Tuesday, January 31, 2006
For now, I am back in the States and am truly and utterly exhausted. In every conceivable way. It's amazing, and lends to a slightly suffocated feeling.
Although (here comes a large caveat)
I have now been awake for about 21 hours (I think. Too many confusing ridiculous time changes).
I had 4 flights today, 3 of which were almost missed (not my doing, I swear!)
My stomach was sickly yesterday (for a couple hours I feared the return of giardia. Today...ok)
I've eaten very little the last 2 weeks. In fact (no joke), I think I'm down another 5-10 lbs. And this time it's not because of a stomach issue! (The first clue was 3 days after parting from San Jose and realizing that all of my pants were much baggier than they'd ever been)
Extra stress inducing shocks
The last 2 weeks has seen some fairly major emotional ups and downs (all for the good cause of growing as a person. Seriously.)
Enough of this inanity. I need to sleep.
One more flight....
Monday, January 16, 2006
This hostel I am in seems pretty cool. It takes up space in 3 different buildings. One has a bar, restaurant and pool. I thought about heading over there, but I am tired and lazy so instead I will read, skip dinner, do some email and go to bed early. A good thing since I am up and hopefully in a cab by about 430am tomorrow morning. Too early I tell you. But what can you do?
I had a point. Now I remember. This hostel. My stankness is taking up a bed in a dorm room (the lower bunk. My wet clothes are hanging from the rafters of the bunk above me. Classy) and as of right now there are 2 other dopes in the room with me. By 830pm, both were laid down and settlign in to sleep. Fortunately they said nothing about me leaving the light on and reading (until I went out into the empty entrance hally thing, which has one comfy chair in a corner, to read. The light is off now). Whew. Crazy place I tell ya. Most other people I pass by are not necessarily throwing the stink eye at me, but close. Makes ya wonder. I am not smelly (I washed my feet and sandals when I got here), not unkempt (I shaved too) and I smile. Maybe it is the bloodshot eyes? No me importa
Just over 6 days until I hit old agedness. I would say that is weird and I am worked up about it, but I am not. At least, not that I know of. Repression is on my reume under special skills.
This keyboard is bunked. I can not find anything I need on it, as random things pop out from keys not indicating that usage. Funny.
Maybe I will sack out soon. Hopefully my bunkmates will not get pissed when my alarm goes off at 4am...
I would go into more detail, but I am tired and have to catch a bus at some point this morning. BW took off, our new friend K is still around somewhere. Gotta find her and say farewell. And finish packing.
Back to San Jose I go, today. A 4-5 hour bus ride I am told. The quiet time to sit with my music and ponder will be nice. I wonder what I will come up with, if anything.
Fun times are being had, no worries.
Need to find coffee
Saturday, January 14, 2006
No, nothing exciting has happened, I don´t think. But I am still alive
Today saw me and BW on a 7 hour bus trip (2 combined buses of 3 and 4 hours, respectively, with a 3 hour layover between). I barely noticed anything about the trip except the rain and mud splattered windows. BW, however, arrived quite shaken up and frightened (like a little girl?). Something about rain, bad roads and a crazy driver. All I have to say is...rookie. It was an easy trip!
The last few days have been quite fun. We´ve hiked thru 2 different types of rainforest. We being me, BW and this chick he ´picked up´at the airport (have I said this already?). Cool hikes, beautiful foliage. It´s all so green! The trees are covered with moss and other growing things, which are covered with more growing things. Quite amazing and beautiful.
In terms of animals, we´ve been semi-successful: coati, spiders, cane toads, a 2-toed sloth, tarantula, birds....the norm, ya know?
The day after tomorrowe we part ways. I head back east and BW heads off to find his buddy.
BW´s bday was a couple days ago, and we did it up right, don´t you worry. A couple drinks at a bar (the waitresses kept laughing at us for some reason...) and then some time in a club. Yes, I actually danced for a little bit and wasn´t forced to do so. Perhaps I´m loosening up? Um, sure.
