May 20:  Rara Avis to La Fortuna/Arenal

Up at 6am.  My alarm was erroneously set for 6pm, but it didn't matter because I was up already.  Yet another night of insomnia and sleeping in spurts.

I wore dry underwear but I had to put on a sweat-soaked shirt, waterfall-soaked shorts and sweat-soaked muddy socks.  Every article of clothing I'd brought up to the lodge was wet.  Nothing dries in the rainforest.

At 6:45am we started hiking back down.  We had the option of getting on the tractor at El Plastico, but most of us continued hiking.  The tractor goes so slow that there's not much to gain by riding.  The idea was that we'd leave before the tractor, and eventually it would catch up to us and we'd hop on.  Sarah and I took a commanding lead over the others, and then Sandy caught up to us, and we thought we might be able to beat the tractor all the way to the bottom, but we didn't make it.  We still walked 7 mi/12 km though.  Good exercise yesterday and today.  And I just remembered that we stopped to pet a dog along the way, and I think Sandy took a pic of me kissing the dog.  I need that one!  Also, Sarah was hiking in her pajama bottoms.  Sandy said I should have been hiking in my undies because they were dry, but it depended on what kind they were.  And then she pressed me for an answer.  So I said tighty whities.  And I think you know why I bring up this anecdote.  I'm flippin', I'm floppin'.

My left knee was sore yesterday.  I've mentioned in the past that it sometimes gets sore on a very strenuous hike with a big downhill component, but gets better the next day.  Today I was worried because the hike was almost entirely downhill, and it flared up a bit at the beginning, but by the end it had subsided completely.

We got on the tractor at 9:15am and rode the rest of the way to the base camp, where I was reunited with my Stuff.  We then had a van ride 10:15am-2:15pm (with a lunch stop) to La Fortuna.  Before going to the hotel we stopped at the Desafio office to book activities for the next couple days.  I sort of wanted to do the cave thing, but I'd rather do things other people are doing.  So I booked the canyoneering, whitewater rafting, and Arenal hike/hot springs/pizza party for $195 total.  Also I had a free beer (up to now I was drinking Imperial, 4.6% alcohol) and used the free Internet in the office.  Delgado's having surgery and will be out 10 weeks.  I ended up getting David Ross as his replacement, who's actually ranked higher than my #2 catcher Jason Kendall despite being Brian McCann's backup.  So I could end up dropping Kendall, or using a surplus catcher as trade bait.  [I'm typing this on the 31st, hours after trading Yadier Molina in a deal that involved me punting saves and getting Chipper Jones.  So the 3rd-catcher strategy paid off.]  Boners were back up to 3rd place (66 pts.).

On the ride into La Fortuna, Fabi pointed out the "sleeping Indian" mountain.  She said it looks like an outline of his head, chest, "something else", and feet.  I said that it in fact looks like ME sleeping.  This got kind of a Pig 'N Whistle reaction, like I typically get for udder fuck or uterus creampie...more uncomfortable groans than laughs.  No one said "too soon" though.

We checked into the hotel (Sierra Arenal) and I rearranged my bags now that I was back in civilization.  I also assembled my laundry to get done.  I hadn't done real laundry on a trip since Contiki in 2001, because I learned that sloshing clothes around in the shower is an acceptable stopgap, but after Rara Avis everything was just too muddy for that.  Then I shaved and had a HOT shower for a change.  The shower felt good.  So did having electricity, and my Stuff.  It felt good to shave, too, after a few days.  Perhaps tomorrow I'll do my face.

At this point I'd had "Black Or White" stuck in my head for days.  I think it was because the American Idol finale was tonight, and Adam did the song a while back.

I checked the Internet again at the hotel and learned that Daniel Cabrera, one of my $1 pitchers who I probably should have dropped instead of Suppan, was taken out of the starting rotation and was now worthless.  So there's another move I need to make.

Because of the weather we postponed the Arenal hike to tomorrow, and proceeded with the pizza party, which was just us eating pizza out of the back of our van at a spot where we could see the volcano.  We had some surprise beers too.  It was cloudy but we did see a few red flashes of lava.  There were lots of mosquitoes here.  Very annoying.  We were parked next to a pool of stagnant water, which is bad to begin with, but this was Costa Rica.  Those mozzies were potent.  The Dutch girls were singing the wrong lyrics to many songs, and Rian peed in the woods, which she had done before and would do again.  There were tons of TWSSs here.  Sarah had the best one so far...something about cheese and fungus, which I kept forgetting to remember.

After the pizza and lava we went to Baldi Hot Springs, which we though would be a natural setting with sulfur deposits and whatnot, but it's more of a resort/theme park look and feel.  The water is heated by the nearby volcano.  The first pool we went to was way too hot (EIIIII!!!  Too hot in the hot tub!) but then the next one up--oh, it's tolerable.  Not just that, but it had three water slides, which we all did.  The last one was completely enclosed and disorienting, and at the bottom there was so much turbulence that I couldn't tell when I actually hit the water.  Then we went to another pool (hotter, and more tolerable) with a swim-up bar.  A couple of us had $10 mojitos.  I'm learning that drinks in Costa Rica tend to be sweet but weak.  In this pool I noticed that my tan had faded over the last week.  Unprecedented.  I definitely wasn't black, as Tim Toohey had predicted.  I predict that Tim Toohey will bring this Tim Toohey reference to my attention.  It's the rainy season, and most days are overcast, and we're spending most of our time in jungles and forests anyway, so the lack of bronzing is unsurprising.

In the van on the way back I did the "should I get in the hot tub" thing with Phil and Tara.  See the YouTube link above if you don't get that.

We got back to the hotel at 9:25pm and I checked the Internet.  Kris Allen?????  WTF?  I placed bids to replace Cabrera, but then found out that Omar Infante has a broken hand and I need to replace him too.  Merkle's Boners are falling apart.

I estimated that I had >50 mosquito bites at this point.  I brought insect repellent but I never know when to put it on.  Doesn't matter though...mosquitos bites are a badge of honor, and always mean that I've just been somewhere awesome, like Costa Rica or Philly.  Also I noticed that I'd spent only ~$150 up to this point, excluding the $250 local payment and the $195 that went on my credit card.

After the Internet, PM pills (they're really useful as anti-endorphins) and downloading this stuff from my brain into my journal, I was in bed at 11:20pm.  Despite a 10am start tomorrow there would be no partying tonight because everyone was worn out from hiking.