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Traveling Boy: Jim Friend: Costa Rica - Factoids Edition

Costa Rica
Factoids Edition

Story by Jim Friend
Photo credits: Unless otherwise noted,
all photos by Jim Friend and Nick Friend

"...initial attempts at colonizing Costa Rica proved unsuccessful due to a combination of factors, including: disease from mosquito-infested swamps,
brutal heat, resistance by natives, and pirate raids."
- CIA Factbook

Costa Rican monkey perched on a post
"Hola, guëro. Welcome to Costa Rica. If only I were just a little higher up above you in that tree over there..."

Trip Factoids:

  • I witnessed the lion's share of the UCLA women's basketball team in the Seattle airport as we were flying out. A dozen 6'6", 130 pound women is indeed a memorable and unusual sight.

  • On the flight to Houston, I sat next to a 25 year old fellow from the Washington Coast who had never flown before, traveling to visit his parents in Texas. Things I was compelled to tell him:
  1. "Did you hear that guy getting on the plane saying he had the swine flu? That's messed up. He should have stayed home."

  2. Just before take-off: "Do you see that crack running down the wing? That's not cool at all."

  3. "You picked a hell of a flight for your first time flying. I overheard the stewardess saying she had a premonition this flight was going to crash."

  4. I offered him my window seat since he'd never flown before, he was grateful. I told him, "No problem, it'll give you a better view for when we crash."

    Mercifully for the both of us, he had a good sense of humor.

red-eyed leaf frog, Costa Rica's national symbol
Costa Rica's national frog. He looks angry but is merely doing the math to see if he can fit you in his belly.

  • When we got to Costa Rica (I went with my awesome brother Nick) it was dark, and we had to drive 60 miles to get to the hotel, after reading repeated guidebook warnings to avoid driving at night. Most of the guidebooks referred to Costa Rican drivers as crazy, but it was more like a game of Mario Cart. I loved it. Whereas in the US, all traffic cops use the road as an opportunity to anally enforce whatever rules they feel like that day for the purpose of generating income and maintaining possession of their shiny boots and rampant egos, I heard that in Costa Rica, on the other hand, they consider driving a national sport. They also use the road as a road, a tool to get from one place to the next; not as an opportunity to display a quasi-religious expression of faith in the Government and Humankind and The Following of Rules Closely, to prove their devotion to The Exalted State; like, for example, where I currently live.

  • We stayed mostly in Jacó Beach, on the Pacific Coast, and saw all three species of monkeys that exist in that region on our first day of exploring. I had never seen monkeys in the wild before. They are exactly like giant, giant house cats crawling around up in the trees with humanesque faces with the grandest of cahonés. We were being guided in the jungle near Manuel Antonio and ran into a troupe of howler monkeys. The guide said, "Stay out from under them. They will poop and pee on you, or if that fails, they will crap in their hands and throw it at you." We heard that restated several times by the locals.

  • Near the same national park, we saw several blue morpho butterflies. They are shiny iridescent blue, about the size of a small dinner plate, and more float through the air than fly. It's like seeing a supernatural being pass by.

swimming pool of hotel where writer stayed
Our sweet hotel, the pool was just steps from our room.

  • Rainbow macaws were everywhere. They are very fond of flying over to their buddies with the specific goal of knocking them off the branches they're sitting on. Most of the macaws getting hammered on would simply hold on to the branch, swing upside down, and fight back while upside down.

  • We went zip-lining in the upper jungle canopy near Jacó, zooming from tree to tree, on about eight different long cables. On one of these sections, the guide urged us to to hang upside down, put our feet on the bars where our hands were supposed to be, and then throw our hands out. He'd then push us down the line, and yell, "No! No! No!" as if we were doing something wrong. My man. I'll never forget the sight of my brother flying down that zip line upside down with his hands thrown out, embracing the void. Awesomeness.

  • When we were up there in the canopy, it started to pour down rain. It's so warm in Costa Rica, it felt great. In the jungle, the one thing I remembered most about the rain was that it is loud. Another time, we were in the jungle and it started to rain, and the canopy was so thick above us, barely a drop reached us.