The hotel we´re in now is quite rad. Cheap ($6US eacha night) with free coffee, free internet, huge room with a private bath and hot shower, huge kitchen and dining area...good times.
What else has happened....not so much I don´t think. Having a fun and fairly relaxing time.
Oh yeah. During our layover today, BW and I sat under a huge gazebo in the middle of a park and ate some food and talked. Until 2 punks asked us if we wanted to play hoops with them. Which we did. Two games to 24 (points by 1) were played and we emerged victorious in both. Granted, they were younger than us and not the best players (the one skilled kid who replaced one dude in the second game had game, but was playing in flops...), but we are old and I am very out of shape. To say I was huffing a bit would be correct. So sad. Great time. I love that stuff!
I am only supposed to be on here for 15 minutes at a time now so off I go.
Maybe I´ll sleep? That sounds nice. Too many damn early mornings lately....
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Why? My spanish is much more accomplished when I am tired. It´s quite exciting to communicate! And, it´s so much easier here than in Asia where I knew no words and couldn´t read the writing!
But I digress. Or do I?
Today has been filled with street wandering. Tomorrow at 630am we mount a bus to the interior (more interior than here in san jose). Soon will follow hiking thru rainforests, canopy walking and exploring (checking out, up close, the upper reaches of the very tall trees), volcano viewing and who knows what else. I wanted to jaunt up to Nicaragua, but I don´t know if that´ll happen. The border crossing is supposed to be easy...
Last night we (my buddy, his buddy, and a girl they picked up at the airport) went out for drinks. Good times. I am not sure if the girls we watched walking around the parking lot were hookers or not. Some, yeah. Others....who knows. Overall though....whoa. The level of female attractiveness here is high, to say the least.
What else....not much. Last night saw me not sleeping again. I think I´m going to go and try to take a nap before we head out to dinner.
I´m dealing well with my travel overload. The ease (relatively) of communication helps. But this is it, for now. Once I get back (my flights WILL not change) I´m digging in. I swear!
Warm breezes are so nice!
Went to a mariposa garden today (butterflies). Very cool. Quite peaceful. I can´t wait to get into the forests here and see the wildlife, plantlife and little critters (insects, spiders, frogs, etc)!
For the record-my feet reek
Monday, January 09, 2006
955am tomorrow morning my flight leaves. My bag is packed, clothes are laid out (I say that as though I actually have a choice in what I have to wear! hehe), the iPod is charged and I am ready to go.
It's a new year, yeah? I suppose it's begun, but has it really? I don't think so. Seems like an extension of the last year (and a half).
So. Since my bday comes at the end of this venture, perhaps we'll call that my new years day. Since I'll be email inaccessible for a while the time closing out my old year should be rife with thoughts (again, I hope).
And the new year will begin on or around late January. My return....
Actually, I arrive back in Chicago on February 1. On second thought, let's call that new years day. The date is more appropriate and that is when my new year will kick off.
What's to come in the new year? No idea. Step one will be coming up with some resolutions. Step 2?
Sunday, January 08, 2006
On a happier note, tomorrow AM I plan on lounging on my buddy's couch (while he is working. Sorry, dude) and watching 'The 40-year old Virgin'. I'll let you know how that goes
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Congrats, dude. Awesome move! You keep amazing and impressing me.
Good luck and stay safe. I can't wait to hear the stories. Hopefully I can meet up with you out there somewhere.
My plane takes me to Costa Rica where I will spend 3 weeks or so, maybe venturing into nearby central American countries, I am not sure yet. Costa Rica is getting quite the talk up from people I meet so once again plans change and I'll spend my bday there.
Not bad, I know.
Don't feel bad for me. I'll find a way to make it thru
Maybe I'm realy not 30? Perhaps I was a boy genius and my folks told me I was 5-10 years older than I am to make me feel like less of an outcast?
