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Saturday, 26 March 2011

One week until Morocco

Well, with less than a week to go before my impending death in the Sahara desert, in the Marathon Des Sables so I thought id share with you the following link from the Darwin Awards. Actually this Badwater Ultramarathon looks like a really interesting race - 32km and the (fit and heatlhy guy about my age) cops it though, great to know just before a 254km race in the desert eh.

I think the first day in the desert will be only 20 odd miles (about the same as this guy went until he died) and believe you me in this kind of heat, water is a big issue (and salt) I understand though im allowed one saline drip without penalty, then any after that you get time penalties.

So no problem then.

Id like to say as Estonias sole entrant, im very well prepared and am training every day and eating properly and so on and so on. But im not, I havent trained for a week, and ill pay the price next week, im sure of it. I'll knock out a 30km run tomorrow and another one in the week and i think that will do it I hope.

Thankfully im stubborn as a mule, and im relying on that to complete the race (that and the bet i have on with Aaron to complete it, although he wouldn't tell me what kind of life insurance he took out in my name)

I particularly like the fact that the whole arab world is kicking off right now, as im stuuck in among 20million 'sand niggers' (is that the correct military term for arabs?) thankfully Algeria is kind of in the way of Libya and Mali. Im growing a beard just in case, and ill bring a blank book saying 'Quoran' on it just in case. (its not a brand of cereal, its the Muslim holy book)  Knowing my luck ill find myself as a suicide bomber in a month or so.

My hardest task this week is to avoid catching a cold (3 days flying this week and didnt get one, miracle!) or breaking an ankle on the ice (yes, here in Estonia its still mid winter, although thawed to minus 5)

I understand that people are bringing factor 50 to this desert - i mean whats the point in being in the desert if you arent going to get a tan? im bringing this carrot oil stuff, so i can look like a raghead when the Taureg insurgents come to kidnap us.

Anyway,i would like to thank everyone who sponsored the charity im raising money for, and to thank in advance DRINK bar in Tallinn for sponsoring me and giving me free fish and chips, and beer, while training.

For those of you who are conspicious by your abscence on the sponsorsheet (i.e  Estonians ) i would ask you to give generously so the world doesnt think you are the mean and miserable Godless bunch (that you actually are, if im honest about it, no offence)

anyway, here is the link if you decide to be characteristically unEstonian and give to this small charity, or you are normal and like normal people donate to good causes now and again. (by the way, Estonians, id like you to show me im wrong here)  thanks!

 ok now back to sleep....

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Weird weekend in an All Inclusive Resort, and the Pura Vida Poker Cup

I spent my first weekend, and hopefully my last, in the 'Hilton Doubletree 5star All Inclusive Resort' this weekend.
Even the lizards politely beg at the tables here at the Doubletree Resort

There is something very sinisterly 'westworld' about these all inclusive resorts. You get a yellow tag, and if you dont have it, security are up and throwing you out to the streets as soon as can say 'fascism'. Guests are all told not to leave the resort, its dangerous - dont go along the beach as the locals will rob you etc etc. i have no idea why they say this - ok Puntarenas isnt the most beautiful city in the world, but the people are actually quite decent and freindly, like most Ticos. But i suppose stupid American tourists, the brain dead idiots who actually go on 'all inclusive' 10 day holidays and dont leave the hotel area, and actually beleive that they visited Costa Rica, would attract the wrong types like flies to the proverbial....
Taking your life into your hands at the (not really)very dangerous locals beach (actually it was pretty nice)

Anyway, one night i had enough of false smiles and buffet dinners, I decided to walk along the main road to town, and found a different hotel for $17 a night (as opposed to $200 a night for the luxury prison camp) It was pretty basic but anyway if you are looking for a place to sleep, its name ill add in here in a minute with contact details (as i forgot its name just now)

 The next morning I was running along the beach and ended up at the resort. I blagged my way in and said id lost my tag, so they let me in, asking me if i was ok etc etc. of course not beleiving that a whitey would be so stupid to leave the safety of such Utopia.

