Archives for posts with tag: Central America

I never actually wrote this note back then, the note that completes this journey but there’s a couple good stories in here so I’ll share it now.

I left off sitting in Honduras trying to figure out what to do for my last 2 weeks of travel, thinking I’d head to Roatan that next day. Well I got in the bus in the morning and met a guy who told me that Roatan was a mess and that he was headed to San Pedro Sula(SPS) airport to get a plane out of the country. I figured I’d go along with him so I did. On the way into SPS our bus got stopped at a roadblock, there was no way it was getting past it but we were told that if we were willing to walk there would “probably” be buses on the other side of the roadblock that would be willing to take us the rest of the way. How far I asked? Maybe a couple kilometers I was told. We decided to go for it. This very kind gentleman who I had met offered to carry my large pack (in addition to his own) if I would carry both our smaller packs, good deal, I’ll do it! So off we walked, with others from our bus as well. It was high noon and boiling hot so I was soon using my umbrella as a sunshade as we went along. At one point a group of local people passed us, carrying various farming implements, machetes, hoes and such like. I don’t think they were planning on doing any farming with them though but they were smiley with us so there was no cause for concern. We made it eventually, probably after about 4 or 5 kilometers, to a bunch of minibuses one of which I was silly enough to sit in the very back far corner of, I then proceeded to get more and more squished in a we picked up more and more people, I was soon literally hanging my head out the window gasping for air and desperately trying to catch a breeze, we ended up with about 30 people in a bus made for 12, good times.

Finally arriving in SPS we caught a cab out to the airport, fairly far out of town. The guy who had helped me with my bag had his ticket already so he was set but once I got there I was told I couldn’t get anything for 2 more days, so I booked it then and there, heading back to San Jose Costa Rica. In the meantime I had to kill time in SPS, a major Honduran city in the midst of some serious protests about this coup, I didn’t want to go back there so I asked a cab driver to take me to the closest hotel to the airport, I figured it would be expensive but outside of town at least.

He dropped me off at a veritable fortress, a very large complex with walls about 10 feet high with barbed wire running around the top, I’m pretty sure this looks like a good place to wait out the apocalypse, nevermind this coup so I take a room there. It’s got everything, a kitchen, wifi, restaurant, pool. Ok I can do this for a couple days no worries. I phone home and reassure my worried mother that I am in a very safe place and that I have a ticket out, I’m just waiting. Then I get online and figure out what the heck I’m going to do. I’m exhausted from traveling for these last 2 months and I think I might have picked up some little bug when I was on Big Corn Island in Nicaragua as I am sometimes slightly feverish and have the runs about once or twice a day. It’s bearable…just, but I really need a break. I google resorts in Cabo San Lucas Mexico, what the heck, it’s on the way home right, and easy as I’ve been there before. I do a search for adults only as I don’t want to deal with screaming children as I relax poolside and I settle on a place that looks quite lovely and is a good price, I book it and my flight and spend my next 2 days hanging around the pool waiting to fly.

I do eventually make it to the resort without much incident, just a lot of plane changing and waiting around. When I walk into the reception area the first thing I see is a statue of a man and a woman who are, shall we say, intimately entwined. Oh no, with a sinking heart and major sense of dread I start to consider that I may have booked myself into one of “those” places. This is confirmed once I make it down to the pool and am confronted  by many pairs of naked breasts, entirely of the much older saggy variety, shit, I’m in a swingers resort! I tough it out through the week, ignoring the passes made at me and burying my nose in a book at virtually every conceivable moment, I should have known something was up when I read the name of the resort….Temptation, but believe me I wasn’t, at all!

I made it through my week at Temptation and then headed home with misgivings, I was looking forward to starting to teach yoga, in addition to my pilates, it would make a nice change and offer a new challenge, but I knew it might be hard to settle back into a routine after being so free for the last 4 months. I planned to stay with my dad and step-mom once I was home, my stuff was to stay in storage and i would start planning my next trip, longer this time….

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Originally published on facebook – July 1, 2009.

