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Posts from — June 2011

Deadman Peaks 50 Mile Trail Run

New Mexico Landscape


 

Just wanted to give a quick racing update. I registered for the Deadman Peaks 50 mile trail run in October. This event takes place about 80 miles north of Albuquerque, NM and is run on a portion of the Continental Divide Trail. I have a few different reasons for why I chose this race.
 
1) My bro lives in Albuquerque so I’ll have a place to stay. Also, hopefully he can act as my crew and be there to massage my feet, pop my blisters, apply anti chafe cream to a variety of exciting locations, and wipe the vomit from my face. (Haven’t talked to him about this yet)
 
2) I feel like it will be a huge challenge but it’s not an extremely difficult course. It has roughly 6000 feet of climbing. I feel like this is doable. It is at elevation though-between 6-7000 feet.
 



 
3) I had the chance to run on La Luz trail outside Albuquerque earlier this year and really enjoyed this desolate deserty feel.
 
4) I’d be lying if I said I didn’t check to make sure this is a qualifying course for Western States 100.
 
5) This race falls roughly two months after my return to the USA in August. I feel like that will be sufficient to reaclimatize, get in some 4 hour runs w/vert, and experiment with nutrition, pacing, strategy, etc. once back in the States. I’m ramping up my mileage, my long runs, and climbing down here in Costa Rica but it’s still difficult to get everything in…consistantly.
 
6) This 50 miler falls about a month after The Flagline 50k in Bend, OR that I might use as a training run. We’ll see though…I hate running races when my fitness isn’t at it’s peak…
 
Those are some good reasons, eh?
 

Pic from last years race...


 
I’m just stoked to have something I am excited about on the calendar! It’s made it that much easier to get out of bed each morning, enter the blazingly hot streets (even at 6:30am), dodge crazy drivers, avoid giant man holes, out run the stray dogs, and work hard.
 
I’m trying not to have any expectations for my first couple ultras. I am telling myself that I just want to get through them. This isn’t my nature but I’m trying to be realistic. I know that becoming a good ultra runner doesn’t happen overnight. I have heard of 2:20 marathoners getting smoked by 3:00 marathoner ultra marathoners.
 
My principal goal will be to finish this race.
My Secondary goal will be to finish under 11 hours and hence be able to try to get into Western via the lottery.
My final goal is to whoop up on some fools…
 
So that’s that….I signed up, I registered, I paid $75, so I’m running it no matter what.
 
If anyone out there living in the Pacific NW wants to run it too…let me know! I feel like it’s a guarenteed good time…
 
Jensen…yes, I’m calling you out…you are running it with me…so start running!!! Haha.
 
And if there is anyone out there who ran it last year; I’d love some intel.
 

June 30, 2011   No Comments

Part One of Tortuguero and Running in Costa Rica

After about a week and a half of hanging out in Heredia, Costa Rica I was starting to get the beach itch again. If you remember the Canadian gal from Canada from the last post, it was her that provided me with an oportunity to scratch that inch (ok, that was the last itch reference…first because its not a very good analogy and second because its sort of gross…STD’s for some reason come to mind…sorry, maybe that’s just me…)
 
MOVING ON!
 


Annetta Grant, the red head, catholic, canadian, soon to be masters student in marketing at the most prestigious university in Canada, and fisherwoman extraordinaire invited me to go to a place called Tortuguero.
 


 
This is easily one of the most remote locales in Costa Rica. Located absolutely in the middle of nowhere along the coast on the Carribean side. I was looking forward to getting out of town so this was perfect.
 
Ya, OK. Tortugero. Let’s go.
 
Traveling there was great. From San Jose you take a 2 hour bus ride (a few windy portions) to Cariari, another hour long ride to Pavona, and finally an hour and a half´long boat ride through winding canals and rivers via motor boat.
 

 

 
Once we arrived in Tortuguero…hold up, I have introduce another couple characters to the story. On the motor boat ride me and Annette met two Israelis, Daniel who did the vast majority of the talking, and Jornah or something like that, who was the chill laid back guy. Daniel was very very fratty from the very beginning. With a thick Israeli accent he would say things like,
 
‘Weez a like to party, ya!’ and after chatting with a girl he would say ‘…the chicas like me…no, they WAANNTT me…I am very handsome, no?’
 