After 5 days of backpacking thru the wild Florida wilderness, I returned to civilization yesterday and left a nice ring of muck in the bath tub. Don't worry, I cleaned it up. I am not that terrible a guest!
The questions pouring forth from readers' lips will be answered forthwith.
No, not all Florida wilderness is mostly underwater; nor is it all rife with alligators, attacking insects and old people in golf carts. Actually, my time was spent in a vast Florida prairie which was tinder dry and quite lovely. As my camping companion (C) was an environmental science major in university, I had a built in tour guide to learn me about the area and its plants and wildlife. Quite nice, as I know nothing about the 'nature' down here.
The woods are quite different than I am used to from my time in the midwest, the Rocky Mountains and the Utah deserts. Oak trees and palm trees made up a bulk of the larger greenness. In turn, these were covered in vines and moss and vermiliads (sp? A new word for me, and the speciality of my guide)(they are an air plant. They hang off the sides of trees and get their nutrients from the airborne goodness that gets trapped in the bark of trees. Very cool). To the locals, it's not seen as all that lush, not with the everglades around. But to me it seemed very green and growy.
Of course there were highlights to the trippp. Such as cooking overa campfire. I'd forgotten how nice this is! With all the fire bans in the southwest, almost all my camping cooking in recent years has been done over a backpacking stove. Not nearly as fun and relaxing as a fire. For some reasons it's more satisfying over a fire. Check it out. Good stuff. Of course the grills in place over the fire rings made this endeavor easier, but who's counting?
Despite the fact that I am in Florida, a seemingly water-laden state, we managed to spend a vast majority of the 5 days quite dehydrated. No rivers and lakes appeared to fill our water bottles, but all our campsites had water pumps. Since our hikes were not all that long we shoulda had no problem staying liquefied. Instead our bathroom visits (fyi-I love doing my business in the woods!) occurred only every 8-10 hours or so. Whatever. It does a body good to suffer now and then.
Speaking of suffering (nice segue, eh?), food. In our meal planning, I failed to garner a full realization of how little made it into the shopping cart and packs. Dinners were rice and beans, beans and hummes (with extras added to the beans, spices and such), and pastas. Not bad. Nice and filling. Breakfasts and lunches left SO much to be desired (on my part anyway). Breakfast was an apple with peanut butter. Lunches were a tortilla with peanut butter (bananas were supposed to make an appearance at lunch, but after 2 hours on the trail they were mush and had to be burned). This is not enough food for me. I adapted, but thoughts of decadent meals filled my thoughts most of the time. C never tired of watching me spin in circles trying to find the animal growling at us, until I realized it was only our damn stomachs. This fare is standard for C's camping trips. Next time I think a bit more before agreeing to such scarcity.
The food could have been a lot worse a situation, but our daily treks between camp sites were 4 miles at most. And in Florida, hiking is not the same as hiking in Colorado. Florida is as flat as a half-empty 2-liter of Mountain Dew that's been left open for 3 weeks. There ain't a bump to be found! Thank god because good Christ am I in pathetic shape! These paltry walks left me much too used up. I'm embarassed to admit that, but I feel I must. Granted, I was carrying most of the weight (bigger pack), but that's not a reasonable excuse. Oofda. Now I now and must remedy the situation. We did have an 11 mile day! That was exciting. Only 3.4 of it involved full packs...quit counting!
Now the funner stuff. Wildlife. The bigger critters here inculde armadillos, raccoons, possum, deer, pumas, and wild hogs (like the kind what got holda Old Yeller).
A quick intro. The ground hugging foliage here is quite loud. As are the multitude of fallen palm fronds which dry into wonderful fire starters and crunch machines. At night, crashing emanates from all sides which can be cool until it's the middle of the night and you fall asleep to these sounds which translate into a horrific nightmare. I won't get into that.
