Any comments or questions about this site, please contact Bob Zolnerzak at





Costa Rica

March 29 – April 9, 2002

THURSDAY, 3/28/02: After Spartacus and the gym, where I pull my back something fierce (which I feel much that night), I was so panicked by the idea of the trip that I settled into FreeCell as an opiate, which worked wonderfully until about 8:30, when I started packing and eating dinner, and then of course things lasted much longer than they should have. Take down the last bag of garbage, decide NOT to do the dishes or even water the plants---John will be by in three or four days, and that's their normal watering time anyway. NO call back from Abby OR Stephanie L., so they simply have what they have. Put the video on for refresh, and it only starts charging about 10:30. I pack and pack, thinking of more and more things to take: rubbers for rain, raincoat for rain, beret and gloves for cold, medicines "in case," and only after I get into bed at 10:55PM do I remember to write "deodorant" on a card, having at the last minute filled up on cards to take notes on. Set alarm for 6:10AM, leaving blind open for bright moonlight through window. Also record phone message, which I'd almost forgotten completely! Can't sleep. At 11:55 take two diphenhydramine, wondering whether I took any of the better stuff. Back is just AWFUL when I change position; hope it doesn't wake me when I shift!

FRIDAY, 3/29/02. To sleep around 12:50AM, wake at 3:50 to pee and take two acetaminophen for back pain. Up through 4AM, at 4:20, 4:40, and up at 5:45AM, light coming in from outside. Have a cup of cocoa, hoping the rest of the milk might last (it didn't), and pack video. Get out packed beret and gloves for the 40° outside. Thank goodness my back is OK walking. Make sure radiators are off and phone machine on, not leaving light on this time, and leave at 6:15 to subway, which comes quickly at 6:25, loaded with sleeping enormous black women. To Ken's at 6:41, surprising him by my earliness. Have some cranberry juice and two ibuprofen, which he says also fights inflammation. Car buzzes at 6:57AM and we're down to big van. Ken has about 50 pounds of luggage. Quick ride to airport and Delta check-in at 7:30, getting two window seats for EACH of the four flights, way back of the wings, too, I think. Ken had ceded me the first window, but he got an emergency window anyway. He's searched thoroughly at the gate, the heels of his shoes buzzing and he said he'd wear his others tomorrow. To the gate at 8, and there's no great choice of food, so I get a bagel for $1.17 with 6 cents from Ken. Oh, he paid $42 for the van. Sit and type this until 8:25, crowded area. Put this away and start a puzzle, Ken reading the Times about Billy Wilder's death. Board at 9:10, continuing with puzzles, seat in next-to-last row, and off at 9:50. Bumpy going up, but that's because I'm in the last rows; Ken verified my idea that he, above the wing, thought it was a smooth flight. Clouds gradually clear, and I get up to pee when the two guys in my row get up to do so. This is the first flight that announces neither how long it actually will be other than the 2.5 hours scheduled time, nor what the temperature at the landing point is. At 11:25 they announce they're starting down. My camera does a funny buzz-thing when I try to take a shot of a picturesque dam below, but it does take downtown Atlanta, Roll #1, #6, at 11:30. Land at 11:40, only 1:50 flight, nice start. To baggage claim at noon in the warmish day. My bag arrives toward the end at 12:20, but Ken's is one of the last after the "Last Bag" starts flashing for our flight-number, at 12:29. To the Ramada Inn Atlanta Airport phone, and no one answers for a long time, but a black guy with us, from Newark, gets a car coming in 10 minutes. Van comes at 12:48 and Ken remarks that we're much later than he'd planned, and get to Ramada Inn at 1PM. Clerk is on phone and counting money and allows as how (as the van-driver reintroduces "usta could" to my prior-Pope consciousness) check-in wasn't usually until 3PM, but he'd phone to see if a room would be ready. It is, and we're in to room 305 at 1:07. Phoenix Cafe for lunch, saying it's open till 2PM, is closed at 1:10! Next door to Waffle House at 1:17 for hamburg and chili for Ken and a chicken patty with hash browns for me for $17 in all, and they don't take plastic. Good Minute Maid grapefruit juice and the black crew is almost Hollywood 30s-black stereotype laughing and joking. Back across fence to hotel and get into the van back to the airport at 1:55, searching for the Marta station through the baggage-claim area, and up to a waiting train, which I probably wasn't on before because it's mostly underground in the center of town and I remember something above-ground. To the High Museum about 2:30 and walk through and up a driveway to the white-ramped Museum to pay $6 for senior (Ken $8) and Jay joins us looking scruffy in tatty blue jeans and his askew pigtail. Up on the elevator to 4 for the Munch-after-the-scream exhibit, which is colorful but we all go through quite quickly, and then down to the Impressionist collection on the floor below, even more quickly through, and out to the street to Ken's surprise that Jay hasn't brought his car, so it's another $1.75 admission (though Jay's "disabled" card gets him in half-price), but Ken got an even better deal at the first airport ride because he didn't have the correct change, as I did, and the attendant let him in FREE! To a distant "East Lake" station for Jay's right-side-inoperable-after-crash red SUV in a perfectly temperatured day, and we drive to his place for his arthritic dog Trixi and his glass-enclosed bath and adjacent sauna. Great book of Tchelitchev homoerotica. Back into SUV to drive to Ken's old house, remade by a couple until they got divorced and now it's up for sale, and an old neighbor is there to show Ken around it AND around his house, and by this time it's about 6PM and there's no time for Lullwater, which we pass the beginning of, and his front left tire is pointed out as being low, and he needs gas, so we chip in for his $21.25 gas bill and drive right out to Oriental Pearl for dinner on the dot of our 7PM reservation. They've never seen the parking lot so empty, and the restaurant only has three or four parties of 3 or 4 inside, a couple with cranky kids. (Later we pass ANOTHER newish Chinese place whose parking lot is LOADED, so they figure there might be a new "best" place.) I accept Ken's suggestions of duck and vegetables and Dungeness crab, but they both turn out to be WORK: the crab coming with claw-breakers, but thankfully the carapace was empty so we didn't have to figure what was edible from the body. Wash face beforehand and have to make do with a cold blower to dry off instead of towels of any sort. I'm in a sort of bad mood, but they don't seem to notice. Out about 8:30 and commence a LONG drive practically diagonally from the northeast to the southwest. Jay drives like mad, not looking at the spectacular full-moon rise, and he obviously knows the traffic and handles it well. To the Ramada at 9, piss Ken off by watching TV while brushing teeth to 10:05, and bed at 10:07, falling asleep fairly quickly with earplugs blocking out the sounds of loud TV from the next room, kids hollering in the hallways, and doors slamming so hard they physically rock the room. But the bed is comfortable, the shades are drawn, and I'm tired enough to fall right to sleep.