His english was definitely good enough to joke around and tell us stories.
 
One note worth mentioning; if you haven’t backpacked or traveled extensively you probably arent familiar with how things work. When you meet other backpackers on the road you immediately discover four things. What nationality they are, where they have been, where they are going next, and how long their total trip is. I have had this exact conversation with over probably 50 people since my trip began.
 
So with these guys: Nationality: Isreal. Where they have been: Panama for 2 months, moving through Costa Rica for 1.5 months, then up through the rest of Central America and finally ending in Mexico City, Mexico. Duration of trip: 4 months total.
 
Another quick fact about these guys; they both just got out of the Israeli army where they were officers fighting Hezbollah on the Gaza Strip. Crazy. These guys were to become our buddies over the next couple days, accompanying us on our tours and meals and all. For some reason, when walking around at night with two Israeli soldiers–the Costa Ricans lurking in the shadows don’t seem so scary.
 
It had been a long day so we decided to just crash the first night after checking into Hotel Icaco. If anyone ever goes to Tortuguero I would totally recommend this place. It felt safe, theres a great communal area, its right next to the beach, the staff was fantastic and it was cheap; $10 per night for me.
 
Dang, I have to backtrack again. On the bus and subseqent boat ride on the way to Tortuguero, we were being pitched tours from a local of Tortuguero named Roberto. At first we were a little put off, just another guy trying to sell us crap. But after the trip was done, Roberto had reached legendary levels of awesomeness….almost, just almost, to that of Jesus, the guide in La Fortuna. Jesus was kinda like the Beatles; there are just some things that can’t be replicated.
 
The Israelis had ended up signing up for a tour the next morning with Roberto so me and Annetta decided to join. We hit the sack around 11pm with our Canoe Tour to begin at 5:30am.
 
No rest for the weary.
 
5:30 came quickly but we were up and ready to roll. This tour was really really incredible. The early mornings are the best time of the day to bear the heat and the animals dont have to hide from the sun at this point. Therefore, the animals are out along the edges of the jungle for us to see.
 

 

 
Im going to try to list everything we saw:
 
Spider Monkey
Howler Monkey
White Face Money
Sloth
Giant Blue Butterfly
Tropical Birds Galore
Iguanas
Giant Spiders
Kayman (small croc)
Jesus Lizard (walks on water)
Many more I can’t remember….
 

 
The canoe was powered by Roberto who paddled away effortlessly, passed around wildlife guides, binoculars, and his insightful facts and figures about all the flora and fauna. He could spot a baby lizard a mile away and he knew exactly where to look for all the above mentioned critters.
 
We paddled through a maze of rivers and small canals that were very Amazon-esque…I was totally blown away…
 
So that was the morning. I followed that up with some time on the beach and some time laying in a hammock reading The Old Patagonia Express by Paul Theroux. Not bad eh?
 

View from hostel and said hammocks...


 
Oddly enough Daniel, the black haired one in the video, is a runner! So what do we do? We go running on the beach aroud 5pm. Now I dont necessarily recommend this as it was incredibly hot and humid but i’m not one to turn down a run…so off we go. Daniel tells me he ran the Tel Aviv half marathon earlier this year. I of course ask him what his time was to gage his fitness…to see what I am getting myself into. He tells me, its pretty good, but not good enough to get me worried about that run. We talk running the whole time, he throws in some hilarious shadow boxing sporadically throughout the run, and he montiors his polar watch to maintain a specific heartrate. He was looking to hang out around 172 beats per minute for 45 minutes. Its not hard to appreciate what i’m doing in Costa Rica during times like these. Im running with an Isreali dude along a beach that goes on for miles, talking about running and life in the Israeli Army, sweating buckets, but staring blissfully off into the distance of sand and ocean…there is no place id rather be. I push the pace towards the end of the run to make him work a little and then give him the universal high five to seal the run. Most memorable run in Costa Rica to date….awesome.
 

