|This is a photo from my
first commercial trip on the Rio Sarapiqui (I have since shaved off the
facial hair -- it`s just too hot down here for a beard). This is at the
bottom of Confusion, a class III+ rapid that has changed more than any
of the others with the rainstorms we`ve had since arriving. What hasn`t
changed about it, however, is the 40-feet-down-in-a-100-yards gradient,
the snaking turn involved, and the looming cliff (seen in the background
here) that you always have to be careful to not get thrown against.
Interesting note on the customers on this trip: One of the passengers was Linda, a California medical biologist, who found out she was adopted from Costa Rica. She was contacted by her sister, and each year the two families get together and travel around Costa Rica. Linda now has dual citizenship.
|Memo (right) resets the
ping pong "net" -- a 1x6 scrap from out behind Memo`s house -- while Andrey
waits to play. Memo constructed the table in his kitchen, serving double
duty for games and meals. When not playing on the thin piece of drywall,
he covers it with plastic for easy cleaning. I
adopted the innovation when I built our dining room table (minus the ping pong, sadly).
We had many a heated ping pong game, even doubles matches, but for some reason, I haven`t played since we moved to our new house. We`re hoping Memo brings the table with him, though; he`ll be moving in with us in a month or
|Miti (left) plucks notes
on guitar while Cote uses a flashlight to see if the meat we`ve splayed
on our bedspring grill is done, outside of Memo`s house. The bedspring
served us well, as we had many a night of asado (barbecue) and copita (a
pitcher of mixed drinks). Although we now have an
old wood-burning stove that we`ve tried to turn into a barbecue, it just doesn`t work as well and we don`t seem to have as many nights grilling out. We do, however, now have a George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Grilling Machine
which has come in handy on several occasions.
The guitar, by the way, belongs to my friend Ryan Slabaugh. We traded guitars before I left, and suffice to say, I miss my baby. But I know she`s in loving hands, and I`ve been tapping into the sound of this guitar and have several new songs on the way.
|Memo and Brian (right) set out for an afternoon fishing trip down the lane from Memo`s house. It`s only a couple hundred meters to the riverside from there. In the bag, Brian is carrying pineapple to use as bait.
|Andrey stretches in his kayak before a surfing session. The last rapid before taking out at our company`s office forms to the left in this picture, where current narrows into a V and flows directly into a wall below and left of the view of the picture. The water piles up there, forming a large pillow with a standing wave in front of it.
|More action from Andrey ...
|Andrey surfs it up.
Although this might look like chaos and sure death to some, Andrey feels right at home in the foam and pressure. Of course, if you were only 18 and had no sense of mortality, you might feel that way, too.
|When the boss said, you`re
going on the Puerto Viejo River with some Dutch canoers to be the trip
photographer, I thought, awesome. Then she explained I`d be in a ducky
(inflatable kayak) and that I should take the Pelican case of one of the
other guys (it`s a waterproof box - which I knew was way too small for
"With my equipment?" I asked. "In a ducky?"
Don`t worry, she told me. It`s really flat.
Despite my objections, she was right. I carried my camera in my lap for the entire trip, and was glad I did. I saw more wildlife up close on that trip than on any other trip so far.
The Puerto Viejo joins the Sarapiqui about 5 miles downstream from where we live and work. We could take this all the way to Nicaragua.
|The intrepid pescadores
cast into the eddies near Las Frutas, a rapid so-named because it`s the
spot where most rafting trips pause for a mid-run fruit snack. Despite
plenty of bites (which we chalked up to only making the fish get bigger),
we went home empty-handed. Memo did catch a machaca on a
later day - and ate it with the biggest smile you`ve ever seen.
|The Great Blue heron, one
of the numerous birds we see on our river trips. Brian made a great purchase
before we left -- a complete field guide to Costa Rican birds. Of the 850
species found in the country, we`ve learned to identify about 30 in our
Each year in February, there`s an internation bird-spotting day. Teams around the globe spend the whole day counting species. For the past five years, the team here in Sarapiqui has won, counting some 450 species in this zone.
|The view of Memo`s backyard -- the neighbor`s grazing area for cattle.Much of this valley has been cleared for agricultural purposes, but it`s a constant fight to keep the jungle from re-encroaching. Fire is the most common tool for clearing land, and cattle are the culprit behind it.
|I haven`t yet figured out
why they just don`t build houses with screens in the windows. But they
don`t. So, the wise person gets hisself a mosquito net and rigs it up over
the bed. We put this one up in the living room when Memo`s family arrived
so that his brother didn`t get eaten alive.
I didn`t break mine out until we moved into our current house and just suffered through waking up in the morning with a few bites on the ankles.The only problem with these beauties, though, is that bats don`t detect them so well with their sonar and tend to crash into the net and wake you up at night.
|They taste like chicken,
they tell me.
We see plenty of iguanas along the river, but this was the closest I`ve been so far. They come in varying mixtures and intensities of green, black, red and yellow. The bigger the spines, the more macho the iguana.
|Laundry day at Memo`s house.
And if you`re trying to adjust your monitor because the photo looks blurry, stop. I used a tilt-focus lens to give it a dreamy effect. That`s because we wash our clothes by hand every week, and by the time you`re done, you feel a
bit stupefied.We see plenty of women down by the river, washing clothes on rocks as we pass by with boatloads of tourists.
|A cow heads back to the barn at twilight. Nothing special here, I just like the picture.
|Poison dart frog.
For centuries, indigenous tribes throughout Central America have used a secretion from the skin of these electric-colored amphibians - curare - to coat the tips of their blow-gun darts and arrows. Great for stunning your enemies, whether animal or human.