Actually so the real story of why i ended up in such middle management corporation family hell is that me and a couple of guys from the local (Jaco) Poker Room decided to go in for a $300 entry Poker tournament in that hotel, with the intention of leaving that night after the tournament. We drove an hour up there, and on entry, the gatekeeper told us we had to pay $75 to go in. Of course an argument ensued and we didnt have to pay it, it was just his little scam, but i suppose they dont pay them so much. Anyway, once inside i realised it was a whole event of Poker, with the biggest Poker Tournament in the Costa Rica Poker Calender on that weekend, the Pura Vida Cup (So i tried and succeeded to win enough for the $1500 buy-in, and so thats the reason i stayed there. It was rather surreal - almost half of the players were pasty faced internet Poker professionals from North Europe. so the field was either drama queen latinos (who im sure were cheating) and po-faced Swedish zombie vampires, who seemed to frazzle whenever they hit the sun.
Your truly looking mightily suspicious while counting my money

You can read about the actual tournament here  

(Termino el día 2 del Evento Principal del Pura Vida Poker Cup. Luego de seis horas los 48 jugadores que empezaron el día se vieron reducidos a 16 que volverán a la acción mañana a partir de las dos de la tarde.
El sueco Alan Findlay es el actual líder en fichas con 237,200 seguido muy de cerca por su compatriota Jon Odell con 232,200.
Mañana se jugará hasta definir un campeón, son 12 los jugadores que entran en los premios, distribuidos  de la siguiente manera:)

but anyway, so what started as a harmless bit of fun, ended up going to the 2nd day, when i started at 2nd to chip leader, then onto the 3rd day when i was chip leader and down the final 16 players - now i know why they look like zombies - 14 hours a day of poker, for days on end turns you into a total wreck, physically and mentally. Why the hell do people do that? I must admit though it was immense fun and most of the guys turned out to be pretty decent, although it was a shame to be chatting about some interesting real estate finance thing, and...oops ALL IN and that guy you were talking to, you just knocked him out of the $52,000 first prize tournament and ruined all his dreams for the trip. Anyway by the time the 3rd day came, i was exhausted, not being used to so much poker, so i ended up flaking out about 5pm in 12th Place, i made the prize money at least though, which paid for the trip and more. But the others soldiered on until at least 3am until the game finally was over. And it turned out that for tax reasons none of the Swedes in the final 3 actually wanted to win the first prize anyway....
A bizzare moment in my life, as leader in the tournament- a moment of rare glory. I really had no idea what i was doing

Tonight i joined a local football team, the mighty 'Balcon de Mar' Restaurant team, which by the way happens to be a great bar on the beach to go, especually at weekends when its jumping, and is only locals, no hookers, no wankjob americans, or backpackers called Oliver on their Gap Yah  ;o)

Anyway we humped some other awful team about 13 to 3 thanks in no small part to my silky (but to be honest more) ankle crunching,  skills. Anyway, thanks Chris for introducing me (he's the owner of the Bohio grill, which i will blatantly plug sometime soon
Costa Ricas national side get humped by the giants of Centro de America,  the invincible 'Balcon del Mar'. Note homeless kid sleeping in the subs bench on the left for some reason

And now to bed, as i have a requirement to run a marathon tomorrow, since its 2 weeks until Marathon Des Sable and i havent actually done all that much.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Outdoor Life in Jaco

While it doesnt have a square inch of culture, Jaco does have a lot to do if your into sport and outdoor things.

It even has an active Yoga class, called Aurora Yoga, beside the Wok restaurant on the main street, which i went to last night (in English too!) actually its pretty useful for cross training and is only $5 a session.
Get drunk and try it

There are plenty places for running (all the running stuff is on this amazing link) but personally i prefer just to run on the beach as 1. all the girls can see you and dream 2. The sand is a good running surface and 3. the beach is exactly 5km long, so you can do 'laps' . A girl today told me theres a good trail up behind on the south end of the beach with a good view so ill maybe check that out tomorrow.

