Archive for June, 2010

Language Issues

June 30, 2010

Our Costa Rican tour guide was wonderful.  Carlos knows the pitfalls and danger spots in the country (actually, not too many), as well as knowing where the ‘best’ prices were for we touristas.

Carlos spent some time in the States, earning cash to afford to start up his tour business.  So, his grasp of the English language is pretty good.  And, actually, so is his accent.  We rarely had to ask him to repeat anything.

There were, however, some very obvious exceptions.

On arrival, as we were all getting settled on the bus, Carlos informed us he had soda drinks for us.

Carlos: “Okay, peoples*, we have some Cock and Diet Cock for you!”

...and they're even available in cans!

He also had a slight pronunciation problem with the word “Folks”.

Carlos: “Okay, Fucks, here’s what we are doing next…”

Or, then again, maybe he DIDN’T have trouble with pronunciation…hmmm….

One of the couples on the trip went into town alone while the rest of us lounged by the pool.  They stopped at a place where the road was full of potholes.

Carlos: “Okay, Fucks, be careful of the buttholes out there.”

Unfortunately, my deputy adjacent assistant auxiliary dive buddy** pulled Carlos aside and corrected him so he didn’t say it after the third day.

Spoilsport.

Oh, and a couple more pictures – –

the sharks we got within 15 feet of...

croc teasing

Monkey Head Island...yeah, it does look a bit like one

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*He did tend to pluralize plurals….peoples, gentlemens…much fun!

**My preferred dive buddy being unavailable, on an adventure of her own, and sorely missed on this trip.

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Pura Vida

June 28, 2010

“Pure Life”

That’s the catch phrase in my most recent adventure location, Costa Rica.  Basically, it’s used to express when something is great or awesome.  Or, ‘this is the reason we live’.

And the trip was pretty much that…Pura Vida.

The local dive shop where I got my diving certification regularly schedules diving trips.  This has multiple purposes – – to entice those who don’t dive to consider because of the cool locations they go…to get those already diving to buy more stuff at the store to go on the trip…and, the best one, the shop’s dive sponsor gets a free vacation.  Pretty damn good.

This was a slightly different trip in that, besides the diving, there were multiple site seeing and adventure side trips.  I took a chance on it.

The diving?  Not so great visibility, so that sort of lessened the enjoyment of the 10 dives we did.  But we did see some cool stuff.  I swam within 15 feet of 7 white tipped reef sharks, who are not too dangerous, but still made me clench up a bit*.  I found an octopus scurrying across the coral.  There were puffer fish galore, as well as at least 4 moray eels each dive**.  We saw a seahorse, tiny and delicate, hovering in a coral sanctuary.  I saw the tail and shadow of a body of a bull shark (more aggressive) some 30 feet away.  I found a shark’s tooth on the ocean bottom.  I dove the Pacific, adding to the bodies of water I can now make that claim.

The land adventures?  Also very cool.

–  We ran a zip line jungle canopy tour. That’s where they’ve strung wire cable between tree tops and you zip from one tree to another strapped in a harness hooked to the wire.  The shortest was about a hundred feet.  The longest?  About a quarter mile…and we were flying when we got to the end of that one.  And howler monkeys yelling at us most of the way.

–  We visited an active volcano, Arenal.  (Un)fortunately, the lava flows were on the side of the mountain away from us.  Still, I saw the edge of a lava flow one mini-eruption at night.  And the beast belched and rumbled off and on throughout the day.

–  We took a river tour and tortured and teased crocodiles in the water.

–  We went white water rafting (yes, in a different river than the crocodiles this time).

Here are a few pictures, a couple stolen from fellow trip adventurers – –

Damn impressive, especially when rumbling

That's a moray...that's a moray...

Hard to see, but that's a dolphin frolicking in our boat wake.

HAD to be one sign in the bunch, yes?

No clue what the next adventure will be, but there will definitely be one!  I’m liking this…

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*I watched “Jaws” as a kid and it scared the crap out of me.

**One dive I was watching a needlefish and, when it swam off, looked down to see a moray eel a foot from my crotch…yoicks!  And away!!!

If The Pig Fits

June 17, 2010

Okay, I’m not sure whether to get serious help or to just chuckle.