  • We liked the zip-line so much we signed up to do it again at night. They were supposed to only do it in groups of ten, but since it was the slow season, they took just the two of us. The next evening when we got there, it was pitch dark. One of our guides took out a huge machete and said, "Follow close, there are poisonous snakes everywhere." There were a total of four of us, and we had four flashlights. As we were walking along, we found that only one flashlight actually worked. One more flickered the whole time. The two others were completely dead.

Costa Rican butterfly, 1st picture

Costa Rican butterfly, 2nd picture

Costa Rican butterfly, 3rd picture
Multiple species of butterfly are everywhere in Costa Rica.

  • One day, yet again walking on a jungle trail somewhere, we heard a loud crash about 100 feet away. I went to investigate, hoping for a jaguar, but saw nothing. We heard the same sort of thing a bit later. Just as we were completing our zip-lining adventure at night, in the pitch dark, we were standing around on terra firma waiting for our guides to wrap things up, when we heard another big crash, this time about 50 feet away. We recruited the working flashlight and went to investigate, and it turned out the noises we had been hearing over the past couple days were large chunks of dead wood falling to the ground from the jungle canopy from far, far above.

  • On a tour of a wildlife preserve, our fearless guide Randall was showing us several aquariums of different species of poison arrow frogs, which are indigenous to Costa Rica. Shoot some thug on the street who's trying to steal your dinner diñero with your HK .40 and you might have to do it a three or four times to avail the coroner on the scene. Get just a milligram or two of that poison frog juice in you and it is Game Over for all of even the least of your humble aspirations, such as, for example, breathing and feeling your heart beat. When Randall got to the last frog aquarium, his tone shifted somewhat solemnly and he declared that this was the "most poisonous poison arrow frog of them all." After a short speech about this particular frog, he then inexplicably proceeded to stick his hand in the aquarium for some still yet undetermined reason, and promptly got one of their eggs stuck on his hand. We watched him try to extricate his finger from that spooky egg for a long time. I was just standing there staring at him, waiting for the sweat to break out on his forehead, the quivering to start, followed by a collapse to the ground with an ensuing volley of horrifying twitchings and floppings. Then would come the inevitable cradling in the arms and the peering deep into the fading eyes and the "Randall! Randall! You're going to be ok man, just hang in there," with a quick cessation of life following... but he calmly wiped that egg off finally, and that was the last of it.

beach in Manuel Antonio
Another gorgeous beach, this one in Manuel Antonio.

  • Both Nick and I got sick on Day Four. My illness manifested with hurting eyes (back of both eyes, which is, by the way, a symptom of dengue fever), throbbing kidneys (toxin filters), and sore leg muscles (toxin respositories, or walking too much). Weird. And oh yeah, did I mention the diarrhea? Likely culprits... take your pick: Scrambled eggs (with salmonella tapenade), ice (consisting of a suspension of 50% water and 50% e-coli serotype O157:H7), or raw leaves and tubers picked and eaten in the jungle at the instruction of one of our guides (delectible), or "fresh fruit" (served everywhere).

  • One night, we experienced a thunderstorm in Jacó so massive that water started pouring into our hotel room from under the front and back doors. I was there by myself, as Nick had walked to town, and the nearby lightning strikes were actually rattling the windows. I used almost all of our towels to dam up the door thresholds and soak up the water, wringing it out into our hotel trash cans and then running to dump the water into the shower, back and forth. The novelty wore off after about 20 minutes, and I finally called the front desk to inform them of this ridonkulous dilemma. When the front desk fellow saw our room, his eyes got big, and he immediately moved us upstairs. I felt like I had a pretty adventurous night, but when I finally was able to talk to Nick again, I learned that he had gotten caught in the storm while walking back from town, and spent most of the worst of it outside in the elements, standing under a flimsy bus shelter.

overhead view of crocodiles on river bank
What a foul creature the crocodile is. Utterly foul.