I made it to the cemetery in Granada the next morning, an incredible place, huge, with many beautiful monument/gravestones/sculptures, unfortunately my camera is being persnickity and I only got a couple shots off before it died. I’m not sure why but the thing is eating up batteries like there is no tomorrow, failing me at the worst moments, oh well, at least I have the pictures in my head.

And one here…

After the cemetery I booked it back to the hostel to pack up my stuff and head to the Corn Islands via Managua. Managua, what an ugly city, incredible amounts of poverty and filth. As far as I could tell there were absolutely no redeeming features whatsoever. I took a long cab ride from the bus depot out to the airport, every time we stopped at a light people came up to the window of the cab either trying to beg money or sell something (anything from, water to plastic seat covers to assorted foodstuffs to Nicaraguan flags etc..) Was hard put to say no to everyone, did buy some water though, what the hell am I going to do with a plastic seat cover? Got to the airport in good time and was lucky to be able to buy my ticket for the fight right then and there. During check-in everything gets weighed, not just my big backpack but me with my carry-on as well! We walk across the tarmac to get on the plane, it’s a small plane, a Short SD360 ( here’s a link to see it for those of you who like that kind of thing: http://www.lacostena.com.ni/fleet_short.php ) holds about 33 people, it’s not the smallest plane I have ever been on but it does not make me happy, my heart speeds up as we approach it. Apparently these smaller planes are much safer then jumbo jets but I’m still nervous as hell during take off. Fortunately I am quite tired so I manage to sleep through pretty much the whole flight, seems to be my coping mechanism with uncomfortable travel really.

As we approach Big Corn Island I can see beautiful white sandy beaches and crystal clear Caribbean blue water, I’m smiling already. We land on a runway that cuts right through the center of the island, with only 2 flights leaving and arriving daily at predictable times the runway is often used by people as a soccer field or playground. There are in fact gates in the fence that surrounds the runway so that people can cut across it instead of going around. Once in the airport we have to talk to a nurse who asks us again if we are feeling well, no signs of flu etc… I make it through no problem and hop in a cab (it’s one dollar anywhere on the island) I get the cabbie to take me to where I planned to stay based on my Lonely Planet guidebook, I get there and it’s such a dive, the bathrooms smell like urine and I just can’t bring myself to stay there (I’m not a total priss, I have stayed in some pretty nasty places on this trip but this is just too much) so I start walking, pack on my back, checking other places in “the book” they are all filthy. Finally in desperation and exhaustion I settle on one that I am still not happy about. I go outside and find a cab and ask him to take me to another part of the island and other hotel I had heard about, I go check it out, still horrible and I still haven’t seen that beautiful beach that I saw from the plane. I ask the cabbie, which beach on the island is the nicest, he tells me picnic beach so I ask him to take me there…AH HA! I’ve found the dream I think to myself, only problem is it’s $40 a night and I have to be here for 5 nights, I haven’t brought enough money and they don’t take visa. I have no idea about the banking facilities on this island but I decide this is where I want to be. I get a cab to take me back to the hotel I choose earlier,grab my stuff, make my apologies to the clerk and taxi back to picnic beach. I figure I can stay here one night, visit the bank in the morning and then move to a dive if I can’t get any more money. Luckily the bank comes through and I get to spend 5 glorious nights in supreme comfort. My place is basically right on the beach, beautiful golden-white sand and crystal clear blue ocean.

In the mornings it is sunny but once afternoon rolls around rain , thunder and lightning reign, but I can deal. i spend mornings on the beach and afternoons either exploring the island, reading or internetting, quite nice and leisurely. My last day I rented a golf cart to get me all around the island, haven’t driven in 4 months but hey, it’s a golf cart no problem…and fun! I explore dirt roads that end in the ocean…

I find a cemetery (of course), and take pictures of all sorts of random things…

I unwittingly gave free rides to little kids as well. At first I didn’t even know it was happening, then I heard them giggling away behind me and I turned to see three smiling faces looking back at me, rascals! They had just been jumping on and off whenever they wanted, was quite fun for them, and me. All in all it was a quiet time, not too many other tourists around, perfect. The only drawback was the food, no fresh vegetables at all the whole time I was there, barely any fruit either. I ordered things that I though would have veggies in them only to be denied, vegetable curry was just potatoes, over rice…..carb city. I felt malnourished quickly and wondered how the people who live there deal?

