Tuesday, October 30, 2007

chicken bus, guate shteeze

Well my friends, I have arrived. Well, arrived in Guatemala, which makes me happy because I am sick of forgetting what country I am in. And I am sick of trying to remember what to call things, regional Espanish has been kicking my ass.
I am now in San Marcos, on the shores of Lake Atítlan. Where I am warned it is very hard to leave.
I came by chicken bus, crammed in with my knees pressing on the seat in front of me, making faces at the little kids in front of me, crowded by women wearing indigenous textiles alive with flowers and animals. We were held up by construction for an hour during which another ten vendors loaded themselves on to the bus with fruta, papas fritas, agua pura, a veritable market marching down the aisle of the bus that was already full of people. Finally I was dropped off at high speeds at the cross roads of two highways only to find out that I had two more buses to take. On the bus to Solola I met a local who hable ingles and appointed himself as my guide to getting to Pana.
I only saw Solola at the beginnings of sunset, long light hitting the cathedral, woman grilling corn on the corner next to our bus. Then we rolled down the hill to Atítlan, the volcanoes swinging in and out of view, wearing scarves of orange clouds. The hills painted in various shades of gray blues carving silhouettes on the horizon. I jumped off in the middle of Panajachel and wandered down the street lined by vendors selling an infinite number of same same but different crafts. And I was finally, thirteen hours after leaving San Salvador, on the shores of Atítlan.
Yesterday I suffered through a bumpy boat ride to San Marcos, the spiritual center of Atítlan, where I now reside, at least for another day.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

vacas, límon, y maize

Overland travel has its perks that aren´t solely limited to sweaty knee pits. Take today for example. I bid my peace corps homies good bye and set off on my way to San Salvador. I took a chicken bus to the border full of Honduran and not a single gringo besides myself. This meant the flavors of Honduras were going full force. We had to avoid a herd of cattle being led down the roadby a man with a red flag, everyone was drinking little plastic bags of water (that is how they roll here) and I got to check out the local scenery (lots of hills and laundry drying in the sun). The border crossing at Amatillo was my favorite yet. El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala have some agreement E.U. styles where you only have to go through customs once. So I strolled across the no man´s land bridge and right into El Salvador. I did have a pleasant conversation with a customs official who wanted to make sure I knew I needed to leave within three months of entering, but other than being harassed to change my lempiras to dollars it was a mellow country change.
Once in El Sav I jumped on the bus headed to Santa Rosa de Lima where I was told I could catch a ¨direct¨ bus to San Salvador. This bus had a tv mounted above the driver in the front and was blaring music videos at full force. The last man to board the bus had bags and bags filled with limes, the whole bus smelled of the them which was lovely until we hit a truck filled with corn. First off I want to say that from my limited experience I am pretty sure that all El Salvadorian bus drivers think they are f-1 racers. We were cruising along at top speed and ran straight into the back of a pickup filled with corn plants. Everyone on the bus had their heads hanging out the window to check out the damage, and within seconds were bailing from the bus like it was sinking. I followed their lead and joined the crowd on the street. Within a minute a hilux truck pulled up and the driver started yelling, ¨¿Santa Rosa?¨at all of us, so I along with límon man piled in the bed and went racing off to Santa Rosa, which was good because I just made the bust to San Salvador. The límon man ended up having to pay the truck driver in limes because he wouldn´t take lempiras which made all of us except the driver laugh. And then I was on my way to San Salvador on a bus that stank of windsheild fluid and oil.
The bus ride was a bit wild, we wound through hills covered with corn at speeds where it felt like the bus was going to tip over. I kept knodding off much to the amusment of my new friend ¨Sabado,¨well at least I think that´s what his name is. Sabby is a vaquero, I know this because he stuck up his pointer fingers as horns and mooed at me. I said, ¨¿vacas?¨and he said, ¨sí, bacas.¨ And then he asked me I liked to drink beer and if I wanted to get a hotel with him. I said, ¨No,¨ and then spent the rest of the ride staring out the window. Gringas are supposed to be easy didn´t you know that?
Anyways now I have my own room with no cowboy and I am going to try and obtain some El Salvadorian pupusas for dinner. I tried the southern Honduran version, ¨¡que rico!¨ right eva?

