Thursday, January 17, 2008

One DayDrinker in the wilds of Central America...

Hello Daydrinkers,

In December on 2007 a group of six DayDrinkers from all over were supposed to get together in Costa Rica for a DDS adventure. Life interceded and most were forced to cancel. One brave member went out on his own and threw himself into the wild without looking back. If you know Jordan, this is not unusual. This journal is a sampling of his trip. Enjoy it and let it inspire all of us to try and get together as DayDrinkers and take over the world.

Costa Rica - Dec 3 2007
Dec 3 2007
I arrive at 6.40 am after one of the only flights I have ever slept almost the entire way. I had met a couple, Dave (American) and Tatiana (Russian) who we're traveling together. Dave was a good friend of Joel who is a tenant and friend of mine in Venice. Coincidentally they were going to Costa Rica at the same time on the same flight, so Joel connected us in the airport by conference call. We met up before the flight and spoke before boarding. They are avid travelers too and have traveled to many of the same places I have. After we landed we found each other, I went to get my rental car. They were jumping onto another flight to get to the southwest Da Osa Peninsula. They had a few hours so we decided to go for breakfast in a local town. After wards I dropped them off and embarked on my journey.

Driving in costa rica is profoundly different than anywhere else. There are so few road signs that you just guess if you are going the right way. I guess it makes you meet more people that way because I was asking around a lot!

So far, texting is the only way for me to communicate. Email on the blackberry is not working from here yet. I have to figure that out. I have to keep it sparse because I get charged for each outgoing text.

Met some interesting people today. Picked them up hitchhiking up Volcan Paos. Both have been living/studying in England, one was half Indian/English who is small, fast boat designer and the other lives in England but is Costa Rican studies fine art and new age media and she is sexy as all hell, which is fitting, since we were hiking in the devils cauldron. Both have English accents, she speaks Spanish and has an interesting mix of Spanish-English accent.

We all Hiked up to Volcan Paos today and saw the devils farts (the sulfuric toxic discharge coming from the lime green liquid goo that is in the crater). This goo measures over 2,632 meters deep. We continued our hike upward to the lagoon and the misty fog revealed the massive lake up on the top of this crater. So little bacteria live in here due to acidic content. Nothing can live in this.

I left the two at the bottom of the mountain and took off on my path to Arenal. They had to get back to their car which was being fixed in Alahuela. There are garages everywhere. It is common to have a lot of car problems here since the roads are in poor repair. Pot holes the size of basketballs. Every day drivers that should be training on the nascar circuit. The entire country drives without a strain of thought of common courtesy. Amazing how many near death experiences happened today, that I witnessed and was a part of. People just walk on the road even at night, missing cars by inches, dogs, cows, potholes, bats, horses, there are so many obstacles that keep you on your toe on the accelorator and your heel on the brake.

I drive all day and into the night and land at the Volcan Arenal. Got a small cabinisa on the backside of the volcano, away from the hectic tourist mess of the front near la fortuna. I have been driving for hours and went off road to find a spot to land. I have no idea what is around me because it is black outside. Going to hike the volcano in the morning.

I am in the jungle, and there are over two hundred species of snakes outside this cabin. Literally. 75 feet away there is a snake farm. I am so there in the morning.

It is dark, bugs are smashing into the window. As I write I am being eaten by fleas which seem to not like their home infiltrated by me. I will win this battle!

I stop in to beat down this new world.

c 4 2007
I awake, I had beaten those damn fleas. I had wrapped myself with a large sheet I had brought and it was enough to combat the flea forces.

I always travel with my large sheet, reminiscent of my 'bit' the blanket I would carry and wrap around my arm whenever and wherever while I was young child. The sheet is great for napping with on the beach or in a car, in a hammock or to fend off flea attacks! Multipurpose that does not take up much space. The bigger, the king-size, the better.

I got up to see the most amazing sight out of my window. I open the curtains to see the volcano spewing ash from its top from my room. This was an amazing lucky location to bed.

I drove through Parque Nacional Arenal and scouted the hot springs and other natural wonders there. Picked up a cute girl hitchhiking and took her to La Fortuna. She spoke no English so I had to speak entirely in Spanish which wasn’t a problem because I don't. We laughed a lot though. She kept telling me how macho and sexy my forearms were. I told her how beautiful she was and how we should make love under the waterfall. We winked, we embraced, we kissed.
She quickly screams and I open my eyes to a tree heading right for me. I swerve the car back onto the road and yet to figure out why whenever I fantasize during the day my eyes close and I undoubtably get in trouble. She teaches me a whole dictionary of Spanish derogatory terms and also some sign language for stop the car and let me the fuck out.
I dropped her off on the north part of La Fortuna and I went to an internet cafe to check some emails, then I are the crazy women talking to some cops on a motorcycle and pointing my direction so I dike out the back and hop into the car, off to lunch.