  • One day while driving about, we saw a number of horrible looking crocodiles in a river below a well used bridge. They were congregating right below the sidewalk, undoubtedly by my estimation, anticipating yet another pedestrian-cum-photographer to lean just a bit too far over the railing.

  • We ran into a successful fellow at a bar one night in Jacó. He stated that Costa Rica is much like California was (his childhood home) about 50 or 60 years ago, declaring it a great place to live, with a great environment for business, including no capital gains tax.

  • We put 1,000 km on our rental car in one week. In that time, I got stopped by the police twice. They were somewhat suspicious and checked all my paperwork carefully, but were ultimately very cool, which was good, because I was thinking "Midnight Express" the whole time.
view of collapsed bridge and bus wreck in river near Orotino
The collapsed bridge and bus wreck near Orotina. Photo credit: Jorge Umaga
One day, we had been driving on jungle roads for hours and hours, and very much needed to get over a certain bridge to Orotina because it was going to get dark soon. Driving at night in Costa Rica is a big problem as apparently there is some sort of constitutional provision banning the use of signs that might indicate your current position or where you might be going. Anyway, it turns out this bridge had collapsed under the weight of a bus about ten hours earlier: 5 dead, about 25 went to the hospital. It was big news in Costa Rica.
  • I fulfilled a life-long dream of picking a coffee bean from a coffee bush on the foothills of the Poás volcano. (The picking of the coffee bean part, not the rest.) It was unripe (green). It smelled quite a bit like a hot pepper. The bean currently resides on my coffee table, it is black now, and has shrunk.

  • We ran over a boa constrictor on the road while driving one night, thankfully we straddled it perfectly and didn't actually hurt it. I think. Maybe we hurt its feelings.

Costa Rica Factoids:

  • zip line above jungle canopy
    One of the stretches of our zip line. All the lines were about 100 feet off the ground.
    "Costa Rica" literally means, "rich coast."

  • About the size of West Virginia. Hillbilly free.

  • From the CIA Factbook: "Although explored by the Spanish early in the 16th century, initial attempts at colonizing Costa Rica proved unsuccessful due to a combination of factors, including: disease from mosquito-infested swamps, brutal heat, resistance by natives, and pirate raids." Sweet!

  • Declared independence from Spain in 1821. Has had no standing military since 1949. Has been cool since the 16th century.

  • Perhaps as a derivative of having no armed forces (the only country of its sort in the entire Western Hemisphere), Costa Rica declared itself "permanently neutral" in 1993. Not like it's going to work, but hey, it's worth a shot, right?

  • 23% of Costa Rican land is protected within its National Park system, or current equivalents. It contains the greatest density of animal species in the world.

  • When the national flower was chosen by in 1937, not only did "The Experts" get a vote, but university students and secondary school students were also included in the process.

  • Has 850 bird species, 600 of these are non-migratory.

C123 cargo plane converted into bar & restaurant

interior of C123 bar and restaurant
An old cargo plane, one of two C-123's that that delivered arms and supplies into Central America for the CIA in the 80's, now converted into a bar and restaurant. Its sister plane was shot down over Nicaragua in October of 1986, containing none other than Eugene Hasenfus. This was the first major incident that would ultimately precipitate congressional interest and world-wide focus on what ultimately would become known as the "Iran-Contra Affair."

  • Costa Rica's unofficial motto is "Pura Vida." It roughly translates as an expression of national attitude including the concepts of political stability, peace, and happy lives. The phrase was adopted from a 1956 Mexican movie of the same name. By the 70's, the expression was so widely used that it was eventually added to Costa Rican dictionaries.

  • Biggest agricultural commodities: Bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes: beef, poultry, dairy; timber.

  • Biggest exports: Gastrointestinal distress, bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar; seafood; electronic components, medical equipment.

  • Ranked #1 in the world for 2009 on the "Happy Planet Index," which is an index of "human well-being and enviromental impact," according to Wikipedia. Apparently, these people have never driven in Costa Rica, as every vehicle belches wretchedly foul smelling exhaust smoke.