Friday, October 26, 2007

san lo y el cuerpo de paz

What have I been getting my self into? Well, Mc Gyvering up some Thai curry for my peace corps friends, watching Honduran soldiers learn how to use condoms, reading the enlightening book ¨Mongo¨, eating local Mangrove clams dug out of the mud by peasents and plotting on mercy killings for the local street dogs. That has all been punctuated by washing my clothes and dishes in Kyle´s almost empty pila and taking bucket showers. So it goes in San Lo.
I have been enjoying my days here, it has given me perspective on the life of Peace corps volunteers, and life in regular non-traveler gringofied Honduras.
San Lorenzo is the main port for Honduras, it is set back from the Pacific protected from the coastal weather by chains of mangrove islands. From the waterfront you can see two volcanoes, the names of which escape me. Views of volcáns at sunset, the moon coming up over the horizon as big as a dinner plate, lush hills with backgrounds of photo worthy clouds, it is pretty beautiful down here.
Kyle has been touring me around the place on foot mostly, though we took a chicken bus (an old bluebird school bus that has been re-born in central america to drag whoever and whatever they are carrying to various locales) out to the local military base. We walked the hour back into town along the Panamerican highway. Things like walking along the highway are, I am coming to learn, some of my favorite parts of traveling. They are unexpected and somewhat mundane, and yet suprisingly satifsying. You see more at walking speed, swarms of swirling vultures above town, the old sugar factory, getting to watch the new shipment of toyotas roll down the road headed to the capital. Along the way we took a break under a big acacia and talked for a while, just to get a break from the heat.
Where I am off to next is up for debate especially as I am now down my only pair of closed toe shoes. I sacraficed my new keens to the Tica bus, a sad sad relization. Traveling is a constant lesson in not getting too attached to your earthly possessions.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

¿donde estoy?

So my fair and dedicated readers. I am now in San Lo(renzo), Honduras which is in the southern part of the country sandwiched between El Salvador and Nicaragua. How did I get here? The long and short of it is the tica bus, but the long of it is where the story lies my friends.
My last full day in Granada I spent mostly going to, walking around, and getting home from the markets in Masaya. I headed off on my own, and doing as I do got there with no real sense of where exactly the markets are in the town. Masaya is home to two markets, the local Munincipal market, and the Market Viejo, which means that they sell tourist toot. I found the Munincipal market first, which was overwhelming, muddy, loud, filled with bananas and people. It was so chaotic and busy that I could barely stand it. I´m sure some neo-zen buddhist in some stoned stupor might come up with Masaya Market Meditation, where one focuses on finding their center in the middle of the munincipal market. It is a lesson in semi-organized chaos. Beautiful in its own right, but not the type of place one feels comfortable pulling out a camera and taking photos. Carts were stacked with melons, pithaya, oranges, limes, people were selling underwear from baskets, carts were filled with pirated dvds. The low-ceilinged and leaky back side is occupied by the artesians, shoe makers, hammock sellers, and Nicas selling guatemalan textiles.
After purchasing a pair of leather chancletas (sandals, see Carlos´spanish lessons are coming in handy) for 75 cordoba I headed down the road to the toot market. The Market Viejo is located in something that looks not unlike a decaying fortress of some kind. It is chock full of same-same but different crafts, cheap t-shirts, corona bottles with their necks stretched out (i´m not sure how you would ever get one of those home), all the usual tourist necessities.
That evening after a dinner of Mexican, I settled into bed only to be awoken at four in the morning to Aliens taking over my g.i. system. After an early morning of emptying my body of any last vestiges of food or liquid I managed to pack and drag my sorry self to Nicaragua´s capital, Managua. My plan, which has miraculously worked, was to take the Tica bus from there to San Lorenzo the next morning. I spent the afternoon in Managua hiding from the heat and rolling blackouts in the Interplaza, which is a huge american mall. I watched a movie in an empty theater with two teenage nicas, and then rolled home to a night of sleep set to thunderstorms.
Tuesday morning, only 24 hours after my alien encounter I boarded the Tica bus to Honduras. The ride was gorgeous, jewel green hills and valleys swathed in gray fog; huge clouds stacked up over volcanoes; cows and donkeys munching on grass in wide fields. The ride was easy and I got dropped off right outside of town. Now I am crashing with a friend of Mandy´s and getting to experience a bit of Hoduras that is not on traveler path, my favorite.
Off to watch my new friend Kyle make pizza dough.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

