jagged rocks will break my face, and water will carry my body down into the caves, never to be found again.  Pffft.  Like that will happen.  My pink buff is so pink you can find me in any canyon, ravine, or gorge.  Plus you will always be reminded to support breast cancer research.  Remember there’s nothing more manly than supporting breasts : )

MOMENT OF ZEN:  I learned that the Rio de la Muerte flowed through the caves.  The history of this river is that there was a tribe that lived prior to the Spanish Conquistadors arrived.  This tribe had their own culture and language (not Spanish).  When the Spanish Conquistadors arrived to colonize the country, there was a battle between the tribe and the Spanish armies.  The battle was one-sided: the tribe fought with spears and bows and arrows and the Spanish soldiers had horses and guns.  The bodies of the warriors of the tribe were dumped in the river.  There was so much blood that the river flowed red.  Hence, the river was named “Rio de la Muerte.”  Does this still happen in the world?  Where the first world uses their strength to exploit the third world?  Does this happen in your community?  Where the strong bully the weak?  I apologize for taking the spirit of this blog down a notch, but that’s what I felt when I heard that story.  Want to know what the best way is to fight for the little guy?  Volunteerism.  There are tons of organizations that help people who are lost in life, and need someone in their corner.  One of my faves is here.  Always fight for the little guy, when the little guy’s only option is to fight. : )

Due to the shorter time we have on this adventure, our objectives are to visit the oldest chamber and the farthest chamber.  So we traverse steep inclines, dive chest deep into water to creep through narrow crevices in the rock, walk through caverns FULL of bats, and find our way into the farthest chamber in the cave. . . .  and we turn our headlamps off.  We just listened to the river.  This was probably the most calming point of my trip.  To lose myself in that cave . . . to embrace the darkness, the unknown, the unfamiliar, the cold, the strange, the foreign . . . the chaos.

After we exited the cave, we cracked open some cervezas and celebrated not getting trapped in the cave!  I would have to say that cave trip was a very memorable experience!

As soon as we got back to our hotel from the caves, we went out for dinner at a local restaurant, and then took off to our evening adventure:  Hot Springs Part 2!  This time the springs was more natural as it was under a bridge.  Good thing we brought our own beer because there was no swim-up bar this time!  We swam, shared good times, and went under a small waterfall and into a cave!  Not a bad way to end the day full of physical activity!  Not dying is nice too! LOL!

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MOMENT OF ZEN:  Many times in life we find that things just don’t go our way.  Whether it be in love, career, sports, and everything in between, you can’t win them all.  You just have to pick up the mess that is in front of you, sort it out, and move forward with life.  It’s not the easiest thing to do . . .  accepting pain, disappointment, heartbreak, and loss.  But often I found if I welcomed these feelings, it was easier for me to accept them, and then forget them so I can GROW from the experience.  That’s why I’m on this trip.  To face the UNCOMFORTABLE and UNFAMILIAR so I can be UNAFRAID of my misguided perceptions of danger and fear.  So I encourage you to anticipate the darkness, revel in the feelings of being lost, and embrace the chaos that life can be.  Maybe you’ll find that you’re stronger than you think you are.  Actually, that’s exactly what you’ll find ; )  PURA VIDA!

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