¡Pura Vida!

12 Mar

Alright boys and girls.

…and whatever gender category people like Lady Gaga fall into.

I understand you’ve all been sweating profusely, having cardiac-arrest-inducing night terrors, and wretching in pain due to blog withdrawal, but don’t you worry, I’m back in the 66206 and ready to write your ears off again.

….of course when I say “ears” I mean “eyes.”


I have been making like Magellan, hop-scotching all over the western hemisphere for the past several weeks. Cabo San Lucas was a good time, although it would have been better if mi esposo futuro had been along for the trip (only moment of mushiness for the next month at least, don’t worry), but Costa Rica was a whole ‘nother animal, people. Let’s begin.

By the way, this note is pretty lengthy. Now, this is not a license to allow you to skip over parts of my story, but you must at least read Day 3 and Day 4. Let’s just say my BAC could have killed a full grown horse, and the aftermath was grotesque.


Trent and I opted not to go to bed Saturday night, as we had to drive to the airport at 3:45 a.m. to head to MCI to fly to Atlanta, where we boarded our connecting flight to Liberia, Costa Rica. I really do love the Kansas City International Airport, for a few reasons actually.

1) Their security is about as heavy as Chuck E. Cheese’s. It takes literally 90 seconds to get your zip-loc baggies checked, luggage sniffed, and body frisked by Felicia, the overweight, onion-ring addicted black security woman at the gate. That’s it.

2)The terminals are about as busy as the movie theater was on the premiere night ofThe Cutting Edge: Fire and Ice. Does your flight leave at 7:20 a.m.? Arrive at 7:05 a.m., and you’ll be fine. Even if you park in economy.

3) It only takes 3 minutes to scurry from one side of the airport terminal to the other. This airport is smaller than most Wal-Mart superstores. It’s great.

Moving right along.

Fast forward several hours.

We finally land in Liberia, Costa Rica. I step off the plane into 96 degrees of hot, sexy Central American sun. I am about ready to pee my pants with excitement. The airport is outside. Like, it’s an open airport. There are no walls. It’s interesting. After standing in line for what felt like eternity, we finally loaded our luggage onto a bus that drove us about an hour away from the airport to our resort, Reserva Conchal. We immediately sprinted to our rooms, donned our bathing suits, and hit the beach. Trent and I run into a Tico (Costa Rican) named Charlie, who ends up being our tourist-activity hook up for the rest of the week that we are there. We sign up for surf lessons for the following morning (Monday), and also for deep sea fishing on Thursday.

Day 1: Surf n Turf.

Monday morning comes, and my hot mess of a man and I meander out to the beach at 9 a.m. to meet our surf instructor. We are introduced to Harlan, a guy who is originally from Minnesota, but came to visit/surf in Costa Rica and decided to make it his home. He drives us about 30 minutes away to Playa Grande, a famous surf spot in Costa Rica for our first lesson ever. We plop our boards on the sand, learn some basic rules, the faster-than-Jimmy-John’s-delivery “pop-up” technique, how not to get bitch slapped in the face by your surf board when you fall off of it, and we were ready to hang ten.

We wade out into the ocean for attempt number one. Not so good for either of us.

Neither were attempts 2-6. I got reprimanded by the mighty Pacific Ocean during one fall, and high-fived the bottom of the ocean really hard. The result was bloody hand for the rest of the day. Wishful thinking hoped I would not attract sharks. By the 7th or 8th go though, Trent and I both finally got up on our boards, and it was fairly smooth sailing from there. I did accidentally flash my surf instructor once though for a good 80 seconds at least. He considered it as a tip. It was fine. Our lesson is two hours long. I don’t know if you’ve ever surfed or not before, but the most tiring part of the whole ordeal is wading and paddling OUT to the waves you’re going to ride. My, god. I felt like I had been doing P90X after the first hour, which was fine since we bypassed the gym that morning. Our surf adventure ends, and we head back to our resort.