las isletas

view from Isla San Pablo, Isleta chickens, lunch
Las Isletas, Nicaragua
What a day friends, what a day. Granada has been a fun place to start off my travels alone. Every single Nica man wants to know if I am traveling alone, to which I tell them,¨sí.¨ Being alone has the advantage that people seem more comfortable talking to you, which has lead to some funny interactions including having a texan call me,¨babe.¨
Last night I went to dinner with a pack of gringas who teach english in Heredia, CR. A local tour guide told us about a concert going on down the road at Café Nuit. The band was a Nica group called Sacasa that plays an infectious combination of salsa, rock, and blues. They were playing at a beautiful little bar all lit up by candles, heaving with locals and travelers.
Today has been taken up by a tour of the locals isletas down on Lake Nicaragua. It was an adventure full of rainy bike rides, caca on the stairs, monkeys, turkeys, and ducks. Check out the photos.

Friday, October 19, 2007

the solo roll

What? Have I turned into a new kind of norimake? No no, I am just off on new adventures, which means traveling alone. The good thing about this is that now I can talk to strangers in two languages and no one is around to give me funny looks about being overly friendly. Not to worry I am sticking with Uncle John´s rule of travel:
If you find yourself in a place where there are no women or children around you should get out of there.
That being said I have heard that some of the most skilled pickpockets down here are women.

I started friday with some epic emailing and skyping, working on big plans. When I finally emerged from the hostel it was already the afternoon. The day was bustling in full force out on the streets, pop music playing, street dogs sniffing, people selling drinks in bags, all that gritty stuff that is hard to find in the states. Granada is gorgeous. Lots of pastels, with white accents, little tile faceplates with building names and history written on them. Some man made fun of me today for taking this picture of the ¨Casa Marin¨sign, but I just couldn´t help myself.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

That´s a beautiful state!

Just got back from my first meal in Nicaragua which was appropriately Mexican food. I took the bus from San Jose this morning to Granada which was eight hours of watching the dubbed version of ´look whose talking´and acting like a narcoleptic passing out. I met two gringas on the bus headed to the same hostel so we walked into town together. I´m staying at a nice hostel with of all fabulous things, a pool.
The big road block in today has been discovering that it may not work out for me to volunteer in Xela, so I am back at the drawing board trying to figure out what to do with myself. Many plans are in the works, and you will be updated just as soon as I know where the winds will take me.
After scheming on the internet for an hour or so I headed out to dinner with the gringas. Granada´s architecture maybe one of the few reasons to feel okay about colonialism, that and the baguettes in Vietnam . The city is centered on a square that is all domes and façades. Quite lovely in the evening, and a huge step up from San Jose´s cement boxes. We ate dinner at Puerto Tequila, a gringofied establishment that serves mean margaritas. During dinner drummers and two dancers, one dressed up not unlike a bobble head and the other like a twelve foot tall drag queen harassed us for money. When I say harassed I mean that they performed three times right in front of us at volume levels that would have made Mandy´s ears bleed and then asked us for a donation for their performance. I know that right now that this story a. needs a picture to accompany it, and b. makes me sound like a mean person. But drumming loudly and tired gringa just don´t mix well. Then a local Nica man appeared at our table who wanted to talk to us about the United States and quiz us on every state. It was a rough evening for my brain. He would say things like, ¨new hersey, that place is full of crazy son of bitches.¨ It was the kind of interaction you can only have in Nicaragua while eating mexican food on the street.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

