Sunday, October 12, 2008

Day 1 of my Costa Rica Adventure

Time to lose my Nervous Nellie persona and become Xevette, Jungle Princess and Slayer of Snakes. (or is Yvettemis, Goddess of the Jungle a better name? I'm still deciding.) The idea is that I become a brave and strong Super Hero on my Costa Rica Adventure. Whenever something uncomfortable happens, I will don my tropical super-hero outfit and conquer whatever beast should lay in my path! This will all happen in my mind, of course. I had toyed with the idea of making myself a little security-cape, but I'm not really ready to expose my weirdness in another country. Costumes may be best left for Halloween, Theme Parties, and fantasies...

There's a nice posse of us going on this trip, most of whom were in a Divorce Recovery class that I volunteered for last Spring. Brett (who I call Boy younger-brother-like friend who played the role of "Mr. January" in my adventures), his girlfriend, Wendi, Cat, Bruce, Kathy, and I all flew out together from Denver. I'd describe each of them, but I'm still trying to figure out what their "book names" are going to be.

On the plane, I read "The Five Secrets of Happiness" and there were a couple of gems that struck home, especially in the chapter that talked about living life without regret. "When you have a decision to make, imagine you are an old person looking back and do the thing that would make the best story." I thought this was great advice and exactly what I've been doing thanks to this book project. Each month I force myself to do something out of my comfort zone because I need to write a chapter for my book. That's why I'm here! (And also I'm here because there are no refunds on this trip.)

The flight and subsequent drive to the Best Western Isuzu in San Jose, Costa Rica were incredibly easy. This international flight was by far the least tiring international journey I've ever had. There is NO time difference between Boulder and San Jose. The flights, layover, lines through immigration and customs, finding the van, hotel.....all went smoothly without a single hitch. On top of all this, I had my compadres with me which made the whole trip fun. The hotel is beautiful with all the amenities....including (my favorite) FREE internet access! (I don't consider it cheating on Laptop Guy in these types of circumstances.)

After we arrived and got settled, we met Lis, a friend of Cat's, who has been exploring CR for the last two weeks. She filled us in on the do's and don'ts of the land. We then went down to the hotel bar and met Merritt and the race crew and a few more of our fellow-adventurers. Kathy and I.. the two "princesses" don't drink beer...enjoyed our wine, while the others downed cervesas. I was very proud of Kathy, who, without hesitation, fulfilled her goal of doing salsa with a latin local.

The evening weather had a perfect after-rain coolness as we stood out on the balcony and compared stories, fears, and excitements about the upcoming week. There was tall 29-year-old, Brent, who had broken up 3 weeks earlier with his girlfriend, and had former highschool friend, Colin, there to accompany him instead. Cat, with my encouragement, already started making her moves on Brent and he seemed more than willing. By the end of the week, he'll have forgotten all about his broken heart.

I was a little timid about meeting race director, Merritt. After 35 emails asking him about malaria risks, his final email to me had been a rather terse, "I suggest you consult with your physician." (BTW informal polls from experienced travellers suggest the anti-malaria medication is not necessary and that the side affects from the pills are worse than the risk of catching malaria, so I'm going to forego the pills.) Though Merritt's original 'hello' to me was cautiously cool as I introduced myself as "the high maintenance one" I think as soon as he realized I wasn't going to drill him, yet again, on malaria risks, he warmed up to me.

I was very saddened to hear that the man that had written the journal for the trip last year had been recently diagnosed with stomach cancer. He did such a beautiful job of the journal. I asked Carter, one of the race volunteers, for his email address so I could write and tell him that he was an inspiration. I almost offered to write the journal this year, but, not knowing how I'll feel about the whole trip, I thought it best to hold back.

I went up to the room I'm sharing with Kathy at about midnight, wanting a little quiet time. As I was snuggling down in the bed, a little spider crawled across the bedspread, and "Slam"....I was on that baby with one whack of my notebook! Yes! Xevette, Jungle Princess saves the day!