After Corn Island I flew back to Managua, once again, horrible city and I planned to get out asap. Took a cab straight from the airport to the bus station hoping to head to Leon. I get to the bus station and guys are yelling in my window “GRANADA, GRANADA, LEON, LEON” Ok, ok, TRANQUILLO! I yelled back at them, was just a little too much in my face. I get out of the cab and the guy for the Leon bus is there, so I pay him for my ticket but he tricked me and as I went to get on the bus another guy demanded money from me,. I looked to the first guy I had paid and he denied I had paid so then I had to pay or they wouldn’t let me on the bus at all, I’m actually livid at this point, on principle, after all it’s only really a couple bucks to me. But I tell them, yes in SPANISH no less, that I’m pissed off about it and I tell the guy who ripped me off, that he was a bad man , he didn’t deny it.(wish I could have done better but hey, at least it was in Spanish) Soon I am in the bus and we are on our way to Leon.

In Leon I stay in a lovely hostel, dorms again but really nice comfy beds, there is a pool and internet and a big courtyard. Leon is ok, very run down and more begging here then in Granada. I visit churches, even get to go on the roof of the main Cathedral in town, and visit and art gallery with loads of contemporary Central American artists work, very inspiring.

My last night in Leon I’m walking back from dinner only a couple blocks away from the hostel and a guy walks past me and slaps me on the butt. I lose all my Spanish and yell at him, very loudly, hey, fuck you. Not very original I know. Then a couple steps later I remember some Spanish and I know he understands me when I call him a PUTA and a CERDO and a PERVERTO because I see him start walking more quickly. My honour is regained!

Nicaragua hasn’t been the biggest pleasure to be sure, I was robbed from my room in San Juan del Sur, ripped off in Managua, in danger of getting scurvy in the Corn Islands and groped in Leon, time to get to Honduras….

I take the Tica Bus from Leon to San Pedro Sula in Honduras, it’s 13 hour bus ride. The Tica Bus is a luxury bus service, air-conditioning, movies, bathroom, and best of all really comfy seats. I choose it because it’s faster then the chicken buses I have been taking up until now and I’m running out of time and also because damn it, it’s a long, long bus ride. I arrive in San Pedro Sula on June 28th. I know I am spending one night here only before I head to Copan Ruinas and I decide to treat myself to a very nice hotel, king size bed, super clean fresh sheets & towels, hot water, my own balcony overlooking the pool, cable tv and room service….heaven! I luxuriate in my room for the night and yes, indulge in room service.

The next day I make my escape to Copan Ruinas, back on the chicken bus, The seats are all broken so that they are permanently in the reclined position, neat, not really it makes me feel carsick, I try to sleep it away.. It’s a 3 hour ride and I arrive in Copan Ruinas and start looking for a hotel. As I am wandering around checking places I am told that there was a military coup yesterday (Sunday) and the president of Honduras has been whisked away, for his own safety, to Costa Rica. Then I find out that Martial Law is in effect, 9pm curfew must be obeyed. I’m thinking, what the hell have I gotten myself into? I obey curfew, even though I haven’t seen a single soldier in this town at all I am NOT taking any chances. The people here seem to be taking everything in stride, everything seems quite normal with the minor exception that a lot of tv’s are tuned to the news in shops and restaurants. Everybody is smiling like normal and going about their everyday business. I wish I spoke enough Spanish to be able to understand the news and have conversations with the Honduran people about what is really going on! It’s kind of boring though because of the curfew, I’m now having to arrive home at about the time I usually would be heading out for dinner, it doesn’t make for a very exciting nightlife.