The rest of the day was spent roaming around the beaches, collecting seashells, baking like a terra cotta shingle in the hot Costa Rican sun, and swimming in the ocean.

Day 2: Brasilito Adventure.

Tuesday morning rolled around, and Trent y yo decided to go on a little adventure in a nearby town. Harlan had mentioned a delicious Mexican restaurant called Don Brasilito’s in the town of Brasilito, which was probably only one or two miles from our resort, so we decided to pack a backpack, and stroll over there to get lunch, and make a day out of it. That morning we ordered room service (which by the way, was the best room service I’ve ever eaten. Not one single time was I disappointed with any of the food in this country), packed some SPF, sunglasses, our video camera, iPods, a couple bottles of water, and headed out on foot along the beach to make our way into town.

We passed through, got Trent a new pair of flip-flops, strolled past some rinky-dink Costa Rican houses (it’s crazy how they live there), and then made our way to the beach directly in front of Don Brasilito’s to lay out for an hour or two before lunch.

We spread our towels out on the sand, and laid in the sun, until the waves slowly but steadily crept up the shore, sneaking toward our feet. Unfortunately, one big wave rushed in ahead of schedule and swallowed up my iTouch. But, we were in Costa Rica. I got over it quickly.

Since the ocean was about to suck us out to sea, we decided it would be a good time to grab our stuff and go get lunch, so we did. Charlie happened to be at the restaurant when we arrived, and after lunch, he took us to see his house, and also a small deer farm a block or two from his home.

After a long day of exploring, we headed back to our villa, showered up, and then ate dinner at the most delicious Mexican restaurant on the resort, Agave Azul. Their key lime pie could seduce even the coldest iron maiden. MMMMmmm. Moving right along.

Day 3: Drunk in the trunk.

Wednesday was the snorkel sail excursion (also see “booze cruise”) that about 50 Vector people were signed up for. It began at 9 a.m., and ended around noon. We met on the beach, and loaded ourselves onto the large white catamaran that would be our boat for the morning. Carli, Trent, Kyle, and myself decided to have breakfast on the boat (several bloody Mary’s) before diving out into the open sea to eskimo-kiss some parrot fish. After sucking two BMs down, we arrived at the cove, ready to slap on our flippers and goggles. I threw on my gear and jumped off the boat and started paddling away, snorkel in the air, scanning the ocean floor, admiring coral, fish, and hermit crabs. I got to hold a big puffer fish the size of a volleyball which was pretty sweet.

About ten minutes into my adventure, I found myself crashing into a bunch of coral that was only about a foot below the surface of the water, scratching up my knees and getting stung by all the coral. That didn’t feel good. Then about thirty seconds after that I got stung by a jelly fish in the leg, which didn’t feel much better. Not knowing what was happening, and feeling like I got slapped by a porcupine, I made a bee-line to the shore where Trent had kayaked over with his video camera to try and get some footage of a few monkeys that were supposedly near the beach. After heaving myself onto the shore, out of breath, and baffled about my stung body situation, we hopped into Trent’s kayak and boated back to the catamaran.

By that time, pretty much everyone else was still out dog paddling around with their snorkels on, so Trent, Dan Cherry and myself decided to get ahead on some drinks. The bloody Mary’s weren’t really affecting me the way I would have liked them to, so I asked the bartender for a margarita. I’m not sure what it is about tequila that knocks me off my rocker, but it gets me, and it gets me fast. After just one drink, I was feeling a little loose. Soon enough, our fellow snorkelers began making their way back to the catamaran–apparently there was a large jellyfish attack going on, and everyone was getting ambushed by them, so people were getting out of the water pretty quick. Everyone came back on the boat, and a delicious lunch of salsa, chips, pineapple, chicken, and chocolate chip cookies was served.

We ate and drank and were merry for the next hour. I started pounding margaritas like it was my birthday. Someone suggested a shot, which I pretended not to want to do, a weak facade for my quickly drunkening self. Next thing I knew, it was the catamaran was nearly back to shore, and it was time to go back to the resort. We were all pretty disappointed that the boat party was over, so we slammed one last drink, and all squealed that we should go back to the in-pool bar and continue our fiesta.

