Sunday, June 17, 2007

Upon the Stormy Seas

I sat in a low slung salt air battered beach chair and watched the midday tide roll in as the air vibrated from the green season afternoon storm pushing through. It's remarkable how it seems like I can have a relatively busy week and still feel a sense of calm contentment knowing that the only thing that really mattered at that very moment was watching the pelicans swoop in and run out the line on the foamy right breaking waves.

I've been fairly lax on keeping these pages updated, not because nothing is really happening but because I feel like the things I am loving right now might not come across all that interesting.

-I cooked six consecutive private three course meals for a couple from NYC.

-I ate some silly hot chiles from Jose the guard's home garden. He warned me "Tio (he calls me uncle) these are super hot" but I assumed that they couldn't be THAT hot considering the Ticos just don't eat spicy food. He was right though. They were super hot. He laughed. I cried. And then I laughed.

-I listened to a ton of music.

-I got full on pineapple.

-I read a page or two of Louis L'Amour, the unsung hero.

-I had a sip or two of Flor de Cana rum.

-Sleeping sleeping sleeping. I don't sleep late but I've been sleeping hard, a pleasant development considering I hadn't been sleeping too well in the states.

-I've been out at Las Casitas kayak surfing four days this week learning how to read the waves, catch them on the shoulder, bottom turn and use my paddle to turn back up the face of the wave. Each time I drop down the face of the wave feeling the spray come up over the nose, I laugh. Every time I paddle out into the break not sure if the next wave is going to pound down on my head and I punch through it and sling salt water everywhere with a whip of my head, I laugh. When I roll over in bed and I feel those two little muscles in my lower back tense and burn from another day in a boat, I grin and sleep like a stone.

-I have felt the healthiest I've felt in a long time.

-I am quickly adjusting to slower ways of life and Costa Rican handshakes.

(The painting above reminded me of this rediculous 3 Inches of Blood song, who by the way, Charles, have a new album out. PIRATE MEATAL...YAR!)

Monday, June 11, 2007

New Nicknames

After my momentary bursts of singing love songs in spanish and my panting relay of the crocodile story to the staff at Sueno del Mar, I now have two new nicknames: El cantante and El cocdrilo. I guess I could do the very least they aren't calling me gordito any more.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Cocodrilo en Salsa

So there we were...My friend Ashton, for the past few weeks, has been hounding me to paddle up the Langosta estuary with him in kayaks so finally out of lame excuses and feeling even lamer about being so lazy, I relented knowing that as soon as I sat in the boat it was probably going to be really fun anyway. We went and picked out boats, slathered on some sun screen, and dragged our goods down to the river's edge.

"You know, we're doing this at the most difficult time right?" Ashton asked as I fought the initial wobbles of being in a boat and we started our paddle up stream. The tide was going out and the current from the river was running shallow and strong towards the sea. "That's ok," I said, "I could use the exercize anyway", thinking about the load of "hey you got fat in the US" comments I've received from the Ticos.

After getting situated and remembering what I had been tought in my Chattahoochee kayak lesson from older days, we made it around the bend and up into the woods. I was shocked to see how quickly we left behind any trace of human influence and slid into through neighborhoods where the locals are river oysters an purple fiddler crabs lined up on the shore watching the strangers cruise past.

The further up we went the narrower the pass got and soon we were busy dodging the branches from either shore reaching down into the murky water. "The general estuary rule here is 'don't touch it'" Ashton said as we slid under our first low hanging branch. "That's the best way to get bitten by a weird spider or have one of those crazy tree snakes drop in your boat."

"Great" I thought to myself.

Despite my being green in a kayak I was having a great time learning how to paddle and steer and soon enough I finally felt comfortable enough that we could paddle one or two times and then coast in earsplittng silence up through the dense forrest.

After a slalom of four or five arched branches, we slid up, one in front of another, into a shallow lagoon, as far up as we were probably going to make it before the tide came in. I paddled once and coasted, saying over my shoulder "It looks like we've hit the end of the li..." and before I was even finished there was a huge cracking noise twenty five feet of the nose of my boat as a six foot crocodile freaked out and shot, Steeve Irwin style, straight out into the narrow pool.

What do you think my response was? Yup...scream like a girl. Yup...backpaddle and fast. I knew in my head that he was definitely way more scared than I was but I was having a hard time getting that info from my brain to my now charging arms. I was absolutely floored, laughing hysterically as I paddled hard, blasting past the branches I had gingerly snuck past fifteen minutes earlier. As I broke out into an open area (where I couldn't see any crocodiles) I finally stopped paddling and coasted, leaning back in the boat panting.

"That was insane," I said to Ashton.
"That happens all the time," he said.
"If that's the case...can we do this again tomorrow?" I asked guessing that there was probably no way I'd get to see that again in my whole life.
"Any time," he said.

We paddled back out, taking a break on the shore in front of the ocean before heading out to try my hand at kayak surfing...and now I'm addicted. Every time my arms ached as I rolled over in my sleep, I would grin and replay that lizzard ricocheting off the water in my mind.

Saturday, June 2, 2007


Honestly, sometimes I have little guilty twinges about my life. I sneak shifty little glances at my feet while I dig my toes into the sand, all the while somehow knowing I’m not supposed to enjoy this as much as I do.

In the past three to four weeks that I’ve been absent from the computer, there have been a ton of things going on probably better told in the timeless and efficient list form. I guess we’ll just start out right where we left off.

And away we go:

-Spent an exceptionally relaxing long weekend in San Jose including a day in the Mercado Central buying up the weirdest fruits we could find, finding tiny Costa Rican clothes for the now infamous collection, and eating bizarre cajeta candies.

-Cooked a dinner party for new and old Tica friends before being “dragged” out for an evening on the town. I had my first “Miami velvet rope” club experience which was only magnified by the fact we were nowhere near Miami.

-Caught a bleary-eyed flight back to Guanacaste for two more private dinners before packing up for my trip back to the US.

-In true Costa Rican networking form met a wonderful new client while waiting for our flight to the states to arrive. Apparently I’m now catering her 60th birthday party in Playa.Negra.

-Bought a ton of Louis L’Amour books. I’ve found that he’s actually really hard to find in book stores only confirming what I already know: He’s now obscure and therefore really cool.

-Catered a private dinner party for 14 eighteen year old girls. Needless to say it was more than a little disappointing to hear them express surprise that I had graduated from their school ten years prior. “What was Mr. Yeomans like WAY back then?” It was one of those moments.

-Watched my mom try beef cheek tacos. Smiled when she said “Hay, that’s pretty good.”

-Got addicted in an instant to the original “Legend of Zelda”

-Traveled to our nation’s capitol to reconnect with an old friend from middle school. Spent four days improving on an already proven formula.

-Ate way better than I should have at both Zengo and Oya, two excellent DC restaurants.

-Visited my first winery in Central Virginia and watched a lazy summer storm roll in over a picnic in the grass.

-Spent a few more days running around Atlanta gathering up “Hey while you’re up there…” items for everyone in Costa Rica.

-Piled onto a Liberia-bound plane back to “real” life.