Costa Rican Dreams
Trying to get in training runs on your honeymoon is not easy. Yet NOT running on your honeymoon to return to a R2R2R trip in the Grand Canyon is also not advisable. So I got in what I could.
First hotel in Puntarenas, CR was in a rural town on the Pacific about five miles outside of the city of Puntarenas. So after a quick advisement from my new wife I threw on my shoes, grabbed a bottle and headed out. Not even two steps down the open air lobby did the front desk agent and two bellmen stop me in my tracks.
"Where are you going Sir?" asked the staff.
"Running. I was thinking of running to Puntarenas and back."
"Sir, that is over 8 kilometers and we do not advise it. It is very dangerous. We do not advise it." said the staff.
"Ok, well maybe I'll just go for less time then."
"No, Sir. You should not go at all. It's very dangerous. You should run around the property instead but not outside the gates."
Where the hell are we? I thought Costa Rica was safe. "Thanks guys. I'll take the risk."
After heading down the steps to the guard gate a hundred feet away at the entrance to the resort I'm stopped again by some uniformed me the same thing, over and over and over again. Here's my damn Garmin watch but I'm taking my camera. I'll be back in 30 minutes I tell him and I head off across the street.
Running or just walking the streets in a new city, town or country is probably the best way to see a new place. Driving is nice but it's often too fast to notice the small details as your trying to take in too much all at once. Running though you really get a sense of where you are. I had been hoping to find some rural road with some offshoot trail but the multiple warnings from the staff admittedly had me a little worried so I decided to stick to the sidewalk along the rural road. As in most Latin American countries the bus stops are not overly organized and will pick you up just about anywhere along the road so there are people scattered along the road waiting for the bus. Not one thought twice about blatantly staring at me as I run along at a 6:30 min/mile pace in 5" running shorts, blue tech shirt and a Nathan's water bottle. Stood out JUST a little...
Not a half a mile along the trail it winds into the shirt drenching jungle and becomes a zoo with the number of massive reptiles surrounding the trail. Three foot long iguanas linger along the concrete basking in the Latin American (and American...) tradition of roadside refuse. Given that the 3" lizards spoke me along the dirt paths of Phoenix the 3' ones of Costa Rica certainly left me with a little more leap in my step than I was happy to admit. Especially because that "step" usually meant a quick jump into the air with a slight squeal of fear before realizing they are lazy, don't care and just want to get back to sunbathing and eating garbage. So I continued to run, past the shacks, tall grass and the now frightening jungle along side of the trail that I'm now convinced are hiding giant beasts ready to pounce on me. A mile later and I'm running past a barbed wire ladden shanty town that as it turns out is their local jail. Might explain why the staff was so hard on the "run circles around our property" as the jail looked like a 4 year old could escape with a plastic shovel and a Care Bear. I promptly turned around at the Bodega and trucked it back home the same route all while thinking, "This is their plan, they knew I was going to go back the same way and now they are going to steal my kidneys."
Back to reality I jump a few iguanas, dirty diapers, and in no time at all I think I'd sweated straight through my sneakers, ran past a few random dogs, 5 year old Tico's and was pulling into the hotel guard gate.
"See...no problems at all."