After lunch in La Fortuna I headed up on the north side of Laguna Arenal. Along that awesome scenic road, I met the owner of a coffee shop, his daughter and his son. Amazing place and view. I got directions to a short cut after laughing about the lack of signage in Costa Rica. He gave awesome directions but there were still some forks in the road I had no answer for so I would just take the one that I thought and by some miracle I would find where I needed to be and I got up to the highway I needed. To this day I have no idea how it works there but whenever I came to a fork I guessed and it landed me where I needed to be. Maybe both fork legs go to the same place but I just don't know.

I headed north to the border to Nicaragua. By the time I made it was dark and very dusty with a shit load of shipping trucks trying to cross the border. Wow that was a serious journey. Chaos in the darkness, no organization, or at least maybe it was just South American organization, but I was completely at a loss and no one spoke English or had any signs which made it that much more exciting. I had a swarm of locusts surrounding me (kids trying to 'help' me navigate through) as I was trying to figure out all the lines and stamps and paperwork.

Being that I did not crack a book before traveling here, besides looking at a map, I had no idea what the hell I was doing in Central America, Costa Rica, let alone going into Nicaragua. Why you ask? Fuck if I know. Just seemed like the thing to do at the time.
So here I am trying to push away the kids and maintain my composure in front of the dusty truckers and yet not to stick out like a tourist gringo. Well I failed at that.

The stamp to the passport went through ok, for $7 but when I went to move through I found that I needed more paperwork for my car. When the officials found out I was driving a rental I then found out I was not able to pass through.
Fuck it, I was ready to go back to Costa Rica, I did not need to deal with the language barriers, the non stop harangue of the kids, and the headache of the entire mess. Then I happened upon an official that spoke partial English. I explained what was going on and he understood, I winked at him and he understood. Now we are in business, he went to the top official and we all became good friends. A few handshakes, signatures, a couple twenties, and I am through to the other side, the Nicaraguans are going to love me!

I barrel through their countryside at mach speed and land in Granada, a city center that has seen way better days. Entering the city I am immediately surrounded by thousands of Nicaraguans. There is some party in the city center and it is closing down just as I arrive. My car is surrounded which makes me a little nervous. Not knowing the party thang, I wonder if this is how they greet all new entrants to their city?

I do not know anything about this country and this includes dangers. So I go to the city plaza and look for a hotel, nothing but grand opulence, Nicaraguan style here.

As walk in I see the twinkle in the retina of the gay desk clerk and use it to my favor. Without my triple AAA card I get 20% off! The room was sweet and by the courtyard pool.

After that long drive and entrance to Nicaragua I was ready for a bed. But not without going out to get in some trouble first. 'Where is the after hours party' I asked the clerk.

He told me the location and I was out the door. Three blocks away, no problem. I slam right into a bar of my liking.

Una Tona! por favor!
And now I am friends with the bartender, a Nicaraguan who has served 16 years with the us military. Figure that!

He introduces me to all his friends and the drink is on, even he. Into the night we while away and the laughter subsides as my head needs sleep. I slink away before anyone notices, the beer was less than a dollar each! Love that!

Dec 5 2007
Woke up late because all the windows are closed off making it black. Damn I wanted to see this town, took a shower and went to breakfast. Huevos Rancheros, tea, orange juice. I bail, pay my hotel bill, pack up and hit the road. I am free. I tool around the plaza and then hop in car to see Granada. It bores me so I leave.
Heading back out of town I am amazed at how many transgenders I see, what is it with Latin communities these days?
I see it more and more. Maybe just more acceptable to be open about it and it was always there?

I see a faux female is screaming all kinds of Spanish foul language at a cabbie who has a client and just laughs. This 'female' is kind of lazy in the female peculiarities. Facial stubble coming in, kind of jowly, scary more than anything.

I need to leave this city. On the way out I see a dead horse on the side of the street. Hmmm. Foreshadowing? Godfather moment?

I decide to leave a different way than I arrived. When I came in, the road was unbelievably pothole so I chose to for the main highway out

As you could imagine, big mistake, about the same potholes quota but double the distance.

I persevere. I start passing cars and trucks, all is well. Then up ahead I pass this massive truck carrying cinder blocks and there I see two cops talking to another car, they are me and flag me over. We understand each other immediately and I give them a twenty to fend of the ticket they were waving at me to follow them to the courthouse with.
Best twenty I ever spent.
I am so out of this country now!

I high tail it to the coastline to check out the surf spots. First things first, right.

I try to deal with the awful maps south America seem to love and see a few signs about two brothers surfing and camp destination. I follow along some fucking more terrible roads.

