Category Archives: Team Lost

Team Lost Blog

‘Map Quest’

*Happy birthday V, I love ye’ more than there are words, and this world would be a bore without you.  “We can climb a mountain…”

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I don’t remember exactly when it happened. It was definitely subtle and not all at once. I thought that I was cool and smart enough to break the cycle of every generation before me, but alas, and without question, I too have become a technology hating geezer.

I used to make fun of these people, the parents and the grandparents and all of their peers who scoffed at all of my new gadgets and do-dads. Why would someone want to mock the growth of the internet? Or cell phones? Or devices to play my music on? (music that they would never understand anyways because their obviously all too old and clueless). But without fail we inevitably become our parents, and their parents before, and so on and so on, evolving each generation ever so slightly, just enough so that we might say we are a little smarter than the generation before. But is technology making us smarter? Are all of these little doohickeys which are meant to make our life easier, making life easy to the point that it takes little to no effort? Is everything that’s being done for us by our thingamajigs making everything that we learn now obsolete for the next generation to come?  This all came to a head on the day that my (then) 25-year-old sister told me that she didn’t know how to read a map.

“Wait…what?” I looked over at her with the perfect combo of both suspicion and judgment written all over my face.  “I don’t need to, I just always use my phone.”  She said in the way that 60% of the time will get us into a fight, EVERY TIME.  “Yes but you need to know how to read a map, especially since you love to travel.” Again with the judging tone.  “Nah, I’m good…” she said provokingly casual.  I wanted to slap her.   Fortunately the fact that I was driving kept me restrained from physically assaulting her, not to mention that she could easily kick my ass.  I couldn’t understand how a smart, independent, woman in her 20’s could not know how to use a map!  I went on and on, asking her questions and thinking up different scenarios, “What if your phone dies?  What if you lose the signal?  What if you get mugged?  WHAT IF THERE’S AN APOCALYPTIC METEOR SHOWER AND ALL OF THE SATELLITES GET KNOCKED OUT OF THE SKY!?”  Nothing.  My sister has a special way of being infuriatingly nonchalant when you’re really trying to get her to care about something.

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Finally we had to stop for gas (we were about 2 days in to one of our week-long road trips).  I grabbed the atlas from the back seat and opened it up to Arizona.  I knew that she had no interest in learning but I also knew that because I was the driver I had the upper-hand.  Not to mention that the big-sister instinct in me was not going to let my young, globetrotting sibling continue to roam this earth without knowing how to use one of the most essential survival tools for an adventurer.  “See, we just passed this town, so we’re probably about right here”  I traced our path with my shaky, overly caffeinated finger,  “Las Vegas is here, so you look at the little scale to see about how many miles that looks like, and you just follow the roads until we get there!”  She looked back at me with a face that said I couldn’t care less, and I hate you.  “Okay, so just hold on to that and you can help me navigate,”  I said to her setting the atlas on her lap, proud that I had just taught her this invaluable life lesson.  She glared at me, “But you have our directions printed out from MapQuest...and Myscenicdrives*… and our GPS is working fine.”  I felt like a mother must feel when her teenager acts like everything she says is ‘totally annoying…gawd.‘  “Whatever, just humor me.”  I hissed.

We got back on the road and after a while, somewhere between my 19th coffee and us singing along to Doggystyle, my sister must have gotten bored because she actually started to pay attention to the map.  “Oh I see, there are signs for Lake Mead, and here’s Lake Mead on the map, oooohhh, I get it.”  she squinted at the sign and pointed at the map.  Eureka!!  I had taught my cranky ass, premenstrual sister something and it actually sank in!

The dam Hoover dam

 

Yes, I will admit, I am a planning nazi.  I do overly compensate for the fact that I was such a disorganized fuck up through most of my 20’s, and I really shouldn’t take that out on my loved ones when we travel together, my bad.  And don’t get me wrong, I love my lap-top, my cellphone, my Ipod, and all of these little gadgets that definitely make my life easier from day to day.  But just because these devices are meant to make our lives easier, doesn’t mean that they should replace books, and face to face conversations, and hand-written letters, and all of the tangible information that you can actually hold in your hands.   Since that road trip with my sister I have noticed and spoke with more and more young adults who have no idea how to use a map and feel like they never will have to, they even had a Mythbusters about it!  I do love GPS, and I use it often whenever I’m traveling in the United States, but I cannot tell you how many times that E and I have been in a different country, in the middle of nowhere with only a map to guide us and we have never gotten lost (not significantly at least). Carrying a map and knowing how to use it is still, and will always be, invaluable to anyone, especially those who have the travel bug.  So go ahead and get lost, it’s part of the adventure, just make sure that you bring a map and you know how to use it.