the reality of traveling

Always my intent with emailing, writing, blogging, drawing, etc. whilst on the road is to some how convey or express the abundance of unexpected beauty that exists in this world. I often find myself feeling torn between just being in the moment and also wanting to some how preserve those moments especially to share. It is tough in any given day so many bizarre interactions and moments occur there is absolutley no way to convey them all. I consider Paul Theroux and his unbelievable accounts of riding the trains through Asia. His ability to remember in detail conversations and tiny anecdotes. The prospect of trying to emulate that is overwhelming.
What has happened today and yesterday, the smells, the tastes, the feelings of it all. How can I explain how San Jose smells in the rain? How Soma´s Gallo Pinto tastes?

Today we ate breakfast with a friend of Eva´s at Q Cafe, a place that is clearly catering to foreigners with its color palatte, menu and lighting scheme. We spent four hours talking about all the important things two gringas and a british 16 year old would talk about: various government structures, why English milk might be the best in the world, crazy tico stereotypes, you know all the standard stuff.
After the epic breakfast Eva and I took off for the Tica bus terminal to get my ticket changed to tomorrow, and to include a stop in Granada. San Jose will be down to one Charlie´s angel starting thursday.
The whole bus ticket situation is pretty much indicitive of how things work here. Eva had bought the ticket for me so that I could get into the country. Knowing that we would have to change the dates we had made sure that this was possible by checking the website and even further had been confirmed by one of the employees when we called earlier this week. What they failed to mention, until we showed up last night, is that there is only one man imbued with the magical powers to change bus tickets. And last night that man was at home, probably eating a warm dinner as the rain fell over a dark San Jose. So this morning we returned to meet the man and change the ticket. But was the man there? Of course not, somehow we managed to show up on his lunch break, so it was another twenty minutes before he was back at the desk ready to make things happen. I will give the tica bus people credit for something, the magic ticket changing man speaks flawless english, I mean near perfect with no accent. Which when you are me, hacking scentences together or just staying silent entirely so that Eva can figure shit out, having an English speaker makes your day. To get the ticket we needed a copy of my passport, which luckily could be procured across the street from Victor a Swede who runs a chop shop with a photocopier. He gave Eva and I his card with a calendar conveniently printed on the back. When we returned my magic bus man said something about how Victor holds everybody up because he loves to talk and then got to the important business of asking me if I was single, for ticket purposes of course.
See all that and it was barely two o´clock, which only explains why this whole blog/travel/me being my crazy self in a foreign country takes a lot of words blog entries, postcards and pages in my journal to expalin. If only someone would pay me to write about it all. sigh.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