SATURDAY, 3/30/02: Shit at 3:30 (note date!) and doze and sleep well; Ken's doing pretty well, too, since I hear him snoring much of the time, though he insisted he was awake through my ENTIRE TV watching, so I merely remarked that he was doing a good job simulating snoring. No touch of fear of flying. Alarm goes at 6:30, I type for a bit, then shower 6:40-7, and breakfast is a good buffet with hot tea, good muffins, a range of cooked bacon from burnt to rare, and scrambled eggs and rolls and juice. Wacky waitress comments about the children and the teeming rain outside, and we leave at 7:40 to pack the last and down at 7:50 to check out. PACKED van leaves at 8, no room for us. Van's back at 8:15, Ken piling more newspapers onto me, and to airport 8:24. I think the flashing red numbers 54-74 are waiting times for the enormous international check-in line (since Ken doesn't trust curbside check-in), but they turn out to be DESK numbers. To check-in at 8:55, to GATE-check line at 9:03, even longer. Through at 9:13, Ken stopped again for thorough check. Onto train at 9:18, and I buy two 123 replacement camera batteries for $12.70. To flight desk at 9:40 to switch from window-over-wing to a window-in-last-row next to an infant, clerk says, but I take it. To board at 10:10 after skimming a pile of newsprint, which I can now throw away. Board next to, not an infant, but a cute teenager who glances at my typing next to him. Back out at 10:35, right at departure time, plane seemingly full, and look forward to a fast flight, like yesterday. Finally caught up with this. #6 downtown Atlanta from plane, with flash, so it probably won't come out, at 10:42AM. BATTERY going? Glad I bought two MORE! About eight planes lined up ahead of us. Off at 10:55AM, announced as a 3:17 flight, just about the 20% reduction in yesterday's 2:20 or 140 minutes reduced by 28 minutes to 112 minutes, very close to the 1:50 it actually took, and reducing the 240-minute four-hour flight by 48 minutes took it down to 192 minutes, just 3:12, totally akin to 3:17. 83° in San Jose! #7 and #8 of Marathon and Keys at 12:12PM. GREAT Florida west-coast views and lunch JUST as we go over Keys into Gulf of blue waters and white fluffy clouds and Cuba #9 and 10 at 12:24. Wonderful tropical uninhabited keys south of Cuba at 12:36. #11 one of the Cayman Islands-ends? at 12:52. At 12:55, two hours in, I have a third 187ml bottle of red wine with the steak lunch I thought they would be out of, but they ran out of chicken instead! What with the wine, the "infant" threatened by the desk-clerk turning into a 21-year-old cutie from Costa Rica, and a finally smooth flight after bumps along Florida, I feel GOOD! At 1:10PM change to 12:10PM, and northeast Nicaragua TOTALLY uninhabited! At 12:50 it's 40 minutes to landing, which we do at 1:19, so the whole thing took 3:24, or 204 minutes, close enough to the 200 minutes I was counting by until the views (and the wine-buzz) became so compelling that I completely lost track of where we where except by what we were flying over. Michael next to me was born in 1981, and he was impressed when I filled out the immigration forms and showed him that today was my birthday. Off plane at 1:33, through immigration quick with the bags available fast, and find the guide outside, who takes us to a huge van at 1:54. He drives us to Alajuela for an ATM that gives Ken and me each 30,000C, roughly $100, without any trouble at all, at 2:10. Then along the road past what looks like an old mission converted into a hotel, and that turns out to be the Costa Rica Marriott Hotel, where we get Room 353, and get in to bask in the tour-books and unpacking areas until 2:50, when he phones to La Isabela for my birthday dinner for 6:30 (thinking 6PM too early), and I'm still a bit dizzy from the three lunch wines when he suggests drinks on the balcony, from which I take #11 at 3:15 over my Cacique and his Rum Punch, and he likes my "Chief" so much that HE orders one and I think of what else to have and get a VERY creamy Pina Colada that honestly tastes more of cream than it does of coconut. Good plantain chips are eaten more of than should be, and we watch three raptors that turn out to be Turkey Buzzards sailing across through myriads of smaller swallows and some long-tailed birds that the name "shrike" somehow attaches to in my mind. Pay 9500C on the bill for the drinks, including 1100C tip, and at 4:08 walk down to the Pro Shop overlooking the driving range, past the sewer-smelling lower gardens, up to the bi-level swimming pool with no one of note swimming, past the Jacuzzi pool with one older man reading a book with a family of four, and the empty spa. Up the hill to the watered helipad, around through the main road-entrance, to the tour shop, where I have a bit of coffee and Ken finds the names of the birds, and we walk past other balconies, look at the orchids outside, the kids room decorated for Easter tomorrow, and find that we have to order breakfast in person when they don't have the cards for a room-service breakfast at 5:30 so we can meet the tour departure at 6:15 for Tortugero, the only THAT-early departure, most others at 8AM and one at 11AM. Check a couple souvenir shops, too, and back to room at 5:30 and Ken decides to shower, I hang up my pants to unwrinkle for dinner tonight, and type this to 5:55, VERY pleased with the slow way the day went, mostly what Ken wanted, and it's perfectly OK with me, though the sun reflecting off the clouds just vanished rather than showed a sunset. Now to pass another half-hour before dinner. Shit and read Ken's article for me on tourist hassles in the Philippines, dress and down at 6:30 to an effusive maitre d' and a Chef Montanarosso, or suchlike, who trained in Manhattan at Union Pacific and another restaurant that I even remembered the chef from, but which I forget now, and at Harvest on Smith Street in Brooklyn. Sadly the six-course tasting isn't the best quality, though the pea-sprout soup and the rabbit were pretty good. Worst were the wines: Concha y Toro being presented as classic, and a big deal being made over Casepolitas (or something) of the Devil. Poor start when the Prosecco served with the beef carpaccio was flat and stale-tasting, but it was replaced. Total bill of 70897C, or $234, not QUITE worth it. Over at 8:58 and to room to bed at 9:10. Wake at 11:24.

SUNDAY, 3/31/02: Wake at 2:30 with erotic dream of many sexy guys teasing each other into jerking off openly before their friends, and then parading before a group of women who took turns sucking on them, but I wanted only to watch the men working over the men. Wake hard, and then pee asparagus, and shit at 2:30, meeting Ken on the way to the john on my way out in the dark. Take two acetaminophen, too, and then wake at 3:15 and 4:15 and up till 5, putting on the lights before the phone rings at 5:02AM, and pick up the receipt for the room for our early checkout and the Times digest which tells us that the Queen Mum died at 101, and also gives me the Sunday Times puzzle. Oddly, I'm hungry as I finish typing this at 5:10AM as Ken finishes shaving and the first bird starts chirping outside as the horizon-mountain is finally clear of clouds and it is NOT the volcano pictured in the brochure for the Marriott Hotel. Beginning to get light, too, though we're very near the border of the time zone when it would be 6AM when it WOULD be starting to get light. Finish at 5:12 and start packing, almost finished when the porter comes with breakfast at 5:25AM, hard-egg omelet with bacon on the side, four slices of toast of which I eat one with butter and a wonderfully exotic choice of Concord grape or strawberry jelly, and both the pineapple and the guanabara juice taste terribly watered. However, we'd paid for the breakfast and only had to tip $1, for which Ken gave 500C, which I didn't add to the bill yet. Ken was satisfied with the continental breakfast, though there wasn't much of it. His coffee and my tea finished off the meal at 5:50. The high points were my piece of banana and a Clementine-like orange diameter. I pack and he says we're to meet the bus at 6, not 6:15, so I finish gathering things together, getting my jacket from the closet at the very last minute, and leave the room with the key cards inside. Stop at the front desk and then out at 5:58 and SIX buses come by, ours at 6:08, the start of 20 people from 6 hotels by 7AM! Full bus, all English-speaking, some from the nice-looking Hotel Britannia in San Jose, not a very prepossessing town, even with its Opera House on the square across from one of the ugliest cathedrals in existence. #13 Dirty river (volcanic mud from Irazu Volcano) at 7:40AM on the rapid-moving bus across the continental divide with lots of traffic in both directions and deep chasms tree-filled. #14 close-up of that. To Restaurant Rio Danta at 8AM. Fruit and bread and rice and beans at the table, and I have to ask specially for tea, since EVERYONE in Costa Rica automatically drinks coffee---Arabica coffee, to be sure. Didn't really want to eat with the group, which now includes a terrible couple with atoddler and a babe in arms! But Ken convinces me to sit with him at the regular table. #15 and 16 white-legged chicken cock. #17 patterned bug-chews on leaf, maybe not bright enough, at 8:33. #18 wisteria tree at 8:58. GREAT morpho flight at stream with Ken, and on bus at 9 after good, quiet jungle walk with insect sounds and butterflies and HUGE spider webs across stream! Video mother and baby sloth at 9:15 (three-toed) in Cecropia tree. Coral (Poro) trees are orange, not same color or shape as orange African tulip tree in Tahiti. #22 Siquerres Main Drag at film-stop at 10AM. Video TWO-toed sloth at 10:35, more hidden in playground tree at 10:35 in Matina. Try to video banana groves with their blue heat-and-humidity-increasing plastic cover-bags from bus at 10:50AM. HOWLER monkeys to 11:05, and see five-foot whipping snake RUN through margin and climb tree, and I unthinkingly (I could have stepped on one of their DEADLY snakes) plod through undergrowth trying to get a picture of it up in the tree, where I just saw the black three-foot end whipping through the grass and a foot-long end going up the tree! To boat station at 11:11, for motley musicians, scraggly shop, free watermelon and pineapple and water, and costly soda and beer, and unisex bathrooms. Luggage out on first boat, my bag under seat, and I see we're going "that way," so when Ken asks, "Which side," I say, "Right," and take Leonel's seat in front, leaving at 11:35. Alligator video and slide at 11:52. Tomorrow boat tours at 6AM and 3PM and walk tour at 9:30 EXACT. This PM to 600-person village at 4PM. 6:30 conference-room meeting, and dinner at 7:30. Arrive at 1:10PM, Ken needing to pee and I getting tired of seeing Amazon-like scenery with only a few herons and egrets and passing boats and glimpses of the ocean's mouth. Pass the Piacarey River and the Parismina River and start up the Tortuguero River toward the green roofs of the Mawamba Lodge. [Where a boatload of people arrive NOW at 12:02PM.] Get a welcoming drink and room 12, bags already there, and to room to unpack a bit and move table so I can put baggage on it next to my single bed so Ken can have the double, and to lunch at 1:32, buffet of tough beef, salad, I get a $2 beer that is too heat-generating in the VERY warm and humid dining room, where I sat at the OTHER end from the two kids, next to the British husband, Belgian wife, and Vlady, the San Franciscan grandson, and we get a very soppy tiramisu for dessert. Leave lunch at 2:18, and we start walking around at the ocean, VERY hot and no swimming because of riptides and sharks, and no seashells, either. Then Ken wants to find cabin #36 for the Nature Trail, and then doesn't want to DO it! I insist! #25 Bird of Paradise with LEAF from lower bloom at 3:12. Lots of butterflies on the trail, and then go to boats and boots and find the Jesus Christ lizard and try to photo it and video it running. Also videoed butterflies. Join group at restaurant at 4 for walk along ocean to village. #26 Tortuguero Church on Easter Sunday afternoon at 5:08PM. #27 parrot carved from an old tire at 5:17. Walk back and drink on darkening deck with Shimon and Lilas, Ken paying for them, my good pina colada, and dinner 7:30-8:15, stuck at the OTHER end of the table because the infants are at the NEAR end. Nice "aunt" and older couple and quiet woman with totally silent husband. VERY uncomfortable from sunscreen and heat and fatigue. GOOD fried fish and rice and beans and vegetables and creamy flan dessert, with an $18 bottle of wine that I put lots of ice into, as I did into my guava juice and my water, feeling desperate for SOMETHING to drink aside from the Concha y Toro white Chardonnay. Back to shower and brush teeth while Ken showers and bed at 9:15, leaving call for 5:15, AGAIN only eight hours sleep permitted! Wake 11:25, fan helping cool things off.

