A Travellerspoint blog

Costa lota Rica

The hunt for love

sunny 25 °C

We only just made it over the border into Costa Rica due to a bad bout of food poisoning and us being rejected a visa because we had no proof we would leave- something we'd been warned about but presumed a flight home to Australia would count for something- WRONG!
Anyway the country is pretty, clean and a far cry from the places we've visited so far, except maybe Mexico. Liberia was a non event and we stayed in Casa de Papel (House of Paper) with an awesome pool, as a place for well needed R&R and befriended Ilene a retired American woman travelling solo for a year! Hats off!
The Dust.... The way into Monteverde saw our faces covered in it- the roads are unpaved and windy and take AGES. It's so dusty the leaves are even coated in it. 2 nights overlooking the cloud forest and traipsing our way around the national parks on the hunt for wildlife, crook necks now from looking up all day. I expected monkeys swinging from branch to branch dodging sloths and squirrels... No! All we saw was a skunk (highlight) he smacked his hands on the ground at us a few times to scare us away but he was half the size of a house cat. I'm glad he opted for the hand slap rather than the butt spray treatment. Later that night we went with a guide to help us fish out the animals we so desperately could no find on our own. We saw a Kinkachu (raccoon like monkey), taranchala, crab spider, stick spider and insect, head torch click beatle (named after his tricks of course), micro frogs (that hatch from an egg- no pole!), sleeping birds namely a Toucan (yes they sleep too- rolled up in a ball!) and heard a large wild cat growl/purr- not sure!

To get the blood pumping we went on the Extremo Canopy Tour which is a set of 16 wires connecting the mountain tops. They just hook you up and push you off and away you go. It's all fun and games until you hit the Tarzan swing and Superman km long cable across a canyon at the end! Ahhhhhhhhhh I am sure you heard it!

Luck would have it we had a sloth which made its home in the tree just outside our hostel! Slooooothy slooooothy sloooothy sloooooothy slooothy..... no it never woke up, but we tried!

Posted by CSQUARED 05:01 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

Viva Nica

Nicaraguan Beauty

sunny 32 °C

Our first acquaintance in Managua was a 2 inch scorpion... Managua is scary enough without one of these in your dorm. We spend 20 minutes trying to remove him from one of the guys packs unharmed, until a worker walked past and squashed him in 2 seconds flat with a broom stick- the excitement was short lived!

San Jaun del Sur is Nicaragua's sunshine surf coast. For 3 days we lazed in a hut on the beach buying produce off the back of a truck from local farmers and expats ;), CT being sand blasted on the shore watching Sher surf for hours on end. It was an easy life as would be agreed by the hundred of Howler Monkeys occupying every tree top in sight.

Isla Ometepe evolved into itself as our plans for that place changed more than a few times a day. It unfolded into 3 nights in a jungle lodge with 2 young Americans and a boy cat called Susan. We swam the clear waters of Ojo de Aqua an overgrown "natural" spring inland with the need to dodge giant angry cows through paddocks to get in. The cycling there was hot and hard but the baby pigs on the road side made it worth the effort.
Lucky circumstances were that we had to do Volcan Conception day 2, given the state of our bodies following it day 1 would never have happened Vice versa! It was 4 limbed scramble up rocks and through jungle to the summit. It is an active volcano which meant the conditions at the top were pretty much indescribable. Rocks too hot to sit on, sulphur burning your eyes, clouds blowing into your face whilst tipping your head over the edge of the lip into the crater in the middle. Wow ! The climb down was no easier feat but the High from the top stayed with us for the first 3 hours so the pain kicked back in only for the last couple. To top it off there was no bus to take us back after so we were forced to make it back by foot and the back of a truck. We have never enjoyed the cold Nicaraguan showers more.