las gringas versus Puerto Viejo

So Bocas was grand, I am not sure I made that clear on the last entry, and I would wax on about it, but way too much ridiculousness went down on Friday so we'll have to skip playing international guess-who and hanging out at the Super Gourmet.
Kerri left Friday morning to head back to SJ, leaving us again as one Panamanian put it, "charlie's angels." We had breakfast at Lili's Killing Me Man sauce, and discussed Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize over fruit and coffees. Then we did some panamanian bargaining with a very confused man, and headed back to pack.
After a sweaty border crossing which did include some wild ferry dancing, as well as a frenzied sprint to the pharmacy to buy bus tickets to Nicaragua and to print out flight itineraries so that we could all get back into Costa Rica, we were confronted with a choice: to kick it in the lovely border town of Sixaola with the orange juice man or to pay a man to drive us in his bob marley taxi to Puerto Viejo. We opted for the taxi, in which also a piled a belgian, another american, and Fernando a tico who organizes Karoke contests. At one point while riding in the Bob Marley taxi, so named as it was covered in Bob paraphenilia, the Belgian asked, ´who sings this song?´ Now I am not going to judge people on normal music trivia, but as the said vehicle we were riding in was covered in Bob´s face and as Bob´s music is known the world over for being played in every costal laid back stoner town I was taken slightly aback. This was only increased when the other American in the car gave pause to consider who might be singing. I am not judging, I swear, just reporting this event to you with total objectivity.
This anecdote really has no purpose in this post, what is far more important is what followed our departure from our reggae ride.
This series of events has been named, ¨the day I sweat my body weight walking around Puerto Viejo¨or ¨the day of no vacancy.¨
For those of you lucky enough to remember stories of, or if you are really lucky maybe even experienced Krabi pants, let me tell you what occurred in Puerto Viejo makes that pale in comparison. To keep your interest I will boil it down to it´s most important parts:
Rolling into town on the friday of a long holiday weekend.
Realizing that not only was monday a holiday, but that there was also a huge bike race going on concurrently.
Wandering down the main dusty ass road in mid-day heat looking for lodging for four hours which included encounters with:
  • Mr. Rogers from EarandNosehair
  • One tooth, the weaver, who had two beds, and two hammocks for us to sleep in.
  • Mr. Vermont the owner of Kaya a hostel that has more dust than occupants
  • Some famous Gringo surfer who was sleeping on his hostel´s reception counter.
I am quickly realizing that no matter how talented a writer I might think I am I will never contain the ridiculousness of this day.
Some how we managed to get a nice room for one night. After showering which was much needed, and dropping off our four kilos of laundry we went to eat dinner. Soma, Eva´s friend, and his friend, Herman showed up with Pilsen in hand so we formed a plan that included Guaro, nasty local rum, and headed for the local Super. What follows is a little hazy as it involved Ticos, Chong, Guaro, Fumamos, and a long dusty walk home with Platanos in hand.
The day ended with the following score:
Gringas-- 0 Puerto Viejo-- tome chi chi.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

more from panama

Post boat ride we ate Sushi at Blow Fish and headed home for an early night. But not before meeting two texans who consider Thai food to be pineapple fried rice. Back at Las Brisas I headed out to the back porch for some journal writing, and ended up staying up late talking to Susanna, from Holland. She has been traveling with her husband and two kids for the last 2 and a half years. We talked about values, why people say they can´t travel, and how the way a lot of us feel forced to live isn´t in line with how we want to be in the world. Deep stuff all while looking out onto the carribean.
We woke up the next day and headed to Lili's Killing Me Man Sauce for breakfast. We sat on the back porch right next to the water and got so hot waiting for breakfast that Mandy and I stripped down to our bathing suits and jumped right in the water. Lili's is two places down from a fancy hotel with a water slide that we swam over to and slide down. Mandy burned the crap out of her butt cheeks but it was awesome. By the time we were out of the water breakfast was on the table. Hard life I am telling you . After eating we headed off to Isla Bastimentos, to Playa Wizard. There was no one on the whole stretch of beach except for the skinny dipping care taker at the far end who I think we scared the crap out of when we came tromping down. We settled in and got to tanning and swimming until we were absolutley toasty and dehydrated. Then we hiked back down the beach across the island and into the pueblo. Isla Colon which we were staying on is very sanitized for tourists, other than seeing men passed out on the tables of the Local's bar it is very gringofied. Bastimientos is not, there are chickens, tons of street dogs, cock fights, tvs blaring, people yelling (i have never heard more f-bombs dropped) and the coldest beers and coca-cola you can find. After crack house sight seeing we sat and drank cold beverages and waited for our boat man.
That night we wandered the streets looking for an appropriate place to eat dinner. Some locals suggested Olga's where they serve typical Panamanian food. Well at least I think it is typical, but it is the only Panamanian food I ate. We all were reminded of Otis' O.K. Corral in Seattle, and the food was really good. While we were eating a huge huge huge thunder storm started up, filling the roads with water. After a sprint home in the rain we spent most of the evening watching the best lightening I´ve ever seen from our back porch. Eva´s got some sweet photos. They will come soon.

tome chi chi!