Today (Monday) I played tourist and visited a butterfly house, very beautiful, took tons of pictures. As well I went to my very first ruins, Mayan ruins. Interesting to be in a place that is literally thousands of years old, and still standing (at least parts are). I can’t even begin to imagine what the lives of the Mayan people were like, except that there were a few alters that looked suspiciously big enough to fit a supine human on. I don’t know if human sacrifice was part of Mayan culture, I didn’t pay for the guide but you know, it looked likely. I also climbed an awful lot of temple stairs today, all of which appear to have been built for people with legs at least twice as long as mine.

My touristy activities complete I made it back to town and started to contemplate my next move. I had planned to go to the Bay Islands (specifically Roatan) to finish up my travels with some beach time, however I have heard that in addition to this coup there has been major rainfall there, resulting in flooding and possible mudslides, hmmmm. I got online and started to try to figure somewhere else to go, no luck. With the way my flights to get home are arranged I can’t get anywhere else with out going to Panama city first, and I have been there already, plus that wastes about 6 hours of a day, there and back so really doesn’t leave enough time. Therefore I think I am going to check out Roatan after all, heading there tomorrow (Tuesday). If I get there and it’s terrible then probably will come home a few days early. Will keep you posted.

Originally published on facebook – May 25, 2009.

I had my first encounter with a Scorpion today. He was all curled up inside my yoga mat and as I unfurled it he flew across the floor and scuttled under my fridge. He is still there. I am hoping that my landlord comes home soon because I am scared to go into my kitchen, and it’s close to dinner time. I’m pretty sure that this is irrational behavior on my part however I am not taking any chances with a creature like that. This thing is at least 3 or 4 inches long and honestly, I am not sure what would happen if it stung me so I am not taking any chances. Have I mentioned that the nearest medical care is 7kms away by taxi? (Aline, I think that you would happily welcome a nice little gecko into your home (or even your bath towels) after seeing one of these freaking things.) I just talked to my neighbor Kristen, she said they are not poisonous, however it would still hurt like a summbitch if you got stung. She advised waiting for a man to come along and take care of it, I will happily acquiesce. Yes they are as creepy and scary looking as you might think. I was thinking that I was getting pretty lucky in the creepy-crawly department…hadn’t seen any snakes, tarantulas or scorpions before today and now this. Please God, Buddha, Krishna, Gaia, Mom or whomever is listening, I beg of you, no more scary creepy things in my house! After this I would welcome a few land crabs, no problem!

Here’s a photo of what he looked like after he got smushed….

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I am still in Montezuma, It’s been raining every couple of days here, mostly at night. It’s never really just rain, it’s always preceded by a good show of lightening and then it DUMPS. A couple Fridays ago we had a big one roll in, thunder, lightening etc. I watched and heard the storm approach along the coastline then hover directly overhead (I seriously considered the possibility that my house might get hit as my roof is corrugated metal, but then so are most roofs here) and then it moved on down the road. Was pretty darn cool really. I love watching the storms but practically speaking it is a bit of a hassle as the roads become mud rivers and if you walk around in flip-flops you get speckles of mud all up the back of your legs and butt. Also they can come up super quickly and if you get caught out in it you are instantly soaked through, I am starting to recognize the signs of impending downpour now (it gets windy and the clouds roll in dark) but still I bought an umbrella and carry it at all times. I don’t care so much about me getting wet as it’s still nice and warm but I am often carrying my school books (or library books) and if those get wet, well that would suck. A rain jacket is inappropriate as it’s so humid you stick to the inside of it, not so comfy.

During a storm last week I lost power in my place for almost an hour. I was trying to study so I lit candles and experienced the most amazing array of bugs flocking to the light that I have ever seen, all of them appeared quite suddenly and commenced to attempt mass suicide by tealight, many succeeded and their remains now decorate the re-solidified wax. As well lightning bugs (about 1-1/2 inches long) seemed intent upon landing in my hair every few minutes, So I watched them flit around the room, lighting up every few seconds as they fly, trying to duck when they came near. Lightning bugs are new to me, I’ve never seen them before as we don’t have them at home (I don’t think). Their glow is like an old fluorescent green light bulb, they are really kinda neat but it’s hard to study through that, to say nothing of the crazy looking beetles that kept showing up on my bed as well.

