Monday, October 29, 2007

bus break down

So I posted this morning that yesterday was the ultimate gringo day. Today was the opposite (I must have jinxed myself). I took a bus from La Fortuna to San Ramon, which was supposed to be 3 hours and found myself sitting on the side of the road for 2.5 hours waiting for another bus to arrive because ours broke down. Luckily, the scenery wasn't too shabby and there was a restaurant conveniently located 30 meters away that served me rice, beans, and fried eggs, a variation of my breakfast, which was rice, beans, and scrambled eggs. We also bought a pineapple for a dollar and split it among 3 of us.

ultimate gringo day

Yesterday morning began by being strapped into a harness, an orange helmet placed on my head, and being escorted into a van. I spent the following 2 hours flying through the canopy of a rainforest in Costa Rica. Although it was fun, I barely had time to enjoy the scenery below because I was traveling down the zip line so quickly. We had to deal with an obnoxious Danish guy who thought he was hilarious, but was annoying to everyone around him.

Next I took a tourist shuttle to a lake, where we got on a boat, to another shuttle. The boat ride was very enjoyable and offered fantastic views of the active volcano in Costa Rica, the 3rd most active in the world, Arenal.

the only documentation of the gringo day: Volcano Arenal (notice the plume of smoke)

Immediately upon arrival, we went on a tour of the volcano to see the lava at night. (Don´t worry Mom, we were really far away.) We saw chunks of it rolling down the sides of the volcano; it was gorgeous. I could have stayed there for hours, but instead was swept away to enjoy the hot springs near by. This was the most awful thing I´ve done the entire time I´ve been here. It was an extremely developed resort, with swim up bars. This may sound luxurious, but to a backpacker, it was hideous. I never thought I would spend any time at a resort on this trip, but there I was, trying to occupy myself for 2 hours until the bus picked up back up.

I need a break from the "gringo day," so I´m heading to Panama.

Friday, October 26, 2007

seven inch grasshopper

Last night as I sat down to check my email, my travel companion looked up and motioned that I should do the same. Sitting on a shelf above us was a 7 inch grasshopper (or something of that nature). It decided to become active and started flying around, which sent me flying off the stool I was sitting on and out of the shack (yes, I was checking internet in what would generally amount to a shack). Those that know me know this is odd behavior for me, as crawling things usually intrigue me, but I knew I didn't want anything that thing flying in my face! Needless to say, my internet session was over. I have never seen a larger insect in my life. Oh, and Costa Rica is the home of this massive bug.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

the caribbean

I finally found a computer that would allow me to plug my camera into it, so here are some pictures people have been asking for. I wasn´t able to get a camera to take photos underwater, but in addition to seahorses I saw a morray eel, some more stingrays and tons of amazing fish. Plus we got to play some fun games in the water, including frisbee about 50 feet underwater. Woohoo!

looking back on Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras

sunset on the way to my night scuba dive; Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras

Marius, my scuba buddy, and me ready for one of our last dives

Monday, October 15, 2007


I just got back from my first 2 scuba diving experiences and it was fantastic! And as you might be able to guess from the title, we saw seahorses! They were tiny, especially considering one was a baby. We also saw a huge hermit crab co-habitating with some shrimp and a gigantic cucumber. Although I just realized I made a classic scuba diving mistake, as everything is 1/3 bigger underwater, so the cucumber probably wasn't as big as I think. I'll keep posting about the underwater sights as I experience them and will hopefully be able to take some photos at the end of my course. Right now I'm concentrating on breathing underwater (it's harder than you might think!)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

downpour in the caribbean

I finally made it the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras, and after finding a scuba diving instructor with whom I feel safe, it started raining and hasn't stopped since yesterday afternoon. Not surprisingly, this makes it difficult to learn how to scuba dive. Hopefully the weather will clear and I will get to see some fantastic sights of the underwater world.

These islands are a whole different world than anything else. I'm not entirely sure which language I should speak and can't understand everything people are saying to me because it's very Caribbean (think Jamaican, almost). It's easy to see how people come for vacation and stay for 15 years.

I ate barracuda last night (yes, I ate fish). It was pretty good, same consistency as tuna, but different flavor, not too fishy.

Also, I realized that on some computers the photos of the summit don't look very good, they are way too dark (they looked good on the computer I posted them on), so I apologize and will change them out later.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

queen of Central America!

This weekend I summited the highest point in Central America, Tajumulco (hence the reason I am now queen of the region, much like ¨King of the Mountain¨). We hiked up to 4000 meters yesterday right before the rain set in, ate some dinner, and went to bed. I was in my sleeping bag at the ungodly hour of 7:00. On a Saturday night. My day today began at 3:30 with our wake up call for a summit push (4220 meters/12,660 feet - damn metric system) in the dark in order to see the sunrise over Central America and Mexico. Below are some photos from the spectacular sights of the morning events, including some of my travel buddies.

Sunrise beginning

Dave (American) and me trying to keep from freezing to death in my sleeping bag- Mexico is behind us

Matthias (Austrian) and me enjoying the view

Here comes the sun...

Volcanic range

Tikal - Mayan ruins in Guatemala

It took some major dedication to get to these ruins, and luckily they were worth the long bus rides. These are some of the largest concentration of Mayan ruins and they are very different from other Mayan ruins because they are tucked in the jungle with monkeys and toucans roaming around all over the place.

Temple I - one of the larger remains

Spider monkey swinging around the tree overhead

Toucan (it´s in the middle of the frame - yellow bill and red tail- I don´t have a way to edit, so no cropping yet!)

Friday, October 5, 2007

Lago Atitlan

This is a beautiful lake where I spent a couple of days last week. It´s surrounded by volcanoes, as you can see.

Lago Atitlan, Guatemala

me with the volcanoes

Thursday, October 4, 2007

i hate roosters

It all began when I was locked out of a mud hut 6 years ago in Tanzania (yes, you read that correctly, I was locked out of a mud hut). The light of the moon disappeared and I didn´t have any way to tell the time. I thought the roosters crowing indicated that the sun would come up soon and I would be free from my "imprisionment." Instead, they crowed for about 2 hours before the sun came up. Didn´t anyone tell them they are only supposed to crow once like good roosters?

Apparently, this crowing-for-hours deal works the world over, as roosters in Central and South America do the same thing. You would think that rural areas would be quieter and allow for better sleeping than cities, but that is not the case.

I have several pictures to post as soon as I can get a computer that will read my card, so stay tuned.