Cool small little church in Tortuguero


 
After a wonderfully cooked dinner by Annetta in the communal area, we head off onto our final adventure of the day, our search for what makes Tortugero famous, Las Tortugas (the turtles) that come year in and year out to lay their eggs along the shore.
 

 
Ill post part two within the next couple days…
 
Pura Vida

June 25, 2011   3 Comments

La Fortuna, Arenal Volcano, Jesus, Canadian, Costa Rica (Part II)

From Monteverde we acted like good little tourists and moved on to the next mega stop; The Arenal Volcano. Getting there consisted of a $20 Taxi/Boat/Taxi ride. We spent about 90 minutes winding through the incredibly beautiful countryside, 30 minutes on a pleasant breezy boat ride with views of Arenal, and finished off with a 15 minute taxi to our hotel.
 


 
One occurence of note. Basically I just want to brag for a second so here it is. When we were getting in the shared taxi, there was an Israeli girl that was kind of freaking out. She was trying to communicate to the driver that she wanted to make sure her friends knew she was leaving and that everything was ok. However, the Israeli girl only spoke Hebrew and English and the driver only spoke Spanish. Sooooo….while she was freaking out and the driver was starting to get upset repeating a similar line to the canopy tour guides from the last post, “Everything is fine, don’t worry, everything is fine.” And the Israeli replies with, “I know you are saying everything is fine, but that doesnt mean anything. All you people say is that everything is going to be fine.”
 

So what does Chase do? Thats right, he steps into his good samaritan shoes and does a bit of translating. I say, “Hello Jewish girl, do you want me to tell him something?” (Those weren’t my actual words….but this was the first time I’ve ever talked to an Israeli). The girl says yes, “tell him I want to talk to my friends before we leave.” I give her a calm reassuring grandfather-esque smile that just HAD to have put her at ease. I go on to talk with the driver and save the day. Everything worked out and this may be the first time in my life that my spanish served some sort of real purpose.
 

My Bro Eric would be proud of this Pic. ;)


 
Upon arrival in La Fortuna (closest city to Arenal) we get checked in and immediately sign up for a tour package…these little towns have the tourist thing down to a science. Our tour consisted of a walking tour around the base of the Volcano, a dinner, and a few hours at the local hot springs. It was during this time that we met our two new friends, Jesus and Annetta.
 

Oh Canada, Oh Canada! Thats their entire national anthem...


 
We actually met Annetta right after we checked into our hotel because she had just checked into the room adjacent to ours at about the same time. She was lingering out on the balcony so me and Phil went and introduced ourselves. I think I made an “eh” joke within the first minute of meeting her. “I hope the tour is worth the money…EH?” She responded, “Did you just say eh?” I continued to make jokes and tease the friendly Canadian….those Canadians, I like em’. I mean, without them, we wouldn’t have Canadian bacon and that would just be a shame…
 
So despite the wise cracks, Annetta became our friend and accompanied us on the Volcano tour, dinner, and hot springs. The company was great.
 
After Annette came Jesus. Jesus was our Costa Rican guide, expert on the local flora and fauna and massacre-er of the english language. It was great and endearing…well, as much as another dude can be endearing to another dude. On our way to the Volcano me and 8 other tourists were sitting in the back of a large van with Jesus riding shotgun. He went on to twist his body around towards his customers and greet us with a huge smile and probably the funniest question ever. “Hello! You. How are you feeling? Are you feeling good?!” He proceeding to painstakingly ask this exact question to each person in the van. It was freakin awesome. I responded with, “Jesus, I am feeling good…very strong feeling.” Others had similar responses, all with a smile, you couldn’t not like this guy.
 

Jesus! How are you feeling!?


 
The jungle and the Volcano were fine and dandy but Jesus made the tour worth it. We then went on to the hot springs and dinner. The food was fantastic and the hot springs were really really cool. There was something like 23 different pools all with different cascading waterfalls and stone structures. Each pool was also a different temperature so there was something there for everyone. There were also some wicked crazy slides that definitely wouldn’t pass the safety regulations in the USA.
 

His first shower of the trip...