That’s when things went down hill.

Twelve margaritas and eight tequila shots later, and I am completely blacked out by 1:30 pm. I remember nothing. Absolutely nothing. The next thing I know, I wake up. I’m in my villa, on the bed. Trent comes in through the door; it’s dark outside.

“Where were you??” I asked.

“I was at dinner with Dane and Brooke,” he replied. We had dinner reservations with them at 7 pm that night.

“You went to dinner without me!?!” I pouted. Trent gave me an “are you f*cking serious” look.

“Babe, look at yourself.”

There was no mirror nearby, but I noticed I was sticky and smelled vomit. I looked at the clock. It was 8:30 pm.

“I taste like throw up,” I said, disgusted.

“Yeah. You did a lot of that.” Trent then proceeded to inform me that after blacking out at 1:30 pm, I was a royal bitch until I stopped functioning nearly completely. He dragged my worthless, grossly intoxicated carcass back to our villa where I passed out on the chair on the balcony as he unlocked the door. Then I barely made it inside our room, where I collapsed and passed out again on our couch. Eventually I made it to the bed where I passed out face down on the mattress.

Moments later I barfed all over the myself and the bed. Trent, mortified by the vomit and also pretty crunk at this point, bolted to the bathroom and puked at the sight of my situation. Now he was stuck with a totally useless, puke-covered passed out girl. He called housekeeping and informed them we had an issue. The maid showed up, disgusted by my mess (naturally), as I sat half-conscious in the shower. She was pissed.

“She was on a boat, she got sick on a boat,” he lied. He tipped her $20, and she left.

It’s relevant to mention at this point that I had been unconscious for at least 7 hours. I was still completely wasted. I vaguely remember ordering room service and hastily chomping down some fettuccine pasta dish, and a nasty flan dessert, and then going back to bed.

Day 4: The Deadliest Catch.

We had to wake up at 6:00 a.m. the next morning for our deep sea fishing excursion. I awoke feeling relatively fine. I was hung over, but not bad enough to stay in bed all day. I got up, slapped on some sunscreen, and headed out with Trent to meet Dane, Brooke, and Eric to head out to the marina. We loaded into a tiny car that our Tico “chauffeur” started with a screwdriver. After a 15 minute drive or so, we arrived at the marina, met our fishing guide, Javier, boarded our fishing boat, and headed out into the open sea.

About four minutes into this adventure, I started to feel nauseous. “Uh oh,” I thought. Hang over + seasickness = death. I’m not usually one to get seasick, but every once in a while, motion sickness gets the best of me. I kept talking myself out of feeling sick, mentally assuring myself that things would be fine in a few minutes. Ten minutes later, I changed my mind. My stomach was starting to churn. I tried staring at the unmoving horizon in an attempt to calm my inner ear. My efforts were futile. The farther we got out to sea, the worse it got. The boat was heaving back and forth, strongly rocking left and right, frontward and backward, over and over. With white knuckles, I gripped the side of the boat, doing everything in my power to keep all my liquids inside me. Trent looked over and caught my gaze.

“Are you feeling alright?” he asked.

“Not exactly,” I replied, as the blood drained from my face.

“Do you need to lie down?” he suggested. I said no. I left my spot sitting on the side of the boat, and moved over to sit between his legs on the island area in the middle of the boat, leaning back against his chest, trying to maintain my composure.

Javier started shouting that there was a fish on the line. Brooke was up first. She jumped into the captain’s chair and started reeling away on the rod, pulling in a nice mackerel. The excitement died down, and we were back to waiting on the rocking boat. My nausea was getting worse with every passing moment.

About twenty minutes later, there was another bite. It was my turn. Normally I would be thrilled at this point, as fishing is one of my favorite things to do. Unfortunately at this particular moment though, I felt like any movement at all was an invitation to my esophagus to go ahead and spew out all of my insides. I had no choice. I stumbled up to the captain’s chair, grabbed a seat, and started reeling in my catch, which ended up being a poor mackerel that I snagged by the side of the body. We unhooked it, took my picture, and tossed it into the bucket with Brooke’s fish. I returned to the island area to sit back down.