MONDAY, 4/1/02: Wake at 1:20 and 2:40, shit at 4:20 just before electricity goes off from 4:30-4:40. Didn't hear 5:15 knock, dress and out for #28 sunrise shot at 5:35. And #29 dimmer at 5:39, and #30 at 5:40. And #31 at 5:43. To locked cabin, to game room to get key from Ken, to get bag and sunglasses, then back to get tea and cookies, to boat in the front seat with Shimon and Lilas at 6AM and off at 6:04 after Ken and I pay, Ken with colons separately, so I pay my own $7, up $1 on 4/1! Then HE has to pay entry fee at DOCK where all exhausts meet at 6:10AM. THEN he takes a tourist's camera for a shot, and our "6AM prompt" tour leaves the dock at 6:22. #32 boat ride at 6:30. Raffia palms beyond boat. Great basilisk video at 6:40. #33 flowers on river at 7:15. #34 and #35 basilisk at 7:55AM and #36-37 lodge sign and boat at 8:25 to finish roll 1. GOOD omelet, Cas juice, toast, fruit, and to room at 9:05 to charge battery and change film and borrow a long-sleeved shirt from Ken and give him plastic bag for rain. We get to boat at 9:30 and ride to Park Information Area JUST as it starts to rain, and I'm GLAD I got a blue poncho as we pulled away, and we sit from 9:35-10 as it continues, and I video a bit, and then we're off into woods single file with bare-legged and -armed Leonel pointing out grasshopper, ficus roots, and we HEAR hordes of howlers ALL AROUND, very eerie sound, but no change of ANY pictures in the mud and the rain. Stop to look at spider monkeys and SEE lots of them passing THROUGH a troupe of howlers. Then a branch falls and a howl FLIES through the jungle. Back to beach at 10:35 (started walk at 10AM), and back to dock to get into first boat and back to dock at 11 to hang up poncho and dash back to cabin to strip out of Ken's dark blue, wet shirt and out of soaked jeans, into black pants and Galapagos tee and out to sit on porch from 11:40-12:29 to finally catch up with this, Ken watching a king-bird while drinking a beer, boats going past, and I'm up to date. [Type from middle of where I stopped on page #5:] Lunch, puzzle, Ken naps, boat 3-5:15, drinks, sit, dinner 7:30-8:05, try nature walk, fail, beach 8:35-9:25, wash face, notes, bed 9:31, wake 11:30.

TUESDAY, 4/2/02: Wake 4:04, shit 5:05. To beach 5:14-5:50, see sunrise, birds, few tourists, tide high, grass, nature path 5:54. Lizards scurry out of path, birds call, butterflies, ginger, cicadas, #8 butterfly project at 6:08. #9 eye-butterfly orgy on mushrooms at 6:24. Good tea and cookies, but music and planes a bother. To cabin 7AM, Ken shaving. I shower, pack, and out almost at 8 when Leonel knocks at 7:30 and says we're due in Nicaragua immediately for transfer! Dash to pack and eat and SLOW office to 8:05. Leonel helps with bags, girl slow. Finally credit card is OK, boat at 8:09. Egrets, crocodiles, fishermen, toucans, Tortuguero Canal to Rio Colorado, Costa Rica border 9:30 #14. 9:05 banos stop, #16 Nicaragua "Immmigration" and #17 Rio Sarapiqui into San Juan at immigration at 10:27. Boat ride faster than expected, getting us to Puerto Viejo about 11:30AM, but there was no sign of anyone meeting us. Arrive 11:35, huge kid-group pulling luggage up stairs. Ken asked the people in the taxi stand to phone the hotel, but I think there was no answer though our plan clearly included paid transfers. They then called for a taxi, which came quickly at 11:44, and the ride was only about 8 km through the tacky streets of downtown Puerto Viejo, and the fare was 1200C, for which I tipped him 100C, getting some coins at last. We checked in at hotel at 12, walked longly to room 30 to 12:33. We unpacked and spread out after asking the girl to point out the fan control behind the window-shutter so we would NOT have to move to a "fan-working" room. The bathroom is large, the toilet is clean, the room feels DRY, though the knotted mosquito nets above each bed are ominous. We take the self-guided walk at 12:47, with lots about individual trees, with a basilisk frozen beneath a palm tree in perpetual adoration, and then the guide signs in the 20s were stolen and misplaced, and we finished about 1:35 and made our way to the dining room, where the crowd was somewhat noisy, and had GOOD ham and pineapple for me, and an odd chicken-cream sauce for spaghetti for Ken, and good orange-pineapple-pear juice to assuage our thirst in the hot day. Finish lunch at 2. Ken goes back to the desk to ask various questions, and again to leave a wake-up call for [start File 2 at 6:49AM 4/3] 5AM the next morning for the 6AM bird-walk. Waited for him at the bridge from which I watched a turtle eating greenery just above water level. To room 2:20 TIRED. Then at 2:30 decided to go across the road to the Secondary Forest, looking at the butterflies before we got to the butterfly house, then finding a "double-U" green-on-black poison frog that I pulled some weeds away to point out to Ken, and developed parallel lines of red on my left index finger, which felt alternately swollen and painful, and then numb, and I wondered how quickly death would come from frog poison, but Ken later said that there's not enough to kill you, and I probably encountered a poison plant-stem, since someone told him not to touch anything for fear of poisoning. Apartments all on above-ground platforms, lots of walking, moving up and down stairs when we're lost to go from one disconnected complex to another. Clouds threaten but we continue to the "north" of the map on the pavement and on the trail which climbs a hill, small lizards, a few of the white-collared manakins darting from tree to tree that Ken can't see, and he wants to go back the regular way and I insist on going through the parking lot and getting directly to the back of the dining room where on the ground floor is a gift shop that offers the four cards for $1, and she calls for the bartender, who opens me a quinine from Canada Dry that is frozen and in defrosting erupts like a geyser into a three-napkin puddle of tasty fluids. Have it with gin, refreshing, and Ken joins for two guava drinks, and we go outside to look at the view from the terrace, then go out onto the bridge, where we chat with two ugly dykes and a cheerful ugly man from San Francisco who lends us his binox so we can see the bump on a log that is a silhouetted iguana, and we see the fish turning to glint in the sun down in the murky waters of the river, which is too shallow to navigate above the point of this hotel. My typing is just AWFUL, but at least I'm getting something down. Ken congratulates me on my sociability as we leave them at 6PM, pleading dinner, though I'm not hungry, but at 6:20 Ken says he IS, so we walk over, I going back for a bit when I forget my pills (and I forgot my pravachol last night, but excuse it in that it will bring the prescriptions with that and Tricor closer to synchronization), and then on the stairway to the dining room he reminds me of my meal-slip and I simply REFUSE to go back, but no one asks for it. Cute photographer has a real frump of a girlfriend with pulled back afro-almost hair, floppy breasts in a low-cut T-shirt, tatty party pants under a flowing caftan-like jacket that seems a mere pretense. Another cute Spanish type sits behind Ken and is joined by what I call an attractive Black, but Ken objects to both words, also saying they're speaking Spanish. No matter, the one is still more black than he is brown. Back to the room at 7:05 and Ken goes almost immediately to bed, but I sit up with the comics, mostly new strips except for antique Blondie and Nancy and Mark Trail and Judge Parker---I guess Brenda Starr, too?---and do the Jumble and the Puzzle and then a Sunday Times puzzle named "Turnaround," reversing as and rs in the main clues, getting finished and turning off the light at 9:32 after peeing.