Playa Hermosa, makin' it look easy
The surfing here is good for beginners and intermediates - the waves and currents can get quite powerful. I should plug Jaco surf school here (situated right beside Bohios) because they are not only good guys, i got really lucky against one of them at poker the other night ;o)  For more experienced surfers though, Hermosa, just on the next bay is more what your looking for.
Jaco beach running track

Ups its another one of those 'private eye' reading sports fishers
There are also a large number of americans who come for 'sports fishing' , which i understand has some connection with buying cheap hookers and getting drunk in bars with remotely fish sounding names, as thats all i ever see these guys do.

Really, the whole country is full of sport - kayaking, rafting are also all over the place. But one thing i didnt see any of was Chess. I mean, comeon, the place is jam packed with surfers and no chess??? What the hell? A day in Kuta in Bali (which is quite a similar place) would be all about some good food, surfing, a massage on the beach afterwards, and a good game of chess with some random local guy or a chinese tourist (why are chinese so bad at surfing but good at chess?)

Anyway, if anyone in Costa Rica is reading this and would like to challenge me, im up for it, otherwise im declaring myself Costa Rica Chess champion.

Jaco Staying and Eating

Apart from the drugs and hookers Jaco actually has a lot going for it as a base on the west coast of Costa Rica. But im not going to tell you about that in this post - Ill tell you first the basics becuase im late for Yoga.

Buses run all the time from the Coca Cola Bus Station in San Hose (be careful there at night) and it takes about 90minutes unless, like now the bridge is closed because of rain.

For budget places to stay,  there are half a dozen hostels in the centre - check out i think its called Bohio street, right in the centre of downtown between the main road and the beach (It has Bohio bar and grill at the end, at the beach, which is busy by day with hard drinking 'sports fishermen' with their purchased by the week 'girfreinds' but does the best Fish Taco ive ever tasted and is famous for it (its about $6)

The guys at the surf school right there at the beach are decent and helpful too and can hook you up with any other things you might need (i.e. tours etc)

Anyway Hostels here are the usual $10-$20 a night and do the job if you are here to be around the beach and the bars for a few days. Also at the top of the north end of the beach, Claritas  is a good budget option.

If you are really broke, then you can camp at the north end too, just be aware of your personal safety - there is a police station on the beach though (quite funny to see - they hancuff drunks to the railings outside!!)

Further up the scale...well i wouldnt know, im a cheapskate ;o) but you can rent a little condo for 2-4 ppl near the beach for $500-$900 a month depending on the size, and a house for $2000. Other than that id recomend better in one of the little resorts along the beach like Morgans Cove or Cocal (both have casinos, bars etc too) for $50-$100 a night, or check out THIS LINK for hotels and so on.

If you want a room for one hour, you can check The beatle hotel  which, not surprisingly is next door to the Beatle Bar on the main road (north end of the centre). As the guide in the link amusingly says 'impromptu romances are not unknown to occur in the Beatle bar' (usually im guessing involving those lovely 'sports fishermen' , some kind of commerical transaction and lasting about one hour)

The half starved skinhead look always goes down well with the ladies

To eat, unlike the bars here many of the resturants are owned by foreigners so the choice is quite ok. There are the usual mexican/local food joints (both the 24hr restaurants at each end of the town are actually quite good and cheap) and for fish Tacos your best bet is Bohios or Taco Bar which dishes out 2 for 1 flyers every day.
There are even two good Sushi/Japanese places (Arigato is the better of the two, on the main road.) and a couple of steak houses (The aberdeen angus/argentinian steakhouse does a rib eye for $10 4-7pm every day)  The only other two restuarants of note are Pili Pili which would be the place to take a hot date, with well presented food and quite reasonable prices (Jaco isnt cheap to eat mind you)  and Wok, which does healthy and tasty Thai/Chinese stuff. 

If your on a budget theres a Costa Rican buffet which actually looks ok (and has free wifi and $1 coffee) who's name i'll remember tomorrow.

Ok, now ive got the lonely planet crap out of the way, ill tell some more dodgy stories of Jaco in the next post...