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-Team Lost

* I highly recommend using the website and the app. myscenicdrives.com.  I have used it for every major road-trip that I’ve taken (within the U.S.) and it has never steered me wrong.  The website makes it easy to plan and revise your route, find scenic routes and points of interest, find places to stay and get gas, and much more.  The website is simple to use and it lets you create and save each trip for future use, which also comes in very handy if you’re undecided about exactly where you want to go.

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PURA VIDA!!

“Just a basic swimming test?”  I said looking at E with a face that said “GOD HELP ME.”  This is what the man at the complex had told us when he signed us up to do the activities.  “I want some adrenaline, not just a scenic float,” I had told the man.  I wanted to do a class IV or V because the only other time I had rafted was a class III in West Virginia and it was boring as shit.  “Okay, that trip just requires a swimming test,”  he said not even looking at me as he scribbled with his pen.  “Like what kind of swimming test?” I asked. “Oh, just like to make sure you can swim.  You know, just a basic swimming test,”  he said, finally looking up and sliding the forms across the table for me to sign.  “That’s fine, I’ve been in swimming lessons since I was 2,” I said looking over at E smugly. I signed my life away and slid the papers back across the table.

Now, as I looked at this churning river that I had just been asked to voluntarily jump into, I was beginning to wish I had paid more attention in those swimming classes.  And in my C.P.R. classes.  And to the fine print on those forms.  But whatever, E and I had only been dating about a year at this point and I’ll be damned if that river was going to make me look like a pussy.  “This run is usually about a IV/V but today it’s a hard V, maybe higher.  Are you guys sure you want to go today?”  The guides had been walking up and down the river bank muttering to each other and pointing at random objects in the water.  All my senses were telling me that this was a bad idea. E and I looked at each other with a smirk that said neither of us were backing down.  “Yeah, let’s do it!”  I could barely hear my own voice over the roaring of the river.

“Okay so you’re just going to jump in here,” he pointed to a spot in the river directly in front of us.  “Float down to about where those ropes are and then swim to shore.”  he said pointing down the river to where his girlfriend was now waving at us and smiling.  We were there in between seasons so we were the only two people on the tour that day and we had picked up Romaine’s girlfriend on the way to the river.  Romaine and her were going to take pictures and survey the river ahead of us while our guide, “Tico Rambo,” would be in the raft with us.  I’m not going to lie, having my life in the hands of a guy named Rambo did make me feel slightly better about the situation.  “Okay, I can do this,” I thought to myself recounting the instructions they had given me. “Feet first at all times, hands crossed on my chest and NEVER take a breath when going into a rapid.  Take a deep breath before and then hold it until your through the rapids.”