WEDNESDAY, 4/3/02: 6:36AM: Don't feel like getting out of bed, but don't really feel like STAYING in bed either. Trip will be half over at the end of today, and I'm laboring under my typical (manic-depressive?) morning listlessness: why am I here, why did I do this, I'd rather be home, nothing good will happen today or for the rest of the trip, it's all downhill from here. But, as usual, I expect there will be some events today which will be enlightening, engrossing, amusing, interesting, and I'll be glad to be here. Don't feel like writing postcards, which were a bargain yesterday at 4 for $1, and stamps an equal bargain at 90C. Thought it sounded like it continued raining when Ken left for the 6AM bird walk, it's clearly just the random drips from the saturated canopy that make the sound. No more noises from neighbors, and the water has returned to the bathroom, filling the toilet tank that I used to flush down my large turd at 4:44AM this morning while the 5AM knock came at 4:55. Haven't been keeping notes on the times, but it really doesn't matter. Haven't been taking that many pictures, but there's not that much that really stands out after the caimans, egrets, crocodiles, monkeys, toucans that have already passed. Similarities between the Amazon and here, and the river-run past abandoned Laos on the right and Burma on the left more civilized mirroring the abandoned Nicaragua on the right and civilized, farmed, Costa Rica on the boat ride yesterday, which was certainly a kick. Things terminally wet, though my T-shirt feels dry on the body now, even though the edge of this laptop case is wet, maybe from the wall, maybe from the dripping water jug at times filled with ice. Didn't have much to eat last night, only a small piece of fish and a few carrots and cauliflower and a too-sweet jelly roll for dessert, with the Imperial beer and two glasses of the more-intense-than-Tortuguero mora-juice from the dispenser. Thank goodness they didn't insist on the meal-slip that I'd forgotten to bring, not looking forward to another trek to and from the room, which isn't the farthest away, but seems to be a LONG walk to anywhere. Pleasant finishing two puzzles last night before turning off the lights at 9:32, waking again at 11:11, again at 2:59AM, and not really caring that I haven't recorded what I'm seeing---well, at least make the attempt---Well, an oropendula just flashed by outside, so if there's something to see, I'll look at it. Through the morning fog veiling the distant trees are flashes of direct sunlight, and now it's 7:05AM and I guess Ken will be back soon and we'll go to breakfast, and probably pay our $15 to join the 9:30 Nature Walk to the Primary Forest across the forbidden swinging bridge. This surely looks like the place Ken's book describes as "once the best in town, but they let success go to their heads and haven't maintained it," and the tatty signage on the trails, the listless "attention" from the desk-staff, and the fact that no one was there for Ken to say that our water was off---though it's not on when I peed, and the times of the electricity clicking off last night before dinner were the briefest possible to make Ken fuss and fret about them, as he fussed about the john not working, saying I should be "tankful" for my night's tankful to flush my ordure away, and reporting there was no one at the desk to tell, he had to ask a guard for a working john to fill on his own. He returns now at 7:07, plodding across the skyways. To breakfast of uninteresting muesli and juice and scrambled eggs and what are billed as salted crackers that have absolutely no trace of salt. Think of going on the 9:30 tour, but it starts raining and Ken goes to cancel and I start on puzzles in a hammock, looking at dozens of oropendulas, a half-dozen hummingbirds, and a few other goodies until 10:30, when I begin to get hungry, but Ken's not interested in whatever freebies might be available in the dining room. To lunch of---I can't remember what (actually, I remember now, and it was GOOD chicken with vegetables), and at 1:30 don boots for the $15 tour, and it immediately starts raining when we get across the swinging bridge. Gilberto tries and tries to show us something interesting, but a faceless sloth 50 yards away doesn't make it, nor does the squirrel nest I can't even see, and then he starts worrying about water damage to his $2000 spotting telescope which is wonderful with the kingfisher on the bridge, but not much more. Around a bit in the dripping rain, rather fun plodding through the deepest mud because I have boots on that aren't my own, but when we get back to the gate he assumes I want to leave, so I do at 2:37, back to the room to shower and put on my bathing suit to start reading A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius." Ken returns about an hour later, saying he didn't see very much more except a snowy cotinu after they'd crossed the bridge again. My treasures were two tiny, blue-jeaned, red poison frogs, "strawberry frogs" not even as big as an American strawberry. Studious Jessica and tall and sexy Riley from San Francisco make the trip more pleasant, but Ken, as usual, falls heavily for the sweet Gilberto. We chat, repack some, trying to dry things out, and get to the bar at 5:15 for two of his drinks and two gin and tonics for me, which better be less than $4 because I only got a BIT of quinine in a glass, rather than a whole bottle. Up to dinner at 6, rather empty dining room, out at 6:45, Ken saying he wants to be up at 7:45AM, and I say I can't possibly sleep more than 8.5 hours. He actually went and GOT the second key to the room on the third try, not yesterday, not this morning, but this afternoon just before dinner. He directs me to wake him at 7AM tomorrow. I type this to 7:12 and feel generally OK, though I've GOT to get to those four postcards. He goes to sleep about 7:30 and I read until I'm tired at 8:30PM. Wake to pee at 10:45PM.

THURSDAY, 4/4/02: 12:12AM wakened as I think the phone rings, and go right back to sleep. Up at 3:40 to shit a bit, and again at 4:15 to think to do Actualism but fall back to sleep for a dream: I'm at a party at Sherryl's and she tells me to "go to the other apartment and pick up some {whatever it was}." I ask her just WHERE this is, and she says, "Oh, you'll know." I end up in an alley in front of her apartment and she comes out and smiles at me and says, "Oh, Bob, I should have known, with your mind---" and then two teenage punks pass on the sidewalk and sort of shove her aside, and I stand my ground but they shove me aside, too, and I reply bitterly, "I'm sorry, but you don't own this sidewalk," and they make some ageist remark back about watching what I say to them or I'll regret it. Wake to think about this, the first dream in a long time, and at 5:15 again think of doing Actualism, but barely get started when I'm counting: two nights in Arenal, two nights in Monteverde, one night in San Jose, and then the nights in New York. Ken gets up at 6:21 and we start packing, he asking for a bag only after I've laboriously closed MY bag, and I give him my "puzzle" bag for his boots, which are "cleaner, but wetter now." He also discovers that the door can somehow BE unlocked, which it could never be before. It's now 6:52 and we're ready for breakfast at 7AM and departure at 8AM, hopefully for someplace DRYER because all the clothes feel damp, the ants are infesting my dop kit, my dirty-clothes bag smells horrendous when opened, and all the clothes are nominally dry but very damp to the touch. And, Ken says, it will surely rain again today. Lets hope it's dryer over the mountains in Arenal. Stop typing at 6:54 to gather last few things for the A&K bag for the coming tote. Car to Tilajara 8-9:10, unpack and turn on A/C. Out 9:37, stop at desk, after BRIGHT birds, and argue with Ken to take car to waterfall. At 10:26 he agrees but must CHANGE first. I ask for sandwich and Roger says we can stop in La Fortuna for snack. 4-hour waterfall includes long walk down, which we probably won't do. To return by 3PM, and desk NOW says his driver will be here in ten minutes. 8-hour Caño Negro tour for tomorrow. Roger drives at 10:33. Arrive 11:20, passing lots of horses. #18 La Fortuna at 11:24. To bottom at 11:50, and #25 back at top at 12:56. To lunch 12:40-1:40 GREAT sopa ranchera and chicken empanada and two Cas drinks. Roger's great: adopted cousins' kids, survived twelve days in jungle at 17, sacrificed two dogs to irate mother tapir. To HUGE crocodile and LOTS of ENORMOUS iguanas on lawn. To room at 2:30. Passing two guides saying we leave at 3PM. Drive to Lake Arenal, arrive at Iskandria Spa at Tabacon Resort at 4PM. Jose tells us what to do after we ask about everything, change in tiny locker room and put things into tinier lockers, take a credit card to lower bar so we can charge drinks, get told that the higher we go the hotter the water is, but it doesn't seem to work that way. I'd seen a GREAT body with gorgeous thighs walking in with a buttocky woman, and finally find him at the other side of the bar. We get two drinks each, rather expensive, and I get enamored of an American with a great smile and killer pecs whom I video after we change back and shower, and I video in near-dark at 6PM before dinner at 6:20, leaving at 7 and getting back to hotel at 8:10, Ken disgusted enough with Jose to tell Ray that we do NOT want him to transfer us to Monteverde. Leave wakeup call for 6:45 for 8AM departure for tour, and hang up bathing suits to dry and I watch TV for a while, driving Ken absolutely CRAZY, and then I start this and finish at 9PM when he says he HAS to have the lights turned off soon. What a PAIN he can be, but he still plans a good trip and DID give me credit for forcing him to the waterfall walk, which was "A" as opposed to the supposedly great Hot Springs that turned into a "C", though we both admitted it would have been better had we managed to SEE Arenal, unfortunately socked completely under clouds. Finish this at 9:02PM and get to bed. But not before the carousing from a nearby cabin makes me look through the dop kit to find my new earplugs, and not finding them there, looking through all my other bags for stuff, finally going BACK to the dop kit and tearing it apart to find the tiny case that has them, and getting to bed at 9:15.