Granada is a bustling city tainted only by the rubbish and the old western men here seeking young brides! The days are hot and harsh so it screams relaxo to a back packer as do the chicken buses in this heat hence while we have 6 nights here. A lake in a collapsed volcano Lago de Apoyo is a great day to waste away the time kayacking and tubing with cold beers and nothing much else.
An boat around the Isletas takes you to see what it occupying the 300+ small islands just off the coast. We saw the home to Nicaragua's elite Flor de Cana's owners mansion of course... But the highlight?! Monkey island!! A small island where over years people have dropped off their unwanted pets and now where boats like up stop by to play with and feed those furry and cheeky abandoned friends who know only too well what treats these boats hold! We bumped into our friends Amy and Henry SO many times it was only right that we made the most of $1 cocktails with them on the last night.

Posted by CSQUARED 04:52 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (0)

Single Salvador

The day in the hands of the local

sunny 35 °C

El Salvador was a short tour on the way through to the beautiful Nicaragua. We got off to a rough start which is never great coupled with the numerous safety warnings you hear about a place. We decided to spend the day walking as much of the city as we could and given that it sprawls far and wide we only expected to see only so much. Disoriented within half an hour a friendly local offered to drive us to where he thought we'd enjoy and give us a city tour of the way! Great! so we got in and had a half hour SpangLish convo with the man until he stops the car and drops us off at .... the shopping centre! Just what we wanted to come to El Salvador for... To spend the day at Westfield. The remainder or our time there was spent finding and making our way back.

Posted by CSQUARED 07:40 Archived in El Salvador Comments (0)

Guate-you-know ?!

Guatemala

sunny 20 °C

Pleasantly surprised by the beauty of this country. Antigua is a series of cobbled streets with posh looking restaurants and wine bars for the cost of McDonalds! We stayed at a little old ladies hostel which was more of a wildlife prison with a back yard of cages each containing a wild animals including 2 crazed toucans and a squirrel !

We took a chicken bus west to a town called Panajachel. The journey should have taken just over 2 hours but a huge landslide just up ahead of us occurred completely covering the road with land including full trees. Obviously the wait for them to clear part of the road for anyone to pass was looong......
But the town of Sao Pedro was worth the journey and we spent 2 days sitting in hammocks over looking the lake and living amongst the village life buying loaf after loaf of banana bread after we apparently "promised" several village people by telling them "mas tardes" (bit later) on their early attempts to sell the to bread to us. Lucky they tasted good!

Our most hellish bus ride yet took us north to Lanquin where a Hostal know only amongst backpackers by word of mouth sits on a mountain ridge over looking a fast running river amongst a hundred shades of green splayed out over a series of surrounding mountains. Check out the pic of the view from our bed!

The pull to Lanquin is Semuc Champey- natural Mayan caves set in the rain forest. You get given a candle and follow a guide in following his every move and never losing sight of him! It took us a few wrong turns before we figured out his left was actually everyone else's right and that was the worst of it until the rock we had to jump off inside, the hole he pushed us down to get out, and the spider the size of your hand.
You come out feeling very much accomplished from it all and then He brings you to the ropeo swing into the gushing river.... And then the 12 meter bridge!! Sher kept it going right to the end even the first person to leap off that bridge! An instant bruise down the leg from the swing was enough to retire for Tully.

An equally painful bus journey saw us back to Antiqua for our last night and a 3.30am get up to bus it to .....

Posted by CSQUARED 07:34 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Honduras the Loco tropical paradise

Boats are canned, scrapped, put on the back burner until the memory fades.

sunny 30 °C

Le Ceiba, Hondur-ass! Worst place so far. Don't let the pretty coloured buildings and laughable electricity cables bundled in the hundreds lining the streets fool you.

Utila, Honduras - an island paradise with the 2nd best barrier reef in the world (2nd to Australia of course).

5 days of back to school, in the class room & unda da sea! Once past the paper work you feel like you're flying and at the same time peeking into the world which covers 71% of the globe, with fish swimming by as though you are one of them & discovering the strangest of creatures blending into their own front yard. You dive down and swim amongst fluorescent coral and fish of the most unusual shapes, then you come to the edge of the reef which is like coming to the edge of a
Cliff and you look down and.... float off the edge with miles of blue Endlessness beneath you. Once you get over feeling that you should be drowning.... you realise you can actually breath and the rest is easy and a dream.

