JJ on a mountain bike. Worst Korea move ever!

Trip Start Nov 12, 2005
Trip End Nov 29, 2005

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

My beatiful and patient Anna has reminded me to tell you all that I did absolutely NOTHING resembling working out before this trip, actually, before any trip. But Iīm not the one huffing and puffing on top of the 3640 meter volcano we are just about to descend now, am I?

But letīs not get ahead ourselves, folks. I promised a bit of drama and excitement. And I intend to pass my savings down to the people.

So me and the Dub are in Turrialba, the rafting capital of Central America, and we are having, ahem, a time and JJ informs me that he will not paddling the horrific Pascua section with me. I was not amused. He got schooled on the section of the Pacuare River and had had enough. WHAAAAAT?! And to make things worse, the kayaker couple in our hotel were a duo of Irish musicians. No Class 4+ trip, no hot water shower, and trebly Celtic jigs wafting through the cavernous halls of our shady hotel. Marvo. This is why Superman works alone.

So we went out to dinner at a great chicken place called POPOīs brought some cervezas over from across the street, hardlya word being spoken between us. But we went back to the hotel and I somehow wheeled and dealed with 2 rafting companies to be able to do what I wanted solo. Got me a half price trip with a shady outfit called Rainforest World. They are that company that always tries to steal customers from others, but they gave us free beer and the deal was stealed. I met the dudes that I was to go on the Pascua with the night before, they were onetimers who thought the trip we did the day earlier wasnīt too scary. Well, Iīm pretty sure their minds were changed when one of them asked me to take his place in the front of the raft after the third drop. Touche, Mr. River. And thank you very much, Mr Roboto, for helping me escape to where I want to.

Some guy was peeing in the park next to our hotel while talking to me in Spanish, then he tried to shake my hand. I said "Lavese los manos, Senor" and kept walking.

JJ and I got pretty messed up that night at a bar called Rikaste. We also went to a Karoake place where the performers sat down. Lazy bastards. MANY drinks later, it was time to move on. We decided going to the disco was a bad idea and we were right. Earlier that day, there was an honest to goodness knife fight in front of our hotel. Rustic!!

Then, in the morning, the sky opened up, the sun came out and I stumbled into the raft-rot smelling office of Rainforest World. Hungover, 35 years old, and eating Pringles. And then, the river. . . . It was insane!!! Our party scouted, bounced, and prayed our way down several Class 4+ rapids and held on for dear life that day. One of our paddlers was a 6 foot plus chick named Kristin who was the female equivalent of me. Obnoxious, pushy, and canīt stop talking ever. She took a dump in the woods before our trip, reminding me that farting and rafting are only a few missplaced letters apart. Then she proceed to regale us with stories of threesomes, whitewater, and travel pooping. But she also was an accomplished paddler and adrenaline junkie. As opposed to me, the adrenaline Nazi. Does it sound like I was impressed. I was. But there really is only one tall girl for me.

The trip was one of the craziest ever, and we all did great. The frat boys took the rear spots and the aces took there places. And we rode that thang with all our might. I got some great footage of the biggest rapid. I think JJ may have made the right decision.

Then, when I got back, JJ told me that someone had stolen $100 from his hotel room. We looked again, and then JJ reported it. It sucked and we vowed to leave the hotel in the morning. We suspected the maid but we donīt know!!! Their key situation is really fucked up too.

So there was only one thing to do, get borracho!!! We met a Dutch girl named Carola who tagged along with us to some of the bars. We went back to Rikaste, and the owner Hugo bought us some Guaro shots and asked us about our trip. Then Carola and JJ challenged the local youth to a foosball game in which Carola turned out to be a tablesoccer pro. I continued my descent into a blackout and returned to the hotel with JJ to do something insanely dumb. We sat out on the balcony of our theft-plagued hotel and drank. JJ went to the bathroom and I decided to pee off the balcony, but it was over the reception area window so I walked out over the railing to a ledge that would provide me needed privacy. Except the railing popped off the wall and I almost fell 13 feet down to the ground!!!! I barely had managed to get back on the ledge and the railing started bending and I jumped over it. JJ walks back in to me almost having a heart attack on the floor. Smooth move, ExLax!!!

The next morning we migrated to the cheap but less than palacial Wittingham Hotel. Sounds pretty ritzy, eh? There were no toilet seats. But weīre not here to watch cable in the hotel room,are we? (Mr. Falbo) During the planning of this trip, JJ kept reminding me that I had promised that we would mountain bike on a volcano. Well, my friends, I think his eyes were bigger than his stomach. Because hereīs what happened:

I finagled some bikes from some dude, one was good, one was not. And we had only one helmet to share. We went to my old vulturous friends at Rainforest World and got a rafting helmet. Then we paid some dude with a jeep to drive us and the bikes to the top of the Turrialba Volcano. Just like we planned, right?