FRIDAY, 4/5/02: Wake at 2:05, again at 3:30 to pee, Ken walking in on me, and up at 4 to doze and think about general unexcitingness of this trip, and up at 6:07 to shit, thinking to avoid what I thought of as the 6:15 wakeup call, but then (after a lot of very dirty wipes) decide that the wakeup call was for 6:45, and go back to bed for a rudimentary Actualism session, finishing at 6:42 as Ken goes into the john to shave, and I get up to do this at 6:47, finishing at 7AM, not getting the wakeup call YET. Cloudy out and no visible iguana outside, but the birds and iguanas on the premises have been exceptional whenever we walked through it. Find that I HAVE gotten each date in from 3/29 to 4/5, though not particularly in order. And my postcards sit next to this, starting at me accusingly. To breakfast 7:15, French toast that forces me to take my wheat toast out of the once-through tray and put it back into the "fresh bread" tray, hoping no one sees my corrupted fingers doing that. Bacon and----beans?---no, potatoes?---no, manioc?---no, SOMETHING else beside juice and manzanilla (which he called chamomile) tea, and I didn't feel like fruit at all, so I left it at that while Ken filled his plate two or three times and had two cups of coffee, too. Then to lobby to wait, chatting with Roger, who said the bus will be coming from three or four hotels and will arrive here last for the tour to Caño Negro (not CanoN, canyon, but CANE black, on the "dirty river" from the mud in it), which arrives at 8:06 with Felix. #34 in Los Chiles at 9:51 with INCREDIBLE treesful of iguanas basking in the sun, gone when we returned at 3:15PM. Most extraordinary sight of trip, perhaps. Ask Ken what HIS vote for most extraordinary sight would be and he chuckles, appears interested, then shakes his head and dismisses me with "I don't know, I'd have to think about it," and returns to his Costa Rica guidebook. To boat at 10AM on Rio Frio, and take pictures around our lunch-tree that end roll 2. Roll 3: #1 great egret at 1PM. Boat turns back at 1:16PM, going FAST. Arrive at dock at 1:42 after an eventful trip from which I then list what we'd seen, but the first word: howger? and white-faced Mowbirds? totally elude me. AH! HOWLER and white-faced MONKEYS come back to me, dozens of them, carrying babies, looking at us, swinging WILDLY through the trees, many caught on tape, many just stared at and remembered with wide-armed leaps, crashes into lower branches, and tail-hanging above and below branches. Boatbills clustered, greater and common Putus laboriously pointed out to little effect after the feathered spark plugs are finally identified on their branches. Nighthawk, which was the hardest to see, and not worth much, an upturned cashew-nut shape sitting on a branch with head tucked into a wing, no legs or head visible, only a white-speckled, gray mass amid the gray branches. Limpia, obviously a catch, making Felix proud, Sungrebe, with a tiny, beautiful, turtle-striped neck, and hundreds of anhingas, mostly white-topped females, but a few totally black males, some juvenile blue herons that unaccountably looked like cattle egrets, high-sailing roseate spoonbills only pink against the blue sky, dozens of bee-eaters and flycatchers almost indistinguishable from the kingfishers with their crests, long beaks, color-striped bodies, and short legs and darting flight just over the water, one kingfisher actually diving and getting something as I watched. Many other details I may add later: caimans by the score, many with mouths open, a family of babies each a foot long; a trio of turtle-anhinga-caiman on one log IN a photo; swimming anhingas not pointed out with their snake-heads; tricolor, blue, and night-herons, also great and small. Great and snowy egrets, too. Butterflies passed uncommented except for a bouncing morpho. Dragonflies and cows weren't in bird books. Strand the boat to see the Putu, backing back-and-forth to get the nose out of its cavern in the black muck. Then ashore for lunch of chicken and rice, vegetables and rice, dry manioc boiled, and good squash cooked. Start with a Fanta orange, Ken gets me a second, Felix brings around pineapple dessert, and I take a final water, still cold in the cooler. Talk to the acned, tall blond from Holland, look at the two fat presumed-lesbians, and off after a small inland tour. Stop at the same pissoir where Ken buys a beer and I do, too, and eat his Snickers bar, not as good as a Milky Way. Leave there at 2:04 and have to interrupt the blond's story to Ken by asking what that double-peaked hill was? Arenal, visible at last, too far away to photo, and the cloud quickly comes down to cover the top. Back past school kids begging for money by pulling a rope taut across the road, letting our tour bus by, and get to desk and almost FORCE Ken to NOT return to room and look at Herbal garden---nothing there. He wants to swim after a drink. I return for suit, he wants to walk back to room. I have a helicopter, not bad, he has a fruit thing. Float in coolish water, try the half-functioning Jacuzzi, then out into the cold to use Ken's used towel to dry off and get back to room about 6, frightening a large toad/frog off the dining-room path. Can't see Arenal anymore. Back to type this until 6:43, hungry for dinner. Got ice and have ice-water---oh, and we went to butterfly house, where I tried some photos, probably not very good. Leave here tomorrow 8AM for Monteverde stop. I guess I'll be glad when this is over. To dinner at 6:45PM. [Really feel evil being so pissy with Ken, but WHO would like touring a Ranaria with six French-speakers who need translations of everything, including some which Ken supplies, led by a kid in front who SCREAMS every couple of seconds for no reason except the dark.] Spend about $70 for a very mediocre dinner: $22 for a bottle of Pinot Grigio that's tasteless, Ken has sea bass, starting with hearts of palm salad that he loved. I had a relatively tasteless cream of asparagus soup and a sad medallion of beef in a WHITE wine sauce with SHRIMP on top, which was pretty awful. Dessert of the special cheesecake prompted Ken to say to the poor waiter, "I never tasted anything so disgusting in my life," and he got the flan, which was OK. My apple pie wasn't bad, warm with vanilla ice cream. Out and insist on brushing my teeth and Ken gets into bed and watches some of the news, then turns over and starts snoring while I finish about 9PM, with a 6:45 wakeup call. Always get to sleep almost instantly.

SATURDAY, 4/6/02: Up during the hours of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and shower from 6:30-6:50, pack, and eat breakfast 7:10-7:40, when I pay 16,500C to completely clear out my colons---a colonectomy, as I tell Ken. To room at 7:55 and find the driver waiting for us. Bags to the car and off at the DOT of 8AM. Totally OUTRAGEOUS road from Toliman to Santa Elena, particularly the first part of the road, around the invisible-top Arenal. We then stopped for a grand family of charming coatis which eats the snacks the wonderful family from the car behind us feeds so that I can take videos and photos. Then to Lake Arenal, and all around much of it, up and down with Italian, German, French, and Dutch restaurants all vying for clients and most, it seems, trying to sell off their lands and their panoramas. Santa Elena established in 1950 when Quakers from the US moved to Costa Rica when it abolished its armed forces. But the road is just HIDEOUS, taking two hours to go maybe 30 kilometers, Ken joking that this region must have voted for the wrong person, vis-a-vis the upcoming election tomorrow. But the countryside would be PRETTY and prosperous and comfortable if only the road were better. A quick photo of coral trees in bloom, and then the back door keeps opening and when I get out to pee in the gutter at 11:25AM I FALL and get my black pants dusty. A/C on much of the way, but the rain is coming horizontally as we leave the van at the Cloud Forest Lodge at 11:55AM. No room for an hour, he says, but lunch will be ready in 15 minutes, however we're immediately up to room 11 and unpack a bit and get to lunch from 12:20-1:24, and a couple from Chicago tell us about their taxi for $18 for Orchids, Sky Walk, shopping, and Frog Pond, AND tell us where to see two QUETZALS at the Cloud Forest on our tour tomorrow at 7AM. Get into taxi with cute Miguel at 1:47, and miniature orchids of staggering variety under a magnifying glass until 2:30. Then to Sky Walk at 2:50 and enjoy the moss on the trees and the silence from the bridges, but the end is spectacular: two blue-green birds building a nest right down the bridge from a PAIR of quetzals, the male even turning to face the cameras at the end before flying off. The first rain had stopped, and I even took off my raincoat and hat toward the end in the coolness for which my long-sleeved flannel shirt was perfect. I give my thanks to the German who dragged me back to the birds at the nest. Out at 5:10, Ken shops to 5:35, then to Frogs, leaving at 6:34 in the dark, back to hotel at 6:45, backwind the videotape to find I've recorded 1:31:13 so far, so have at least 30 minutes left, probably enough for the rest of the trip, though I put it on for recharge again tonight, since we'll be on a tour from 7AM to 4PM tomorrow in the Cloud Forest, with maybe more quetzals. To dinner at 7:10, not bad pork chop for me, and Ken liked his sea bass, and the portions of creme of asparagus soup were small but creamy and tasty. Good homemade buns for lunch and bread for dinner. No booze these next two days because of the election, so I have two glasses of Fresca while Ken gets a whipped-iced-tea, which with the lime tastes pretty good. Chat with the Chicago couple when they return, and are serenaded by the Liberace-resembling desk clerk for the evening, who takes Ken's wakeup call for 6AM when we get back to room at 8:20, just before restaurant stops serving at 8:30. I sit down with this while Ken showers, having looked at my videos of the quetzals. Stop this at 8:40 as Ken gets out the shower, suggesting that since we have candles in case the power goes out, maybe we have a pitcher in case the water supply goes out. I STILL haven't done my postcards! Forgot to mention that I did a fairly good Actualism session this morning. Debate going to sleep without earplugs so I can listen to the marvelous winds outside, but figure I'll hear more of Ken's snoring than anything else, so the plugs go in. He drops into bed about 8:40 and I get into bed at 8:50PM, happy about the blanket and quilt, comfortable with one pillow when Ken needs two, stating in his "I'm the baby and I'm right" way in which he burps and farts loudly, "I sleep with FIVE in my apartment."