Copan was our only other and final stop in the country, despite us being the only not natives there pretty much. A tiny Colonial village with a city of Mayan ruins just a short walk out of the village. A set of steps there hold the longest ancient inscription dating back to 700AD about the times as they were back then, the only problem being that when they were excavated in the early 1900's the builders put them back in the wrong order...?!
The highlight- the large Macaws, brightly coloured birds and giant tailless rodents living in the area.

Posted by CSQUARED 14:10 Archived in Honduras Comments (0)

Belize me when I tell you

rain 30 °C

Our first real taste of Belize was hitting the bus station in Belize City feeling like we had dropped into the middle of Africa and to make it even more surreal I spoke to a local man in Spanish and when he said to me in English "I can't speak Spanish" I strangely walked off as though we wouldn't be able to hold a conversation?!

Due to timing and reports of the city we hopped straight on a chicken bus (bus full of locals, sometimes containing livestock such as chickens, where AC means 'windows that open').

Dangriga doesn't deserve a mention except for that a group of Garufani tribes people congregated outside our deserted hostel at dusk and performed their traditional dance in costume!

Punta Gorda is a jungle town still the home of 6 Mayan villages- sadly reduced from 60 over just the past few years. We took a chicken bus out of town, jumped off the bus in the middle of nowhere with the bus driver pointing down the longest stretch of road saying - 3 miles! The midday heat was at its peak and the clouds lurking in the distance with the promise of a storm were not comforting. The village consisted of 300 people, 99 of those being children. We ate eggs and beans with a local woman in her hut for dinner then again for breakfast, again I mean we ate beans and egg again. The greatest bit was there was no language barrier giving you a real insight into their lives which is really rare with indigenous rural villages like that.
Funnily enough my torch picked up the reflection of the spiders eyes which at first was great as I could see when I was walking in the path of one. It became completely unnerving however when I took a 360 degree look around me and saw 400 tiny eyes reflecting back at me. Lets just say it was a relief when the rooster started to crow the next day.

Placencia once made history by having the narrowest thoroughfare in the world. We bought lobster from a fisherman off the back of his boat because he'd run out of fish... BC cooked up a storm. We left the country from there deciding to take the boat directly to Honduras. Why we weren't too concerned with the fact we were crossing a large distance of open water I don't know - maybe it was because we presumed "ferry" meant car ferry, or something of that size... Oh no it was barely a speedboat and that thing made you feel like you were in a washing machine. Over the 2.5 hours each person on the boat had gradually fallen, CT ending up on the floor literally - sick both with fear and of the motion of hammering over waves as high as the boat. It was both a relief that it was over and that we were alive when we got to the other side- to say the least! We decided to car pool with some other travellers and treat ourselves to a taxi to do the rest of the remaining 5 hours journey by road... This is the life ! Errrrrrrr.

Posted by CSQUARED 21:11 Archived in Belize Comments (0)

You'd better Belize it!

rain 28 °C

We rang in the new year spending days by the aqua waters off Cancun with our bodies covered in white dust from the sandy beaches, and the nights sipping rum from the balcony overlooking the white sandy streets. We bumped into Aussies Ben and Jack yet again (as you do) so felt it necessary to stay a few extra nights and celebrate the four of us.

Tulum was the last stop in Mexico where we picked up bikes and cycled under the unrelenting rays to seaside Mayan ruins and then swam the Cenotes (water filled underground caves) until our blood had finally cooled down. The hostel was by far the worst Casa del Sol (House of the Sun) which We agreed would be better described as House of the Scum.

