Thursday, April 16, 2009
So it's been a while since I've been on the bloggio. Since the last time I've been on here, I've been spending a good deal of time with Ricardo, Hannah, & their baby Kalani. Ricardo & I have been surfing a lot, I've been working on my spanish which is going okay but I need so much work to actually have extended conversations. I mean, I can say "donde esta el bano" with the best of them at this point but I'm trying to get to that next level. So I've had some close encounters with the crazy howler monkeys which has been fun, got some good photos here & there. I ran into my first real hiccup which was my bank card expired. Ooops. Not sure how I let that one slip by but on April fools day my bank card pulled an April fools "no hay plata para ti" prank that wasn't a prank. At that point I realized not being able to get money is going to damper things a little bit and maybe I need to figure out how to make some money while I figure out how to get my card. I got really lucky though, Hannah's mom was coming down in 3 days from Boston so I called Dj, asked him to search the mail for a new card & overnight it to her. He found it, dropped it in fedex and saved me big time. It got to her the day before she left, she brought it and I'm back in business. Minor scare averted. Shortly after was a holiday week here, semana santa, & Ricardo had a long weekend so we went on a trip. He wanted to exit the country to renew his passport here because he's dealing with a crazy mess between his bank, citizenship, his son & some other stuff. Anyways we decided to go to a place neither of us had been, Santa Catalina Panama on the pacific Coast. We woke up at 3 am, hit the road and made some great time to the frontier. Crossed into Panama no probs & started making our way. Things change drastically when you get into this side of Panama from Costa Rica. The highway is newly paved & driving there is almost like driving in the states. The gas stations are from the states & their money is the Balboa aka the US dollar. Again we're lost & end up taking a long route to get to Santa Catalina but we finally arrive & it's beautiful. Perched up on a cliffside, palm trees, outer reefs, outer islands & hardly anything there. Ricardo & I get to a place that is full, because of the holiday weekend, but the guy lets us park & surf. Waves are really good but the crowds are actually really bad. After our first surf we run into our first problem with being in such a small town so far away from any real town, we can't find any food! We have a few things in my car but didn't really plan on camping & surviving on our own. Turns out the few places that serve food didn't want to serve us because we were at a weird hour & we weren't wearing shirts which I finally read in my book is 'illegal' or not the norm there. After searching for a place to stay we realize everything is full & we're going to have to camp. Thankfully a place that has rooms also has space for camping & they have a kitchen that serves breakfast & lunch. It's a bit hot for camping but the spot was amazing with great views of the surf & sunset. Surfing a reef reminded me of Hawaii & the abuse I took also reminded me of being in Hawaii. I was having a little too much fun & caught a wave I shouldn't have, ended up too far inside & and turned around with a huge set coming. The water disappeared from under me and I was on dry rock which put some major abuse on my board & me. Came out alive but my board was in bad shape but fixable. A few days here & it's time to head back towards Costa Rica. We decide we'll try to spend our last night at Pavones in Costa Rica so we leave 1 day early. Get to the border a bit faster this time, cross without any hassles and we're off to Pavones. It's about an hour & half drive to Pavones from the border & we get a mile from seeing the waves when 2 cars drive by slowly staring at us & a guy jumps out with his badge & stops us. He's a customs official, Ricardo is driving my car and the questions begin. I have all the necessary paperwork, we're both legal with fresh stamps on our passport BUT apparently Ricardo is not allowed to drive my car. So they start saying they are going to take my car. I guess I could say I'm happy that at this point my spanish has gotten better & I'm understanding what they're saying though I'm not wanting to understand it. We're arguing back, Ricardo tells them I was having pains from kidney stones & had pain medicine which was in the center console but they don't budge. They spend some more time talking away from us & we start getting a bit suspicious. The guy with the badge & pistol is driving a car with Panama plates so I'm saying to Ricardo, isn't that weird? There are 2 ladies driving another car which does look like an officials type car from Costa Rica. Anyways they come back to us & say we have 2 options; one is they take my car back to the border or 2 we get escorted back to the border. So we obviously choose number 2, they drive in front & back of us and escort us all the way back which was frustrating because we just wanted to see the waves & it was almost dark so our plans were ruined. During the drive looking at the panama plates we got more & more weary of the guy and started talking about what we might do if something weird starts to happen. The prob was the women had Ricardo's passport & my car permission so both of which are important documents. Back to the border, we pull up to a customs official there & tell them we think these people are weird but apparently that guy is driving a car with panama plates because he had just taken that car from someone else. More madness begins there, they are researching Ricardo's citizenship & other things which he's in the process of trying to get approved. More people get involved, they keep having meetings in back rooms & it's getting blown out of proportion considering we both have all the legal paperwork and I can totally drive but he was driving, which they told us a million times. At this point it started raining like crazy, super dark & downpour which seemed to fit the situation well. We argued, discussed, got lectured about if anything happens to me he can't drive my car and they let us go. So our plans for the day ruined by we're happy nothing worse happened, no fines, no nothing other than time lost & gas lost I guess. We drive north in the rain & shortly after a police car with it's lights on drives behind us. We're both thinking "oh great, here we go again" but it follows far back and never seems to want to pull us over. It's pouring so Ricardo is thinking they don't want to get out in the rain, there are no places to stop just a really narrow road. When I pass slow cars, he passes and so on for an hour of stress until finally we arrive at a gas station & I stop and the police doesn't . Whew, crisis averted. We spend the night in Dominical, have one more checkpoint hassle about the car & Ricardo's passport and we make it back to Jaco safe & sound. The trials & tribulations of having your own car I guess. It looks like what's next for me is I'm going to house sit in Dominical for a little while. A friend of Rob Williams has a house down there & I've been emailing with him & it seem like a decent option to relax and not spend much money. In the meanwhile my exercise group in Ricardo's neighborhood has grown to 4 & maybe six tonight. I'm the "entrenador" and having to use my spanish with everyone so it's good practice. I hope this episode finds everyone healthy & happy. Pura Vida!