SUNDAY, 4/7/02: Wake at 1:40, 2:42, 3:48 to pee and try to shit but don't, then dream of something about travel which I've forgotten, but then I'm lying in bed with a woman, or watching a video of someone like George Saunders lying in bed with a woman, having grease on his fingers (or her fingers) and rubbing them on my forearm, saying, "Margo wouldn't like this at all, she just wouldn't stand for it," and suddenly there's the sound of someone ringing the doorbell and it appears it might be the ghost of Margo, and this is somehow a remake of Rebecca, with the dead wife's name changed to Margo, and I'm wondering how it'll all turn out when I wake and go to shit at 5:40AM and get out of bed at 5:50 and find my T-shirt to wear under my flannel, and dress as warmly as I can, even to putting gloves in my bag, and ask Ken for two ibuprofen before filling my pill-case for breakfast, finishing this at 6:02AM, just after the guy comes to knock on my door, with Ken asking if I'd heard the howler monkeys this morning, which I surely did. Finish card to Sherryl, and write cards to Pope, Carolyn, and Jean-Pierre by 6:20AM, thinking I might even get more if I can find 4 more for $1. Ken writes something like a dozen, and has the nerve to accuse me of making as much noise as HE does, but even when I comment on his nose-snuffing and throat-clearing when I haven't made a SOUND, he keeps going back to last night when I apparently coughed a few times. He just has no CONCEPT of how ANNOYING he is sound-wise to be with! Figure to get down to breakfast when my watch says 6:25AM because their clock runs at least six minutes faster than my watch does. Car at 7:10, rushing to finish the breakfast omelet served only at 7AM when we opened the doors at 6:32AM. Hugo to pick us up at 3PM. TOUR only till 11. To Center 7:35, in to slide-show in progress. Out at 7:55, to large group with small kid. Group includes a Hacky-Sack idiot. Off at 8:04. Blue-crowned clophornica were nesting at bridge. 8:15 emerald toucanette. 9:27AM waterfall #26. 9:50 concrete blocks and screen-covered (they last 6 mos.) logs (they last 5 years) but blocks last [start file 3 at 7:57AM 4/8] forever. Monteverde has 50,000 visitors per year, up from past. Big, white bird was swallowtail kite, with BLACK tail in book, white in air. Tour over at 10:40, but it was only supposed to be 3.5 hours at the most. Bobby M. gives hint of "see number 28" on self-guided tour map. Buy two sandwiches and candy and soda for $11 and leave at 11:04. #27 ferns growth at 11:37. #28 snake at 12:32. Lunch 12:40-12:55. 1:15 Ken to information, me to bridge. #29 Bay at 1:34. #30 blue-head pheasant with flash at 1:37. To El Camino 1:44. #31 to far-view at 2:06 (turned out to BE number 28). #32 to Bay at 2:07. #33 millipede at 2:11. #34 backside at 2:15. Continental divide at 4700 feet. 2:20 start roll 4. Meet Ken, who saw quetzal AGAIN, to car at 3:15 and to Exstasis to 3:45 for Ken to buy a carved wooden frog. To hotel at 4, to local tracks 4:25. #4 River trail exit at 4:45. Back at 5:10 EXHAUSTED. Ken called for car for Sapo Dorado dinner. Out at 5:50, no cab. Cab at 5:55, sunset quite over. Dinner adequate, my mini-mignons tenderer than last night, but had to sort out peppercorns and eat broccoli and rice! And have Virgin Daiquiris because of two-day liquor moratorium because of election. Back at 7:37, Ken into bed at 8:20, me at 8:30. Pee at 11:41: 48 hours of trip left.

MONDAY, 4/8/02: LEFT this notebook in bathroom to pick up at 5:40AM, Ken went in after me and said nothing about it. Ken and me up at 6:26, me fretting, pack, and to breakfast 6:40-7:35, nothing paid for, Ken agrees. $98 Visa bill to me. Ken denies I signed for breakfast yesterday, but clerk verifies I did and Ken doesn't reply. Done with packing at 7:53 and sit to type this to 8:05AM, Ken wandering around with nothing to do, and saying he'll go down to check if the car is on the way. "Oh, we're ready," I hear from downstairs at 8:06AM. So we're OFF! Ken then back to say, "The guy who was cleaning his car is our driver, but he needs ten more minutes. Go figure." "Go figure" ranks right up there with his "Bloat," "Buenas morningas," and "What happens is what happens," as totally annoying interjections. The walk yesterday was exhausting, and I even tell him that my foot-arthritis is acting up, my toes felt jammed into the front of my shoes because the Odor-Eaters had bunched up in the toes, but when they were straightened out my feet felt almost OK, except that my legs are sore from the climbing yesterday, Ken amusingly insisting that he did as much walking as I did, even though he said that the information booth was only a couple of minutes from where my trail left his, and I walked back to the bridge and all the way to number 28 when he just walked up to number 21 or so to look at the quetzal, having spent some time eating the rest of his second sandwich sitting down, while I didn't have time to finish ANY of my second humungous ham-and-cheese, finally putting the whole thing in the wastebasket in the bathroom of the hotel, a waste that I can just let go, but have to record here. Lay in bed this morning AGONIZING about the rest of the trip: just traveling down to San Jose, then a city tour that Ken announced as I'm typing, then sleep tonight and flights tomorrow, with my perception that our time-change explains the difference between the four-hour flight coming down and the five-hour flight coming back, since they don't (or haven't yet) changed to daylight savings time. Again, we seem to be the only passengers, so only the 20-person bus transfer from San Jose to Tortuguero was with other people, not counting the extra two the cab driver brought from the Cloud Forest to Santa Elena yesterday before dropping Ken and me off at Exstasis, where he bought a wooden frog for 12,000 colons, which was truly excessive, but I like the palm-wood Pejibayes, or whatever I marked on their brochure. Ken states his intent to stare down the driver in ten minutes, so I stop this at 8:14AM. [3:07AM 4/9 Dream: I'm taking a graduate course in physics and think of how I can best help myself: either take a tutorial in basic calculus or hire someone to teach me the basic physical formulas I'll need to know to learn the material better. Then I seem to be listening to a radio station like WQXR or NPR that announces it's going to be giving the series of standard tests for grade-school students, starting with an "exemplum test that would encompass the basic types of questions on the more advanced tests. We came up with the following questions which we thought should be added to the tests: 1) What was the purpose of this particular question, 2) What particular skill was being tested with this question, 3) Which questions were considered more important, 4) What terms were the students supposed to remember, and 5) How did these questions relate to other questions in the tests." Wake and lie a few minutes, thinking that, according to past experience, it should still be before midnight for this first wakeup when I'd gone to bed about 9:10PM, and was quite surprised to find it was more like six hours since I'd gone to sleep! And this is well into the last day of the trip! So I picked up the laptop and sat on the john typing this while I urinated.] [6:53AM: Leave the bathroom after shitting and showering from 6:28AM, and Ken is still snoring. So I bring the laptop and my notebook into the bathroom and start typing again. Remembered a dream from about 4AM: I'm eating from the bottom of a bag of potato chips and with the last small handful I feel a little pinch, or movement, between my first two fingers and look down to see the rear end of an ant struggling there. I give a little squeak of surprise and shake it off and wonder what ELSE I may have ingested while I was eating the first of the potato chips!] Get loaded in the small 4x4 and the driver is waiting for another couple. They get in, Laura and Tommy, and we start down about 8:30. #7 and 8 of the mountains at 9AM. She's a law librarian, so Ken remarks she knows what HE does after I remark that at least she knows what an index is. They spent two years in Riyadh, where he was helping engineer underground storage for various fuels and oils, and she was permitted to work for an American company without a veil, but she couldn't drive a car. They thought Dubai was set up well for tourism, but said that Saudi Arabia required a special permit to even enter the country, which I didn't know. Interesting talk down to the Guanacaste coast and Highway 1, where at 10AM we transfer to a bus which leaves at 10:03, carrying a couple with a daughter and a woman with two kids who stretched out, played hand-held games, whistled, ate, complained, and whined about being bored, so I put in my earplugs and felt sorry for all the drivers who had to drive this highway: ages behind some slow truck going up a hill, waiting miles for the few passing zones, not much of a view, and for a few minutes when I closed my eyes Ken turned around to say something and thought I was asleep. They have to catch a plane, and I think we'll NEVER get there, but finally we're in the posh outskirts of San Jose, and then to the airport at noon, having noted that it was 35 km to Santa Elena from the point we got off the slightly less bumpy road (with a car with better suspension) at Highway 1. And it may be that Highway 2, here, is the Pan-American Highway, now called the Inter-American Highway, says the guide, because they've finally built a four-wheel drive road that permits travel between Panama and Colombia in only two hours---which is hard to believe when foot-travelers took DAYS only a few years previously. He thinks this has only been completed in the last three or four years. I tell Ken he can have the Panama Canal on a trip if I can get the Panama-Colombia road, and he makes some usual dismissive remark, and I say, "I just wanted to plant a seed in your brain." We leave the airport at 12:03 to get to the Marriott at 12:17, Ken in a rush to check in, and we dash to the Tour Center at 12:20 to find that the last city tour of the day leaves at 12:55. He goes to order lunch while I pay the $50 for both (I thought he told the other couple $45 apiece?), and the clerk has to go to the main desk to get $10 change from my three twenties. I grab my A&K bag from the room and meet Ken in Villa Hermosa restaurant (La Isabela is the tasting-menu restaurant) at 12:35 to order two deli wraps, which he signs for, and---no, I sign for, since the room is under my name and the oriental waitress asks for MY signature---he gobbles his down while I wrap my three wraps in napkins and scarf up the olives and peppers and chips that came alongside the wraps, and get out to the entrance at 12:52 to find the bus not there yet, and it comes at 1PM and two other couples from the hotel get on---and someone boarding an A&K bus notices my bag and wants to say something but doesn't---and we're off at 1PM to other hotels to pick up the other six people on the 12-person tour. Wait for the last people till 1:16. To Natural History Museum (Art Museum is closed on Monday) at 1:30 for fossils, shells, butterflies, beetles, fish, birds, mammals (I video two-bodied pig and two-headed calf), and because Costa Rica was formed only 150 million years ago they have no dinosaur relics, but have a complete fossil collection and a staggering number of butterflies and shells, which Ken looks through and can't even see all of. Guide said, "20 more minutes," and I'm out at 2:12 and Ken's last at 2:13. This is ALSO a no-booze day! DAMN! In first three-man race the leader only took 38.5% of the vote, and needed 40%, so they had a runoff and Pacheco, the blue/red flag-man, got 58% and the other got 42% and can only run two more times. We pass the house of a former president who won the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating an end to the local wars among Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Honduras in the early 80s. #7(?) ox-cart at 2:20. [Check outside bathroom for Ken at 7:17AM and he's STILL in bed!] In 1887 this became the third electrified city in the world after Paris and New York, thanks to the riches from coffee exportation. To Emerald shop at 2:38, where I look a bit and read the newspaper to find that Pacheco is the oldest-elected president at 69. Museum was 43 minutes, we leave emeralds at 3:09 for 31 minutes. #8 National Theater at 3:31, guide saying that Vienna, Paris, the Colon Theater in Buenos Aires, and this are the four most beautiful opera houses in world, which Ken and I doubt. Photo graceful ironwork from Belgium. Built 1890-1897. #12 lobby at 3:47. There to 4:06, videoing lots of Korean Folkloric Dance Company in lobby and onstage, as well as some of the details inside and outside the 1024-seat theater. To Folk Crafts area at 4:34 for 40 minutes. I try maybe six places for objects made from Pejibaya wood, but find none. Buy five postcards for 325C and get 23C change from $1. Now at 5:15 on bus we're at 41 minutes. Leave then and back via many neighborhoods in the outskirts to return everyone to their hotel, and back to Marriott at 6:20 to go to the gift shop, where they have SMALL 65C stamps so I don't have to rewrite card for Jean-Pierre with the huge 65C stamps Ken and I got when he stopped the car on the way down from Monteverde, which he insisted had to be a main post office, which was silly. Stamp everything, mail cards in the coffer on the third floor, and dine 6:45-7:45 with a clubfoot (Ken says paralyzed) waiter and two bratty kids too close for comfort, and I finish barely half my 8-oz. filet and squash and carrots, but finish the Parmesan twist and ate lots of the dried-tomato-bread "bowl" of my mushroom and thyme soup, which filled me up a lot. Back to room to sulk and feel numb while Ken showers, reading a bit of the Costa Rica "complementary" guidebook and the New York Times extracts, and when he's out I start to get ready for bed at 8:50 and get into bed at 9:06, surprising Ken into a typical "This is so sudden." He turns the light off quickly and I get to sleep quickly.

