Monday, January 24, 2011

Mizata and Birthdays

After leaving the paradise beach of Mizata, we headed back to Sunzal
near La Libertad, where we heard from our german friends Daniel and
Ramona that they were coming to meet up with us... At Mizata! So we
packed up again and headed back to paradise for another two blissful
days. This time there were nine of us and a nearly half the crew had
NEVER tried roasting marshmallows over a fire. Needless to say we
remedied that situation, and the marshmallows were a huge hit with the
Euros and the Latinos. 

 After two days we once again had to pull
ourselves away from Mizata and we headed to Lago Coatepeque for one
more night with Daniel and Ramona as well as to celebrate Andrew's
34th birthday!!! Its very challenging to surprise each other for
special occasions as we are together 24/7. However with the help of
our tag along chef JF, we managed to bake andrew a double layered
banana and chocolate ice cream cake from scratch on a camping stove!
It was a pretty sweet surprise and an awesome day on the crater lake!

After parting ways with the Germans we prepared to cross both borders
of Honduras in one day to get to Nicaragua. The border crossing from
El Salvador into Honduras was relatively painless except for being
bombarded by 'helpers' trying to convince us that the process was WAY
too complicated to do on our own. We did just fine on our own and
drove into Honduras.
30 kilometers later we hit the first police check stop. We had heard
about possible scams the police pull to try and make you pay absurd
fines, and we were ready... or so we thought. We had heard about the
'orange triangle' scam and the 'fire extinguisher' scam, so we made
sure we brought some along so there was nothing to argue about. We
weren't quite prepared when the cop told us we needed four reflectors
all along the side of our van because we were a 'microbus'. The fine
for this particular infraction was 40USD. That is $40 we didn't want
to part ways with, so we tried telling him that they weren't needed in
ANY of the countries we had been to . Finally we saw a microbus drive
by with out any so called reflectors and we pointed this out to him.
Right away he knew he was caught and handed back our papers and sent
us on our way.
30 kilometers later we hit the second check point. This cop asked for
our triangles and we showed him. Then he asked for our extinguisher
and we showed him. Finally he pulled the reflector scam... by this
time we weren't having any of it, and told him the last police officer
said it wasn't necessary. He gave us an angry look but gave us our
papers and sent us on our way.
The next two check points were relatively painless.
The final check point just before the border we came across a new one.
The police officer told Andrew his license was a copy and that he
would have to pay 61USD at the police station which was in a town 40
km back the way we had come. His 'helper' friend who spoke perfect
english told us that we could also settle it there for a smaller sum.
There was no way we were paying anything, but how do you convince a
police officer is wrong and you are right? We told him we would gladly
go back the 40km to the station and discuss it with his supervisor.
After about 20 minutes of back and forth we finally called his bluff
by getting in the car to go to the station. For the third time in
120km the officer gave in and handed us our papers with no money
exchanged and it was on to Nicaragua!!
After the border crossing into Nicaragua we were stopped again about 5
km past the border. "Not again" we thought, being tired and somewhat
stressed about arguing with police.
This was a little different. The cop greeted us with a big smile and a
handshake, and asked for a coke. His buddy was standing on the side of
the road laughing. We told him Sorry! we have no cokes! The cop just
laughed and sent us on our way. Supertroopers perhaps? Either way,
Welcome to Nicaragua!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Its all fun and games till the waves get big

We have found a great spot here at Playa Mizata in El Salvador. The people here are super friendly, bringing many local treats fresh from the forest (mangoes and coconuts) and from the ocean (oysters and lobster!). Perhaps most important, they included us in the tubing extravaganza!!!!!!! Who
needs a boat!!!


Abandon Ship!


The crashes were so fun!!!

We had tons of fun and everyone came out of the water smiling. Today however, was a little different story. Shona was the first one out and had a little chill time before the waves showed up.

Shona catching a small one early in the morning.

As the morning went on the waves got way bigger, and our excitement grew tremendously. If you look closely, I think you can see Shona's board as she was tubed out. Trust me, she's in there.

Unfortunately, she didn't come outta that one unscathed. The fin of her board caught her on the shin pretty good.

Kelly McB, you're lucky yours was only a little one compared to this one.......

Project number one of the day. Fix up Shona.

We both agreed that the steri-strips would do after some careful consideration about pulling out the needle and thread.......

We did get it looking quite good and in fact got the skin back together quite securely. No worries moms.... After a little break it was on to project #2 of the day...... Fixing the board.

