Monday, November 12, 2007

Cervezas, Crocs and The Hoff - Costa Rica day two

We met up with four Calgary friends in San Jose. Jerry and Jack - two tough deadgoats that can pedal the pants off many guys half their age. Trish - one of the strongest female riders I know and capable of reaching the podium here if things go well. And Jon, one of our RV roommates from TransRockies - he's also got a shot at the podium.

We put our bikes together then rented a bus to take us to Jaco, where the race will start on Wednesday. 85 miles separates Jaco from San Jose, though it looks much shorter on the map because you can't see hills or how the road isn't actually straight for any longer than a few dozen meters. The drive took us about four hours, which included two stops, but flew by as we chatted non-stop. Jack kept us entertained with stories about his exotic travels. He looks a bit like Mick Jagger (less a decade of the rockstar lifestyle) and carries a perpetual smile. He found a way to turn his passion for travelling in to a means of income - importing antiques and cottage crafts from Southeast Asia - after getting his wife pregnant in a climbing hut in New Zealand. As he said it 'when we got back to Canada, she was feeling pretty sick. We thought she caught a bug from something in Asia, but it turned out it was from me. So, I figured it was time to get serious and get to work'.

Our first stop was a roadside lunch place that was perched on a steep hill, with the Pacific Ocean visible way down below in the distance. It was a wall-less hut in the middle of nowhere. It felt remote - except that there was an autographed photo of David Hasslehoff hanging on the wall. Everyone loves the Hoff!

Next stop was a river crossing. On the banks of the river there were crocodiles! Jon joked that he wished he could see them up close and we laughed and talked about the stupid tourists that we see taking pictures of bears and Bison at home. But, before I knew it, there was Jon, walking through the mud and grass toward the river. Not too far behind him were the three other guys. I watched the crocodile hunters from the bridge and, while I had no desire to get closer to the crocodiles myself, I couldn't help but laugh when a morbidly obese woman walked by smoking a cigarette saying how dangerous it was for those guys to be down there. Danger takes many forms. When we checked in the our hotel, we noticed that the exchange rates offered by the front desk were still offering more colones per US dollar than per Canadian dollar. We contemplated going to the bank so we could make some money by capturing the arbitrage, but decided to hit the beach for some sunset body surfing instead.

Then it was dinner time. We found a quiet little restaurant down the street. It didn't sell cervezas, so our waiter went to the liquor store on his 'Bike Star Reactor' (which looked more like Bike Scar Reaccor because of the stylized T) and came back with 12 beers in his basket. Service! It made up for the fact that we didn't have live music.

We ended the evening at a seedy local bar that was playing spanish music and had Dancing with the Stars on the television (it beat the NFL broadcast offered at the other places). There were some rough looking characters inside and no other gringos. It was perfect. Our waitress, who was dressed like she was ready to tango, was popular with the men and obviously used to a lot of attention. It must have been quite a surprise when Jon turned her down at the end of the night. What a heart breaker.


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