By Laurence Holmes–

Tuesday was by far the hottest day of the trip, 85 degrees, but that didn’t keep anyone from the beach. The whole traveling party gathered for beach games with the Bears. You get a sense of the competitive spirit of these players when you watch them participate in these events that are supposed to be just for fun. None of these guys want to lose at anything.

There was a lot of chicanery in every event: relay race, water balloon toss and a race to fill a bucket with ocean water with a towel. Johnny Knox and Devin Hester were the culprits in the balloon toss, but they won. Everyone cheated in the towel race filling up the buckets with mud. Chester Taylor went so far as to sneak a cup into the towel and fill it up. It was hilarious the lengths guys would go to get the victory. I guess the old adage still holds true: If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’…

As of 11p Tuesday night, Chester was still complaining that his score wasn’t tallied up right…

Then everyone headed to the pool for a little water volleyball. There´s a group of Bears fans here from Iowa who make the trip every year and consider themselves “defending champs” in the pool. They were routed by the players in the game on Saturday. Tuesday, each team had a fair share of players.

While everyone else was in the pool, I was on the deck. I met a really nice family from England, who didn’t know anything about football. After meeting the players, they went online to read up on the Bears and I think they’ll find a place for a Bears t-shirt to go alongside their Manchester United jerseys. Very cool experience.

Apple Vacations and the RIU-Guanacaste, set up a trip to Volcan Arenal for everyone on the trip Monday. I didn´t make the trip, but from what I´m told, it was a little slice of heaven. So I asked Paula Pike, who did go, to give me a sense of what it was like:

“It was awesome with the clouds over the top of it. It was so pretty. We wanted the lava to flow (the volcano has been inactive for 4 months), but it was still wonderful. The restaurant had a perfect view of the volcano peeking through the clouds. They opened up the windows so we could eat while viewing. It was very pretty.”

Today (Wednesday), is Charles Tillman’s 30th birthday (yeah I was shocked too). It’s hard to believe that this will be his 9th season with the Bears. From what I’m told, we’re going into Cocoa Beach for a celebratory dinner and get a chance to get a taste of real Costa Rican cuisine.

One of the things I really like about this place is how blended the culture is. One would think that with C.R. being in Central America that it would be more like Mexico, but it’s influences are pretty well-rounded.

It’s a country of only 4 Million, but there is a large Mestizo (mixed) population. There’s a big African influence along with German, French, Indian and of course Latino. Mostly everyone speaks Spanish, but it’s not that hard to find English speakers because of the emphasis place on education here. It’s a comfortable and inviting country. I’m looking forward to going a little deeper into the city tonight to get a greater experience and understanding.