Costa Rica News -When my friend was forced to climb over a three-metre high wall to gain entrance to our hotel in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, I knew the midnight fire alarm had been a bad omen.
The false alarm had driven all guests at the Sheraton Hotel at Toronto International Airport into the street.
We left the hotel again at 3:30 a.m. for our flight to Costa Rica to find a bottleneck at U.S. customs. We left late and faced another hassle at Tamarindo Airport. The first cab driver I met asked $115 for a 45-minute drive to our hotel on the Pacific Coast. One eventually settled for $20 each.
Beware! Our hotel, rated as “three stars” by three online search engines, didn’t have an office or an onsite manager.
A man, who looked like a long-stay guest and whose large dog was in the swimming pool, showed us to a cramped second-floor room that was my biggest disappointment since Chelsea had failed to call me for tryouts when I was 10.
We were exhausted from lack of sleep and my friend, who had stomach flu, sought only to sleep.
We discovered we had no soap, no toilet paper and, with one mattress nearly at floor level, we slept in our clothes.
At dawn next day, we headed to the four-star Tamarindo Diria Beach and Golf Resort. We had planned to join an Arthritis Society party coming to the hotel the following week for the Tamarindo Marathon.
But we thought the hotel a tad expensive. Approaching the hotel directly at the last minute brought $70 a night off our third-floor, ocean view room with a balcony.
I thought our jinx was over. But it wasn’t.
We went body surfing, a skill I had become proficient at during my hippie days in Cabo San Lucas. But a two-metre-high wave washed me onto sharp rocks and I couldn’t put my feet down.
One wave spun me around and I scratched my back badly on rocks. The tide was retreating, sucking me seawards and we’d been warned about a rip tide.
When the waves crashed over my head, I pulled myself shorewards on the rocks. I hung on and sought air as the water retreated. I eventually crawled out onto the shore on my hands and knees.
“Lucky no shark saw me floundering,” I said to a man offering surfboard lessons at our resort entrance.
He replied: “Costa Rica has had two shark attacks in 15 years. But don’t swim in the river estuary on the bay. Crocodiles feed there.”Heart-warming momentsTeam Cayouette from Labrador is the largest running party from one family I have travelled with overseas in 14 years of supporting the Arthritis Society.
Sixteen members of the family from across Canada flew to Tamarindo to cheer on Labrador City’s Melanie Cayouette Saturday when she ran the 21-kilometre half marathon here Sunday.
“My late father left me some money and I decided the best thing to do with it was to invite the family on a vacation to support Melanie,” said Melanie’s mum Charlotte Cayouette, also from Labrador City.
Melanie’s brother Jerome Cayouette and his wife Roxanne from Edmonton were on the team that turned up at the pasta-loading dinner in black Team Cayouette T-shirts proudly bearing the words Grand Pa Pa.
“I ran this race on the 10th anniversary of the Flanders Field full marathon I ran in Belgium,” said Melanie. “I ran in honour of my grandfather and father, who suffered from arthritis.”
Getting a four-man motorcycle escort over the finish line for being the last runner was Yannick Simard, 41, from Montreal, who clocked 6:11.
“He overtook another runner right at the end, but the escort had already decided he’d be last in before he made his final effort,” said Simard’s wife Melanie Leclerc.
Leclerc, 32, has rheumatoid arthritis and ran the first 10.5 km before walking the remaining 31.7 km.
“Yannick was ready to quit twice,” she said. “But he kept going because he knew I had.”
Lori Burnell, who completed the five-km course along the beach with Sandy Allen, has lost more than 45 kilos since the Revenue Canada duo from Summerside, P.E.I., began looking for a healthier lifestyle two years ago. “My next goal is the 10-km,” said Burnell.
Calgary’s Ron Allan, 74, a 24-year RCMP veteran, announced his retirement after finishing the half marathon in 3:22. “The course had rolling inclines and my right knee won’t take it anymore,” he said.
A party of some 42 runners representing Canada’s 10 provinces ran the marathon and related races in Tamarindo, raising $170,000 for the Arthritis Society.
BY NICK LEES, EDMONTON JOURNAL