 
Once back at the hotel in La Fortuna, me and the Canadian had a long deep conversation about the full range of life’s most challenging issues. We touched on it all…it was just one of those conversations. It’s amazing how the little decisions you make can end up, perhaps, changing the rest of your life. If we hadn’t decided to accept the offer to stay at that hotel, we wouldn’t have met Annetta, and we wouldn’t have had the conversation that opened my mind to a few channels of thought that I hadn’t considered before.
 
Travel is cool like that…and I think some travelers are like minded….and it’s good to talk to people….because you can learn things….and change.
 

 
I mentioned at the beginning of this post that there was good times and bad times…so I’ll close with the bad.
 
Me and Phil were smooshed into two bus seats that were built for Ticos (Costa Rican people) and not tall Americans. This little design flaw was the domino that set off a chain of events that, again, may have led to longterm consequences….
 
I sat down in my seat and jam my backpack in between my legs. It’s a tight tight squeeze but whatever, I’m gonna put up with it. Phil sits down, jams his bag between his legs, considers his options, dislodges his bag and puts it in the above the head storage rack. Now, I think we both knew that this was not safe and there may even have been a sign saying not to do this….but we had survived the trip thus far and had kind of put the danger zone in the back of our minds. I didn’t think twice about Phil doing this, if I had, I would have told him to put it back between his legs.
 
So there we are, soaking wet with sweat, in a jam packed bus full of Ticos. We were traveling on the cheap, this 4-5 hour bus ride cost us just 4 dollars or so. I guess there’s a reason why it’s so cheap. I remember noticing a man that was hovering right next to Phil for quite some time. Because there were no open seats I didn’t think too too much about it, just that it was kind of odd how long he has been there. I also noticed he was decently dressed, well shaven, and I definitely picked up a weird vibe from him. I wish I had been more aware at this point but I had just totally forgot Phil had put his bag up there and hence was totally dumbfounded when another American across the aisle shouts at Phil, “Hey! Man! Your bag is gone!!” Phil shoots up out of his seat and says, “Chase, we have a problem!” I now understand what NASA must have felt when Apollo 13 made their uneasy declaration, “Houston, we have a problem.”
 
My stomach immediately hits the floor and I knew in that instant that the guy who had been standing there, as our Canadian friend called it, “nicked” Phil’s bag. We later found out that he had an accomplice who was distracted the American across the aisle who was actually watching Phils bag the whole time, unbeknownest to us. The man that made the grab got off at the next stop and then the partner got off at the next one. I knew it was too late to do anything and Phil actually went up and tried to talk to the bus driver about doing someething about the stolen bag…but it was too late. The guy was long gone.
 
The rest of that day had a somber shadow looming us. I felt scared and taken advantage of. I started to question what it was that I was doing in this seemingly dangerous country, away from the justice that seems to prevail in the US. But more than that, I felt bad that my friend got ripped off and that this one incident was going to change the entire experience of the trip. I told him later that maybe him getting his bag stolen saved me or the other tourists on the bus from getting our stuff stolen in the future. And maybe if you are reading this now and you are going to be traveling in Costa Rica in the future…maybe Phil getting his bag stolen will keep you from getting ripped off. So here it is….DON’T EVER PUT YOUR BAG IN THE OVERHEAD STORAGE AREA….you are warned, that’s all I can do.
 
So that was the bad news of the trip. Now that 3 or 4 days have passed, the somber air has completely gone away. I’m back to loving life here in Costa Rica and the people seem more friendly and caring and safe than ever. There are bad people out there in every part of the world…we just have to educate ourselves about how to avoid their reach and not let the actions of a few effect our perspective of the whole. This analogy is wildly overused but here it is again: extremist Islamic terrorists represent Islam with about the same correlation as the crazy loony man on his soapbox screaming about the end of times and the condemnation of sinners represents Christianity. I’m not going to let one excuse of a man obscure my image of a country full of wonderful people.
 
Pura Vida is still at large….
 