I am getting itchy to start moving again yet I still have 2 weeks left go here before the training is finished. I am enjoying it but at the same time quite miss being footloose and fancy-free, going wherever my impulses took me. I am looking forward to getting back out in the world again. Montezuma is a lovely place (probably the most beautiful and unique place in Costa Rica that I have been to anyways) but I have been here for a total of 5 weeks already with 2 more to go and I am ready to move on and get back to a traveler’s existence. Plus I could use a night or two to let my hair down and have some bevs, just not able to do that while in the yoga program as the amount of studying required does not allow for a day spent hungover. As well, much as I like the ladies I am taking the program with I think a little more masculine company would be quite pleasant around now. I think after I am done here I will be heading up to Nicaragua, though I have been kicking myself for not visiting the San Blas area of Panama when I was down there. I have been told by many people who have traveled all through South and Central America that it is THE place for beautiful beaches (you might think I would be bored of beautiful beaches by now, but no, no I’m not!) so I may look into the possibility of a cheap and quick flight down that way before heading north to Nic.

A few words on local forms of transportation: Atv’s or Quads as some like to call them – these vehicles are a major form of transportation here, you often see whole families riding on them, mom, dad, a few kids, the family dog, and no helmets, everybody hanging off the bike, holding on to I don’t know what. In the dry season especially it gets really dusty on these unpaved roads and people wear handkerchiefs around their heads and faces so it looks as if the whole town is out to rob a bank. Sometimes you see people wearing surgical masks, and even ski goggles. The other day I saw a mom and dad sharing a dirt bike and their kid following on his own mini quad, he couldn’t have been more then 6 years old. At least he had a helmet! Pick-up trucks drive around with little kids in the back, little kids maybe 3 years old bouncing around with shovels and hoes, maybe some groceries as well and a spare tire. Guys drive around on dirt bikes, either sitting on their surfboards (both sides sticking out into the road) or holding them in one arm while they steer with the other. I have even seen women on the backs of motorcycles holding newborns. It’s crazy but it’s normal here.

It’s funny how obsessed we are at home with making sure that everybody is safe and can’t get hurt. We enforce all these laws and standards and consider anyone who would do these kind of things at home as being negligent or dangerous or bad parents or perhaps even self destructive and suicidal. Yet I come to a place like this and realize that most of the world is not as worried or judgmental or as cautious as us and it’s refreshing or at least eye opening to see people live in a way that is somehow freer then we do at home. It makes me wonder if we relaxed the driving laws (and maybe other laws as well) we have at home whether we would see a difference in the way people drive (or conduct themselves)? Perhaps I speed only because I know I am not supposed to, if I was allowed to drive at any speed would I enjoy going so fast? Sometimes we break rules because it’s fun, if there weren’t any rules then maybe we would be more careful of our own volition. Here it’s never a local who speeds dangerously by you on one of these dusty dirt roads, it’s always a tourist (you can tell by the rental cars because most of them are exactly the same brand, getting kicks because there aren’t any cops handing out speeding tickets) a local wouldn’t speed because they know how obnoxious it is to be walking down the road when someone roars by and you end up choking on a mouthful of dust. Of course I don’t have any statistics on motor vehicular related deaths here compared to Canada, so maybe I am way off base. I’ll climb down off my soapbox now, but before I do….

Here are some other examples of how different things are here in terms of health and safety: raw eggs are not refrigerated in the supermarket (I know, crazy right, just asking for salmonella or whatever to happen…it doesn’t). Dogs and cats are allowed in restaurants or supermarkets (that’s stray dogs, yup, with fleas and all. The cats often just live there). You can buy booze at the corner store and hang out in the street or the beach or anywhere and drink it (much more pleasant then the actual bar here btw). I believe I have already mentioned (in a previous note) the response to fires on the sides of roads (none). Bonfires are allowed on the beach, anytime of year. The dogs that aren’t strays don’t have licenses and in fact most people just let them run around free, they come into town on their own, they go to the beach, they go get a snack at a restaurant (is this what they mean by a dog’s life? If so I want to be a dog next time). One lady in my class gets a ride home from the school with another classmate and her dog follows the car all the way home, running happily behind. If you go out for dinner and haven’t finished your bevies by the time you want to leave the restaurant they will happily provide you with a to go cup (I love this).

