My brother thinks our Costa Rica trip is going to be like an episode of Man vs. Wild, as evidenced by the following things he said to me tonight:
- “I’m not checking any luggage, I just have a backpack.”
- “I’m bringing towels so if I get rained on, I’m just going to wear my wet clothes and wrap them in towels.”
- “I’m going to wear zip-off pants the whole trip. Want me to buy you some?”
- “I might go buy a waterproof camera tomorrow.”
- “I bought some hardcore bugspray that I need to put in your suitcase.”
- “Should I bring a headlamp, in case we go hiking in the rainforest at night?”
- “Are you allowed to carry a knife in your checked luggage?”
- “What if I need to stab someone who attacks you?”
Ay, La Negrita, protégeme…
“Your subconscious has decided that you need to take a trip. It might be an actual physical journey to some new place you’ve dreamed of going, or it might just be a trip down Memory Lane. Once you’re on the road, you’re glad that you went along for the ride! It feels so good to get away from it all, and you know that you’re overdue. Invite someone else along, and you might create memories that you can share forever.”
- Nick: What kind of bird is that?
- Me: That's a Señor Stripehead.
- Nick: I'm really glad you're not an Audubon.
Our first harrowing adventure in Costa Rica involved driving to our hotel in San José. My brother Nick and I had booked an amazing package deal that cost a total of $500 per person for airfare, a week’s worth of hotels and a rental car. A couple months before our departure, I learned that pretty much all cars in Costa Rica, including our rental car, have manual transmissions. Nick told me he had learned how to drive stick in preparation for our trip. Unbeknownst to me, “learned how to drive stick” meant “drove around a parking lot for a few minutes with no actual instruction from anyone, except maybe Google.”
We woke up early on the second day of our Costa Rica trip, with the intention of spending as much time in the wilderness as possible. The traffic leaving San José wasn’t too terrible but once we got off the highway, it was clear that it was going to be a much different driving experience than we were used to. The roads became exceedingly steep and windy, and Nick still hadn’t gotten the hang of driving stick. Our poor little Suzuki Jimny chugged along, occasionally stalling out on a hill and giving me a heart attack. Finally, on a mountain in Zapote, its clutch gave out entirely and we were forced to pull over before reaching the summit.
Our morning started bright and early with a guided boat tour in Boca de Arenal with our tour guides Pedro and Luis. We pulled over to the side of the road on the way to the river to see a three-toed sloth and her baby in a tree, the mini-sloth clinging to its mom’s belly with its little spindly arms. We saw many more animals during our boat trip down the river, including Jesus Christ lizards (so called because they can run across water), howler monkeys swinging from tree to tree, lots of birds and even a few crocodiles. We also made friends with the other people in our boat, an older couple from Pennsylvania named Bob and Anna. Bob is 68 years old and has prostate cancer, but that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to seek out adventures like a trip to Costa Rica.