Well shit, it has been a few days hasn´t it? So now I´ll have to settle for updates rather than some drawn out stories.

Monday morning we rose at the ridiculous hour of 4:45 to make the 6 am bus to Sixaola to get to Panama. Met Kerri there, enjoyed a delicious pastry filled with what must have been filidelfia (cream cheese) and a milkbox (like a juice box, but with cow juice). Long bus ride followed. Walked across the railroad bridge that connects Costa Rica to Panama, then had my first encounter with a Panamanian Chinese restraunt. Almost vomited in their bathroom because of the smell, then jumped in the taxi van where my ears were assaulted by panamanian radio commercials. Ate Rambutan and ferry station and watched bad t.v. while waiting for said boat. Then it was off to Bocas Del Toro. Upon arrival we ate at Lemongrass, thai food for people who are scared of thai food, and drank Panamanian beer. Played in the gringo hostel lottery, walked all over town, finally settling on the funky funky las brisas, and its floating back porch.

Martini monday at Mondo Taitu, met some canadians, drank vodka and cranberry with my toes in the carribean. Soberly wandered the streets with Mandy and Eva. Bed.

Woke up. Breakfast at the Golden Grill, where one can get coffe and a doughnut for 85 cents. Bought things for lunch, met our personal boat ride tout at the super and walked to the boat. Met Patriçia from Quebec, hopped on boat, drove boat to pick up Paul the asshole canadian, drove boat to pick up Kevin a teacher in Peru from Mass, drove boat to get gas, drove boat to drop off gas, drove boat to dolphins. Sat and watched dolphins in water, then watched people try to take picture of said dolphins. Realized that french seatmate has a Nikon D70 that he only uses on automatic setting. Drove boat to Zapatilla abandoned island where Survivor Panama happened. Walked down the beach to find our own spot, got followed by most of our boat mates. Sunscreened, tanned, swam, napped, swam, took ridiculous pictures in the water, walked back to boat. Talked to cruise ship guests who weren´t sure what city they had flown into or what country they were in (apparently if you are rich you don´t need to think) and remembered that I am way happier paying $6 a night even though I am convinced I am going to be killed by our ceiling fan. Went to overplaced lunch place, ate our budget supermarket lunch rather than paying to be fed. Fed the fish, made fun of Paul the canadian. Got back in boat. Snorkled. Swallowed half the carribean clearing my snorkle, diving down to see a huge urchin and to play with christmas tree anemones. Boat ride back home to our hotel´s private dock.

No time to edit don´t judge me on spelling, these central am keyboards are a bitch. Lunch time, I´ll edit and add later. Besos.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Eva was published today in La Nacion's sunday magazine Proa. If the link doesn't work still go check it out and see her photos. I tried reading the article, but it is in spanish, and therefor challenging to read, but worth it.
Oh and the ticos are voting on the CAFTA referendum today so be sure to check out the results, the nyt should have something about it all.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

