Monday, January 26, 2009

Roughin' it

With yet another weekend looming ahead of us, we decided to leave the sun and surf in Tamarindo and explore some of Costa Rica's other treasures.  But first we needed wheels.  And boy did we get them a "luxury cuatro by cuatro" driven by Eric "I'm still figuring out how to shift so I'll be extra aggressive passing and hitting potholes" Mattson.


We were definitely the most dangerously over confident group of tourists on the road, racing up steep dirt roads with sheer drops on both sides.  Our first adventure was a Thursday night jaunt to the nearby town of Santa Cruz.  They were in the midst of a week long Fiesta Tipica. We started with a bunch of street food and a fireworks show.


Then we moved onto the main event, a rodeo!  From a pool of young men the announcer randomly picks one to ride El Torro as he is released into the ring.  Some fell off on the first buck while one guy made it through almost 20 seconds of mayhem.  After the bull has shed his pesky rider, he has free reign of the ring where he can chase drunken spectators who alternate taunting him, running for their lives and leaping for the fences. 

Surprisingly, only one guy was hit badly, and was able to still get up and walk away.  Unsurprisingly, of the hundred or so people who climbed the fence to join in the fun, only one was female.  After 5 or 10 minutes, the real cowboys come out, lasso the bull and lead him out of the ring, where I'm sure he's glad to be away from all those annoying people.


With the darkness we didn't get a whole lot of good shots, but here are someone else's videos from last year.  Definitely a fun night and very different and local. 

On Friday we again piled into the 4x4 and headed off in search of a local speciality, palm wine.  Lonely Planet warns of temporary blindness and one of the worst hangovers of your life.  I found a pleasant yeasty sweetness and an effective distraction from the bumpiness of the roads.


The first bottle - a recycled tequilla bottle with screw on cap and slightly chilled - seemed to go down smoother than the second - a rum bottle with a corn cob for a cork, and slightly warmer.  No temporary blindness, though the still active fermentation and bumpy roads did overpower the corn cob.

We arrived in Santa Elena that night and miraculously found Slepak waiting for us.  He had flown into San Jose, breezed through the Brazilian embassy, and taken a public bus to meet us.  We went out for a drink and saw a rickshaw in the parking lot!  Unfortunately we were too busy catching up to go take a photo with it, so instead here's a recycled Rickshaw Run photo.


If it's any consolation, I was wearing the same shirt both days...

In the morning we headed off to the cloud forests of Santa Elena.  We decided the best way to see them would be by zipline!  At base camp there was a sign almost good enough to qualify for my funny bathroom signs collection.


After the obligatory safety lecture we headed off to the ziplines.


Flying through the jungle is quite exhilarating.  Flying 200 feet above the jungle, even more so.


The highlight of the day was a Tarzan swing.


All the speed and adrenaline don't make a good combination for actually seeing a lot of wildlife however.  So afterwards we went for a hike through the forest and stumbled upon a on old research tower.


That bright yellow tape and stuff across the bottom of the stairs means we should climb it right?  The constant mist of clouds blowing through definitely gives the stairs a nice patina.


We ended the day with a beautiful sunset as we drove home across the mountains.