AV in Costa Rica (continued)

Hey friends –

This email would have been impossible to send without the help of traveling buddies who joined heads with me to repair my broken trailer in a torrential rain on the side of a road. Or without having met some cool dudes smoking doobies next to their dump truck who happily removed screws from their rig in order to fix my broken axel, then waved us on our way. I wouldn’t have made it to this sleepy little surfer town if I hadn’t been fueled by many, many meals of beans and rice with fresh slabs of white fish and salsa covering everything – or a few bottles of refreshing Imperial cerveza. Poking our heads out of tents on completely isolated beaches, the white sand dazzling against dark palm trees because of massive rains during the night, is lovely for a minute. Sweat beads speckle our skin instantaneously, so every day begins with a mad dash into the surf before pedaling to our next destination. I’d have died already without those swims, baths, and mosquito bite disinfectants.

Our clan of four get chased by many things on the road. It adds an exciting franticness when swerving enormous potholes and huge mud puddles – sometimes it’s necessary to pedal furiously through shallow rivers that cover 20 feet of road. Dogs think we’re a hoot and run after us, barking madly, but never get too close. Little kids (beautiful!) are fascinated with my trailer and chase us too, probably hoping for a ride. Kate and I get chased with whistles and air smooches from the señors while Scott and Jesse wish they were chased more often by all the pretty señoritas. It’s alright though – we make just as many generous friends along the way. We’re a fun crowd, and people are drawn to our seemingly VERY atypical mode of travel. They approach us curiously and wonderfully adventurous and spontaneous experiences are common products and gifts of new friendships. We all speak Spanish at varying degrees. Scotty is almost fluent and consequently a life saver at times. Jesse can carry on an extremely animated and lively conversation though I think he frequently believes the chat is about something entirely different from what the Ticos intend. When lost, I can ask our whereabouts from cowboys on horseback on isolated roads at the base of alive, green mountains, order our standard meals of beans and rice, and politely decline marriage proposals made to Kate and myself. Kate can successfully label three kinds of fruit in Spanish.

All of us, therefore, can easily get to know our new friends and join them on the adventures personably. When Juan, a nutty, liberal, long-haired Tico packed us into his jittery 20-year-old Subaru and drove us to a river, where we switched gears and piled into an old raft that needed to be frequently refilled with air while paddling down the river, instructed us to keep toes inside because the water was crocodile infested, we all caught the drift. We all quickly made silent, mental plans of escape in case we DID fall out of the rapidly deflating raft, but then relaxed because how could you not just forget about worries when gazing at noisy, lush, layered rainforests and listening to and watching howler and spider monkeys frolic in the branches dipping into the green? We spent 8 hours that day silently sneaking up on crocodiles soaking up heat on rocks at the waters edge, trying to perfectly imitate the startlingly ferocious call of the howler monkeys, pushing each other out of the raft and laughing at the absolute terror on each other’s faces, and unintentionally falling (Scotty gets the prize with a total of 5 spills) off the boat when hurtling through white water, guided by a very inexperienced young Tico kid. Wonderful.

Naturally, you’re wondering about the biking aspect of this trip. We spend our days utterly drenched in sweat and watching the weight shed off our tummies as we exert ourselves for hours on end. The Ticos are wonderfully encouraging and supportive, with waves and cheers from all, and frequent hollers of unintelligible words of support with Lance Armstrong’s name almost always present. While they are always helpful and cheerful, they also think we’re entirely nuts because, frankly, we are probably the hardest workers in the entire country during the hottest parts of the day. Everybody is chilling on the side of the road, and if they are moving, doing it very slowly, while we all race around and push ourselves to the point of throwing up at times. We made a communal agreement to slow the pace down a little bit.

We’re heading south – towards the rains. We’ll be in touch, have a wonderful holiday, everyone.