Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Costa Rica 1998: A Look Into The Past

In January of 1998 I set out on a grand adventure. I studied abroad in Costa Rica, and traveled to Panama, and had one of the most memorable times of my life. The above photo is of a beach in CR named Manuel Antonio.
This is one of the spots we frequented most and was a long bus ride away from San Jose where we were staying. I can remember our first bus ride there; I looked at this older Costa Rican woman and wondered why she was wearing a scarf on her head (like we black women do back home). Once the ride got underway and the dust started kicking up on this non-airconditioned bus, I got it! When we arrived at our destination, I had a thick, white coat of dust covering my body, clothes and hair (after that I always wore my scarf during bus rides). It was an adventure. Along the way I spotted crocodiles and our bus drivers always drove fast and close to the outer edge of the mountains--without railing.

At certain points the elevation in Costa Rica is so high that you ride through and above the clouds. I actually had the privilege to have this experience and there aren't enough words for how I felt about being able to stick my hand outside and touch the clouds. Exhilarating. Here are some Costa Rican cloud pics (I have no idea who the people in the pics are):

This woman is actually riding in the clouds.

These people are so high up (11,345 feet above sea level) that they are ABOVE the clouds.

When you visit the rain forest or cloud forest in Costa Rica, you've gotta wear covering because you come out wet.

Back to Manuel Antonio.. This was also the place where I spotted my first sloth. For those who aren't acquainted with these exotic and freaky-looking beings, here's a pic:

They have the sweetest grins on their faces and they move unusually slow.

The scary part is their long claws, and we all imagined how fast they'd actually move if they wanted to do us harm.

I hadn't known about sloths until venturing to Costa Rica, so when my friends first spotted them in a tree I looked up and jumped back and said, "What the fuck!?" I promise, those were my exact words.

In Manuel Antonio monkeys roam the beach and are always trying to take your belongings. The following picture isn't very clear, but it's a monkey trying to steal a beach-goers water bottle.

And there are plenty of iguanas roaming the beaches as you attempt to sunbathe.

Erica and Maria, remember Quepos?

Quepos was a bus stop on our way to Manuel Antonio. Speaking of bus rides... It's a long ride to Manuel Antonio and there's no access to a bathroom--not to mention that it's so hot that you MUST drink lots of WATER along the way. One trip I'd found myself on the verge of tears because I had to pee so bad. And if you do get to a bathroom folks can, and do, charge for tissue and bathroom usage.

Speaking of Erica... Girl, do these photos look familiar?

Um, remember that time you told me there was a faster route to our favorite spot on the beach? Remember how you dragged me through the woods (past sexy, bare chest natives riding--bare back-- on horses and carrying machetes) only to reach the spot you see in the first photo above this paragraph? We were to the right side of that rock and you told me our spot wasn't far away on the left side of it. We walked and we walked until there was no sand to walk on and we had to wade/semi-swim (a sista ain't a good swimmer like Erica) through the DEEP part of the ocean and climb over that damn rock. The rock looked as if it were moving because hundreds of crabs we walkin' around with their precious shells on their backs! It scared the crap out of me as I tried to stay away from them. And please note the crashing waves in the first picture. Those bad boys were hitting us as I tried to wade/semi-swim to the rock. It was the most beautiful and frightening thing. I made it, but that didn't make it right. Once we reached the left side (the second picture) we still had to walk a ways in the water before reaching sand. When we arrived at our destination where our other friends were, we watched more beautiful native men playing soccer bare chest on the beach. Beautiful.

While in Costa Rica Erica and some others took the one trip that I didn't take for many reasons. They went to see Volcano Arenal:

This volcano is still active and its lava can be seen at night.

On the early morning of my departure day from Costa Rica, I was in bed when I felt my bed and the house tremble--I'd experienced my first earthquake (which is a big deal for an East Coast girl like myself).

Please note: The photos on today's post are not from my albums. Back in 1998 digital cameras were not heard of and folks had to use 35mm, and there ain't enough time in my day to scan and upload my own photos to this blog. I searched the internet for pictures of the exact locations that I'd visited (Example: Those sloths/iguana/monkeys are actually real Manuel Antonio sloths/iguana/monkeys. Example: Those beach photos are of the actual location that Erica and I had to tread through. You get my point. I wanted to make the experience as real and close to my own as possible.).