urban hiking costa steeze

So some of you may have been around for stories of my last crap hiking adventure in a foreign country aka, ¨forced march through Vietnamese jungle.¨ Today would be entitled ¨manuel antonio is overrated.¨ I really try not to get down on incredibly disappointing national park experiences but man when you can hike through the jungle in Havianas you are not my friend, hiking. The upside was we got to hang with Emiliano and Carlo again. Carlo, being a friendly Italian and after living in Manuel Antonio for 15 years, knows everybody. ¨Che cosa fai?¨gets yelled at everybody he knows and that is just about everybody who isn´t wearing white tennis shoes or black socks. He was a great tour guide, pointing out a small alligator, capuchin monkeys, and finally two, not one, but two sloths. Mandy was beside herself in giggles. It was in a word, awesome. The hiking out to the vista point, aside from the wildlife was underwhelming, I´ve gone on urban hikes in Seattle that have gotten me more excited.
After kicking it on the park´s playa and watching the local racoons and monkeys run off with people´s belongings we left the park and headed for sandier pastures. Mandy and I spent most of this afternoon sitting under an umbrella being served by our cabana boy. We´re on vacation, or at least Mandy is, and I figured we better start acting like it.
So it ended up being a good day. I am a little disenchanted with this national park thing, but I prefer that to the place being razed for condos, which appears to be the fate of much of this small country´s coast line.

international uno

After a ridiculous 12 hours of bus travel we finally arrived in a very wet Manuel Antonio last night to visit Eva´s Argentine friend, Emiliano. Regardless of the long day traveling, which I mostly slept through, last night ended up being one of the most enjoyable we´ve had here. Upon arrival we were informed, much to Mandy´s excitement, that we could do laundry with a washer and dryer. It was decided that we would make dinner and buy laundry soap, so the group of us set off in the rain to the local super. I dig on foreign markets, there is always a lot of weird shit to stare at. Buying laundry soap was overwhelming for me as there are about a hundred to choose from and all of them have labels written in espanish. I left that important job to Mandy. The rest of us were left to choose what to make for dinner. That morning in La Nacion, Costa´s big newspaper, we had read that they are attempting to raise egg consumption in the country, so in support we decided to make huevos for dinner.
Back at the ranch Emiliano bailed on us for soccer and left us to make dinner, do laundry and shower the mud from the road off. Upon his return things digressed into drinking rum and cokes and upon Carlos´arrival playing the uno.
So apparently Uno is big in Utah, because Grace had all sorts of crazy add-on rules that had to be explained first in english and then translated to spanish. The one that made everyone nuts was doubling down, which resulted in much yelling as the evening progressed. After three games everyone was pooped from laughing so hard and we ended the evening watching movies on Emiliano´s computer of his friends throwing each other in the mud.

Friday, October 5, 2007

chao nicoya penninsula

Miss Eva is famoso, well one of her pictures is: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_pictures/7028216.stm
check it out.
I'm sitting at an outside internet cafe listening to salsa and digesting gallo pinto and natilla. bueno. We just arrived in Puntarenas waiting for our bus to Manuel Antonio to visit a friend of Eva's and check out the national park.
We left Mal Pais this morning after having an international time hanging at Tranquilo Backpackers. That place was full of characters including but not limited to: a tico version of cheech and chong, german boys who enjoy building sand castles, aregentines with whom to drink hot mate on the beach, gary and randy a british and an american duo who were either surfing, drinking or watching surfing movies, and finally two frogs who smoked as much as they surfed. The four gringas brought some feminine flavor to the party, but as Eva pointed out we probably would have triumphed in an arm wrestling competition.
It's always a little sad to leave a fun collection of travelers, but we've to places to see.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