TUESDAY, 4/9/02: I wake much to my surprise at 3-something AM, recorded earlier with my first dream [DREAMS:4/9/02]. Finish this now at 7:29, figuring it's late enough to wake Ken even if he's not awake, glad to be wearing the complimentary robe they furnished in the closet. Now to the FINAL packing, and write a card to Rita, and maybe Mildred if Ken can spare all four stamps. But he's actually STILL snoring away, so I come back to the bathroom and work on a Times puzzle in the extract at 7:30. FINALLY hear Ken open the drapes at 7:37 and he again uses "Buenas morningas," and I finish one puzzle, he gets the new Times from under the door and I start dressing at 7:41AM. Finish cards to Rita and Fred by 8AM, when we go to the Restaurant Villa Hermosa for a good breakfast buffet with omelet and strawberries that taste like strawberries and bananas in some kind of sweet, maybe-orange juice, light syrup. Constant Comment tea. Ken leaves 1000C tip for the $30 breakfast! To the Business Center to get a forecast of rain tonight for New York, with winds out of the southwest, so we should be BLOWN to NYC. Coolish, too, so I pack my jacket in my shoulder bag. Ken gets the bill on his credit-card number and I finish this at 9:02AM, lots of time until our 11:30AM shuttle for our 2PM flight, with a lunch that Ken is content to consider dinner for him. He didn't take the juice "because it wasn't labeled; it could be monkey shit." Where DID he get this?? Tell him he has to plan to be out of the room while I brush my teeth to TV, and when he doesn't come back from the john downstairs, I guess I have to assume he's giving me the time NOW! Then flip through TV and find the Classic Arts Showcase and leave it on, watching lots of it, and it helps pass the time while Ken comes back and irons his jacket and I watch TV and pack in orchestral spots, catching up with this at 10:30, only an hour before the shuttle and the start of the return home! Ken goes for "a turn around the grounds," on which I don't accompany him, and finally get my blue bag closed at 10:40AM, sweating in the humidity from outside, so I close the door (to the relief of neighbors who might not care for Classic Arts Showcase) and put the air conditioning back on. Put everything else in the A&K bag, thankfully not THAT heavy. Ken returns, saying it's too hot to be outside, and I'm worried about it being as cold as 50° and thunderstormy in New York. Look around to make sure we haven't forgotten anything, and this is the last to go into the bag, Rossini blaring in the background from TV. Ken reads me about pejibaye (fruit) from the book, "usually topped with a bit of mayonnaise." I can't think of anything more to write, just want this to be HOME, with me with it. Going onto 11AM, now 1PM in NYC, and it turns out we have DINNER on the plane to NYC, not lunch as I'd thought. But it will STILL be before 4PM and I'm feeling pretty full from breakfast even now. Guess I'll put this away and punt, just 10:59AM. Leave room 11:17. Bus to airport 11:31-11:40. Check-in guy OPENS blue bag, but ALSO helps close it with three pairs of hands. Through at 11:55. They take Ken's mini-umbrella at gate 3 at noon. I look at offer to "buy two, get one free" Cafe Britt at $12.50, when the shop's price was only $10 for three, so I refuse. Read book in crowded wait area. At 1:38 we're still sitting; board 1:55 and get 21F from poor Spanish woman who had it. All aboard by 2:07, and at 2:11 they announce flight of 3 hrs. 27 minutes, or 207 minutes. Off at 2:23, in at 5:50. But then the "poor Spanish" woman insists on sitting next to her husband, who's moved from his aisle seat to the one next to me, and so when the seatbelt sign goes off, I move to 22F, only a sliver of HER window available to me if I lean forward (ignoring the importunate [Ken repeated "penchant"? when I used THAT word] plump guy from Pennsylvania next to me [who SHOULD have been gay, but kept talking about the bar-girls at some run-down San Jose club] who kept talking to me when I just wanted to look at the view). 2:38 over Caribbean already. Small barren isles at 3:03. Caymans, lunch of chicken and two red wines and Kahlua. Then Cuba, the Keys, Everglades, and Alligator Alley at 4:30. Fasten seat belts at 4:34, only 1:15 to go, bumpy down and getting dark at 5:42. Land at 5:52 (7:52 actually) and to Concourse A at 6:31PM after shouting BACK at obnoxious Chicagoan who threatened to "meet me outside." What a PUTZ! Get changed from wing to seat 21A, one AHEAD of "no window" 22, which detail DOES show up on HER screen. Ken goes to shop at 6:38, buying a mini-umbrella for $17, and flight from Sarasota is delayed. Board at 7:30. At 7:40: 1 hr. 34 minutes. Off at 8:05, fabulous lights then clouds. $3 beer at 8:33, doing puzzles. At 9:27 fabulous lights again, passing over Statue of Liberty but then Manhattan and upper Queens is socked in clouds, unfortunately. Land at 9:40, wet outside, off QUICK and luggage carousel doesn't even start till 10:02. Get mine quick, say goodbye to Ken, and into taxi at 10:12. Home at 10:33, 21 minutes for $23. Five phone messages, glance through the mail, including standby-phone jury-duty notice, and bed at 10:56. To sleep about 11:59, not figuring out WHY it took me so long to get to sleep, but possibly it was just the adrenaline of pure CONTENTMENT to be finished with the trip safely. Do a bit of Actualism to finally drop to sleep.