I was cleaning up some old files, pitching what I could in my never ending attempt to declutter my life, when I found this.  Presented as I found it (with a minor mod).

circa 1990? -ish?

Scanning this in, I lost some detail…

–  the curly tail was actually a piece of wire

–  the ‘mountain oysters’ were added sometime afterwards

Irrespective, I look at it now and alternately laugh at my cleverness… and consider dialing a psychiatric help line for my weirdness.

Which do you suggest?

Survival

June 13, 2010

With the smell of almonds fresh in my nostrils, I curled in a fetal position, gasping for air and fighting to stay awake…

No, I was not poisoned by my college suite mate’s Mom.  I survived the meal and the visit.

KC met me at the door, introduced me to his son and mother (wife and daughter stayed back home), and sat me down to talk while Mom finished cooking dinner.

…and it took less than 3 minutes from entering the doorway for the topic of me breaking his leg to rear its head.  Okay, to be fair, I was certainly going to resurrect the memory myself, but planned on waiting until after dinner.  Nope.  KC pointed an accusatory finger at me and declared to his son that, “This was the guy who broke your father’s leg!”  God bless his son, though.  His son suggested that KC might…just might…have had something to do with the event occurring in the first place.

KC did remind me of a forgotten detail of the night.  My roommate and I dragged his butt downstairs to the university clinic.  Since I had cleverly rearranged his broken leg, setting the foot so it “looked right” again, the nurse on call thought it might just be a sprain.  So she gave him some extra strength tylenol and put him in bed until an X-ray could be taken.

My roommate?  Caring and concerned.  Chatting with KC and trying to keep him calm while the pain meds kicked in.

Me?  I commandeered one of the clinic wheelchairs and was doing wheelies up and down the hallway.

Actually, that did make KC laugh…which also hurt like hell when he did…which made me ride ever wilder.

KC also regaled me with a worse accident he had (tearing a muscle and getting a quack for a doctor such that it never did heal fully) – – –

guess this one's a veterinarian?

So my little leg breaking incident took a back seat in his life.

And the meal?  Scrumptious!  Pot roast, with potatoes and carrots cooked with, plus gravy and biscuits, with strawberry shortcake for dessert.  A real home cooked meal by a real home cooked mom.

But, yes, I did wait for the others to try the food before I tasted it…

Them’s The Breaks

June 9, 2010

Tomorrow evening, for the first time in some 30 years, I am going to see my college roommate.

Okay, not really my roommate…my suite mate [waiting patiently while everyone snickers about how ‘suite’ sounds like ‘sweet’].  My roommate and I in one room, KC in the attached single room of the suite.  We were college buddies, though not (obviously, if I’m seeing him for the first time in 30 years) best of friends.

KC tracked me down (how, I’m not sure, but my warning lights are lit up) and invited me to his relatively nearby Mom’s house one of the days he was visiting her.  That day is tomorrow.  I’ll meet his family and, of course, catch up with him.

One event from back then will be a certain topic of discussion.

Being stupid rambunctious college boys, we would often rough house when we were avoiding taking a break from our studying.  We often had impromptu wrestling matches… the real kind with college dormitory rules, not the television kind – –

loving hugs, i'm sure

One night, KC came charging into our room and interrupted our pretending to diligent studying.  I was closest to the room to his door, so I was the first target.

Now, KC outweighed me by some 30 to 40 pounds* back then.  He soon had the better of me and had me pinned to the floor.  I was face down with him applying his significant weight on me to try and get me to say, “Uncle!”

But, I was not one to give up so easily.  While KC was bracing himself with his feet and weight to prevent my escape, I used the leverage of my arms to push up and over.  Yeah, I used to be a strong kid.

Well…it worked.  Too well.  As I lifted up and over, KC went up and over as well.  Except his foot did not.

Now, remember all those extra pounds?  They provide a lot of pressure and torque that bones don’t usually handle well.

Yep.

KC yelled out in pain and lay there writhing (“I WIN!!”).  Then I noticed that, while his leg was straight, his foot was cockeyed the wrong way.

I was a boy scout.  I took their first aid training.  I remember them saying, “In the event of a broken limb, do not attempt to move that limb until it is stabilized.”