The excitement quickly faded as my focus returned to my churning stomach. I was feeling terrible. I considered trying to lie down, since sitting up wasn’t making me feel any better. I laid on my back. Not five seconds passed before I realized that this was a bad idea. I sat up, fast. “I’m going to puke,” I announced. I speed walked to the side of the boat, leaned over, and threw up my fettuccine from the night before. I lurched and heaved and gagged for a good three minutes, while my good friends took pictures to make sure I remembered it this time.

I wiped the snot from my nose, dried my leaking eyes, swished some water in my mouth, and groggily returned to my spot on the island in the middle of the boat. Someone passed me a Sprite to “settle my stomach” (a science I’ve never heard proven). I sipped on my soda and tried to enjoy the thirty seconds following my vomiting episode where I felt a little bit better.

After about five minutes, I was back to feeling nauseous again. The boat ride wasn’t getting any smoother, and my stomach wasn’t feeling any calmer. Things were truly getting worse. I was going to lose it again. Suddenly, I felt the need to yammy again. Once more, I jumped to the side of the boat, leaned over as far as I could, and began vomiting into the sea. These episodes continued. This boat ride was going to be four hours long.

I sat with a zombie-like, glazed look over my face, feeling completely miserable as the ship rocked back and forth, over and over, left to right, right to left, left to right. With every movement, I felt sicker and sicker. I desperately wanted to get off of this boat. Jumping off the boat into the water started sounding appealing. As we passed by small islands, I began envying the pelicans who got to sit there. All I could think about was dry land–stationary, solid, unmoving–I was going to end my life if I couldn’t get off this boat.

Our fishing guide, Javier, started offering me suggestions. “You should go sit up on top of the boat, it’ll make you feel better!” I wasn’t feeling like climbing like a chimpanzee up the side of the boat to sit, alone, with the non-English speaking captain for the next 3 hours. “No, thanks,” I whimpered.

“Want a beer?” he offered. Hell no.

“Want me to throw some buckets of water on you?” he asked. Now this man was just f*cking with me.

“Are you serious? How is that going to help me?” I replied, annoyed.

“Eet works!!” Javier argued. “I’m from Costa Rica! I know how to fix deese tings!” He said defensively. I didn’t want to insult his knowledge, so I gave in. Javier reached over the side of the boat with a large red bucket and filled it with salt water.

“Are you ready?” he asked. I braced myself. He dumped the bucket of ocean water over my head. I gasped. I wiped my eyes, blew the water out of my mouth and nose, and shook my head as the water dripped off of me.

By the time I opened my eyes again, Javier was ready with another full bucket of water.

“Another one?!” I yelped.

“Yayse, yayse!” he insisted. Enter: bucket number two. The water sloshed over my head and onto the floor of the boat, and I stood, shivering and dripping with water, actually feeling a little bit better. I guess the shock of the cool water surprised my body a little bit, and for a short while, shifted my attention away from my seasick stomach. I wrapped myself in a towel, and returned to my nook against Trent’s chest again. Unfortunately, not ten minutes passed before I started to feel anything but ship-shape again (pun intended). Javier busted out some pineapple from the cooler on the boat and started cutting it up, passing big, sweet, juicy pieces to everyone on the boat. I had yet to eat anything yet that morning, and was trying to decide if putting something into my stomach would help or hurt. I took a small chunk of pineapple and swallowed a bite.

I immediately threw up over the side of the boat again.

Life was hell. I gave up trying to feel better. I laid on my back and tried to render myself unconscious to pass the time. To my surprise, eventually I did doze off. By the time I awoke, we were approaching the shore (THANK GOD). I rejoiced. I would live! I jumped off of the fishing boat as soon as I was close enough, and sprinted to shore. I wanted to kiss the ground, I was so relieved. We got back in the [stolen] car, and our Tico man dropped us back off at the resort.