What can we say...we like las chicas gordas. ;)

June 15, 2011   2 Comments

Monteverde Cloud Forest, Santa Elena, Costa Rica

Today marks the first day of my solo trip in Costa Rica. My travel buddy, Phil, left today to return to The United States. Since my last post about our trip to Manuel Antonio we had some good times and some bad times. 
 
We’ll start with the good. 
 
After a few days of R&R in Heredia where we are staying, we again hit the road to see more of what Costa Rica has to offer. Monte Verde was our first stop. Immediately upon exiting the bus we were approached by a few hostel owners with flyers about their hostels and services offered. We had a hotel in mind so we turned down their offers. In retrospect, I think it’s better to be more open to these types of offers. They are usually offering some sort of discount and in reality, a lot of these hostels are basically the same. 
 


Instead though, we trekked about a mile outside of town only to come to the conclusion that we didn’t want to stay that far from the central district. Therefore, we returned to Santa Elena proper, the city closest to the Monteverde Cloud Forest and ended up taking the hostel.
  




 
We stayed at Las Cabinas de Eddy. It was a nice little place with friendly staff, free breakfast, and everything two dudes on a budget need. Well, hold up, there was one thing….at around 4am our ears were violated by a vicious attack going on outside our door. Imagine a cougar ripping the head of a rabbit. There was a screech, a hiss, and an incredible roar. I jumped out of bed like a little girl saying, “What the..!!!” Phil just rolled over and mumbled, “ahh, i hate cats.” It turned out to just be the house cat attacking a lizard or something but the thing sounded like a wild beast. I don’t know if I can ever look at a cat the same way. That thing went all kinds of primordial! It sounded like an alien monster sucking the brain out of a straw…seriously. 
 
Ok, moving on…
 
Phil had in his mind to go on the ropes course canopy tour. This tour was freaking crazy! First of all, the ropes course entailed 13 different ropes, the shortest being just 100 meters, the longest being over 1000 meters. We started the tour with a nice little informational session about the equipment, safety, and procedures involved in riding the ropes. This consisted of three borderline children explaining to us in broken english that basically everything is just going to be ok and to not worry. Ok, so we headed to the ropes with a don’t worry attitude, because a kid instructor told us to. 
 
Moving on, the ropes turned out to be super fun! Flying through the air above a prehistoric jungle will never get old. The feeling of being suspended in the air with just a few metal clasps keeping me from falling to a sure death was exciting and invigorating. I think what the tour really lacked was the simple pressence of professionalism. Without naming any names, there were certain people that were legitimately scared and needed some reassurrence that they were in fact, not going to die. All we got were jokes like, “Hey instructor dude, this is my first time doing this…” The instructor would reply, “Me too.” Yes, it was funny, but it never stopped. 
 

Guys with helmets are hot. I dont care what every woman in the world says.



 
I actually got bit on my wrist by a sizable spider that must have been hiding in the gloves they gave me so i told the instructor, “Oh man, I just got bit by a spider!” I showed him the evidence on my wrist and he replied with, “Oh, bad news, ALL the spiders in Costa Rica are very venomous!” Then he left me hanging for awhile in fear. He then laughed and said he was kidding. With nothing else said, the bite remained and I didn’t know if I was gonna start feeling sick or dizzy or what. Turned out to be fine of course…maybe he just knew.
  


Video of Phil Flying on the Rope!

 
You may be thinking, ‘ok, those things don’t sound that bad.’ But here’s the finale. The final obstacle is what they called The Tarzan Swing. This is basically a platform suspended maybe 50 feet into the air which we were supposed to jump off and swing across the jungle like Tarzan. 
 
As my turn approached, the joke from the instructors became, “No, don’t jump! It’s not safe! Don’t jump!” They would yell that from below only to then have the instructor up top open the gate and push you out! Crazy, right?  
 
Allllssssooooo, there was a german girl, who for comical reasons was continually saying with a thick german accent, “Ayy, I shat in my trousers!” This woman actually scraped her foot on a piece of equipment because apparently the Tarzan Swing rope was new and therefore it stretched a bit more than normal….and of course they found out by trial and error…I just don’t know how people aren’t dying on a regular basis there. 
 
