Chuck Norris doesn’t sleep in 2011

by Alex on January 2, 2011

Upon arriving at Hostel Bekuo, Aaron received a call from Rio Tropicales letting us know the waters were too high and we may not get to float Rio Pacuare. To say the least we were bummed, but we stayed optimistic and decided to go ahead and stay there, which meant we would have to hike our gear into the jungle lodge. At the last minute, they said river level was good so we got to float which you can see some footage in Patrick’s last post. Halfway down the river it started to rain and continued off and on throughout the night, so when we woke up the next morning one of our guides, Ronald, said we were hiking out. Once again, slightly bummed. Not too bad though considering we were going to get a guided hike though the rain forest.

Luckily, we left a great deal of gear at the Rio Tropicales’ Operation Center because the hike out was fairly brutal, humid and hot with lots of biting ants. We did get quite a few cool photos and lots of interesting info from our guide. One example was the walking palm trees that would gradually “walk” through the jungle to find openings in the canopy for light by growing new roots in the directions they needed. Eventually we made it out of the river valley to get some great views and an extremely thick muddy road.

At one point Ronald started to whistle loudly to warn a local we coming their way. He said the last time a group hiked out a dog bit one of the clients. Wonderful, I thought. It was a big dog, but there was a kind looking lady standing close by and the dog barely even moved other than a close eye on us as we passed.

Each time we stopped to wait on our ride to take us back to the operation center, Ronald would check in with the driver via cell phone and he would say, “we must go a little farther, sorry, he can’t get the bus down here.” Other than the heat, it was still a great hike out. Once we got far enough along the rough road, the bus made it to us, which was empty of passengers. Awesome! We had a nice cool breeze coming through windows and a quiet trip back with Ronald, the driver, and our tour guide, Gloriana.

Covered in mud and sweat we got a cold, but much needed shower at the operations center and then an amazing lunch of some chicken dish with a creamy mushroom sauce and lot sides. We grabbed a couple of t-shirts at the gift shop, said our goodbyes to Ronald, and we were back on the bus with for a two hour bus ride back to Hostel Bekuo in San Jose.

By coincidence or fate, whichever you believe, Aaron had visited Rio Tropicales back in 2004 and had met and hung out the Gloriana and some of her friends. I’ll let him tell the details of the 2004 trip if he wishes. They made the connection through conversation and after an unannounced phone call home, she graciously invited us to dinner with her family to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Considering we had not made any set plans, we thought the opportunity to hang with some locals and eat some home cooked food shouldn’t be passed up. Gloriana laughed when we mentioned that we would probably party until about 2am on New Year’s. She said we  should meet for dinner at her family’s home at 9pm, we would eat around 10 or 11pm and go out after midnight to party if wanted.

Definitely a change from the usual U.S. celebration of starting the party around 9pm being well-primed by midnight and passing out by 1 or 2 like we had intended. We realized this may be a long be a long night, so after returning to the hostel, we went to el supermercado for Patrick to stock up on Red Bulls and pick up a couple of bottles of wine for dinner.

When we got to Gloriana’s home it was impressive. It was beautifully designed and decorated with a large party room because her mother was a professional cook and caterer! Gloriana was an only child, so her immediate family was small, but she had a few cousins over, a two-month old nephew, a family friend, and her mother of course. They all knew English, but preferred to speak in Spanish, so us gringos did our best and Gloriana translated otherwise. We all sat down in her dinning room and had an amazing dinner with beef tenderloin, stuffed pork loin, mixed veggies, and mashed potatoes.

One of the highlights of the dinner was to learn about a Costa Rican New Year’s tradition of eating 12 large grapes at once at midnight while making 12 wishes for the New Year. We all partook and then went out side to listen and see fireworks shot off all over the city.

The second highlight of the night was when Gloriana’s twelve-year old cousin, Alejandro, came outside and whispered something to her. She said that he wanted a photo of him and I and no one else. Not really knowing why I said sure and then she told me he thought I was “Walker,” as in, Walker Texas

Ranger, aka Chuck Norris! Ha! After everyone had a good laugh we took the photo together and he gave me one of

those rubber band bracelets that are so popular in the States now.All I had to give him was one of my business cards, so I gave him a choice because they all have a different photo that I took on the back of each card.

Oddly enough he picked the same photo that Ronald, our river guide, took which was a fall scene in Arkansas.

We all said our Feliz Años and without a discussion we loaded up in her mom’s car who was kind enough to drop us off at the disco knowing we should get a cab back. You would never find such a good deal in the states: $16- admittance, open bar, and breakfast at 5am! Even though the club was relatively empty because most of the “ticos,” slang for Costa Rican locals, go to the beaches for the New Year and the drinks were really watered down, we had a fun time. Silly hats and masks, confetti canons, some salsa and merengue dancing with some broken Spanish conversations- ticos know how to bring in the New Year.

We finished our scramble eggs, rice and beans with sour cream at about 5:30am and then waited outside for a taxi while we watched the sun rise. On the ride home Patrick, Aaron, and I all fell asleep while Gloriana and her friend David were wide awake, obviously more practiced than us! Back at Hostel Bekuo, we all crashed around 7am and managed to rise around 10:30am to grab some quick breakfast and pack up before check-out at 11:30. At about 11:40, when we were trying to get out of the room, Patrick reminded me, Chuck Norris doesn’t check out… He breaks out!

This was a great way to bring in the New Year.  Hostel Bekuo was awesome- clean and secure, with a really chill and friendly staff.  Otto and Ronald were both skilled and knowledgable guides from Rios Tropicales.  I also have to give a special thanks from all of us to Gloriana, her family, and her friends for being kind enough to bring us into her home, making us feel welcome in Costa Rica and showing us a good time.  Muchas Gracias!

Happy New Year – Feliz Años

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily @ The Pilot's Wife January 2, 2011 at 9:37 pm

I am cracking UP over this post. I’m happy to see that Patrick found RedBull in Costa Rica, but I’m guessing he still didn’t last until sunrise. And that he actually knew a Chuck Norris joke? Priceless.

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shawna January 3, 2011 at 3:55 am

This is hilarious, Alex!! You really do look like him in those pictures.

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Alex January 4, 2011 at 6:10 am

Funny, hugh? Have you showed Jeremiah?

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Dominic January 3, 2011 at 4:01 am

I must say, that’s a great story. Sounds like an incredible journey.

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Edie Stahl January 3, 2011 at 4:19 am

“Biting ants”! Ouch! Did you guys have your flip flops on?
Alex, I see the Ranger resemblance, especially if you got one of those hats. Very funny.

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John Rose January 3, 2011 at 2:49 pm

I always thought you were Chuck Norris.

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courtney g. January 3, 2011 at 4:34 pm

The best part of waking up, isn’t Foldger’s in your cup….it’s knowing Chuck Norris didn’t kill you in your sleep… ;D

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Alex January 4, 2011 at 6:04 am

Chuck Norris doesn’t smile for the camera…the camera smiles for Chuck Norris, then he round house kicks it in the lens.

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courtney g. January 4, 2011 at 6:12 am

Love it:). I’m so glad (and jealous) you’re getting to experience all this!! See ya when u get back……love you

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