WEDNESDAY, 4/10/02: Wake at 2:50, pee at 4:25, pee at 7AM, and up at 7:24 after wanting to sleep a bit more but not being able to. Change watch (and official time) to 9:24AM. Finish breakfast at 10:10, and transfer AlphaSmart files to PC by 10:55AM, starting 3/31 Times, WQXR blazing away blocking noise from upstairs. So WONDERFUL to be BACK with nothing to do but catch up on stuff from trip and then plan for painting---and that's IT until Jean-Pierre!!! Work on file till 12. Three calls for Village Playwrights, one from Bill P.---at least THEY listened to my message. Go through magazines, put out dirty clothes to dry, then "start" FreeCell about 4PM, go through Taipei cycle, then at 6PM GOT to get out for groceries, and have "lunch" of chicken-breast sandwich to stave off serious hunger pangs. Then RETURN to FreeCell, listening to WQXR, talking to Spartacus, Shelley, Mildred, and Sherryl to catch up on all calls except Pope and Jean-Pierre, and stop at 12:30AM to have an avocado, and jerk off till 2AM!

THURSDAY, 4/11/02: Wake at 6AM, pee at 8:30, Actualism 9-9:30 and get up, ready for SECOND day after trip. Paul C. calls at 9:40AM! Type this to 9:55, ready for e-mail. Lots of junk, nothing from anyone important. Carolyn calls, and then I call George for two radiator valves; he says he'll come later, but hasn't come by 6:45PM. Go through the two Sunday Times, doing puzzles, not finishing one, and Spartacus calls about the Mufti Androcles and the Lion on Audience Extras for Saturday evening, and I call and GET Charles and chat with him. Sort through the souvenirs to separate bills and my "regular" stuff and the notebook pages to help me proofread this. Had salad and sandwich for lunch, but I'm hungry NOW again! George calls at 7:10 to say he wants to be here when the heat is on! Maybe tomorrow morning. Took 29#, 19 in blue bag and 10 in A&K bag; returned with 34#, 22.5 in blue and 11.5 in A&K. Spent $294 in cash of the $636 I took. With the Visa expenditures it looks like this might sneak above $260/day, making it the fifth-most-expensive trip ever. Finish this at 7:35, eager for dinner, I guess watching Charlie Rose and Mayor Bloomberg. Then finish the Times puzzle and do the difficult Saturday one in the Times extract. About 11:30 decide to sort through the mail, getting to bed at 1:05AM.

FRIDAY, 4/12/02: Wake at what I think was 2:25 with a wonderful hard-on, and start playing, getting better and better, and really tease at the brink for a relatively unfelt cum. Let it dry off, thinking that my eroticism may have been abetted by Jean-Pierre---or Paul---or Tony---or Fred or Ken or Bob R.---and when I get up to flush down the bidi remains, I'm surprised to see that it's 3:27. Either I took much longer than I thought, or I'd misremembered the time I woke. Pee, and then shit at 8:40. Lie contentedly until 9:21, when George calls to say he'll be here in fifteen minutes. Up and dress and type this to 9:32, leaving the computer on so he'll see how I have to "work." He comes quickly, changes my radiator valve, says I should have called Hector first about valves: I say I'm calling him now to ask about painting, and George goes upstairs, I hear Ed let him in, I phone Hector and he tells me to call Oscar, and George rings my bell and he talks in Spanish to Hector, complaining about the stuff he had to move at Ed's to even get to the radiator. I phone Oscar and he says he'll come to paint on April 23, and I think, "I can move all my stuff to John's!" Call Spartacus. Do the Pesticide update and call Stephanie to see whether she wants to take the 26 corrections over the phone or wants to pay me to reprint the whole thing and send it to her. Charles calls, but Audience Extras has no ticket for Mildred for Androcles. Charles has to call Mildred and tell her, so I make reservations for three at Madame Romaine de Lyon at 6. Play FreeCell, which goes OK, then try Juno, and it BOMBS, and try again, read messages, and when I try FreeCell it SOUNDS. So reset the computer and try again, and sound is back off. ODD! Now 1:30 and, even having eaten the Mars bar, I'm hungry for lunch. Have lunch, wash dishes. Stephanie calls and says she'll take page-corrections on Monday, since I'm leaving now to go to the gym. Hard for the first time in two weeks. Back to get mail, try phoning Pope, mope, print SLIDES page and DREAMS - 83 and 84 from trip. Hungry AGAIN now at 5:50! Prepare the slide-film rolls for mailing and gather three checks for deposit (forgetting the one on the "do-shelf" for $500 from BEFORE the trip, from which I also retrieved the ticket for Valhalla that Spartacus gave me and I couldn't find Sunday, thinking he still had it) and get rid of THOSE, too-late-already Friday afternoon, before meeting Shelley at the car for the drive to the K.s' for wonderful champagne and good food and terrible noise at NYC before armagnac (and BOTH dictionaries failed to supply the spelling, so I went to EB and assume it's the SAME as the place-name spelling) and the drive back home. Talk to Charles about the FURY Mildred vented on him when he said no tickets left!!

SATURDAY, 4/13/02: Wake thinking, "Oh, of COURSE: if I'd been PAINTED more often I wouldn't have so much JUNK around: clearly I should get rid of SCIENTIFIC AMERICANS before I'm painted, and boxes atop bedroom cabinet, and other stuff!" So HOURS are spent culling 15 years of Sci-Am! Unpack a bit, phone Pope more, get out to meet Charles for mediocre Madame Romaine de Lyon, LATE because R wasn't WORKING and 4 went LOCAL to 59th! Androcles not that hot; feeling tired, but manage to get through Times and much of puzzles before exhaust-bed.

SUNDAY, 4/14/02: FINISH culling Sci-Ams, FINISH unpacking, STILL piles of stuff to SORT.

MONDAY, 4/15: Update calendar, piles still to do NOT trip-connected. Finish this 10AM.



FRI,3/29: Fly Newark-Atlanta 9:50-11:40AM, to Ramada Inn Atlanta Airport, lunch at Waffle House, Marta to High Museum, Marta to Jay's, Oriental Pearl dinner.

SAT,3/30: Ramada Inn breakfast. Fly Atlanta-San Jose 10:55AM-3:17PM (one hour difference). Costa Rica Marriott Hotel drinks, La Isabela tasting/birthday$234.

SUN,3/31: Room-service breakfast, bus 6:08-8AM: Restaurant Rio Danta breakfast. Butterflies, three-toed sloth, two-toed sloth, howler monkeys, whipping snake on bus 9-11:11AM. Crocodiles, herons, egrets on boat 11:35-1:10: Mawamba Lodge. Buffet lunch, Nature Trail, Gulf Coast, Jesus Christ lizard, Tortuguero Village and drinks, dinner with wine, bed 9:15.

MON,4/1: Boat 6:22-8:25, palms and basilisk. Walk in rain to spider and howler monkeys. Boat 3-5:15, drinks, sunset beach, dinner, bed 9:31, latest of trip.

TUE,4/2: Beach 5:15-5:50 sunrise, Nature Trail. Boat to Puerto Viejo 8:09-11:30 with crocodiles, toucans, and Nicaragua Immigration. Selva Verde Lodge self-guided walk and lunch. Secondary Forest walk with poison frog, butterflies.

WED,4/3: Rainy walk 1:30-2:37 in Primary Forest for Blue-Jean Poison frogs.

THU,4/4: Car to Tilajara 8-9:10. To La Fortuna Falls 10:33-12:30, lunch at Pito Pito: great sopa ranchera and Cas. Leave 3PM to Iskandria Spa at Tabacon Resort for hot-pool swimming, drinks and dinner, not seeing Arenal Volcano-top at all.

FRI,4/5: 8:06 bus to trees of iguanas and Caño Negro boat at 10. Howler and white-faced monkeys, caimans and birds, lots. Lunch on shore. Bare-top Arenal from great distance. Use pool, see Butterfly House, disappointing dinner/wine.

SAT,4/6: Car 8AM around Arenal to coatis, Lake, Toliman, Santa Elena, and Cloud Forest Lodge at 11:55. Taxi to miniature orchids, Sky Walk, pair of quetzals, frogs in Ranaria, no booze on next three days because of Presidential election!

SUN,4/7: Car at 7:10 to Monteverde tour, pack lunch, separate walks, to Hotel at 4 for local trails, Sapo Dorado dinner of mini-mignons and Virgin Daiquiris.

MON,4/8: Down in 4x4 8:30-10, bus 10:03-12:17 to Marriott in San Jose. Deli wrap takeout from Villa Hermosa to bus 1-6:20 City Tour: Natural History Museum and Emerald Shop and National Theater and Folk Crafts street. Kid-ful dinners!

TUE,4/9: Good breakfast buffet, airport shuttle 11:31-11:40. Fly San Jose-Atlanta 2:23-5:52 (7:52 actually). Fly Atlanta-La Guardia 8:05-9:40. Home 10:33.

Forgot to record my last before-trip do-list: 0) water plants, 1) Scotland journal to Arnold, 2) renew and pick up Rx, 3) clip toenails, 4) trim roses, 5) send picture and letter to Jean-Pierre, 6) get tooth ground, 7) check Saturday Lotto numbers, 8) Ken: YOU have my tickets? at Grimaldi's!