Sunday, May 3, 2009

Squeezy Beans - the new endurance superfood? (part 1 of 2)

Jason here: As an American, I often find myself falling into the trap of culturo-centrism, even unconsciously. The semi-conscious thought that the best of the world is found in the USA. We have clean water, grocery stores full of every imaginable variety of food, and all the latest technological gizmos to make life easier. As an athlete, I've become accustomed to scientifically designed superfoods to fuel me along on expeditions and endurance races. GU, RawRev bars, Perpetuem, Nuun and U-hydration tablets....
From Uvita to Osa
Unfortunately, we'd used our entire supply during our race Coast to Coast, thinking that we'd spend the next 10 days hanging out on the beach catching waves and rays. The three of us headed to Uvita, on the Pacific coast, and spent a blissful few hours playing softball with the local ex-pats (Daniel had never played and had to have the rules explained, although he hit a home run his second time at bat!), slacklining, eating mangoes, and surfing. But already we were getting stir crazy. I think that none of us was ready for the race to be over. Well not the race directly, but just that sense of purpose and comraderie and simplicity that comes with it. That afternoon, on my sixth wave, I was heading right, trying to make a section. Not quite fast enough, the wave broke on me, and snapped my (borrowed) longboard. It was a crazy feeling to have the board break while I was riding it, and I continued to ride it for a few seconds until I actually realized that I was missing the nose of the board. Like how Wiley Coyote runs off a cliff and only falls once he realizes that there is no longer ground underneath him. We hung in there for one more day, before the tension became too much. We needed Solitude. I asked Chelsey where the most remote and beautiful part of the country was, answered quickly - the Osa penninsula. At 5 AM the next morning, we boarded a bus. The bus took us to Puerto Jiminez, which is as far as busses go. A rough road continued for another 42 km - to a place Carate at the end of the peninsula. After Carate, the primary rain forest of the Cocovado National Park began. 4WD taxis to Carate were $50 - out of the question for us. So we hatched a new plan. We'd walk the coast road to Carate, visit a place called Luna Lodge (for a day of yoga) and then trek/run the 50 km of pristine beach and jungle trails through the park - coming out on the other side where we could catch a bus. So much for resting for a week. We headed to the local market for provisions, hoping for some sort of compact nutrient dense food, we were not too optimistic though. Would we find anything remotely like what we were used to carrying on our expeditions? Enter Squeezy Beans. Looking like a giant packet of GU, the shelves were stocked with variously spiced refried beans. Tear off the top and squeeze it into your mouth. Deliscious, salty, and nutritious. Why haven't they thought of this in the states? Almost every race food we use is sweet and expensive, and here in Costa Rica, we'd found a super cheap, abundantly available, easily packable savory treat. Each pack was the perfect size for splitting between the three of us. We bought 4, and set off. According to the maps there was a small town called Matapalo about halfway to Carate where we would resupply. 4 hours later, we were in Matapolo, and found that it was not so much a town, as a collection of eco-lodges. No store at all. So we gathered mango and coconuts for dinner, and taught the owners of one of the lodges a bit of AcroYoga and slacklining in exchange for a beach tent to sleep in.
From Uvita to Osa
The next day we did yoga on the beach, surfed all afternoon at a beautiful secluded break named "Germany". We'd intended to hike to Carate during the cool night, but a massive storm came up. We walked through it to a lodge/restuarant and did a series of Acro demos, and I ended up giving a flying massage to the owner of a nearby lodge. He bought us dinner. The owner of the surfboards we'd rented, said we could sleep in the open under the eaves of his beachside surf lounge and catch a sunrise session in the waves. So we spent a beautiful night in the open, and were alone (except for a few stinging jellyfish) in the warm tropical water as the sun rose. After surfing, we did yoga again, collected fruit and some coconut meat, and began the 26 km trek to Carate. We'd been assured that there was a small pulperia (roadside store) and we were very excited to get our hands on more Squeezy beans.

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