I began wading forward into the river “I want to go first” I said looking back at E and the guides.  I knew that if I didn’t go right at this moment I might lose my nerve.  The river was strong, like REALLY strong.  It felt like a 300 pound man was hanging over a cliff by my ankles.  I inched forward until I was standing in the spot that Romaine had pointed to before, looked down the river to where the lady was standing next to the rope, and I sat down.  No sooner did my ass touch that water than my legs swept out from under me and I was speeding down the river.  “Okay,”  I thought, “my legs are in front of me, my arms are crossed, now I just make sure that I don’t take a breath before GULP…..fuck.”  The rapids were unpredictable.  So much so, that what looked to be just a tiny ripple in front of me turned into a tidal wave and washed over my head just as I was taking my first deep breath.  I could not breathe.  It was like that scary sensation that you have when you get the wind knocked out of you, except I couldn’t even gasp for air because I was mostly under water.  I didn’t get a breath in and now I was in the thick of it.  My feet were hitting boulders, my life-vest was up around my chin, and that lady with the rope still looked ages away.  “Fuck-it I’m swimming now,” I thought.  I literally had no air in my lungs, only water.  Every time my head popped up and I tried to take a breath it was like trying to turn over the engine of a car with a dead battery, nothing. I saw a small gap up ahead where there weren’t too many rocks and made the quick decision to go for it.  Here’s where all of those swimming lessons better pay off goddamnit.  It was now or never, I rolled onto my stomach and paddled for dear life toward the river bank.  I was trying to swim freestyle but between the current and the life-vest I’m sure I looked more like one of those dogs that you saw on the news getting rescued from the floods during Hurricane Katrina.  I still couldn’t breathe and my body was starting to go into fight or flight mode, but the harder I swam the more I needed to breath.  The next set of boulders was seconds away and I started flopping around like a fish, paddling and kicking and basically using my whole body to propel me forward.  I wasn’t going to make it all the way to shore, and I definitely wasn’t going to make it through those upcoming rapids while floating sideways on my stomach.  Just then, a boulder, the most beautiful and glorious boulder, appeared just before me out of nowhere.  I’m fairly certain that it was made of solid gold and had a halo around it. It was right next to shore and I knew if I could make it to that rock that I would be able to make it the rest of the way. I reached out just in time to grab it before being shot through the next set of rapids.  I clawed and clutched to the boulder for dear life, finally I was able to gasp.  I choked and spit and my chest made a raspy gurgling sound that I had only heard in old episodes of E.R.   All of the water in  my lungs was coming up and out of my throat, eyes and nose and I couldn’t tell if I was crying or just draining.  I looked up, still clinging to the boulder, to see everyone on shore cheering and giving me the thumbs up.  “Great job!”  they said, “that was perfect!”  E was doubled over laughing.  I’m pretty sure that he was the only one who had seen the look of terror in my eyes.  “Good job?!”  I said in between gasps of air. “Yeah, you passed!  Your turn E!”  “What the hell do you have to do to fail, DIE?!”

E passed his test with flying colors (he is one of those annoying people who is just inherently good at EVERYTHING)  and the rest of the trip went on to be one of the (if not THE) most terrifying and exhilarating things that I have ever done in my life.  There are rapids with names like “Dragons Tail,”  “El Chorro,” and “Devil’s Butthole.” (Okay, so I made that last one up, but you get the point).  It’s intense, and you have to stop and survey most of the rapids before you can even go through them.  This means maneuvering boulders on foot and trying to keep your balance in the current.  I was so focused on staying alive that I didn’t even notice how beautiful the scenery was until the end, nor did I notice Romaine and his girlfriend taking our pictures the entire way down the river.

Here we go!
PURA VIDA!!!
SPLOOSH!

 

And then, just as it had begun, it was over.  The river, almost in an instant, went from angry and spiteful to docile and beautiful.  It opened up to a calm, wide area with a waterfall to our left and the tree-lined shore to our right.  Tico Rambo led us in putting our paddles up, “PURA VIDA!!” we all yelled laughing (and crying a little) hysterically.

“oh look, a waterfall!”

 

Once on shore we all shared our favorite and scariest moments, even the guides had a couple scares which made me feel slightly better about the fact that I was still shaking like a leaf.  We went through all of the pictures that they had taken.  Romaine had a laptop so we were able to view all of the pictures before we decided to buy them and they burned them for us on the spot. Because our photographers had gone unnoticed the pictures were fantastic.  It’s interesting to see the faces you make when your life is flashing before your eyes, never before has the look of sheer terror been captured on film.

AHHHH!!!

 

H20 Adventures is a local based company near Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica that operates white water rafting and tubing tours down the nearby rivers.  Although the tour that we did was intense, they also offer several family friendly options and tours for the less adventurous.  The guides are knowledgeable, fun, and make you feel right at home from the time that you arrive, until the time that you leave.  They will tell you all about the land and history of the area along the way to the river and they will explain about the plants and animals that you see while you are there.  They even picked fresh fruit from a tree and we had it for lunch!

I wrote this story not to discourage anyone from doing a tour with H20 Adventures, but to encourage those who are up to the challenge.  I did this tour almost 6 years ago while in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, and it remains to be one of the most fun things that I have ever done.  I still get that feeling of adrenaline when I look through the pictures and even as I tell this story.  Costa Rica was one of the first trips that I ever took, and it holds a special place in my heart.  If you are in the area, take a tour with H20 Adventures and ask for Tico Rambo, just make sure that your life-vest is on tight.  PURA VIDA!!

-Team Lost

H20 Adventures

Downtown Quepos, Costa Rica

On the road to Manuel Antonio…

Toll Free: 1(888) 532-3298

Email: info@h20cr.com

Check out their great reviews on YELP!