A Travellerspoint blog

Happy @)) & Pura Vida


@))& -- 2007 ALL CAPS baby! Pura Vida translates to the good life here in Costa Rica. Comepletly skipped the usual madness of Christmas and the Holidays at home. The lack of snow made it easy to forget Christmas was around the corner.

Since I last wrote much has happened. Oh about my last entry and using free internent, don't try it, nothing in life is free, had to pay for my not sneaky enough sneakiness. I loved Nicaragua, so much so that I stayed at Hostal Central (Granada) until the very last night it was opened, partied all night long, was talked out of starting what very possible would have been the best bonfire ever, drank lots of rum, danced under the light of the cresent moon. Good times. I decided to stay up all night and not sleep so I could catch the bus the next day for the frontier (border) into Costa Rica. So no sleep, 5AM bus started out well enough. Once I crossed into Costa Rica walked accross the border just to keep walking forever. I figured out there were no local busses waiting to whisk you to San Jose on the other side. Instead what I did find was this crazy little French Canadian kid named Max. He's 19, never been on a plane and has had a crazy trip driving accross Canada, down through the states,leaving his car in Arizona and then bussing it through Mexico and Central America. I was so tired by this point, his angry sounding English peppered with swearing was very amusing. We tried hitchiking and he almost convinced me to jump on the back of one of the many semi trucks that keep roaring by us. Finally a bus DID stop for us. We had to stand in the ailse (all the seats were taken). I practiced my ailse surfing for miles, pretending the curvy roads were actually a snow covered moutain. Eventually my body shut down, exhausted and finished. I now know that it is indeed possible to sleep standing up.

I was supposed to meet my friends Vin & Denise in San Jose. They were delayed in Houston and would be a day late. I of course, was out of money AGAIN. They were bringing my new debit card from home for me. Max was not only a good travel partner, he also exchanged some money for me so I could get by one more day in San Jose. He left early the next morning talking of Panama and another stamp in his passport.

After creating my own walking tour of San Jose I found Vin & Denise's hotel and waited for their arrival. SO good to see peeps from home! My cheap ass living stlye almost immediately improved 10 fold. They let me stay in their hotel room and charged me the hostel rate $10 (still more than I've been used to paying in other countries) bit HELLA nice! Gotta love good friends:) We made our way to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. City on the Carribbean side of Costa Rica. Great surfing, lots of resturants, shops, a few bars, and a real laid back feel. Again I was given the travelers rate with Vin & Denise. I was PLEASANTLY surprised on morning as we were eating breakfast on our kick ass porch, to see my friend Jeni walking up the path way. Those sneaky bastards. Jeni joined our happy group and then there were 5.

Didn't try surfing. Lots of body surfing though, which means standing in the waves and waiting to be pummeled by the fury of the ocean. CRAZY. I guess Salva Brava is a well known surfing break. Lots of surfers i.e. eye candy for me to enjoy. We were there for 10 days before one very long day travelling from the Caribbean cost to the Pacific side. We left Puerto Viejo at 7:30 I think and FINALLY arrived in Montezuma after 10 pm. Not too bad until you factor in that my girl Denise is 6 months pregnant. She's a trooper.

Montezuma is a small toursit town. I like to refer to it as Cancun meets Girdwood. Lots of people hanging out in the streets, drinking, smoking, listening to the music pumping out of Chico's (local bar) hard to miss the loud music anywhere in town really. Plenty of dredlock travellers selling their hand made jewerly on the street as well. Pretty crazy scene. It was here in Montezuma that someone decided to knock on our hotel room door after 1 in the morning. I was asleep and very confused. Jeni opend the door while I'm still asking "What's going on??" Convinced some drunk is banging on our door, why the hell is Jeni letting in all the crazies? Turns out the crazy man is our friend Brendan from home. "What? Brendan's in Costa Rica?" I kept repeating over and over. Sneaky sneaky little monkeys my friends. Now there were 6. So our group has been growing, chilling on the beach and hanging out on the streets of Montuzuma. Good times.