Finally I make it to the coast. Everything takes forever to travel around here. The roads are bumpy, dry, rutted, puddled, muddy, and generally fucked up.

I make it to two brothers surfing to find it at the top of a mountain overlooking Nicaraguas best sued spots, and not two brothers, but a father wrangling twenty or so laborers on construction on his new house. He has a great setup of three cabinas built and he is shaving off the top of his mountain to make his home. He is screaming for his hits as we talk. I find out he is the American father to two brothers surfing. His kids are 9 and 13. Ahh

Anyway I feel he is happy to talk to a westerner and he speaks for a long time as I ask everything about surfing, life, and real estate here.

After way longer than I expected to stay, I take off to speak with a century 21 realtor, another American, Ross who was surfing with Robert earlier that morning.

Again I needed to know about the surf breaks and the real estate. Luckily Ross had another appointment to go to so he nailed but before he left I met some other ex pats who are screenwriters who live there. I pick there brain and we laugh about shit in America.
I take off after exchanging emails and I head back to Costa Rica. Again another headache getting my rental car back into Costa Rica but I make it.

It is dark and I am tired but I heard of this cool beach that is a cool place to check out. It is on the map but hard to find. I must have blown passed it but stop in a restaurant p grab a beer and some food.
I meet a couple of Costs Ricans. Great people, nice, friendly. Like to laugh. We say and sojur in both broken English and broken Spanish. We laughed a lot, both at the mangey dog walking around or about the millions of bugs attracted to the lights. There is a bridge my the restaurant. I ask if there are kokodilas in there, su senor, he responds, lots of them, big. I don't know why I bloc that, but I tease him that the dog would make good entertainment to dangle over the bridge. He understood the joke and laughed with me. He was kind.
He told me where to find Santa Rosa, my destination. “8 kilometers that way”. I finished my filet cosada and we had a long goodbye.

Good people.
I race up to the park. I don't know what the draw to go there was but duck I had it. I had this romantic notion to wake up on the beach with the sun.

I found the entrance and it was not easy. It was a national park, but like everything else, it is barely marked.

I head in and the gate is open but too late for anyone to be manning it. I blow through. It takes about twenty minutes to get to the inside, a red tarmac road slotted with black tarmac interspersed. I am tired and it all blends together. It is about 9.30PM. When I see the signs to Naranjo Beach I get excited. I have no idea why I have chosen to come here. I just heard it was beautiful and cool.

Ok, this is where the adventure begins.

I am alone. No one or car, camp or person in sight. It is black, I am surrounded by den se jungle and I have just walked through a tour of the world most deadly snakes all from this region. I am heading down a trail that takes twenty minutes going 90 kilometers an hour off a dead highway to get too. I see a sign that reads camping area here. Another sign reads, this road is extremely dangerous, basically impassable, pass at your risk. I continue and pass into the void. I swear to god I was not afraid at this point. It was a no brainer. Of course I want to go in. Now I had no prior knowledge as to what I was going into, why I was going or what was down there.

I have lived my life like this. Call is stupidity or call it balls, I don't know, but I love the excitement it gives me.

I progress and are tracks but they could have been days old. Into the dense jungle I go. Blind faith, birds, animals bugs are all in my headlights, fleeing out of the way.

The trail begins somewhat simply, through tall trees and tall grasses, vines, and I start to go down into a long decline. Slowly the dirt road trail turns into rugged ruts from muddy days gone by. Then the dirt turns to rock and then that turns to small boulders intermixed with washed away mud leaving gaping holes and massive gaps of drivable land. Navigating this during the day would be hard but doable, doing this at night, alone and not knowing why I was doing it started to play with my mind. It was a 12 kilometer trail that was taking me about two hours to navigate due to the complexity of the off roading. I was tense, sweating, and I did not want to put because I had heard a loud roar similar to that of a jaguar. My mind was telling me I was being hunted. I did go out to survey the best path at times because with headlights at night going over boulders in a compact SUV, you just cannot see all the intricasies of the path in front. One mistake could cause havoc on your gas tank, your oil pan, transmission, or your struts.

I was going downhill for the entire two hours so if there was a rain, going back up, if I could find a spot to turn around, would be impossible. The tires would slip of the boulders and the mud would slip away giving zero traction until it all dried away. By that time my waling out over forty kilometers I would surely have been eaten by something in this jungle especially since my batteries were dead on my flashlight and I have no machete.
So I could not have even seen the type of venomous snake that I would have stepped on to tell the medical team what kind it was. I was fucked. I had seen no sign of human life and do not know if what I seek is even here. I am sweating from the workout of pushing the SUV to its absolute limits, and moving back and forth over the trail to manage it.