Anyways enough on this one, my thought are rambling (I’m not even sure I made that much sense) and I should be studying so I’ll put this one to bed for now.

Love to all…pura vida!
xoxo

PS – I have been wondering what the land crabs eat and I just found out. One of these crafty little guys just caught a big wasp right underneath my chair….I wonder if they like scorpions?

Originally posted on facebook – May 14, 2009.·

More random thoughts…..

The sound a gecko makes is like a bird chirping. I love them, they eat mosquitoes.

Land crabs are everywhere in beach communities. They live in holes in the ground and you can see them scuttle down them sideways as you come along. They are colourful creatures, reds and purples and oranges and pinks. On average they are the size of your hand, sometimes smaller. You typically see more crabs out at night and you see the remains of an awful lots of them smushed on the road by cars and atv’s.They have the one bigger claw, that looks quite threatening really as they like to wave it around, and they move exceedingly quickly. They are exceedingly shy, and fast, however perhaps one will pose for me someday (I got one, see below). In Domincal we stayed in a place that was on ground level just a few yards away from the beach. I came into the bathroom one night and found 2 hiding behind the door, I jumped up on the toilet seat and squealed (a very girly action, I shamefully admit), fortunately my knight in shining armour Jon was there and herded one out the door of the room with a magazine, unfortunately the other one took this opportunity to disappear down the shower drain (which did not have a screen, just a hole in the floor). Needless to say I kept my eyes firmly fixed on that shower drain during each subsequent shower! My home in Montezuma has the same thing, the first night I was there I put a bowl over the drain! Every time I showered I would pull it away and keep my eyes open. Now I have a screen held down by 2 very big rocks, this keeps them out of my house! Last night I went into the bathroom and I saw one hanging out just below the screen, he was trying but there was no way those rocks are going to move! It rained yesterday and today they were EVERYWHERE, seriously I walk down the road and can hear them scurrying around in the brush at the side of the road, I see them on the road ahead of me racing in both directions for cover as I approach, kinda funny actually. I’m much more used to them now and realize that they are harmless and really pretty stupid, literally dozens of their smushed bodies are on the roads, fresh ones every day, every hour….

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When it rains it’s like taking a strong shower, in fact the water pressure is often better then what you get in the hotels/hostels. Warmer too.

Falling asleep to the sound of waves is incredibly relaxing, however I have noticed that I have to get up more often in the night to pee, I wonder if these things are related?

Gatorade (or Powerade) is a godsend on long bus rides, keeps you hydrated and you don’t have to pee as often as you would if you were drinking loads of water.

When they do make a rest stop on a long bus ride they never tell you how long you have there, could be 5 minutes, could be 30. Once I was almost left behind, I came out of the bathroom and the bus was pulling away, I’m not sure I have ever sprinted so fast, the driver was laughing his ass off at me when I got back on, I’m sure the expression on my face was priceless.

If you are on a bus making multiple stops they don’t announce where you are, yup that’s right. Everybody else just somehow knows, but I get to look like the stupid tourist who only speaks a little Spanish and ask questioningly of the driver, “es (insert name of destination)???” If he answers “Si” then I have to scramble all my stuff together and high tail it out the door, and make him get up and get my bag from down below. If he answers “No” then I have to struggle to maintain my balance as I try to make it back to my seat as the bus is careening wildly (and speedily) down the road.

No matter how much sleep I may have had the night before, every time I get on a bus, I am asleep within an hour. I’m sure you can imagine how disorienting it is when you’ve just awoken from a nap to find yourself pulling out of a station or away from a bus stop. Was I supposed to get off there? Did I miss my stop? Where the hell am I? Does anybody habla ingles? Por favor? I then spend the next however long staring out the window trying to spot a road sign which might give me an indication of where I am and trying to compare that to my pitiful Lonely Planet map trying to figure out how much further I have to go, finally figuring it out, I’m ok! Then often fading off to sleep again, only to wake up disoriented…..