For some reason when I am hung over or stomach sick (which really I suppose are one in the same), the only thing I can think about consuming are:

1) Milk. Milk is my miracle remedy for hang overs. The thicker and fattier, the better. Give me a half gallon of 2%, and I will suck it dry in a matter of minutes.

2) Ice cream. Something about cold dairy just soothes my soul.

3) French fries. Not really just when I feel stomach sick; more like, any time. I just really like fries. You get it.

When we got back, I made a bee-line for the snack bar, ordered myself up a tall glass of milk, a big bowl of ice cream, and an order of french fries. (Side note: milk in Costa Rica? Not the same. It’s not refrigerated, and tastes like it came directly from a goat’s nipple. I drank it anyway). Trent and I walked back to our villa, chowed down, and took a nice long nap.

That night, we met up with Kyle Smith for our dinner plans. The resort’s restaurants required you to make reservations by your last name, room number, and party size for meals there every night, and sometimes it was pretty tough to get reservations because they would all be filled, seeing as there were nearly 1,000 people staying at the resort. Fortunately, Kyle Smith is an asshole, and he discovered that there was another “Smith” staying at the resort. He also figured out their room number, all their dinner reservations, and how many people they reserved for the restaurants, and stole all their reservations. Haha. So at 7:30 that night, we showed up at Spices, an Asian Fusion restaurant for dinner, claimed our reservation for six people, and had dinner.

Day 5: El Fin.

Friday was sadly our last day in the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Originally Trent and I were going to go on a four-hour ATV tour through the jungle canopy and ride 11 zip-lines, but we ended up taking a taxi over to the surf town of Tamarindo instead. We strolled around, checked out some little shops, bought a few items, and then made our way down to the rocky shore of the beach.

There were more seashells on this beach than I ever imagined possible. The ground was literally littered with shells. Trent and I started collecting. It got really out of hand. We had at least a hundred shells within half an hour. The wind was really crazy on this particular day though, and the sand was blowing on the beach pretty badly, so we packed up our stuff and went back into town to find a little restaurant to eat lunch at.

We found a little hostel and ate some casado and enjoyed a couple beers there. It was delicious, as always. Seriously, the food in this country is outstanding. Go there. A crazy surfer from Delaware of all places wandered in, ranting and raving about his adventure at Witch’s Rock which took him over an hour to recount (I still don’t know what the point of his story was supposed to be, but it involved crocodiles, big waves, a Jeep, several bridges, Delaware, Tamarindo, Bob Marley, and cancer). We videotaped him secretly, and then called a taxi to pick us up and bring us back to Playa Conchal, but not before watching a cocaine deal and transaction outside. That was interesting.

We decided to end our trip by eating at our favorite restaurant on the resort, the Mexican Agave Azul. After enjoying some cheese fondue and key lime pie, we changed back into our swimsuits and took a nighttime stroll down to the beach. The ocean is particularly frightening to me at night. It was pitch black. The only source of light was the nearly full moon above, but it was hard to pick out anything on the beach at all. We spread our towels out on the sand and sat down. I slid my feet across the sand, and gasped as I saw the trail of sand behind my feet begin to glow.

“Oh my gosh, what’s happening?” I exclaimed. I slid my feet against the beach again. Hundreds of little particles began glowing in the sand again. I imagine whatever type of microorganisms exist in the sand and water start to twinkle and glow when they are touched. We walked down the beach toward the waves crashing loudly into the shore, and stood knee-deep in the water. Each wave brought in millions of more glowing speckles in the water and into the sand. It was whimsical, for lack of better words. I have truly never seen anything like it. After about a half an hour, we went back to the room to relax before going to bed, as we had to get up and pack relatively early the next morning to catch our 10:30 shuttle back to Liberia to board our returning flight home.

Sigh. Costa Rica is the most amazing place I have ever traveled. I’m 98% sure I am going to live there. Just watch.

The end. Thanks for stopping by.


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