  • Consistently ranked #1 in the world by annual vote of current and emeritus Travelingboy staff as possessing the "Hottest Girls in the World." Travelingboy Central American bureau heartily approves.

"Namibia" Article

Jim,

I spent several school holidays in Windhoek with family friends. Much later I took each of my kids (U.S. born & raised) on separate trips to my native, Cape Town and "Overlanded" through Namibia into the Kaokoveld. I enjoyed your travelogue immensely. Please advise me if you ever publish a collection of your travel experiences. The apple strudel at Helmeringhausen somewhere after Ai Ais was the best ever. Graciously,

Merv Hayman, Sarasota, FL

Hi Merv, thanks for the correspondence, glad you enjoyed the article. It sounds like that country got into your blood, as it has in mine. I'm looking forward to getting back there someday and seeing much more of the place, Namibia has a peculiar allure. Thanks for the complements and I will certainly put you on the list for a travel stories compendium.

Cheers and happy travels!
Jim

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"Bullriding in Texas" Article

Hey Jim,

I love your website. It has shown me that all this time my boyfriend was lying to me about who he was. On his Facebook page he was using the picture of "Thomas Bosma"... Btw great story and pictures.

MaKayla, Rapid City

Hi MaKayla, glad we could be of assistance in busting your prevaricating suitor! Thanks for the complements as well.

All the best, Jim

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"Canadian Arctic " Article

Hey Jim,

Just wanted to say 'Hello'…love your intro/bio Mr. Boitano, fits the call of excitement/steelo of Mr. Friend. Hope to keep correspondence, and hope all your travels keep you busy but safe, Check my Friend...

Mico Gonz, Seattle, WA

Miiii-coooooooooooooooo!!!

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"Jalalabad, Afghanistan" Article

Hello Jim,

Very interesting, I find it very important for me because my BF is there. Hope he is fine...His name is Sgt.Jason Adams...Thank you and God bless...

Leonila, Guiguinto, Bulacan, Philippines

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Cpt. Disi was at Kutschbach with the guys of 2nd platoon. I was in 4th, we were right up the road at FOB Morales Frazier. I don't think I read anywhere about you being at KB but if you were up there in Kapisa province with us you would have loved it. It was 10x better than Jbad. The air there was so full of smog, and you couldn't really see that far out early in the morning when the sun was rising. But its nice to see someone like you who was out on patrols and documenting all the things we did. Great stories. Keep up the good work...

Kevin Myrick, Calhoun, GA

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Love your writing. Have you read Spike Walker's books by now?

Kerry, Wenatchee, WA

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Nice.

Christian Louboutin, New York City

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I do not believe I've seen this described in such an informative way before. You actually have clarified this for me. Thank you!

Janice Randall, Post Falls, ID

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I like the style you took with this topic. It isn't every day that you just discover a subject so to the point and enlightening.

Charles David, St. Anne, Manitoba

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Hey Jim! LT Singh just checking your site.. looks great… very slow internet here.. will be home in 2 weeks.

Alvin Singh , New York

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Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones. You have a lot more creativity and originality now. Keep it up! And according to this article, I totally agree with your opinion, but only this time! :) .

Arthur Cox, Next to Paris

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Jim. Take it all in, smother your senses with the culture and people. Watch your top notch and have a once in a lifetime experience. Miss you.

Jeff and Andrea, Los Angeles, CA

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Fascinating photos Jim! Singly they are all fodder for short stories; together they really capture an out-of-body trip! Enjoyed mine, thank you! I'm curious what those compounds contain...mostly businesses? residences? Love that the T-Boy card is making it's way around the globe!

Wendy, Los Angeles, CA

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These are outstanding photos. You capture scenes that I've never seen in the "mainstream media." Haunting images that make me think that there is danger around every corner.

Al Burt, Friday Harbor, WA

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Enjoyed your article immensely! Your title is fun and so is learning about bin Laden skipping out without paying the rent - what a loser! It's great you could meet with Mr. Jouvenal, hear the stories and see the guns. Give our highest regards to T.G. Taylor and the other military personnel serving in Afghanistan. Courage to you all!