Vin & Denise are only here for a few more days. Jeni and Brendan are around for another week I think. Even with my friends' very generous hotel pricing for the backpacker in their midst I'm still spending more money than I'd planned on. Will be heading back to Nicaragua in the not too distant future. I'll need to start planning the next move. I've completely stopped doing any planning since meeting up with friends. It's been nice. A vacation from my vacation. The quest must continue. No more private bathrooms, maid service, clean sheets, towels and closets too? Damn I'm getting soft. Until then I'll soak up the good vibes of Costa Rica and enjoy every last minute of Pura Vida -- the good life.

Posted by stargaze 13:50 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged luxury_travel Comments (0)

No feliz hora...

Porque no. Can't get the keyboard to cooperate, must be deep in Central America. Made my way to Granada, Nicaragua today. Had some money wired from my account, so I think I'll be able to make it to Costa Rica. I'me currently searching for feliz hora, but seem to keep missing it. SO instead I've decided to use free interenet until I get kicked off.

Currently staying in cool hostel, Hostel Central. Big cool, cheap with dorm room. I might be the only traveler that actually LIKES dorm rooms...they are cheap. My friend Sarah had a strange experience last night. The guy in the bed next to her grabbed her arm at 4AM and mumbles something about mucho gusto...she flashed her head lamp in his face and asked QUE PASA. He packed up and vacated the hostel by 5AM. Note to self. Always sleep with head lamp or torch under pillow. Oh I almost forgot. They just sold hostel central and are also selling The Bearded Monkey 6 sister brother hostel Monkey Hut. Both super cool. SO if you have lots of money and are interested in buying a hostel in Nicaragua. I will be your business partner and you should contact my IMMEDIATELY. I will take care of ALL the details, just wire me plenty of money and we are partners. DEAL. Internet shake.

I'm hoping to come back and spend some time here in Nicaragua...at least a month. Volunteer or actually find a paying job. We'll see.Getting some strange looks getting off unpaid for internet access ahora. adios amigos.

Posted by stargaze 18:30 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (0)

Loving Leon, Nicaragua

sunny 28 °C

Things have taken a turn towards good times. After a few tricky days travelling through Honduras I´ve arrived in Nicaragua where I was reunited with my friends Sara & Eric that I meet in Guatemala at spanish school. We seem to have fun and find plenty of trouble together.

I´ve done some reflecting on why I had such a difficult time in Honduras. Lessons learned. DO NOT attempt to budget while crossing a border. If I find myself without access to my funds and am low on cash I´ll do the wireing of funds from my bank. In the long run worth the fee. There are several hidden fees (exit fees, entrance fees, taxis, bus fare, ummmm food too). Always have some US currency on you in small bills. At the Nicaragua boarder I was very proud of myself for having $10 to pay for the $7 entrance\exit fee (can´t keep em straight). So because they were unable to make change in US currency I was forced to hand over my precious cash to the local money changer kid that had been following me, even though I told him I didn´t need any money. So they change your money, but of course charge you a large fee for the service (worse exchange rate in the end. Then because I had no idea what things will cost, bus rides, taxis... I was unwilling to part with the little money remaining on silly things like food and water. It is a good idea to buy local bread (cheap) water and my CRUNCHY peanut butter saved the day for me. All in all it´s probably better to be frugal when you get to a town (not on the way there) and can find cheap food stalls and what not.

Even though I had to learn the hard way to keep an extra stash of cash on hand I must admit that EVERYONE I met in Honduras were so kind and helpful. The guy that refused to let me walk all the way to my hotel when I got to Tegucigalpa(which I had no idea where the hell I was going). Wandering around with my huge backpack -- just point me in the right direction, is it far, no I don´t need a taxi, this way??? He actually walked me to the bus stop, put me on the bus paid my fare and told me when to get off and where I needed to go. SO NICE! And yes it was quite a bit further than I expected. Whenever I ask largo? (far) The answer is ALWAYS si, muy largo. I´ve stopped listening, I´m working on the phrase Yo tengo fuerte piernes, Yo puedo caminar. I have strong legs, I can walk. But I get that R U crazy look...