Sitting around the fire late (8pm) one night, the crashing in the bushing behind us came sprawling out into our clearing, panicking C who jumped up yelping. My reaction was to jump to my feet as well (calmy and not worried at all. For serious!). We both thought it was a couple of hogs and they made right for us. But it wasn't. Instead two roly-poly 'dillos made as if to attack us (reminiscent of a certain marmot episode a couple years ago. C heard that story after we settled down again). Instead of bumping into our feet, their sexcapade backed off and went in another direction. That's right, mating season. The best part? Two male 'dillos! We got attacked by a gay mating armadillo couple! What a riot! Funny little critters they are. Seems eyesight was not something a deity blessed this animal with, causing them to blunder all over, barely noticing what's going on around them. It was hilarious to watch them wander back into the woods because I swear they were knocking down trees with their head butting and armor! If you can't see the tree, might as well go thru it, yeah?
No, they did not curl up into balls and roll around. I was VERY disappointed.
I need caffeine.
The hogs. Everyone else in the park saw the damn buggers, but we didn't. Not until our hike out yesterday. About a mile from the trailhead a pack of 'em busted out of the low palms 20 feet or so ahead of us (I was in the lead). Tickled pink (or sunkissed), I giggled and struck up a dialogue with the lead boar. At first he played it nonchalant and made as if we weren't even there. I think it may have been the: "Heyy, Tubbo! Why'd your cousins have to tear up Old Yeller? And that Tommy Kirk kid? That was damn cold of ya! Besides, it made me cry, dadgum it! I hate crying! *Stupid fatheaded swine*". That did it. Slowly, as if wanting to give me time to realize his thick hided superiority over my puny skin and bones, the boar's head swung around and I swear to Goshen the glare from that old guy literally knocked me down. Stammering an apology I got to my feet and looked around for C. She'd already hightailed it into a tree and sat looking at me with a "you are such an idiot" look (I get those a lot, it seems). Taking his lead, the pack of 20 hogs (ranging from 'cute' little ones to old battle scarred geezers) all turned to face me. A predicament, to be sure. I'm a lover, not a fighter, ya know? I tried to make peace but they were beyond listening. El Jefe began grunting and stamping the ground. Them damn yellow eyes turned into slits and he growled. Drool and foam collected around his 10-inch tusks and I kid you not, blood seeped from his eyes. Slowly they moved towards me. C suggested I drop my pack and lit out to safer ground. I deferred, as I need my pack! In no time at all I found myself almost surrounded and running out of option. Inspiration decided to strike at the moment they made their move.
Click click, went my pack buckles, crash, went my bag as it hit the ground. They stopped. I gave them my best shite-eating grin. My right foot flicked up a stout pole (which fortunately was not mushy rot like almsot all the wood here) from the ground into my hand and the games begun. The front flank moved in all gnashing teeth and gore driven. Astro (my pole) vaulted me over this wave and I sprinted off 30 yards or so. And stopped to stare them down. "This one's for Tommy!" I yelled. Astro broke the spines of 7 of the bastards before they intuited what was transpiring. Deftly running across the spines of 8 more I punctured their evil brain cases with Astro, dedicating their slaughter to Old Yeller and quickly leveling the playing field. Six left. Old Man Boar In Charge was racing about in circles trying to catch me all this time but did no more than widen the rip forming in my jeans. Two of the younger males dashed after me as I led them to a pit filled with punji sticks which broke their fall ("You broke poorKevin Corcoran's little heart, ya bastards!"). Three decided to save their hides and dashed out of sight. This left me and OMBIC. Now I was pissed. Grumbling something about needing retribution for making my eyes water I dashed forward. So did he. The collision was terrible; all trees within a 20 foot radius came crashing down (one of these was C's hiding place. She was not pleased); people at the traihead heard the mashing of skin and bone. For 20 minutes we writhed around on the ground, trying to gain the upper hand. Finally, I got a scissor hold around the black devil's neckand squeezed until he ceased moving. All the while we glared into each other's eyes. I saw the hate seep out as he expired. I didn't give him a warrior's buriel. I kicked the hell out of the bastard and we left.
A heck of a trip to be sure.