Thursday, August 21, 2008

A day in Costa Rica


We just got back from a week long trip to Costa Rica. I heard from a friend that American airlines was going to change their reward miles program so I should use them now. We wanted to go back to Costa and take all the kids and allow me to surf during the BIG season. We flew into San Jose and rented a 7 passenger SUV and headed into the mountains. We went up to the Arenal volcano and went to hot springs at "Baldi ". The kids said it was one of the highlights of the trip with many pools throughout the lush gardens that averaged 104 degrees from the volcanic heat. We then headed up to the Hacienda Guachipelin , a hotel/ranch up on the side of another volcano.
Here is one of my emails back during the trip that i was asked to post....remember that I did these at night after dinner and several Imperial's (local beer).

It's day 3 on the Adventura Costa Rica. We are at the Haciedna Guachipelin for another nite. Today we were up at 7am and really stiff from the climb up and jump off the waterfall yesterday but this is kinda an ECO-hotel so the hot water is solar and if someone showers at night then there is no hot water in the morning....like this morning. We had breakfast , more gallo pinto....pronounced "Guy-yo peen-toe"....black beans and rice. We have it every day, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it's typical costa rican food. At 8am we were at the stables for the horse back ride to the hot springs,mud baths and volcano. I haven't been on a horse in many years and todays ride ,1 1/2 hours meant serious butt pain all the way around. The trail was steep and incredibly rocky...the horses slipped constantly with one going down to his knees. Sarahs horse we all renamed "El-Diablo" since it got into a kicking bout with Beths horse and bit Dani's ....the lead Gaucho had to discipline him( needed Dr Dick to do some ass kickin). When we went as far as the horses could go we dismounted and and then hiked 3-4 miles up the volcano , had to cross some suspect suspension bridges, a long tree over a gorge like Indiana Jones and cross a set of rapids going rock to rock....no BS here this river was the real deal. The water fall at the top was awesome and very cold..oddly only about a kilometer away we came to the bubbling pools of volcanic mud ...248 degrees.....you dont get in these. We went by so many you lose count and the kids were pissed at this point....the joy being sucked out of them by the shear work load of getting up this volcano.
Beth and I were having a blast....it pays to be in shape. Horse back down part of the mountain in the rain to the Symbiosis Spa....a hot mud bath spa on the side of the volcano. Oh by the way...they forgot to bring the lunches.....cranking the kids P.O.-meter into the redline area. We first were told to spend 10 minutes in the sauna (to open our pores)...we all dutifully piled in as they shut the door....jeez it's really hot in there. Serious squawking at this point....very concerned about breathing and how much time is left before they open the door. Every breath is an effort. Polly , Beth and Mac move down to the floor... where it is supposedly not as hot and there was a rumor that there was more air . I stayed on the middle bench with Murphy, Sarah and Dani on the top row.
At the 5 minute mark it is deathly quite as every one concentrates on breathing.....then Murphy quietly says "saftey"....(remember we have all been on a constant diet of gallo pinto) Sarah blurts out " Oh God No Murphy...but it was to late. The acrid sulfur smell made the volcanic mud pits smell like fresh laundry. I'm thinking about what the spa director said about opening your pores and what this is going to do to my skin. I'm certain the last molecules of oxygen are now gone. Once out of the sauna we were marched over to the hot mud pit to cover ourselves with hot volcanic mud....again I'm rehashing the whole open pore thing. Dutifully we cover every square inch of skin with mud.....and wait another 10 minutes. Now you can't actually expect to put mud and the feral children together and not expect trouble....it wasnt long in coming. It was sort of a Coasta Rican mud wrestling extravaganza. The British family at the mud bath at the same time were somewhat taken aback...."Oh Dear God". To top things off ....the showers quit working. What to do....naturally we hit the hot springs and to nobody's surprise instantly changed the color of the water to a deep mud brown. That mud doesnt come off very well either. We then ...back in our wet clothes....with residual mud attached..... got back on the horses for the ride back down...another hour. When we got back ...after all this Beth and I decided on a couples massage.....we loaded up on lunch (more gallo pinto) and some muscle relaxants ( coconut rum) and headed to the massage. It was a man and a woman ( who had striking witch-like features)...usually I get the dude because beth is uncomfortable with guys giving massages, I am also uncomfortable with guys giving me massages and actually it ranks right up there with witches. Well, I got the witch. Lights dimmed and under a towel she began working on me.....at this point in time..... so did the gallo pinto. I was rumbling audibly and I think she thought she could help and started working diligently on my ab's. Bad idea. I was able to somehow hold back the tide but it was like someone squeezing an unopened bag of chips....the kind made with Olestra. She then started lighting candles....I'm not sure if this is some wicken behaviour or if she thinks striking matches is going to help. Next she applies some liquid to my face and returns to the massage....rumblings now under control. After about 15 minutes she wipes the stuff off my face....with a warm wet cloth....I now realize that this is some kind of skin ex foliation treatment.
Sort of a cross between the gelatinous rust remover used at paint and body shops and a hoof rasp. I felt like Ben Stiller in Mystery Men as Captain Furious...." heart rate rising...blood pressure increasing....skin temperature approaching the surface of the sun". OMG.....WTF.....this @#%& burns. If I have any skin cancer it is now gone....along with every wrinkle...blemish and any distinguishing scars. The rumbling starts again...........now Beth hears it....I think about saying "safety" . My mind is rapidly working on the physics... the open flame....how far from my ass to the candle and back to the volatile liquid on my face. This is going to be really bad. I think Cruella figures this out and they both leave...the concentration on my face evident ......the volcano erupts...how do you say "safety in spanish........Beth is convulsing under her towel and in the distance there is snickering on the other side of the door with a Spanish accent. I have Beth check my face....not sure if she will recognize me....I feel like a burn victim. We get dressed and they are waiting for us on the other side of the door.
They are very concerned when we go to walk back to the room " you are very hot....perhaps sick" they wrap us in towels ...I want to tell him that Dr Mengela just deep fried my face..of course I'm hot... he wants to come with us and use an umbrella
so we don't get worse...but we wave him off and return to our room, where the numbing anesthetic qualities of coconut rum awaits.
Tonight for dinner....you guessed it...gallo pinto

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