The trek to Belize is tough - 12 hours of heat, and waiting, and military with AK47s and sniffer dogs, and waiting, and heat. By the time we got there the rain had set in as well as the night, without a bed left on the island... Almost! After an hour in the dark and rain and our Backs near breaking from the weight of our packs the decision was quickly made to take the last luxury suite on the island when in our last ditch for a bed turned to us being offered a mattress on the veranda of a local mans caravan. Thankfully we were with Lucy and Teo who bunked in with us where we enjoyed a night of Chinese food, belizian beer, AC and cable TV lah-di-dah!
The next day we swam with sharks and sting rays in the second largest barrier reef in the world to... Australia!!!! i said you'd better Belize it! I won't say anymore the pic says it for us.... PS this was taken moments before 3 big sting rays made aim at me thinking I had food. I tried to scramble back into the boat legs first almost drowning myself in the process the thought over and over in my head Steve Irwin. Steve Irwin... Just as the full panic set in, through my water filled goggles I see the men on the boat peering down laughing at me in the mini tidal wave I was causing.... I quickly realised that the danger I was in was slim to none- other than maybe drowning myself and I swam off.

Posted by CSQUARED 08:56 Archived in Belize Comments (0)

ME-HI-CO

By bus and foot...

sunny 30 °C

So it's been a long time between blogs and I tell you what Mexico has kept us busy!

Week 1 we joined the welcoming family of the Amadors in Mexico City. A day in the life of a student consisted of a visit to Mexicos most popular university where students pay just 10cents a semester giving anyone smart enough an opportunity to attend. We went on a booze cruise Cambridge style with the uni students one afternoon stopping off at people's open doors when we needed a loo stop. The Amadors also showed us our first Mexican Pyramid. We stayed longer than we planned and its a 4 days we will never forget. Thank you for showing us how to eat, drink, live, study and BE Mexican, I don't know how we would have got by without that initiation period.

Oaxaca was our first point of call out in our own and our first long haul overnight bus ride. I don't know if we're too old for this now or if it is was a rough ride but it took its toll! We spent the next few days soaking up the city eating More a chocolate, chill and chicken YES chicken dish... Oh but it get crazier to top off the local cuisine menu we ate the chill grasshoppers on sale by the kilo! Not bad in taste but I can tell you that the leg which surfaced in my mouth moments later was not so welcomed.

After a long and winding road trip again through the night we made it to the coastal town if Puerto Escondito. I dont know what it means in Spanish but it definitely means Paradise in Australian. The skyline view from the rooftop was pink, purple, orange and red all at once contrasted by the blue water it was a sight that didn't get old... We stayed 6 nights- much longer than planned. The days were filled with not very much other than the odd walk to and from the beach and of course to the corner shop which sold 1.2 litre beers for $2. Heaven!

We've sinced crossed county first to San Cristobal where we rode horses in the rain into the hill villages. Next we visited Polenque to see some ruins dating back to 100 BC. 7 hours here were not wasted WOW. We unfortunately spent the night with the hippies in a shed in the middle nowhere. Turning up to day 3 of the hippiest hippy festival at the end of the Mayan Calendar is not a smart idea. Not just because of the scary looking 3 days without sleep people floating around 2 feet from the ground and the endless beating Of a drum in the distance but because there is no accommodation left ... except for the shed with 3 beds and considering there was 5 of us it wasn't such a comfortable squeeze. Nevertheless we enjoyed the night laughing and letting off fireworks inside and outside of our shed ensuring our presence was known no doubt.

MERIDA was the place for Christmas for us and the place for visiting one of the 7 Wonders of the World - Chichenitza. Mayan temples dating back to 900AD and even more impressive than Polenque due to how well that have been preserved. Many still keeping their form and colour. The main temple looked just like the pyramid from The Apocolypto where they chopped he heads off and let them roll down the steps! Scary!
Christmas Day we ate prawns on the beach with cocktails and coronas for 5 hours... all we could eat and drink for $30- I love this place!

Now we are on the road to CANCUUUUUUUN wooohoooo.... Actually no we are escaping the hype and instead heading to the idyllic Isla Mujeres.

Posted by CSQUARED 20:55 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Camping Courtneys

overcast 0 °C

Yosemite Day 1: a long drive took us into the chilling night of Yosemite National Park. In pitch darkness we wove through the mountains totally unaware of our surroundings. Can't say it wasn't stressful and Tully was silenced after the second loud exclaim from seeing roadside wildlife... Coyote and deer! Thankfully and finally we found a place to camp and after signs of continued warnings we reluctantly chose to follow them and put all of our food in the outdoor BEAR lockers. So we prepared our first forest meal in close to pitch darkness until we hear a rustling at the bear locker... With bears obviously top of mind after all of the warnings on the way, we both shoot up and stare into the darkness in the direction of and within 1m position of where we stand fearing the worst that we are un-be-known facing a 2m tall grizzly bear. After what feels like an eternity we stumble to get the flash light in the same direction and there it is with one arm reaching into our locker a knee high RACOON!!!!

