Caught in the Twilight Zone

This post is originally from February 19, 2013


So the last you heard from me I was in Antigua, Guatemala. Saying goodbye to the group was totally sad as I’ve made some really great friends over the past few weeks. There was so much to do in Antigua. I went to the market a few times to appease my shopping addiction but unfortunately I don´t think I did as well as past trips. Stalls are filled with brightly coloured figurines that look like you could buy at the dollar store. Ponchos just aren’t my bag and I don’t think a hammock would withstand our winters…alas my backpack won´t be a full 90 litres this time.
On Sunday Michelle and I flew from Guatemala back to Costa Rica. From San Jose we were propositioned by a taxi driver to take us three hours to Quepos near the ocean. This is where we entered the Twilight Zone. This part of Costa Rica is a Mecca for Croc-wearing, Hawaiian print-sporting, beer bellied, bald American men. I feel like I have been transported to a different planet. Getting checked out by old men is just plain gross…although I do fancy a nice set of bright Crocs. Today I took an incognito photo of about 8 men lounging in our pool drinking beer. OH GOD!
The day we arrived we found a spot that must have been frequented by the locals. It was slightly treacherous to get to, but once in the water it was so beautiful. Yesterday we took the local bus about 7km to Manuel Antonio where we befriended a local drunk man named William who had a cart full of coconuts. He would yell out WATER COCONUT FRESH and I think was trying to sell coconut water. He spoke no English.  It was funny because  while we went for lunch and sat at an outdoor cafe we noticed he got comfortable and sat on my sarong so that he could  ‘look after our spot’. After lunch we found him lounging in our chairs. Bless him. We bought him a pack of cookies and he was happy to finish my diet coke. He smelled like booze galore as he told us he would make himself a ‘coco-loco’ -which he would generously pour rum into the coconut. Little William was convinced that my name was Catherine and his toothless smile was one only a mother could love.
Today we trekked through Manuel Antonio National Park. Most people in there had guides but Michelle and I were on a mission to bypass all the wildlife observers and get our asses to the beach. We were told that there is the most beautiful beach inside the national park. Groups of Americans would be huddled together looking high into the treetops trying to spot sloths, and monkeys. We just kept on full throttle to our oasis until deep in the jungle we found it. The water was clear and warm and the beach was so beautiful. On our way we did see some monkeys –  group of Capuchin – you know the kind Ross had on Friends named Marcel. On the beach I couldn’t help but laugh when a raccoon like thing crawled next to a sleeping beer bellied man. The wife was clapping her hands trying to get it to leave while the poor man had a startled wakening. Swimming in the ocean is my absolute fave. Nothing can compare and I wish I could bottle that feeling forever.
Tomorrow we will spend our last afternoon at the beach, possibly with drunk William, and then we are taking the bus back to San Jose. It will be an early rise to get our flight back to reality the next morning.
I just want to thank you for joining me in my adventure. It has been a great month and one that I will never forget. Travel not only teaches me so much about others, but also about myself.
Until next time…Adios!426402_10152649333265434_319520550_n

3 Countries in One Day!

This post is originally from February 15, 2013

So onward bound we go…540941_10152639742325434_218073826_n

I forgot to mention that while in El Salvador before we went on the death hike we first visited a coffee plantation. It wasn’t a guided tour, but we got to go visit the locals who were picking the beans and see how they worked. We got to see what it takes to make the coffee and export it. Every bean is literally plucked off the tree and most trees are on edge of the steep cliffs. The pickers precariously climb the mountains to pick the beans which takes so very long. Once their bag is full they go to the big scale at the top of the hill. For every 25lbs,  the picker gets a mere $1! It is back breaking work and it is so sad to see how much the price of coffee is jacked up overseas!
Anyway, the other day we left El Salvador bright and early and had to cross the Guatemalan border, only to drive for another 2 hours to cross the border into Honduras. Each border crossing takes time and has its hitches and bribes. This crossing wasn’t too brutal at all. When we arrived into Honduras we reached the town of Copan. Copan is famous for its Mayan Ruins. These ruins are the most ornate out of any of the ones in Central America and are really quite incredible. Unfortunately when I listen to a guide give detail after detail my A.D.D kicks in and I tend to drift off into my own world. 63963_10152645719065434_341604606_n
We spent quite a bit of time in this country…literally less that 24 hours. Copan felt safe and cute, but apparently Honduras is the most unsafe country in Central America. Perhaps eating at a restaurant with signs that prohibit guns and knives makes you realize that yes…perhaps there is a bit of violence in this country. When trucks pass back through the border the guards make the drivers remove the massive tires so they can check for any drug trafficking.
Yesterday we came back into Guatemala, drove through the slums of Guatemala City and finally came to the picture perfect town of Antigua. Antigua is a really cute town with cobblestone streets and so much character. Just walking around listening to locals play the flute, makes me really feel like I am in Central America. Last night was time to rock out to salsa. Not the kind you eat…we took dancing lessons. It was a lot of fun. Our instructor was this little Hispanic man with crazy slicked hair and stood probably 5 foot nothing! Having him spin me was a bit of an effort as I had to bend my knees and basically duck under his armpit. Good thing I am flexible!
After our dance extraordinaire it was a final night with our group. It is always sad as we really develop a bond over the weeks. Our ride in the minivan yesterday was like a group of children fighting. We are all at a point where it feels like family and instead of being polite, it is bickering and laughter. Thankfully we are easing ourselves out of our group. The Aussie couple, a Swiss girl and Michelle and I are staying an extra two nights in Antigua so we got a hostel room together here in town.
Anyway, until next time…

Off to Central America

This post is originally from January 28, 2013

Hey Everyone,
Well, it is that time again. Time when the excitement of Christmas and holidays have worn off. When icy roads and bundling up becomes old news. And when all my scrimping and saving has come together and I am lucky enough to head somewhere warm and full of new adventures. Yes my friends, I am traveling down to Central America tomorrow. I am going with a friend of mine, Michelle – and we will start off in Costa Rica where we will meet up with another G Adventure tour. From there we will travel through Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and finally Guatemala. The last week will be solo…or should I say duo – and the two of us will have to make our way back to Costa Rica; but in the mean time we will go where ever the wind may take us.
I am pretty sure there are no camels there, so you don’t have to worry about me falling off again. And after my near sexual assault disaster in India I have learned to never go into a dressing room alone with a man. So hopefully my stories can take you on a ride with me sans near death or dismemberment. 🙂
Tally ho, or should I say Adios!
The G Adventures Tour I will take – Backroads of Central America