Maybe if I didn’t get so sleepy on buses I wouldn’t have these problems…..mind you so far so good, haven’t missed any stops yet.

Why do all the hostels think that “free” or “included” pancake breakfasts are a good idea? I swear I am so sick of pancakes and fake maple syrup…….Granola anyone? Maybe cereal of some kind? Seriously…..please?

Pizza is everywhere here, usually thin crust and most of the time quite good. There is no such thing as rice pasta or corn pasta down here, I am screwed, and coming home bloated and fat.

Oh, and beans don’t really agree with me either, how ironic is that? Casado anyone? Uh no, thanks, I’ll pass and you and everyone around me will be quite happy I did.

Casado – For those of you that don’t know a Casado is a set meal of rice, beans, some sort of meat of your choosing (chicken, beef or pork) and what can only be described in loose terms as a salad (usually some shredded cabbage, maybe some shredded carrot too). This is often the cheapest and largest meal you can find anywhere, at any soda or high end restaurant. And no, no thanks, like I said, the beans…..

I’m not sure I can ever eat Arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) ever again.

I have noticed that all hermits crabs like to travel North as sunset approaches, don’t ask me why…. but they all head the same way every day. Maybe at sunrise they all travel South? Will have to get up at dawn sometime to check this theory. Hmmm, not likely.

Howler monkeys sound like what I imagine Satan laughing would sound like.

In the rainy season the river and waterfalls in Montezuma look like the one in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a far cry from dry season when it was like swimming in liquid emerald. If you are up high you can see the mud spreading out into the ocean at the mouth of the river. Yes, it is still swimmable, though nowhere near as pretty.

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I pick mangoes up off the ground where they have fallen and eat them, (as long as the monkeys haven’t bitten into them first). Imagine….. FREE mangoes!

My backpack now weighs in at 30lbs! I’m honestly not sure how I manage to fit it all in there! It’s like a tetris puzzle every time I have to pack up.

5 pairs of underwear are not enough for 4 months. Not when you get laundry done 1-2 times per week. One word….disintegrating.

Why not buy more underwear you ask? Because I prefer thongs and they seem to be impossible to find, seriously are all these beautiful Costa Rican women wearing granny panties?

I have yet to do my own laundry, even though I brought these cute little individual packages of Woolite from home with great intentions. When it costs $2.00 Cdn. to get 1 kilo of laundry done, you just don’t do it yourself. Period. Also most hostels don’t want you to do it in their sinks and typically reinforce this by not providing sink plugs.

Every animal I meet has fleas, LOTS of them (advantage anyone? flea collars?). Sometimes after hanging around with them I do too.

Some hammocks have fleas, you get used to it. Everything else about hammocks…rocks! Though I do get seasick sometimes.

Originally published on facebook – May 6, 2009.

A few random things…..

I will be on a bus from somewhere to somewhere else and then all of a sudden notice there is a fire slowly spreading along the sides of the road, burning grass and bushes and fence-posts, leaving a trail of blackened landscape behind. Nobody seems to take much notice of this, nobody is worried, nobody is fighting the fire…..it seems as though this is not out of the ordinary….surprising in a country that has a dry season that is over 6 months long.

Women carry their babies and smaller children here, ALL THE TIME. Rarely have I seen a stroller being used. I’ve seen kids as big as 3 or 4 years old passed out asleep in their mothers (or grandmothers) arms, while the woman stands there waiting for a bus or even buying groceries. These women hold onto their kids for hours at a time! Their arms and backs must be incredibly strong, wouldn’t want to arm wrestle any of these ladies!

When having a meal, most everything comes promptly, except the bill! They never bring it without asking. In fact sometimes it seems like the service staff disappear once I start thinking hhmmmm, maybe I’ll get the check now, poof, they are nowhere to be found!

The bus will stop anywhere, either to pick you up or drop you off, now that’s service! Today I didn’t see the bus coming until the last second and waved just as it went past me, I figured that was it I was stuck waiting another half an hour, but no, it came to a stop about 15 meters down the road and waited for me to get there, (I ran but probably didn’t really have to) the driver even had a big smile for me as I got on.

