Friday, April 23, 2010

so...

the internet here has finally pushed me past my limit. i couldn't get the video uploaded for friday no matter how many times i tried. and as of today, i'm no longer trying.

maybe it will be working later this week.

i did however, finally, update the food blog.

what food blog? yeah, i know. i'm going to try to do better about updating it. i'm thinking tunisia will give me more to write about.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Arenal- Take 2


The guys arrived from Atlanta on Thursday night with enough time to grab a couple drinks before heading to bed. I had booked a fairly early trip out to the Poas Volcano the next morning.

When we got to the volcano we were told it was releasing too many fumes to go up to see the crater. After standing around for just a few minutes it was obvious they were right not to let us up…





Our insanely annoying tour guide, Mike, gave us a few options and we chose to try to see the Poas waterfall. There had been an earthquake last year that caused devastating landslides in the area where houses, business and roads were destroyed.

To his surprise the road was open so we drove down to the waterfall. He decided to see how far the road had been cleared and we drove for what seemed like forever while he talked incessantly about what used to be there and how dangerous it was for us to be driving in the area- just what you always want to hear from a guide. Where the road used to be…



We finally made him turn back, but did get to see some other waterfalls along the way…





On our drive back we stopped at a local fruit stand and gorged ourselves on fresh cheese, fried plantains, mangos, bananas and strawberries. We also made a quick stop at a coffee plantation to enjoy the views and grab a drink. The highlight of our trip was really the views and the delicious cool mountain air…





The worker bees met us at the hotel later that afternoon and we piled up into the two cars and headed out to Arenal. Once we got close enough we pulled over with the other people on the side of the road and got our first view of the lava flowing down. It was awesome.

Our hotel sat just under the volcano on the side where the lava flows. It was amazing to watch and listen to it spew and spit boulder size lava rocks that rolled and crashed down the side of the volcano. Unfortunately it was not so easy to capture on film…



We were up early the next morning to take a nature walk around the grounds of our hotel...




We then grabbed a quick lunch and made our way to the zip lining place. As soon as the instructors started instructing I was starting to panic. I was going to be responsible for braking myself…and if I did it too soon I was going to be stuck hanging there and have to pull myself hand over hand to the next platform…uh, what??

As we ascended the stairs to the first platform my knees were weak and when we reached the top I had tears in my eyes and said I couldn’t do it. I’m deathly afraid of heights and have been my entire life. As a kid I wouldn’t even ride on my dad’s shoulders and now you want me to jump off this thing attached to a metal wire??

We had two guides with us and the very sweet one assured me that I could go with the other one, Eban. He would be with me the entire way.

That meant I had to go first. I screamed the entire way to the next platform and enjoyed it about as much as a root canal. It was also very clear Eban was not going to be nurturing me with my fears. Instead he was going to take pleasure in screaming out “no brakes!” and mocking me as I screamed in terror. If Hazel had not been in worse shape than me I would have demanded to trade him in for the sweet guy. Everyone else loved it though and really enjoyed the experience…




By the 5th or 6th line I was still just as scared, but at least able to stand on the platforms without feeling like my legs were going to give way. The 8th and final line I made Eban swear to be nice and tried really hard to enjoy the views and the experience. I won’t say I enjoyed it, per se, but I did feel less like I was plummeting towards my demise...




After zip lining we stopped at a restaurant and grabbed some much needed beers and had some delicious ceviche. Every muscle in my body felt weak so I chose to skip the old lava flow tour that afternoon. I felt like I had just finished the most grueling workout of my life. I guess that’s what happens when you have tensed every muscle in your body for 2 straight hours. Jules was still struggling with the virus she caught so we went back for a quick nap before meeting everyone at the hot springs.

The hot springs were a great way to relax after the day and the swim up bars only made it that much better. We were all exhausted so after dinner there we came back to the hotel and crashed.

We had amazing luck with the volcano. Normally the tip is covered in clouds, but it was pretty much visible to us the entire time. The weather held out and Saturday had been amazing.



Of course, sometimes luck runs out. We had a minor little issue with a car key on Sunday and spent most of the day dealing with it before heading back. But, we got back to San Jose by dusk and went out for a great dinner at a nearby Peruvian restaurant.

I hated putting the guys in a taxi the next day, maybe almost as much as they hated going back to work.

It's been a while since we traveled with a big group and it was great. We're so glad you guys got to come down!!

We had planned to go to the beach in Tamarindo this weekend, but after hearing about the 7 hour drive we decided to stay put and maybe try to see some of the attractions close by.

Friday, April 16, 2010

flashback friday!

a clip from julie's commute to work in india...maybe this will make you feel better about your ride home tonight!

video

i'm assuming it was gadu driving. he was one of our drivers and as small as a 12 year old boy. he was precious. i wish i had a picture of him.

happy friday! if you get a chance say a little prayer for me as i'm sure not to escape zip-lining this weekend. it's going to take more than a rash this time.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

happy birthday!



happy birthday to the only doctor of sociology and pants we know! hope you have a great day- even without us there. miss you!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

cahuita (ca-wheeee-ta)


The great thing about Costa Rica is while it’s pretty diverse it is also pretty small, making it easy to get a little taste of everything. We went to the Caribbean coast this weekend to the small town of Cahuita. The Caribbean side of the country is like a different country all together. When the railroad and banana plantations reached this area large numbers of Jamaican workers were brought over to do the labor. This has led to a very Afro-Caribbean laden culture.