Shona and the surfboard repaired, it was a very exciting day to say the least!!!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

El Salvador

So after a heavy week of some intense spanish lessons, we headed back
to Antigua just in time for Kahung's birthday. Celebrated in true
hispanic style, the pinata was the main even!!

The little guys always seem to score the loot!

Some hormigas (ants) decided to take a free ride from the beach to the 
mountains in Kumu. Unfortunately for them, it was a very costly trip....

El Impossible" National Park was our first stop in El Salvador. The 
name was more suitable than you could ever imagine. Let's just say we 
didn't get too far once inside the gate.

Filling our propane from a smaller tank with no more pressure than in smaller tank than ours? Anyone? Anyone?

In convoy Bella (van) Sarah and Marc, on our way to the Playa 
Mizata..... quite the little surfer's paradise.... In town today to 
restock and then back for some more great surf!

On our quest for fish and a sweet sunset

Testing out Andrew's spear to try and get some dinner.

Shona really likes her shoes.

The attempt for fish was a little weak due to very strong currents.

Enjoying the view in style

Not a bad spot to say "see ya" to the day.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Guatemala Pictures

A few pictures from the last week in Guatemala!

The mercado right at the Mexico/Guatemala... Maybe not the best idea to cross on Market day! Ooops!

Public transport in Guatemala... Known locally as chicken busses. To drive this bus I think you must be registered as clinically insane with an intense need for speed.

In Panajachel for New Years Eve

People watching while eating dinner. Kids everywhere were playing with fireworks and they didn't stop for about two days. It sounded like a war zone the entire night!

One of the three volcanoes surrounding Lake Atitlan

Indigenous woman hanging out at the Lake

We met up with our friends Kahung, Mel and Dante for afternoon in Antigua before heading to school in Montericco and surprised Dante with a late Christmas present. He was so stoked!

 Arriving in Montericco on a weekend during the Christmas holidays was a tad overwhelming... luckily the crowds cleared out on Monday and we were able to study in relative peace... minus the roosters crowing and the dogs barking


Roxana, the daughter of Andrew's homestay family. 

Hanging out at Dansu Gelato watching a whale shark just off the beach while the sunset. Amaing

Andrew and Jorge intensely studying 

Allison and I with our homestay family. Annavela and Pablo... and terri the cute little puppy

School for a week was intense! But I can think of worse places to learn!

Back in Antigua we are spending the weekend with Dante, Mel and Kahung before we part ways tomorrow as we are El Salvador bound!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year, New Country, New Language

The last week has been a bit of a trip and we have been pretty busy so it has been a struggle to find time to upload pictures and to write!
We drove into Guatemala on New years eve morning. That was excitement in itself. We only learned that day that it was market day at the border and most people are warned not to cross because it is so crazy... crazy may be an understatement, but we managed to get through all the paperwork in just under an hour so i guess it wasnt too bad.

We spent New Years on the shores of Lake Atitlan, surrounded by towering volcanoes and watching fireworks go off all around the perimeter of the lake at midnight. we danced in the new year to a wicked reggae band and discussed all the highs and lows of 2010. We aknowledged the fact that 2010 was a HUGE year for both of us, and are truly looking forward to all that 2011 has to offer.
We made a quick pitstop in Antigua where we ran into our friends Kahung, Mel and Dante, made some plans to see them again this weekend and drove to the coast where we are spending a week in school. Spanish school. We are on day three of 5 and I think my brain is close to bursting. However the 4 hours a day are very intense and I think I is really going to help us in the future. Andrew has a pretty good grasp of languages, so he is picking it up a bit faster than I am, but I have to say that I am impressing myself for the most part, even though I have the most strict teacher! While Andrew and Jorge are laughing and discussing babes losing bikinis on the beach, Rosa is correcting my every mistake and loading me up with pages of homework every night!!! All i can hope is that it pays off! Montericco (the town we are staying in) us very hot and very chill. They are really proud of thier rare four eyed fish that live in the canal behind the town. Also of thier jesus lizards who can run on water.
Checking my email today was a huge mix of feelings as I discovered that our good friends Ally and Andrew are getting married!! (CONGRATS) And also was informed of Kelly McBrooms terrible crash. Our hearts go out to Kelly, we wish her the best of best of luck and we hope that all the surgeries go well and we can see or talk to her soon!
Sorry for the lack of photos but hopefully the next post will have more.
I hope everyone rang in the new year with a few adult beverages and lots of laughter!
Hasta Luego