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Fisherman's Shack

Two Tuned-in Motorcycles in Costa Rica

Saw these bikes parked in Puerto Jiminez early this morning. They look just right for dirt road travel. Not overloaded with gear/

Random Acts of Backpacking

I still travel in backpacker mode. As opposed to suitcases that limit you to the airplane and cabs, the backpacker moves self + baggage on foot. Far more freedom. I took this photo of Eddie Sharman, from Reading, U.K. this morning in Puerto Jiminez. It's a common set-up: the heavy pack on your pack, the lighter one in front. All balanced.
Backpackers are the travel explorers. They get to places before the tourism industry arrives with their luxurious travelers' appointments. I also like the randomness of not having a tight itinerary. Today I took off from Puerto Jiminez by boat across the Gulf to Golfito ands on the boat met Skip, 63-year old expat surfer who I'd met the week before. We got a cab for $6 each from Golfito to Canoas, the Panama/Costa Rica border (an hour's ride) for $6.00 each, then a bus (with about 30 stops) from the border to David for $2 each. Skip took off for points east, and I found a hotel here and tomorrow will head for Panama City, thence (with plans hatched this morning), a train along the Panama Canal to the Caribbean, go to an island or two and then try to find a boat to Columbia. Quien sabe?
When I stepped out of the hotel earlier tonight, I loved the unknown factor. Got to find a place to eat, then an internet cafe. It's tough some times, but there are also many times when I get into a completely unplanned wonderful experience.

Macho Tenderness and the 60-Foot-High Jungle Treehouse

This story begins last week when I came into the little port town that is gateway to the jungle paradise where I've been hanging out. It's a dusty Central-America wild-west-feeling little place full of backpackers and pretty cool Costariccenses. I was getting a beer at a popular open-walled main street (if you can call it that) restaurant, and an old bum was sitting on the steps, mumbling to everyone who entered, In a while, a spiffy worked-on Toyota truck pulled to the curb. The driver moved fast, like an athlete, bit of an edge. Shaved head, looked tough. He noticed the old man, went over, bent down and talked to him. Then he took the guy's arm and very gently helped him get up. It was a tender thing. He got him in the truck and took off, to return a few minutes later, obviously having deposited the guy at home.
Elias and his truck-cab
Flash-forward to today when I came back into town, this time on my way southward to Panama. I'd heard of a fantastic treehouse 8 miles north of town. I saw the same cabbie and yes, he knew where the treehouse was, and since I had the afternoon free (ferry across the bay tomorrow), we headed out to the treehouse. The cabbie's name turned out to be Elias Garbanzo. The old man turned out to be penniless, without enough to eat. We headed out into a very different countryside from the beach/jungle. Lush and agricultural. Elias rattled off the names of at least a dozen trees. When we both looked over at a sweet little Tico house under some palm trees, Elias said, "pura vida." Yep.

We got to the treehouse and it was a stunner. Centered around a huge tree, which it is not attached to in any way, must have 5 stories, and is maybe 60' high. All built of local sustainable wood. Michael Cranford, the artist/builder, happened to have a well-worn copy of Shelter, and knew who I was and graciously showed his uninvited guests around for an hour. I'm actually happy when I'm working in my travels. Here are a few pix, which don't really do it justice. Wish I had my big Cannon with me, lenses and all.:
Above, Sky-high screened bedroom

Right, O ye of little faith: the clear plexiglas shower floor looks 50' down to the ground and yes I did hold on to the handy handle while gingerly stepping on to it. I will do anything for a picture.


Michael's website

Hey, now we're cookin. I shot these pix about 4 hours ago, had dinner in town, and am now sipping on a tequila at a v. cool water front cafe with DSL connection. Lugging all this digital equipment around is stressful (in weight and in worry about rip-off), but it does give me Photoshop and transmission capabilities way beyond internet cafe postings.

Water People of the Pacific Coast

My family used to go to a beautiful isolated lake in the Sierras in the '40s. When I was 4, I fell off the pier and went under water. I still remember looking around in wonder at the underwater world. Luckily, my dad happened to be on the pier and reached down and grabbed me by my overalls. As the oft-repeated family story goes, he asked me what I was thinking about underwater. I said, "I was going to turn on my putt-putt (referring to the outboard motor on our little boat) and come up."

I've had these magical moments in water. Like the day I first went bodysurfing at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. We used to have swimming meets at Fleishacker pool, a huge outdoor salt water pool and after a meet one day my teammate Jim Fisher (later a big-wave surfer) took me out into the ocean. Blue skies, blue water (no wetsuits), the big swells, I was in heaven. Under waterfalls, in clear creek pools, hot springs, warm ocean, cold river. Getting in charges you with the energy of that spot on the planet. If you're a water person you know what I mean.

The Jesus Christo, lizard that runs on water (on its hind legs). (Sounds better in Spanish; "Hay-sue Kree-sto"