May 21:  La Fortuna/Arenal

Up at 9am.  I slept 9.5 hours, almost straight through.  The PM pills and that other thing did the job.

Fabi, Sandy, Sarah and I left at 10am to go canyoneering.  This was pretty fun.  We were attached to ropes and descended 4 waterfalls.  The first (20 ft) and third (short) involved actual rappelling, but the second was pretty much a straight drop of 150 ft (not risky at all...Owen Hart was a fag...there, I said it) and the last was a 207-ft drop that curved a bit with the help of a guide rope.  That one was more like HBK in Anaheim.  Some people did the drop hesitatingly with lots of braking, but I and other more adventurous types (besides the 4 of us there were 6 other random people) did a free fall almost all the way to the bottom.  There were some parts that didn't involve descending waterfalls, like when we had to jump in a hole up to our chests, and when we all braced ourselves in a narrow canyon as one of the guides created a human dam at the top and then unleashed a torrent of water on us.  And then there was a second torrent, so maybe there were two human dams.  Me:  "THAT'S A FUCKLOAD OF WATER!  MAKE IT STOP!"  Also, we went to a circular mossy canyon with a waterfall and a big rock in the middle, atop which a snake (the guide called it a pilota, I think) was resting in the mist.  What an awesome setting in which to take a nap, whether you're a snake or a normal person.

I didn't bring my camera to the canyoneering and some of the other active stuff over the next couple days, because you just can't take photos when you're doing that kind of stuff.  Desafio had its own paparazzi to take photos of us and sell them on a CD, but absolutely none of the pics were usable.

I haven't gone off on any real tirades yet, so here's one.  Among the canyoneerers was an older couple from Indiana.  One was a smoker and one had asthma.  The guy was in bad shape...he seemed terrified going down the 207-ft drop, and his wife was worried he have a heart attack walking the 365 steps back up from the bottom.  They took forever to join us back at the office for lunch.  Why do some people wait until they're old and near death to start travelling?  It's not just the age thing, because I've had plenty of older tourmates who were in shape and adventurous like the rest of us (Sandy is a good example).  Vacations are meant for doing stuff, and if you're not able to do stuff, what's the point?  I've found that my view of the world gets tweaked a bit every time I travel, and I like to think that the memories of my adventures will refine my thought processes over the next 40 years and make my life that much more meaningful in some yet-unknown way.  I don't get why people wait until they're at death's door to start travelling.  Maybe they have a bucket list, but what's the benefit of achieving certain things if you're going to die in a couple years and your memories of those things will evaporate?  Seems like the benefit of travelling, or at least the benefit I get out of it, is completely wasted on such people.  Life is for the living.

We got back to the hotel at 2:30pm.  I checked the Internet briefly and saw that Peavy was headed to the ChiSox, though ultimately he'd veto the deal.

Waiting for the van, I took the above pic of Arenal.  It's a rare cloudless shot of the cone.

The van came at 3:30pm for the Arenal hike.  I thought the entire group was doing it, but people backed out and it was down to me and Sandy, and then just as the van showed up she got sick.  I'd paid, so I went by myself with a van full of strangers, who were all doing other G.A.P tours.  One of the strangers was Robert, a black guy from New York (possibly the first black tourist I've encountered outside the US...I think I talked about that in a previous travelogue) who did pull-ups on a vine and was cool, but every girl in this group was "off" tall and/or skinny, or with a big nose, or English-looking, or with a gummy smile.  Seems like those types are always in other tour groups.  Never mine.  That's good.

The hike was unspectacular, except that we got to see lava on the side that hadn't had lava in 4 years, according to the guide.  It wasn't red...what we saw were molten smoking rocks tumbling down.  And we heard it!  Each eruption made a rumbling, tumbling, gurgling sound.  Cool.

No lava in this shot, but relatively few clouds.

Right about here I remembered my dad singing the jingle for Lava soap.  L-A-V-A.

We did get to see some animals on the hike, including this toucan.

Rubber tree.  Only one reason I took this pic.

More howler monkeys.  These things are boring me now.  Except when they howl.

After the hike we went to watch the volcano like last night, but up the road a bit.  On the way there the volcano looked perfect against a cloud backdrop, but within 5 minutes the clouds came in and it started raining just when we got to the viewing point.  We drank "liquid lava" (guaro, the local rum/cachaša, mixed with juices--the guide gave me about 3 shots' worth) but quickly had to run into the van when the skies opened up.  On the ride back I had to cover the drink with my hand because it kept sloshing around and spilling on the bumpy road.  The van stopped at Baldi for the people who had paid for it, and some from our group (the ones who cancelled out on the hike) were likely inside at the time for a second night of tolerable water and I was tempted to go in to join them, but I wasn't dressed for it.

I got back to the hotel at 7:10pm.  Fabi was going to a restaurant across the street at 7:30pm and invited anyone who wasn't at Baldi, so Sandy and I went there.  I walked over before 7:30pm and didn't see Fabi, and then went again with Sandy and still didn't see her.  We waited till 8pm, and gave up and just had dinner ourselves.  I had garlic shrimp and mashed potatoes, and sangria.  A bit more expensive, but good food.  Fabi had wanted to review the place but I did it instead.

We returned to the hotel at 9:30pm and found Fabi.  Somehow we just completely missed each other for dinner.  She ended up going to Burger King when she couldn't find us.  That sucks.  At dinner I saw a BK ad on TV for the Star Trek promotion, but not for SpongeBob.  I'm tired of all these chairs...they don't accommodate these squares!

The three of us went to Chela's for karaoke.  Marieke and the sisters later showed up.  There were a bunch of G.A.P people there that Fabi knew.  All the karaoke singers were doing Spanish songs, which I had to do something about.  So I cued up Sweet Caroline and got the crowd into it (oh oh oh, so good, etc.).  Marieke said I did a good job, even though I lost the beat a few times (it was hard to hear, and I had water in my ear on top of that).  What I hated is that it reminded me of how tough comedy is.  Here I am in Costa Rica singing in front of 200-300 people and putting on a show, but if I want to do comedy in LA, finding a crowd a tenth of that size is an achievement.  Nonetheless, when I finished the song I did my usual plugs on the mike:  ", guys have been great!"  No matter what country I'm in, I gotta get my name out there.  I love being a singer/comedian.  A dual threat.  I'm the Peter Prins of Costa Rica.

After my performance, Sarah did Like a Prayer, and at first I though they were playing the actual song, because she sounded pretty good.  But then it fell apart.  Katie (another G.A.P leader) sang a couple songs well.  Robert from the hike was there, and the Ohio brothers from Rara Avis.  Eventually karaoke gave way to dancing, and I wasn't drunk and/or gay enough for that.  I had uncountable beers, and we left at 2am.  A good place, and a good night.

I showered before bed and then updated my journal.  Sleepytime 3am.