wild life

We spent the last three-ish days in Montezuma, which is a small coastal town on the pacific coast. On our first full day there we took a boat ride out to isla tortuga. We got to snorkle around a little islet right off the coast, but it is the rainy season so the visibility was bad and there was only so much to see. Luckily the beach on the island was nice and we scored a sunny day. Rather than ride the boat back from the snorkle site to the beach Mandy, Grace, and I decided to swim back. It was FAR. I was glad we had fins. This is a moment where a picture to show you how far we swam would be appropos but the internet here isn't up to adventures like that.
The whole chilling on sparsley populated island on white sand under palm trees was thrilling but things started to get really good on the boat ride back. First we saw some sea turtles mating in the open ocean. They were incredible looking and some of my favorite animals so I was more than stoked. And then not five minutes later our boat captain pointed out the spray coming from some humpback whales. We spent the next half an hour watching them surface and even saw one of their flukes. I tried to share all my "wonderful whales" knowledge that I learned this summer with the kids at the Marine Mammal Center with my boatmates. I'm sure they were impressed, just deep down inside.
We landed and went in search of Eva who was due in Montezuma on the 4:30 bus, but she was no where to be found. Showers and low blood sugar at the internet cafe followed and just as we were heading to dinner Eva showed up on the 6:30 bus. She knew of a good pizza joint where we got down with some bomb pizza cooked up by a colombian family. Then it was internet and off to bed for an early evening.
Today has been waterfalls, walk to the beach, taxi to Mal Pais, email, and long hours on the beach under beautiful clouds. Good stuff. Might try to learn to surf tomorrow and goal is no BLOG. I'm addicted.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Montezuma´s Revenge

I love that the morning that I wake up to go to a place called Motezuma my stomach starts acting up. Nothing a coke couldn't solve, but made me laugh all the same.

So Mandy and I bailed on the city and headed out to the Pacific coast. We had a little bit of a timing issue with buses, but people are pretty helpful here and we managed ok. Two knee bruising hours later we arrived in Puntarenas to catch a ferry to the Nicoya Penninsula. Mandy and I started walking the 2km to the ferry but some how got strong armed in to a taxi by a tico taxi driver, which was good as we only just made the ferry. Eva had described the ferry as ¨bainbridge-like.¨ I am guessing she must have rode it on a glass flat day because what we experienced was far from the mellow ride from seattle to that fair island. We were rocking over 7 foot swells, sitting on the rooftop watching tico couples make out and dance to salsa. Not your typical Bainbridge commuter ferry experience.
Along the way we picked up a like-minded soul, Grace, who hails from the glorious state of Utah. She joined us on the bus ride to Motezuma and for a late lunch when we finally arrived. After a couple of low blood sugar induced bad decisions I am now a firm believer that one should never make important decisions on an empty stomach, and as all I had eaten that day was some fluffy bread and a coke, food was on my mind before shelter. Post-casados I was harangued into checking out a room by a very persistent tica, which being beach front and $30/night wasn't Kecil steeze but was pretty sweet. My one complaint is the swamp bathroom, something I thought I had left in Asia.
After settling in we headed down the beach to check out the scene. There are huge rocky outcroppings interspersed along the beach. We hiked out onto one larger one and started checking out the tidepools as a larger set of waves started coming in. As one large one headed towards the shore Grace warned me, but I was being stubborn and figured it wouldn't come in that far. As this is a story about me I am sure you can imagine what might have happened. Much to Mandy's delight I was covered from head to toe with a wall of sea spray. She has a photo to prove it, not a flattering one but documentation all the same. After that we wandered back into town to check out all the thai goods the locals sell at US prices and then went out to dinner.
And that my friends was my yesterday.

no tlc!

Eva has been working on a huge campaign against CAFTA in Costa. And on last Sunday there was a huge march against it, but in CR, CAFTA is TLC, hence the post name. I am pretty sure the last political march I participated in was an AIDS parade in SF, I got to man a bubble gun. This was a little different, but no less colorful. Eva asked me to describe the experience in three words, they follow: energetic, inspiring....... and ¨well, really inspiring.¨ Much to Eva and Mandy´s amusement I had said the same word twice and I genuinely meant it both times. One of the main roads in San Jose was full of people. An old man looked at me as we came around this huge bend and saw just how many people were there and in Spanish he said, ¨I have goosebumps.¨I did too.
Eva said, and I agree, if you knew nothing about CAFTA, but you saw that the people against it were the mariachis, women, environmentalists, college kids, and pueblos you would know what side to vote for.
They vote this Sunday, so send some good energy south.