Me?  I said to myself, “That doesn’t look right.  Here, let me fix it.”

Whoops.

A nice radial fracture just above the ankle.

And I get to see him again tomorrow.

And his Mom is feeding me dinner.

I think I need a ‘food taster’.

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*That’d be 14 to 18 kg.  Or 2 to 3 stone.  Or 20 to 25 Japanese kinn.  or…. okay, I’m done.

Government Warning

June 7, 2010

As I sit here at the computer drinking a beer, I find myself staring at the bottle and am reminded of a half-remembered conversation.

At my sister’s inurnment, a few family members from out of town made it in.  One, an older cousin*, brought along his girlfriend**.  After the service, one of the family friends who lived in the area opened their home for a wake…food, beer, talk.

Still not sure how I felt about the whole sister thing, I decided to enjoy a beer…or three***.  During a lull in the discussion at the table, I perused the label and noticed the government warning:

WARNING:  Consuming beer if pregnant can cause birth defects.

I read it out loud, sighed, and said, “Well, I don’t think I’m pregnant, but what the heck, I’ll take the chance…I’m drinking it.”

Cousin’s Girlfriend immediately shook her head solemnly, ‘tsk tsk’-ed, and said, “Oh, your poor, unborn, crippled child.”

She’s going to fit right in with this family.

This makes more sense to me...and makes more sense.

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*Actually, he’s the one who gave me the nickname “The Kid” a long time ago.  My brother and two cousins living next door were about the same age.  Me?  9 years younger and a pain in the butt…okay, not much has changed, other than adding “Gnu” to the front end of “Kid”.

**Guess they’re getting pretty serious if she’s coming along to family funerals, huh?

***Hey, I wasn’t driving.

A Fine Farewell to ZA

June 3, 2010

One of my regrets…if you could really call it that because the trip was wonderful even amidst credit card stuff and all…was that I didn’t get to see one of the big cats.  ZA has lions, leopards, and cheetahs in their parks.  But, unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any.  Amongst other things, we did get to see some hyenas eating an elephant carcass – –

Carnivores - - Oy!

And, we did get to see the after effects of a lion feast – –

A zebra in the REALLY buff

…but no big cats.  [pouty lip]

Daughter Person came through, though.  She made reservations for an overnight stay at a very cool lodge, then a morning tour of the De Wildt Cheetah Center, for the preservation and breeding of cheetahs and other endangered wildlife.

After a near panic at not being able to pay because of the credit card issue, we did finally get to take the tour.

First on the tour was the running of the cheetahs.  Every morning they take three of their cheetah and exercise them by running them, having them chase a meat-filled sack being pulled by a winch and pulley setup on the ground.  After watching the first one with my jaw dropped, I regained enough sense to video the next two.  Hope this works – –

Afterwards, we got a short tour of the facility and watched them feeding the cheetahs in their cages.  Costing a bit extra, but worth every penny, was getting to pet a cheetah.  They took one of the cheetahs who is used to humans, plus ran and was fed (thus making them tired and full), put a leash on him, and let us pet him.

It. Was. Remarkable.

Shaka - King Cheetah*

The Cheetah is the only big cat that really purrs.  And could he purr.  He had a V-12 of happy purring away.  Take a look at his face.  If you’ve ever had cats, you recognize that contentment.

After that, we walked to some of the near cages that held other animals, including an albino honey badger.  Then a quick stop at the toilets before the rest of the trip…

Surprised he's not crossing his legs

Then we hopped on a truck to take the long tour of the facility.  Lots of animals in separate enclosures…some small-ish, most quite big…held a variety of critters — wild dogs, hyena, vultures, serval, wild cat, monkeys.  Oh, and a random ostrich that followed us around like a beggar…

Chow time

At each enclosure, they fed the animals.  This allowed us to get a good close look.  While the other animals were fun to watch, my favorite were the cheetahs.    A couple of pics of them, taken from 6′ to 10′ away–

Glad he'd already eaten

Post meal snooze in the shade

Yep, Girl Child came through.  But, still, hoping to see big cats in the wild next trip.

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*King Cheetahs are still cheetahs, but a recessive gene that gives them a unique appearance.  De Wildt has had quite a few of these beasts.