Sooo, I’m still kind of torn. It was rad flying through the jungle, but there were also some downsides. One downside I forgot to mention was the lack of protection of certain parts pertaining only to the male species…I wouldn’t be surprised if a few unfortunate men sadly lost their ability to reproduce after this tour. So beware…men, wear a man diaper or maybe just triple….or quadruple up on the underwear. 
 
Since this post is getting kind of long, I’ll stop here. My next post will be about the following day when we went to the Arenal Volcano where we met a quirky tour guide named Jesus and a cool Canadian chick that put up with my insulting ignorance about the great Canadian nation. 
 
Pura Vida.

Read about my Costa Rican Adventures from the beginning..

June 11, 2011   2 Comments

Trip to Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Me and my friend Phil spent two nights staying at El Mono Azul (The Blue Monkey) hotel in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. This area revolves around two towns; Quepos and Manuel Antonio. There is a 3 mile road that connects the two and it winds through the steep hills along the coastal range. This three mile road contains a variety of hotels, restaurants, resorts, and hostels to serve all the tourist needs.
 


We arrived in Quepos via a 4 hour bus ride from San Jose. We missed the direct bus so we had to take the longer one with stops; but it wasn’t too bad. I can watch the Costa Rican countryside all day long. At times it was a bit hot and the roads were windy through the mountains but it was a pleasant ride and experience overall. Here are a few pictures from a town we passed along the way.
 



 

 

 
Here are a few photos of our hotel, El Mono Azul. I’d recommend this place to anyone…but get a room with AC if you want comfort you are used to.
 


 

 

 

 

After we checked into our hotel we decided to go scope out the beach and grab some dinner. We ended up eating at place called Los Gemelos. It was delicious but way over priced. Being the naive tourists that we are, we sadly sunk a pretty penny that night. We also stumbled across probably the only negative experience of the entire getaway…
 
We were waiting at the bus stop to return to El Mono Azul when we were approached by a couple dudes trying to sell us a variety of illegal substances. I’m pretty sure they were bombed out of their mind and I really just felt kind of bad for their sad existence.
 
Seeing my white skin and American clothes, one early 20 something said in english, “Hey Maaaaaan, you need some marijuana Maaaaan?” I replied with something to the effect of “Nah, I’m cool. We don’t need anything.” He rebuttled, “How bout some cocaine? Straight from Colombia. You need the snow Maaaaaan?”
 
They actually approached us three times that night. I think the reason being was that they just were high and hammered and didn’t remember that I had already said I didn’t want any “snow.” We saw them at the same spot doing the same thing the following day too. It’s just really sad that that is what their life consists of…chilling at the bus stop on a beautiful beach harassing tourists day in and day out. Well, I guess they are doing more than harassing, they wouldn’t be there if they didn’t make the occasional sale, but still, not cool.
 
Anyways, back to what the place really had to offer…El Parque Nacional de Manuel Antonio. We paid $10 to enter a park that promised some good wildlife viewing and a pristine beach–and we got it. Rather than explain, take a look at the photos.
 


 

 

 

Bromance Shot Number 1


 
Phil in the Ocean!!!
 

 
Here the sloth was dangling from a branch but was not letting go since he didn’t have a branch to move to. So after some time the naturalist guide used a branch to trick the sloth into letting go. This helped the sloth to cross the road. I went photo crazy with Steve Irwin (RIP) enthusiasm!
 

There are coons everywhere i guess...

 
The beach was paradise. The water was actually warm. The sand was soft and light. The horizon was beautiful and blue. The jungle panorama added it’s effect. The sun was hot but not scorching. The beach people were friendly. I was happy.
 
So the trip was great…it really was. We are now back in Heredia where the pace is a little easier. We are learning the bus routes and adjusting to the life and times of Costa Rica. Today we went to a local church then watched Costa Rica play Cuba in the Gold Cup on tv at our host families house. It was most interesting to see the reactions of our family members. Costa Rica won 5-0 so there were a lot of celebrations. If someone was in the other room when someone scored the first question was, “Quien!?” or “Who!?” They wanted to know which beloved star made the shot. It’s about the story of great men…the magic of great soccer.
 