Steve, Renton, WA

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Jim, I enjoyed this fascinating article. It reminded me of how sublimely surreal life is. Also, I would like to thank you for your courage, and to express gratitude towards your bringing this piece of the world, with its foreign realities, to my doorstep. I look forward to reading more from you.

Sandra, Seattle, WA

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This is outstanding reporting, Jimmy F! Fascinating stuff. You've taken on a dangerous, important assignment in Afghanistan, and we readers appreciate your work with the military and your unique observations. I look forward to your next post. In fact, I'm going to go through the archives to see your entire body of work on TravelingBoy.

Terry, Los Angeles, CA

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I really enjoyed my entry into Kabul with you and the visit with Peter Jouvenal... look forward to more of that adventure.

Brenda, Richland, WA

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Great story, Jim, a story really "as current as yesterday's news." Now there's a real TravelingBoy!

Eric, San Diego, CA

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Jim you have probably revealed more about Bin Laden than anyone...his rage on the world has to be linked to his limp handshake. Be careful over there!

Janet, Caldwell, ID

Thanks Janet! I get the distinct impression that his handshake isn't the end story to all that's limp with bin Laden's physiology!

Jim

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What a fantastic piece. You're a modern-day Hemingway. Your writing is compelling and fascinating. I look forward to much more of this great adventure.

Roger, Puyallup, WA

Wow, Roger, what an awesome set of complements. Thanks a lot. My first journal entry of 2010 was: "The stories will tell themselves. I just need to show up." So far, so good! Thanks again!

Jim

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Jim, first time reading your stuff. Very cool. I hope to read about our units and life in eastern Afghanistan very soon since you will be coming to our area as an embed. BTW, I'm the PAO here in Jalalabad and will be coordinating your visit with CPT Disi.

T.G. Taylor, US Army, Jalalabad, Afghanistan

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Hello T.G.!

I saw your email address included on a couple of correspondences, and I cannot wait to spend some time with you, and even yet more of our honorable fighting forces over there in that bleak neck of the woods in Afghanistan in January, including CPT Disi. This is truly a trip of a lifetime for me, and I'm completely looking forward to absorbing the experiences there and recording the sufferings and sacrifices of so many of those of you who continue to strain and press to make Our Country Great, those of you who daily labor to assist those in other countries whose lives had once withered under the burden of tyrants, and whose hopes can now flicker again with the help of those like yourself. Thanks so much for putting it all out there for us every day. My fervent hope is to honorably document the expenditures of each of your individual lives in the midst of this conflict, those of you who "anonymously" struggle daily to make what We Hold As Good prevail in what, at times, is a dark and wicked world.

Thanks so much, man. Great to hear from you... See you soon!

Jim

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Sad to say, this is the first time I've read one of your articles Jim. What have I been missing!? Thanks for the funny, informative, and just plain awesome read! Take care and have a great Turkey day!

Jeff, Pasco, WA

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Jim, I just loving reading your blogs. As I've dreamt about going to Costa Rica for at least 20 years, this was a very insightful and fun read for me. You always make me laugh.

Deborah - Burbank, CA

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Wow, what a HILARIOUS guy!!!!! I really really enjoyed the article. The Village Artist is my 'uncle Boyd" as I call him. He is closing his shop next year. That made my day and thank you for letting me know of this on the world's BEST travel information source.

Sandy - Sitka, Alaska

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Hi Sandy!

Comments like those that you wrote make all the hassles and travails of writing resoundingly worthwhile, thank you! I am so sorry to hear that Boyd is closing his shop! The Alaskan State legislature should immediately intervene to make his shop an Alaskan cultural heritage site of some variety (not kidding). Meanwhile, from the sound of the conversation Boyd and I had, it's the federal government that's confused and harassed the poor guy with inconsistent and random applications of federal law to the point where it's probably not worth it anymore. I hope that's not the case, but I wouldn't be surprised. Whatever the reason, I am really sorry to hear that he's closing shop. I'm privileged to have seen it... once in a lifetime. Thanks again for reading and thanks a lot for your comments!