New, English language books are stupid expensive here, approximately double the jacket list price…this hurts someone like me who reads super fast….usually can trade books at hostels or buy them used for a more reasonable price but I am in a small town right now without any of those options, so…..ouch!

I don’t know how this can be but you can walk from one beach to the next and they will only be separated by a very small little point of land or bluff or whatever you want to call it, and the colour of the sand will change completely. One beach has dark grey almost black gritty sand and the next will be fine and white with all sorts of pretty seashells. I don’t understand how or why this happens, can anyone explain it to me?

Last thought…..mosquitoes suck! Why do they like my elbows so much?

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Originally posted on facebook –  March 15, 2009. ·

That dress I bought didn’t work out so well, too big and it was strapless so kept slipping down, not dangerously so but enough to be annoying. also I didn’t notice when i bought it but it was polyester on the inside, yuck! I will try to find someone who wants it, maybe a trade so I don’t have to cart it around with me. I should have known better then to buy it without trying it on, live and learn….

I certainly wouldn’t call myself a seasoned traveler yet but I am learning to sit back and let things happen more easily, not forcing. also to take the time to observe a situation before I jump (eg: finding a cab at the airport when surrounded by pushy drivers all trying to get me to take a ride with them) trying to stay calm allows me to be able to think in Spanish (what little I remember from my one year of it in high school) a little better and I am trying to be more patient and remember to be accepting of “Costa Rica time” I do well unless I’m really hungry, then I want my food NOW!!!! 🙂

I must share my idea for a palm salad recipe, it is so good and so easy, just lettuce, avocado, tomato and heart of palm which you buy ready made in a jar, the key will be to making a good salad dressing, I think a pesto based one would be amazing, but salad dressing are not my strong suit, still I will try once I am home.

Today I went with an American nurse from San Diego named Mandi to a wildlife reserve in Cutu, (about an hour and 25mins by bus) we saw white faced and howler monkeys free in the wild and I got some good pics (quite proud of this one actually). Howler monkeys make a sound like a dog barking and a loud growl, pretty cool, there are a lot of them (and the white faced) here in Montezuma as well but they are harder to see (at least so far).

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We also saw some spider monkeys that are being rehabbed to be released back to the wild, they were in a pen but it was pretty nice and large as far as pens go. One of them (a female) came right up to us at the face and put her hand through the fencing, she wanted us to hold her hand and we did, it was so incredible, I almost broke down in tears. she and I looked into each others eyes for a time and she was so wise looking, her eyes were a beautiful deep shade of brown and you could see her intelligence, it broke my heart. I thought she seemed sad, but I don’t know if she was really, how can you know what is going on in a monkeys head? Her hands were so soft (much more then I imagined they would be) with longish black fingernails and on the underside of her tail there was the same sort of skin as her hands. She turned her back against the wire and let us rub and scratch her. Her fur was coarser and thicker then I thought it would be. It was an amazing moment I know I will never ever forget. And yes I have a picture of this as well.

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Some people that I had met left today, some new ones arrived. I’m beginning to see that saying goodbye will be something I have to get used to. When Mandi and I got back to town from Cutu I ran into the 2 girls from Sweden that I had met at the airport when I arrived. In the moment I was desperate for a pee and a shower so I said a quick hello, We know where each other are staying so I will try to find them again tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, I finally start school, my first Spanish class (beginners level 1) is at 12-2pm and the Spanish lab (all levels, where we practice speaking what we have learned) is from 4-6. from 6:30-8pm I have yoga, so the 4 extra days I gave myself before starting everything, “my vacation” is kinda over, lol.

I found a woman who does shiatsu down here. I got my first one yesterday and she is amazing, she doesn’t really speak much English at all but she is very intuitive and did an amazing job, I would put her up there with Kat! (sorry Kat!, forgive me?) later int he day a few of us went up to the closest waterfall for a refreshing dip. so nice!

I feel like I am settling in here, for the first few days I felt antsy and like I wanted to move on, now I feel quite content and excited about the learning I get to do over the next couple of weeks.