Running Update: Today marked 4 consecutive days of running in Costa Rica! I feel like I’m adjusting well to the heat and humidity. And if hills are what I wanted, hills are what I got! I’ve run some crazy killer steep stuff in the last couple days–it’s gotta be good for me. I’m just happy to be getting back into a routine running wise. I’m planning to hop in a half marathon this Saturday for fun. It’s supposedly a nice one but it’s at 6pm! Yesterday morning I saw a surprising amount of runners and cyclists on my run. I think since the roads are slower on Sunday more people hit the streets. I also scoped out a place to do some track workouts…check it!
 



 
Ok, that’s enough for now. Maybe in my next post I’ll describe a typical run….what I see, smell, feel, etc…
 
Pura Vida–Chau!
 
PS: To read all my posts about my travels: Costa Rica Blog Entries

June 6, 2011   No Comments

Here in Heredia, Costa Rica.

We arrived in Costa Rica two nights ago to a storm of taxi drivers wanting to take us to our destination. For some reason I feel like I’m preconditioned (or have read too many travel guides) to feel like absolutely everyone that needs my money to do their job is trying to take me for a ride. I couldn’t help but think that the taxista had jimmied the taxi meter to some crazy setting and was charging the stupid gringos astronomical amounts. When the driver chatted with us and took us safely to our destination for a reasonable price I felt bad about my knee jerk reaction to the swarms of men just trying to take initiative and make their living. In this culture, if the taxistas acted like American cab drivers, they would never make any money, they are doing what they need to do. I’m working to change my gut reactions.


We met our host mother Mizo at her front door and were greeted with a warm hug and kiss on the cheek. I went for the euro double cheeker but was shot down. I guess they just do the one here.

We spent a nice couple hours getting acquainted and talking about the area. I was quickly shown a photo album of past foreign residents, my parents and little brother included (they stayed with this host family 8 years ago). This was a great ice breaker as I already felt like i knew the family upon arrival.

The following day we hit the streets in an effort to get to know the city. I had many pleasant conversations in spanish with the locals about silly stuff like where me and Phil (my friend who will be here for two weeks with me) could buy an umbrella aka paraguas in Spanish. We even ate lunch with a couple girls who attend the local university that want to meet with us to hang out and exchange language lessons. I feel like I have unlimited freedom to speak with strangers here. I’m very used to American culture where it’s rare to have a decent conversation with a stranger that you meet while walking through town. I love this contrast.

We also quickly found out the they weren’t kidding when they say that this is the rainy season here. The trend is beautiful mornings and a good amount of sporadic rain in the afternoons and evenings. I actually don’t mind it because it’s a warm rain and there is no wind to chill.

Using my computer and the local Internet has already proved to be a challenge. Therefore, most likely for the first bit of my trip I will just be doing text entries so I won’t have to deal with uploading photos and videos, converting and editing files and all that jazz. My writing will have to be entertaining enough.

I know this blog is supposed to be about running so here is one tidbit. I went to the local running shop (surprised they had one) and inquired about the best places to run in Heredia. A legit looking runner said, “Conoce el palace de Los Deportes? ….corre alredador, es seguro.” This means, “you know the sports complex? Run around it. It’s safe.” This is kind of sad for me because I did see the sports complex and it consisted of about two square blocks with a paved sidewalk around it. This is the best place to run?! Well, I guess it will have to do for now. And if I am being honest, I haven’t even run yet. I’m trying not to be that legalistic American who thinks that his 60 minute run is more important than talking with their host mother over breakfast or who doesn’t care about using a lot of shower water after an afternoon run. I don’t know, I’m just trying to be respectful of the people and culture during this initial stage.

I don’t know what it will look like but I will get into a good running routine soon. I think it will happen after Phil leaves and I get settled in and all. I may have to reevaluate my fitness goals for the summer and fall–but what is two seasons in a lifetime of running? I’m doing something great right now, it’s just not running….yet.

Ok, thanks to you who have encouraged me to keep writing.
I’ll try to keep it up!

Chao!

June 1, 2011   5 Comments