Jim

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Hi Jim,

Now I know what you were doing on the Alaska cruise when I wasn't around. Besides playing cribbage. I'm glad that you, a younger, more slender and fit person, also saw the value in cruising. I didn't come back with a tan, but I did lose 3 pounds while sleeping every night and eating every meal but one. Jade and I are looking forward to three weeks exploring Mediterranean ports in May. We put down our deposit for it on our last night on board and have starting our training. Sleeping in the same wonderful bed every night makes such a break-neck pace completely possible for a grandma like me. I'm looking forward to reading your Afghanistan piece WHEN you have returned.

Janice - Seattle

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Hi Janice!

Yes that was a blast! I would do all of that again any day of the week. Have fun on your Mediterranean cruise, that sounds like great fun!

Jim

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Love your expeditions. Keep writing.

Karen Cummings - Yakima, WA

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Jim can't tell you how much I am enjoying your writing. One other commenter mentioned you are living the life we all dream of, ain't that the truth. As far as looking for a place to live that will challenge you to be able to make a real living and supplying a steady flow of women looking for the bbd (bigger better deal) then you should try the Yakima Valley here in Washington State (inside joke). Look forward to reading more from you.

Huston Turcott (hooter) - Yakima, WA

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Awesome!!! I love Japan!

Maja - Chur, Switzerland

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Jimmy my love,

I totally thought you were kidding when you told me you went bullriding. OH MY GOSH you actually did it. (SIGH) Am I going to have to smack you around a bit?? heheheheee Seriously, come see us!

Leah, Richland, WA

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Jim,

Rock on Friend! Living it up... inspiring us all to do the same!

Celeste, Seattle


Jim,

Are you for real? You're living the life many people only dream about. You're obviously not yet married. What wife would allow her husband to do all the crazy things you do? This Virginia skydiving adventure is probably the scariest yet. Your writing style helps bring the exhilaration out. Great photos too. Loved the caption about you striking that "gangsta rap" pose. Come to think of it, why do we do that in front of the camera?

Thanks also for the tips. $250 for a few minutes with nothing between you and mother earth is a bit costly but I guess if you have a death wish, this is definitely the way to go.

You mentioned that 25 people a year lose their lives doing this. With my luck I will be among that number if and when I decide to do this.

Enjoyed it very much. Can't wait for your next adventure.

Peter Paul of South Pasadena, CA

Jeem!

Found ur Glacier trek (I will Destroy You Glacier Peak) to be serious kick ass. To be honest, I’m such a lightweight, I’ve never been more than a day tripper. When u really get out there on one of those long solo treks, and the water runs short … can u drink from local streams? I’ve heard that pollution is so bad that even places untouched by man are now off-limits.

VitoZee

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Howdy VitoZee,

Great to hear from you and thanks for the complement and question. That is a seriously cool name, by the way: VitoZee. Just from the phonetics of it, I get the impression that you might be a very friendly and mild-mannered hitman working out of North Jersey. Really cool.

As for your drinking water from streams question, there are a lot of answers for it. The simple answer is that, no, you can almost never implicitly trust stream water sources, unless they are flowing straight out of the ground (via an aquafer or spring) bubbling up right there in front of you. That's your best bet, but you rarely see that in the wild unless you're looking for it, and even so, I have actually gotten sick from drinking spring water straight from the source at Panther Springs on Mount Shasta. You never know what you're going to get drinking untreated water from the wilds.