We got a late start on Friday and the drive after dark was not so much fun. Bike riding is a widely used mode of transportation in rural Costa Rica. Coming up on a bike rider in the pitch black dark on a mountainous road doesn’t make for a stress-free road trip. They also have no issue, whatsoever, with walking in the road or just hanging out on the very edge of the blacktop. Thankfully we didn’t kill or maim any Costa Ricans on the way, although the guy who was just sitting in the road better thank his lucky stars that he was wearing white shorts.

While dodging pedestrians we were also up against every Chiquita, Del Monte and Dole semi-trucks in the world. You better enjoy that next can of pineapple chunks because we surely suffered for it.

Almost 5 hours later we finally found our hotel and set out to get dinner. It was about 9:30 and per the bartender at the “Reggae Bar” where we stopped, their kitchen as well as all other kitchens in the town were closed. We decided to fill our empty tanks with some Imperials and then go back to the hotel to split a bag of low fat corn chip roll thingies that Jules was pretty sure she had in her work bag.

I guess the bartender heard us laughing about how we were going to bed hungry and asked if we had ever had plantains.

“Yes.”

“Do you want me to cook you some?”

“Really?!? You want to cook us plantains?”

“Why not?”

And off he went to pluck a plantain from his yard. I kept telling Julie how grateful I was, but that I couldn’t help but hope he salted them. When they arrived they were perfectly salted, perfectly cooked and on the house.

Our hotel room was of the “open air” variety with no a/c. I was pretty worried about it, but thankfully the air at night cooled enough that with a fan it was very comfortable. Although the lack of windows helped with the cross breeze it didn’t help with the howler monkey bonanza that was going down at 4am. By 6am every bird in the world was chirping and squawking in the trees outside our hut.

It was raining when we headed to breakfast and we knew our plans for snorkeling were going to have to be canned until Sunday. The owners had a ton of suggestions for a rainy day, but we thought a day spent reading on our balcony sounded much better.

Jules refused to adhere to the sitting position in which the hammock was hung…



We headed back down to the Reggae Bar for lunch and then returned to our reading/bird watching.

We drove into the town to have dinner and catch a live reggae band, but I wasn’t feeling great so we headed in for another early night.

It was storming all night and morning which helped with the noise from the animal kingdom but meant another day without snorkeling. It was obvious that things just weren’t going to go as planned this weekend so after another delicious breakfast from our sweet hosts we hit the road back to San Jose.

Even though we didn’t get to do the things we wanted to in Cahuita it was cool experiencing this very different side of Costa Rica. With all the reggae and Rastas it was like taking a trip to Jamaica…just without the violent crime and disgusting homophobia.

We’ve got friends (Yay!! ) coming this weekend and we’re headed back to Arenal. Hopefully this time we’ll get to see some lava.

Friday, April 9, 2010

flashback friday!

from i believe our first safari. those cute little ears...you'd never think they kill more humans than any other animal on the continent...

video

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Nicaragua



Thanks to Santa Semana we got four days in Nicaragua. The flight to Managua isn’t even an hour from San Jose, but with our flight being delayed 4 hours we didn’t arrive until late on Wednesday night.

We based ourselves in the Spanish colonial town of Granada at a ridiculously quaint hotel on the main square.

We booked 3 full days of touring so we were pretty busy. Despite all the sightseeing we were still able to enjoy a little down time at the pool and some yummy meals at the neighboring restaurants.

Our first day we took a trip around the city in one of the horse drawn carriages to some of the points of interests…mainly churches with a fort or two thrown in for good measure...





Afterwards we went down to Lake Nicaragua to take a small boat tour through the lake’s isletas. They have 360ish (some say exactly 365- one for each day of the year) of these tiny islands formed by the volcano and on them you can find very rustic living, vacation homes, and on some of the larger ones even hotels and resorts…



Our next day of touring took us to the neighboring city of Masaya. We stopped off in an area known as the white town- both for the color of the homes and the magic practiced there by the residents. Apparently there used to be a great number of witches there, but the only thing I saw was a bunch of beautiful pottery stores, one where we bought two awesome bowls from a sweet lady who showed us her kiln out back with her chickens.

We then drove up for a view of Lake Apoyo...




Afterwards we found out the markets were closed for Good Friday so we headed to an old fort that had been used during the rebellion to hold political prisoners from both sides. I didn’t and still don’t know much about said rebellion, but it seemed both sides were pretty brutal and some bad stuff went down at this place. I was more than happy when it was time to head to Masaya Volcano for our bat cave tour. Yeah, we actually paid extra to add this to our trip. Who are we??

We drove up to Masaya’s opening and then climbed up to the top of one of the craters to get a great view of the smoking Masaya at sunset...




We then headed down to some of the caves formed by the old lava tubes...




We missed out on seeing any lava due to the amount of smoke, but we did get to hang our head over the edge of Masaya and listen to her grumble and groan. Lava or no lava- that was awesome.

We had an early start on Saturday to get to Omtempe Island. The island has two volcanoes on it, one dormant and one that had been a little too active lately for a trip up. We visited a couple of beaches, an old ranch where we got to see some Congo monkeys and got some great views of the beautiful Volcano Conception…







Sunday we walked around Granada before we headng to the airport. We got back to to San Jose late afternoon and enjoyed the lack of volcano ash/dust in the air and the 30 degrees cooler temperatures. Wowser- Nicaragua is hot. Like, hotter than India, Bangkok or Manuel Antonio, hot. I also enjoyed the french fries I had with dinner…40 days!

This weekend we’re driving out to Cahuita on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica to enjoy some reggae and hopefully much better snorkeling.

Friday, April 2, 2010

flashback (good) friday!

perito marino glacier from our trip to el calafate, argentina...


video

**remember to click on the link to read the original post**

***and happy good friday to you all!!!!***