Friday, June 20, 2008

Shady Pines afloat

Back to the enrichment voyage. Raegen was set on an adventure line-up, much like paragliding in Hawaii last year. Ziplining and rafting were on the list for Costa Rica; to go there and not partake in any outdoor activities would be the equivalent of heading to Arizona sans a stare down at the canyon.

On the second day of the cruise, when I had run into the garden lounge to fill up my nalgene before heading out with John, Sue Fan, and Raegen to a Mexican dive shop I felt a tug on my backpack. "Grab 'er. She must know," the raspy voice said. "Ex-cuse me, I'm tawking to her," it continued, tugging on my scuba fins and awkwardly speaking about me in third person to my face. "Where ya goin' with those flippers," the inquisition started at a volume level high enough to create a gaggle of onlookers with hearing aides. The more I explained that I was just getting off the ship and heading to one of the thousands of dive shops in Cozumel, the more suspicious she became and ironically convinced that I was withholding some sort of information that would send her and her man friend on the perfect snorkel.

So it came as no surprise that Barbara was our raft buddy on our adventure day in Costa Rica, and consequently became one of my favorite people on the Enrichment Voyage. Her hair was as coarse as a porcupine but her mouth came in first as her most dangerous weapon. She meant business. That was for damn sure.

The description in the field office guide listed class II and III rapids. Not the IIIs and IVs we would like, but fun enough for a leisurely day in Central America. My friend Christine had mentioned that her meal on the rafting trip the year before was the highlight of her voyage, so my stomach growled in anticipation as we loaded the, gasp, coach bus en route to the river.

I knew something was amiss when we stopped after only 45 minutes in an area that was flat. The river we had read about was over two hours away and was of course attached to those things called mountains. When the tour guide went over our schedule, explaining the class I rapids (is there even such a thing?) we were about to embark on, it was clear that when they had loaded the bus earlier that morning and taken inventory of the clientele (there were 5 of us under 60) they decided to amend the itinerary.

Considering the turbulence was on par with the jungle cruise at Disneyland, it was amazing to see how many times we spun out and hit the embankment. "Row! Row!" I would occasionally yell like the self-appointed coxswain, somewhere between frustrated and bemused at the secret decision of our entire boat to stop rowing every time we'd run into the face of a "rapid." "One, Two!" Raegen and I shouted in harmony with our poor guide, who had been berated by Barbara (who despite her inability to use a paddle was apparently a raft master in her former day) on just about every account and was having a challenging time getting our raft forward -- a task I would imagine is unique to class I.

The savory thought of plantains and coconut rice that had been living on my tastebuds throughout the morning was soon washed away like the mud on Barbara's tevas when we flipped over the rafts and made lunch from the food products that came with us in giant blue containers. Not a bad sandwich spread, but far from the restaurant up in the mountains I had had my heart set on.

I thought I had seen it all when one of the passengers on another boat, fully clothed beneath his lifejacket, decided to jump out of his boat and into the water. I mean, why not? I was at first concerned that it was the 91 year-old who had just undergone back surgery and was not able to sit -- why that person would voluntarily sign up for a rafting trip, we will never know. The good news was that it was a man who had only suffered from overheating, and the calm waters made it possible to actually jump out of a raft during a rafting trip without any possibility of drowning or drifting.

When my second favorite person on our boat, a man I will call Ed, joked that he peed his pants, it wasn't until his constant reiteration of the "warm yellow water" and the slackjawed look on Raegen's face (who was sitting next to him) that I was forced to consider the possibility that he wasn't joking. I suppose if I would've looked more closely I would've seen the puddle for myself, but since he was sitting across from me and had decided to wear Richards Simmons shorts with nothing on beneath them, it was very difficult for me to look in his direction. I know we suddenly have California, but hear me out on this. I think it's only fair that if lesbians have to deal with darts and other gay atrocities, life should really spare us the eighty year-old full montys. Is there no justice in this world?

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