I made my way to Tela to hang on the beach, it rained. I met this guy Benjamin who was selling his cocunut jewlery at the beach. He heard me try to buy some coconut bread from a local lady...I needed it to be cheaper, thought we had a deal then she handed me half of the bread...not what I was going for so I said no gracias, no tengo mucho dinero es un poco carro parami. She was NOT happy. Lo siento...not sure her response, but again I could tell she was not happy. So I walk away and meet Benjamin who saw this all go down. Oh you´ve made an enemy he tells me. So we start talking, he knows three languages lived in the Carribean for a year. Very friendly. I told him that I didn´t really have any money was just planning on hanging out at the beach, reading, laying low. Right on cue it starts POURING rain. For some reason Benjamin kept saying it was his good luck day to meet sm. He basically became my personal tour guide showed me all around town, bought me coffe, food, walked me to the bus station so I could get me ticket for the next day. Then he brings me to the Garifuna village outside of Tela. VERY cool. Everyone was So friendly, cooking for some celebration that night. Very similar to the West Indies. Sat on the beach for a couple hours in these great beach huts --way better beach than I was planning on hanging out at in Tela. Of course it´s beautiful and no one swims...we´re just so used to it that everyone takes it for granted, Benjamin says. Shared a bowl of awesome fish soup and say stayed for some of the celebration that night. Punta dancing, yelling, bonfire cool stuff. Benjamin even gave me some cool coconut jewelry. Again EXTEMLEY generous.

All in all I feel very humbled by my experience in Honduras. Even though I was hungry from time to time, I was NOT starving and all my basic needs were meet. Reading about Nicaragua en route I read that it´s a young population of people and malnutrition is a big problem. Well over half the population is under the age of 30 and it is the poorest country in Central America second to Cuba. I´m really intuiged by this fact. I´ve always been a firm believer that there is so much potention for postive change from young, educated people. Also Nicaragua has a rich history of revolutionary figures that demanded thing to change. Sara & I visited the old jail. The amount of people that were brutally tortured for speaking agianst the local politians was mind boggling.

Posted by stargaze 09:41 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (0)

Hungry in Honduras

semi-overcast 28 °C

I've left Guatemala after one awesome month. Learned a little spanish, but have all my tenses confused and I'm a bit nervous about speaking becuase I'm certain I'll use the wrong tense. Somehow I'm managing to communicate my basic needs, room, food, where's the bus? After Xela I headed north to Tikal -- amazing! Did a sunrise tour, had to get up at 3 AM. Didn't even see the damn sunrise due to fog, but still amazing. Those howler monkeys sure do make a lot of fricken noise! Stayed in a cool hostel (Los Amigos)in Flores where I was reunited with a couple travelling buddies. It was in Flores that I realized my debit card (link to all my funds) was missing. It had taken me a coulpe days, a few long bus rides to get to Flores so I was not sure when or how I managed to loose it. I called the bank, had it cancelled right away. I found it the next day, but it was to late. I went in to super frugal mode. No restuarants, cheap(and a bit dodgy) hotels. They came with stinky bathrooms and cockraoches -- gratis. Really not to bad.

Made my way to Tela, Honduras hung out at the beach where I meet a local guy named Benjamin. My lucky guide. He showed me around bought me coffe (DAMN I miss my coffe!) strongest cup of joe I've had in a while, and some food too. Said he could see the hunger in my eyes? What? I think that's my stomach buddy. We visited a cool Garifuna village by the beach. Very friendly people of Caribbean descent, other than the language barrier I felt right at home (they speak a completely different language that's a mixture of spanish, french and english). They even got me to dance. I thought I had a move or two but I'm still working on the hip action.