Day 2: We woke to discover the day was Thanks Giving and the once empty park was filling up fast with no space for our brightly painted van. thankfully we were adopted by 30 years seasoned neighbours Keith and Linda who generously offered to let us stay with them and give thanks with us at their evening meal.... Ideal! We climbed 11km that day uphill to the top of Nevada Falls and practically ran back down having promised to be there for the cook off at 3. In great company we listened to their stories, ate their turkey and went on their walks just what we needed to get into the swing of camping in freezing temperatures. Their visiting friends Rick and Mary made for a enjoyable thanks giving!

Yosemite Day 3: legs aching from the previous days accent we chose to spend a day in the valley enjoying the recreational facilities of Camp Curry and got up close to families of grazing deer. We visited Upper and lower Yosemite Falls and thought that watching the sunset a second night in a row would be just as riveting.... It wasn't and we bailed early.

Day 4: up at 6.30 we woke to Keith an Linda's famous hot camp lattes to get us on the road! We were sad to leave the comfort of our new friends but it was time to venture out alone and we made Sequoia and Kings Canyon by lunch time. The worlds largest tree was just as impressive as it sounds who'd have thought a bit of wood could give you goosebumps!!! It was 40' wide and the size of a lighthouse- General Grant. The worlds biggest tree funnily enough is called General Sherman but 2 hours out of our way the 3rd largest sufficed. The Panoramic View of Sierra Nevada mountains was up there with the best we've seen. The sky was so blue it was almost violet, the clouds dropped just enough not as to hide the canyon floor but give the view a mystic feel. Giving up the bear hunt we were pleased to spot a print in the snow, probably as close as you want to come to a spotting anyway despite us discovering they are black bears and not grizzlies! That night following the tips and lessons we'd learned from Keith and Linda out first night in the wilderness alone was more BEARable.

Death Valley was 6 hours away so we got out early to ensure we had some daylight left on arrival. With sunset at 4.30pm it leaves our days short. We saw Mosaic Canyon and Mesquite Dunes both crazily making you feel very small and insignificant. With huge salt flats in the distance it is proof this land has seen through many thousands of years before us as barren as it can seem now. With temperatures higher than zero we were much more comfortable here. From Dantes view we could see the highest and lowest points in America and the silence was deafening. We were lucky to be greeted at the peak by a baby squirrel or what looked like one, who we spent a good 5 minutes watching him wag his tail at us! Exciting stuff !!!!

Posted by CSQUARED 00:33 Archived in USA Comments (0)

The West Coast Ways- the dream is again just a dream.

Camping again went out the window in San Diego, when a camp site costs the same as the comforts of a seedy motel the choice is simple! It was a nice city to wind down in soaking in the metro life, Saturday markets and micro brewery's are all in a days work.

Finally we made our way along the Sunshine Coast of Laguna Beach, The Hills & The OC which, was the furthest thing from sunshine and with clouds of rain our star spotting consisted of us driving around familiar looking but completely unknown neighbourhoods trying to fit in - but far from doing so in our brightly painted van. The novelty soon wore off and we headed to Long Beach Los Angeles in search of a true familiar friend Jill! 4 days we lived as an LA'ian hopping from seaside towns - New Port, Venice, Santa Monica. We strolled the streets of Beverly Hills pretending to shop and again fit in (not so lucky on Rodeo drive) and as you do we found Hollywood and compared our hands to those of the stars pushing our mits into the overused prints which are so dirty they're now black! Everything you would imagine but the highlight was spending it with a friend and seeing NBA on our last night watching the Clippers win!

Posted by CSQUARED 00:30 Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 10 of 17) Page [1] 2 »