On Wednesday at about 6:30 at night (yes, 6:30 PM is night here, not evening and yes, that does suck) I got back from a trip that took me to or through five countries and a total of eight border crossings in nine days. I believe the final count for hours spent on busses or border crossings was over 60. I’m just now regaining consciousness.
I took the bus trip with three of my fellow Peace Corps buddies, Barrett Bumpas (aka Bump), Charlie Fulks (aka Dr. Fulks), and Jared Lounsbery (aka The Wildcard) and two others flew down and met us there. Our goal was to meet up with our former Peace Corps friend, Alex, who now lives outside of San Jose in Costa Rica. As always, I could give you a description of everything we did and give you your fill of “had to be there” stories OR I could make a list. I prefer the list. (Actually, we kept a “Capitan’s Log” in my pocket notebook of the trip that consisted of bullet points of crazy things that happened along the way. I thought about just copying that down into a blog post until I realized that the only ones appropriate enough to put up here are inside jokes like, “Clifford’s Beef Pies” or “Jared+Dog+Beach.”) So here it is, things I learned in, on my way, or on my way back from Costa Rica:
1. Anytime you decide to go on a vacation that includes 60+ hours on buses with three friends and one of them is nicknamed The Wildcard, it is very unlikely that you will return physically and emotionally unscathed.
2. Letting a drunken Swiss guy named Gabriel talk you into going to a Costa Rican casino at one in the morning to play blackjack with American dollars has less than a 1% chance of ending well.
3. New Year’s Eve is better in warm climates.
4. Costa Rican taxi drivers understand the word “tranny.” (Don’t ask.)
5. Playing cards is prohibited in Nicaraguan shopping malls but drinking and smoking are not.
6. Spending eight hours in a mall so you don’t have to pay for a hotel room is nothing like the movie Mallrats.
7. The Tourist with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie is awful.
8. If I ever have a choice between staying at a Crown Plaza hotel or another hotel I’m choosing Crown Plaza because they let us hang out in their lobby after the mall closed and before our 3AM bus left.
9. Even The Wildcard has his breaking point. It came in a Managua bus station after waking up at 4AM to catch a bus leaving Costa Rica, sitting/standing on busses for hours, a border crossing, more buses, getting ripped off by a taxi driver, and finally, being lied to about internet access in the aforementioned bus station. Probably my favorite moment of the entire trip.
10. Despite what the guide books and tour companies say, volcano “surfing” is actually volcano “tobogganing” but awesome nonetheless.
11. You can take Bumpas out of Texas but you can’t take the Texas out of Bumpas.
12. My towel, debit card, cell phone and most of my remaining youthful innocence are still somewhere in Costa Rica.
13. God created coconuts with the idea of putting rum inside of them.