18 May 2009

Costa Rica: Monte Verde, Fortuna and San Jose

While in Monte Verde the entire group went 
on a zip line tour of the Monte Verde Cloud Forest. After a brief instruction we were on way. There were about twelve different lines; varying in length and height. I think the highest elevation was either 408 or 480 feet. About halfway through our tour we also had an opportunity to try the Tarzan swing.

I would not hesitate a second to give this adventure sport another turn. I had a blast, not scared at all and the adrenaline rush was unbelievable. A great way to close out my 20s!

Happy Birthday to Me! The next morning we took a bus and a ferry to Fortuna. Later that afternoon a few of us went on a short walk. Unfortunately the sky was clouded over and we could not see Arenal Volcano. Our next stop was to Baldi Thermal Spa. We spent about two hours testing the water temperatures of several pools. One of the pools included three water slides. I went on the fastest one first, thrown around the tunnel due to the speed, kind of hurt so I didn't make another attempt. The other two slides were a bit slower or had more bumps, not nearly as painful as the first. I heard a lot of people screaming on their way down the fastest slide and then complain later, so I was glad I just hadn't become soft.

Back at the hotel and got dressed to party! We went to Volcan Look Discotheque. Quickly after entering the club members of my group soon began buying me drinks and a shot here and there. At one moment I had a drink in hand and two more in front of me! "What is this?, a drink for each decade?" I did manage to pace myself and the night did not end in a complete mess (at least for me). The Intrepid group was there as well so I had a few more people to celebrate with and more free drinks came my way.

The next morning a bunch of us went rafting along the Rio Toro, a class 3-4 white water trip. A thrilling ride that left us all exhausted. Before dinner there was one last thing to make my birthday complete. For weeks I had talked about getting a pinata. My tour leader was kind enough to purchase one for me. A few of us took turns and soon enough candy and other "treats" fell out. 

The next day was the last of the tour. In San Jose we had another fun night out and a final farewell.

My next "big trip" I hope will be Australia and New Zealand beginning sometime in October.

As for now, I'll have to go back to work, what is that again? Although, maybe I'll be sent on the road somewhere so my bags won't gather too much dust. In the meantime- I'll be making rough plans for the land(s) down under! 

Nicaragua: Granada and Ometepe

We took a boat ride around Lake Nicaragua. After a quick swim we stopped by a large tree that had a few monkeys hanging around. One of the females jumped on the boat, gave the river guide a hug and roamed around for a minute before taking a rest on my lap. She returned to the tree upon hearing one her "kids" crying. 

A few pieces of property were for sale. The land didn't look like much but we were told a lot could be done with such small parcels of land.

The next day I walked around town for a little while, camera in hand.  I felt especially hot in this town and was grateful for a swim in the pool of the sister hotel I was staying in.

The island of Ometepe. Sun, swim, and drink. The next two days were spent relaxing on the island. There was an option to take one of two hikes on the two different volcano trails but with the absence of lava the walk did not sound appealing. Both days, around 3pm, a large swarm of flies appeared. I made sure to duck into my room at that time to avoid the nuisance.

While waiting for our 5:30 am departure I took a few photos of the sunrise. Goodbye Nicaragua, hello Costa Rica!

Honduras: Part 2: Utila Island

Finally, early one evening, we met up with the group on Utila Island. That night all of us meet for dinner to celebrate a birthday.
Pip's birthday was one of three birthdays we would celebrate during this trip.

Since I only had one full day on Utila Island I decided to skip a snorkel trip and just walk around and explore. I did spend a few hours alternating between reading by the ocean and taking a swim. 

After playing cards for a while at the hotel a few of us took a short walk to one of the bars. The place was packed with people dancing and another guy traveling around was spinning fire. 

The toilet was weird and gross at this bar. The facilities were like an outhouse and everything went directly into the ocean! I wouldn't advise swimming close to that place. But, you have to expect anything when you are traveling around Central America!

Honduras: Part 1: Copan

Due to laundry issues (the lady closed early on Saturday and was closed all day Sunday) Stu and I didn't begin the next phase of our trip with our new group. All transportation to Antigua was booked so we couldn't leave Copan until the following day, when our new group would be leaving Copan for Utila. The next 2-3 days were spent trailing the new group of people.

The site of Copan is known for its stelaes. There were a lot of carved stone pillars found all around the ruins. Some were more intricate, detailed than others, some more complete than others.

Later in the evening, after dinner we stopped by the Red Frog. Soon after our arrival a few folks from Intrepid came in as well. They quickly saved us from a strange man that kept repeating himself over and over again. 

Guatemala: Part 3: Antigua

Our return to trip to Antigua was delayed a bit due to a triathlon. 

After lunch a few of us wanted to use the net but it was busy. We stopped at the bar/restaurant a few feet away and suddenly I found myself in Red Sox territory. Photos, jerseys of the Sox were surrounded by signs against the Yankees. I had a good laugh and thought maybe I shouldn't mention I'm from NY.

The next few days were spent wandering and photographing the town. On Saturday night we went to a club, danced a little salsa and then moved to a different club to hear live music and ran into the Intrepid group again.

About an hour and a half's drive from Antigua is Pacaya Volcano. 
After a 2.5 mile walk/hike we were ready to toast some marshmallows. The lava was flowing, smoke was coming out of the volcano and I was surprised by how drastic the temperature changed when I moved only two feet closer from where I was standing. We stayed just until it began to get dark and then began our walk back down. 

That evening was our last official night as a group. Antigua marked the end of the Mayan Sun Tour portion of my trip.

Guatemala: Part 2: Chichicastenago Market and Lake Atitlan

Left Antigua on a chicken bus. Before our arrival to Panajachel we stopped at the Chichicastenago Market. There were numerous vendors: food, crafts, clothes, etc. This market definitely reminded me of the Otavalo Market in Ecuador.

We toured one of the churches and after an hour of wandering around I was done browsing. 

We arrived in Panajachel late in the afternoon. I walked around the town, took photos and bought a messenger bag made from an old coffee bean sack. After dinner we had a few drinks at Pana Rock, the sign was exactly like the logo for the Hard Rock Cafe. 

The next morning we took a boat tour around Lake Atitlan. We stopped by three towns/islands; Santa Catarina, San Pedro and Santiago. A parade was underway when we arrived at Santa Catarina. While watching the marching band and majorettes a few young boys began goofing around for our cameras. After each photo they had to take a look and kept asking for more photos to be taken.

During the lake tour we also visited a few churches, walked through another market, and saw Maximom, a statue that the residents pray to and believe is alive. Maximom is fed three times a day, is given cigarrettes, and is even dressed every morning and evening.