Over an hour later, we were still in the jeep climbing the mountain. As we left the streets of Turrialba towards the highlands, JJ seemed a bit concerned. As we got to the farms at the base of cone, JJ seemed bewildered. As we climbed a steep rocky road straight up to the top, JJ seemed pissed. By the time we hit the top on a near vertical road, I knew that JJ did not believe that we were actually going to go over 20 miles down a volcano. The view was spectacular, steam rising from one of the craters, a lush green country as far as the eye can see, and one scary assed downhill journey in front of us. We were OVER the clouds, Double J was breathing heavily, looking down thousands of feet towards the ground on the 3rd highest point in the country. JJ said "This is stupid" and he meant it. On a clear day, you can see both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans from here, but all I could see was a 33 year old man that had had his ass whipped by Costa Rica. But JJ, there is now nowhere to go, but down. He walked around, had a smoke, and told me that he wasnīt happy. It was typically tense, but there is no other option but to go down.

Now, Todd, he is all over this in a big way. A little Gotch, a can of Pringles and a cocktail of bravado, testosterone, and Ibuprofen. There is no stopping me. So I peeled down the volcano as if in my own private Mountain Dew commercial and dared JJ to follow me down into the madness. He made it about a 100 feet and went over the handlebars. Bam!!! I am officially Satan, folks. I felt as if JJ had sold his soul to me and now I was taking him into the abyss, but the abyss was one of the coolest experiences of my entire life!!! After he biffed it and scraped his hand, JJ walked all the downhill parts of the first 3 miles (all of it, pretty much) out of respect for the volcano. I flew down as if the lava was behind me, picking out safe lines and dodging the volcanic rocks below me. It was amazing. By the time we hit pavement, we were STILL breaking through the clouds. JJ hit his stride and we burned down that mountain. It truly was awesome, with great scenery and a lot of balls!! I couldnīt have had a better time on that ride, and I caught JJ having fun several times. JJ did, however, inform me that he was not going on the already paid for rafting trip the next day. But I asked Carola and Kristin if either wanted to take his place. Kristin was shooting the Florida Section of the Reventazon the next day, so Carola was in.

We went out to dinner at Popoīs again and then to a bar called OLE OLE, where the Vikes-Packer game was playing. Drinks began to flow and shots of Guaro were poured. Then JJ leaned back on his chair so far that it broke and he went careening to the sidewalk. Friend that I am, I almost fell over laughing while the manager picked him up. With only his pride bruised, the beers continued. JJ and I brought Can Coolers from home and the running joke is our competition to see who can hang on to our coolie the whole trip. Still got mine. Kristin regaled us with off color stories, JJ smoked a million cigarettes, I babbled on and on about paddling, and the Dutch girl smiled and humored us loud assed Americans. JJ and I stumbled home, he did some shots of Jim Beam and passed out.

So the plan was, Carola and me shoot the Pacuare Paso Marcos section and then meet JJ in Siquirres, 2 hours away from Turriabla. That made me a bit nervous, JJ alone on a bus with no Spanish and limited cash. Turns out I did not have to worry, my watch was an hour behind and I was not ready for the trip when the rafting guys came. I gave JJ a 2 minute crash course in 3rd world travel and went off to the river in the rain. But after 2 hours of driving through some of the least developed roads ever, a scary bridge (it bent as we were on it), and several feral dogs chasing the car, we had to stop. Less than a mile from the put-in, on the ravine of a cliff, the road was washed away. The two younger guides argued with the older ones that they could make it. But there was no way even I was going to try and cross that shit. So we went home with our tails between our legs through the rainforest. On the way home, Alejandro, our guide from before, talked of the area and his familyīs connection to it. We passed many coffee and sugar can plantations, as well as a ConAir hair dryer factory. (I almost got some souvenirs, you know I like that windblown look)

JJ arrived back at his hotel room a few hours startled to see us napping in his beds. Menage a nada, right? He seemed happy when he realized that he didnīt have to pay for the trip and who can blame him? He already lost his $100 the hard way, it was time to leave this town.

So we all took the bus to Siquirres and left Carola to go to the crime infested port of Limon. JJ and I got a lot of misinformation at the bus station. Almost got on a bus the opposite way, and then waited in the rain for a bus that took our wet asses to the stoner paradise of Puerto Viejo. The last big hurdle to our trip was to secure a hotel room and everything was copacetic until JJ decided to pay a lesser fee of $8 for a hotel room that was, and Iīm totally serious, HALF the size of my bathroom at home. To make matters worse, JJ had some ugliness going on in the shared bathroom whose door didnīt go to the ceiling out in the lobby. The two girls sitting out in the hammocks next to the bathroom were treated to the sounds of last nightīs roast chicken. JJ was not happy. We managed ONE beer this night before sleeping. It is now a time of rest, the adrenaline part of our journey is over. I write to you now with a slight buzz and I am full of Caribbean food, all is well. JJ went to another hotel and got him a $20 room with his own bathroom, with the memories of volcanic scrapes with death behind him. Tonight, we shall eat, drink and be merry. And so begins Phase 2: Getting JJ laid.

Thatīs all folks, Pura Vida.

Peace Love and Todd is a Jerk (Chicken lover)

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