I'm currently in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Been here for a couple days. Had to stay an extra day so I could get some money exchanged from the bank. Paid for my hotel room (they let me stay a extra night since I was out of funds) and bought a big bag of bagette bread. Should tide me over until Nicaragua. Will be there for a week or so before heading down to Costa Rica to see friends from AK. So DAMN excited i might pee my pants!

Posted by stargaze 09:15 Archived in Honduras Comments (0)

Moving through Guatemala


Well this blog thing is only gonna get better...I swear. Working on getting my photos and videos of Guatemala on here. Poco, poco, poco y mas. As my last spanish teacher Gato likes to say.

I´ve been here in Xela for 3 weeks taking language classes. It´s amazing how much one can learn in a short span of time. One on one classes with a teacher for 4 and a half hours Monday through Friday. It´s intense. The first week was overwelming. I had a headache every damn day and was physically exhausted. I think getting used to the altitude also contributed to this majorly. (Not sure if the mojitos by the jugs that we discovered and fell in love with at El Cuarlito helped either.) The second and third week were better and I started feeling more comfortabe talking to my host family and others in spanish after 3-4 days. The problem now is I´ve learned all the different tenses and keep getting them confused. I plan on doing lots of reviewing and practicing in the next few weeks. I´m giving myself 2 months to feel semi-competent in spanish...we´ll see. Xela is an amazing place to study. Friendly people, lots to see and do in the surrounding areas. My school is I.C.A (no clue what it stand for) very professional teachers. You get placed with a family, which is a little strange. Everyone I´ve talked to seems to like their family and everyone´s home is of course different. I´ve had the privelege of being in 2 different homes. They both had their positive and negative aspects but overall it´s been good.

Another great thing about the school is that you meet lots of other travellers that really want to learn and practice spanish. The school also has daily activities. My favorites were hiking Volcan Santa Maria. Pretty steep hike 3 1/2 to 4 hours up and 2-3 hours down. We took all day Saturday leaving at 6AM (I got up at 5:55, ran to the school convinced they would leave my butt behind. Thankfully they waited for me and everyone in the back of the truck thought it would be funny to take pictures of me brushing my teeth hanging out the back of the truck -- hey if anyone reading this has a picture of that PLEASE send me a copy, I wasn´t in the mood to be bothered that morning, but now I´d appreciate it) Lots of natural springs and saunas from the many volcanoes. Salsa lessons (that end in lots of drinks at the bar). Visting local towns, seeing how they make the beatiful crafts;textiles, clothing, bags. Amazing. The hand made pieces are gorgeous and lots of people come to the school to sell them. I feel bad because I want to help support these families directly, but many of the rugs and pieces are big and I don´t have much (any) room for extra stuff. My brother gave me a great idea. Buy small pieces from each contry I visit and make a quilt of all of them pieced together when I get home. BRILLANT! I´ve been sharing that one with other travellers.
One of the most fun night was going to a concert. OK we were told Buena Vista Socail Club was playing a show here because apparently a couple of the memebers live here in Guatemala. Actually it was just 2 members from the group, but still an awesome show. I danced my ass off, drank lots of rum and apparently was the life of the evening (couldn´t live that down all week at school). Good times.
Tomorrow I´m off to San Pedro and amking my way to Tikal. I´m VERY excited to check out tikal. Amazing ruins set in the rainforest with all kinds of wild life. Looking forward to bonding with howler monkeys! Freaking howler monkeys. Can´t wait, I wonder who will howler louder, me or them... I hear the spider monkeys are pretty freaking cool too. Diablo si! (My new phrase for hell´s yeah.)

Plans beyond that are very vague. Start heading south through Honduras and Nicaragua planning on being in Costa Rica buy December 15 or so. Pictures to come soon...stay posted.

Posted by stargaze 14:09 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

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