Most of the time the pollution you'll be dealing with out in the wilderness is not man-made, it usually comes from bacteria and parasites that inhabit the bodies of wilderness animals. For example, on this Glacier Peak trip, I drank from a stream I was confident was trustworthy. In the immediate vicinity were living quite a few marmots. A number of days after I got home I fell ill, and had to wonder if I hadn't picked up something from the water I drank, as there was not much of any other explanation for my symptoms. I knew a trip to the doctor would probably result in them sending me back home with a plastic cup that was required to be filled with my own poo, which would need to be delivered back to the lab steaming hot so they could figure out exactly what kind of bacteria or parasite they were dealing with. (Not a joke, remember Panther Springs?) After this diagnosis, I would then have to go back to the doctor and get a prescription, but by then, my body would have probably fought off the tiny invaders completely on its own. Not worth the trouble, and all of this would certainly = Jim minus $280. So I suffered it out, and whatever happened to be bothering me left my system in about 7 days or so. Yuck. No fun.

Anyway, I don't recommend drinking straight from the streams of the wild, but in a pinch, I do it everytime, unless I see a bear or a moose straight upstream from me pooping in the river, which has only happened about ten times. (Or zero times.) Anyway, sometimes I get sick, sometimes I don't. If I'm exhausted and thirsty, to heck with it, I'm drinking it.

All this notwithstanding, or withstanding, or notwithoutstanding, whatever, they just recently invented the coolest thing in the world though, so you might want to check it out. Previously, for treating your water in the wild, you'd always have to put a pellet of iodine or a congregate of other evil ingredients into your jug of stream water and let it sit there for an hour before you drink it while the chemical cocktail thoroughly treats your water. That is ridonkulous because when you're hiking and thirsty, you aren't going to wait a full hour for that pill to dissolve and work properly, you are going to guzzle. Anyway, they just invented this magic wand of sorts that you can find at any decent backpacking or outdoors store. You turn it on and dip it in your stream filled water jug, and the ultraviolet light it produces irradiates everything to death on the spot, after about 30 seconds or so. Kind of like my pinky finger, which I keep forgetting to treat my stream water with, because I'm always so dang thirsty.

Jim

Keep it comin' Jim. Sounds awesome.

Matt Langley, Duvall, WA

Hey Jim,

Enjoyed your Victoria article. It was an intersting slant on a city that is generally just promoted as a destination for tea rooms, gardens and double-decker buses. Now let's get serious ... are the Canadian women there really that attractive, good-natured and open-minded? Maybe I won't get married either and just move up there. It sure sounds refreshing after having to deal with the smugness of all those LA starlets, trying to make it in Hollywood.

Gary, Santa Monica

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Gary,

Thanks so much for the communique. I can honestly tell you that there was little exagerration involved in my description of the girls there in Victoria. God, in his infinite wisdom, has thankfully granted American mankind a few other places than the great old U.S. of A. to relieve our hearts of the burden of the eternally-self-absorbed, career-tracked, Bill-Gates-as-a-husband seeking beastly variety of female. I know, after living here in the States forever (especially in Seattle), how it is. I was recently researching a trip to Columbia, and heard the same news implicitly spoken about the women there, they are apparently of the same caliber of those that live in British Columbia. I invite you, before relocating, to take a trip up to Victoria, to see for yourself. I'll never forget it.

And my brotha', if you think you have it bad in the Los Angeles area (I lived there for six years), try Seattle (where I have lived for the last laborious three). Seattle seems to be crammed with nothing other than Ice Princesses, who live their lives completely within the confines of darkened cerebral domains, mental attentions locked firmly onto the goal of marrying the next Bill Gates, hoping to live in one of those big houses smooshed up against Lake Washington, hearts available only to the ultimate goal, the dream of all dreams ... being on Oprah someday...absorbing the jealous attentions of the millions of suburbanite women watching, all hoping to sit right there across from Ms. Winfrey someday, too, while regaling her with the tales of the good life, closets full of the savvy and smarmy garb purloined at Nordstrom's, their husband a virtual "Prince Charming," their family-owned barnacle encrusted yacht anchored firmly in some northern fjord. Oprah smiles back approvingly amidst a cacophony of applause, screen fades to commercials, all conduits nourishing The Beast.

You're my kind of guy, Gary. Hang in there, amigo. I look forward to meeting your smokin' hot wife someday.

Jim


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