I am exhausted. I come up to a puddle too close to the edge of a ravine. This is it. I am done if this mid slips away aka romancing the stone.

It seems I have been out here forever. My gas is less than a 1/4 tank and I keep switching from 4 wheel drive to 2 wheel drive to conserve fuel. It is dropping rapidly and I am decent, it will take twice as much heading up out this mountain and I will need to be in 4 wheel drive most the way and that is only if it is dry. I know it is only 12 kilometers but still that is a lot under these

Dec 6 2007

I wake up to the sound of an engine. I scramble quickly to the front seat and look up.

Another SUV is immediately behind me. Thank god. They have surfboards. Four Americans jump out. I greet them with a smile.

They are in a hurry. They know this trail from a book. This trail becomes inaccessible to the destination upon mid to high tide and it is low tide now and we are not at the end yet. I tell one of them to jump in since they cannot pass me with out me moving.

Jake is a studying Spanish. Been here three months. From Boston and is itching to surf with friends.
They have prepared for this trip for weeks, shopped for supplies for three days and what have I got?

We are close to the end of the trail but still we have a lot of boulders and some rivers to fly through. Yes rivers. We cannot see how deep they are so I barrel through, my nose of the SUV is completely underwater so I slam on the gas to keep her moving, to their astonishment I make it. They follow and we are all excited. One step closer.

They tell me this destination is one of the best surf breaks in Costa Rica. Witches rock, the break immortalized in Endless
Summer 2 with Wingnut. I had seen the movie and understood which break they were talking about. What luck huh!

I was just happy to have someone to understand what I went through to get here. They could not believe I did it alone and at night. They were four of them and they had two of them walk the front of the suv so they could scope the boulders, as the others drove the car.

We make it to the camp and meet a ranger. He speaks no English and lives there at the park. He warns us to not go near the lagoon, large angry krokodiles.

That was the first place I had to go, my new mission, without his knowledge that is...

They start to unpack and I head out for a walk, I find a rotting turtle shell and check how far it has decomposed. You never know, it may be a cool keepsake. But it is still buggy, rancid, and very smelly, so I let it be. I find two turtle trails of recent laying and I follow. They just happen to be close to the lagoon. Yay.

I pick up a big stick. The lagoon is alive with danger. I love it. I approach with caution, I imagine the water buffalo too close to the edge to be snapped up by the awaiting African crocodile. I am slow to approach and very cautious. I have been very attentive to the surroundings and watch for eyeballs. It is morning and hot. Not normal feeding time but still I need to be careful.. The last time I was playing with alligators I had an interesting tete a tete with an evil little male that wanted to chew on me.

This time I need to find a beast to play with. I approach and see the tail of a small one, maybe a year and a half old, but it skips into the water when I approach.

I had my trusty stick and I peruse the waters edge from a fair distance.

Clear water so I can see the under area. Nothing but fish and pollywogs. A few heron off in the distance, but I feel death. I feel the immensity. I mole around for a few more minutes but see nothing to scare me so I bore.

I start to head back to the camp. I must move on with my adventure.

I drive all day along the beautiful almost virgin coastline. Small little villages that have meager but proud heritage. Even the little homes are well kept, albeit dusty from the dirt roads, but clean of trash and general debris. I feel they have a lot of respect for each other and of everyone that passes by. I continuously wave and find smiles and genuine waves back. Polite and generous people. I slow down when I pass each one out of courtesy as to not blow dust into the faces of locals. I can't seem to tell if they acknowledge and or appreciate the gesture because I see others blow by kicking up dust and it does not seem to bother them. I do see a few wear handkerchiefs over the mouth but not many. I personally have swallowed so much dust I am blowing monster snot rockets.

When I picked up my compact SUV from the rental car place, I had no idea what trip this adventure would turn into for me. This car has been amazing. A Daihastsu Terius, a car and brand I had never used before. I would buy one. The inclines it accomplished in two wheel drive, the mud, the water and the bumps and speed all passed the Jordan test.

I have run my SUV into the ground, the tire has been flat for about forty kilometers. I just stopped in a town I think I may stay. I must have driven through over fifty rivers today. That last one I could not see the other side, pure faith that it is not too deep. I never know and I am traveling alone so the wow factor keeps getting bigger. How was your week?

Costa Rica is one of my favorite places on earth. People are amazing, kind, generous, happy, and the food is so good and cheap.
I stop in Nosara at a place I can eat, grab an Imperial cerveza and then change my tire. I park so I can use the light from the restaurant to change the tire but it begins to rain making mud on the roads so I wait and drink some more. I make some new friends in the bar, both the waitress and the table next to me become buddies. I tire quickly and seek a bed. I find that within a kilometer is a cabinisa I can rent.
I pull in my stuff from the car and pass out.