Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Highs And Lows of Travel and Frustrating Internet Connections!

The last few weeks have evoked some serious emotions as would be expected when on a trip of this magnitude. There have been tears, there has been laughter and smiles, there has been reconnections with old friends and connections with new friends. There has been new places, new sights, new animals that we have never seen before. There has been problems and there have been problems solved. All in all, just what traveling is all about.

We left the caribbean coast and headed inland to where one of my oldest friends (she is not old, just that we have been friends for a LONG time) lives with her Costa Rican husband. We stayed the weekend and then some in Tres Rios, just west of San Jose with Allison and David Quiros. It was so great to reconnect with Allison after many years of having our lives drift apart. We once spent a week in Scotland together when we only 13 and 15 years old. My grandparents took us on a train to London and let us loose to roam about the city on our own, something we both are amazed ever happened. This trip we played Ultimate frisbee with some teachers at the international school Allison teaches with, and after nearly 2 hours I was definitely feeling the effects of six months in a van! Sunday was spent taking over the world in a 4 hour game of Risk, Andrew eventually triumphed after Allison and I became bored with never ending battles to the death.
Monday we sourced out some parts for Kumu and installed a new emergency brake. Ours has never worked, and we figured as we were heading towards the Andes, it may be an asset to have as we have crossed paths with two couples who have had their brakes fail on this trip!
We said Adios to Allison and David, and I left feeling as though I had regained a lost friend and realized that sometimes no matter how much time has past, when you get together with real friends it is like no time has gone by at all.
As we headed into the mountains we needed to cross to get to the coast, Andrew quietly mentioned that perhaps our brakes were not quite as good as they should be. To make a really long story short, four days, a couple hundred dollars, two new brake pads, one new master brake cylinder, one complete loss of brakes, three different garages and 7 times bleeding the brakes later, we emerged victorious.
During the brake debacle we met Mike... from Okatoks, he graciously lent us some land to park on at his incredible house overlooking the Costa Rican hills. Unlucky for Mike, a landslide had occurred during the rainy season and left a huge precipice dangerously close to his house. He was down from Canada trying to come up with a way to solidify the landscape so his dream home wouldn't slide down into the abyss. We shared some beer and some stories, realized we knew a few of the same people, and realized how small the world really is. The next day we spent the morning filling and huffing sandbags over the edge of the precipice in order to make somewhat of a retaining wall. I know we didn't make much of a dent, but hey, we gotta help out our fellow Canucks. Good luck to Mike for getting a tough situation dealt with!
New brakes and good feelings we headed towards the Osa Peninsula and Cape Matapalo. Matapalo is possibly as close to ideal paradise as we have come on this trip. Caribbean blue waters with a solid surfable wave, combined with blue skies and flocks of brilliant scarlet macaws circling overhead. We camped in tranquility on the beach with no one around to tell us otherwise. Its definitely a hidden gem of Costa Rica and I would recommend it to everyone!
Leaving the Cape we began to feel the pressures of our imminent shipping date to Colombia and ended up passing up the chance to surf the epic wave at Pavones to spend a couple more days in Panama. We had been in Costa Rica for over three weeks and we were looking forward to getting back to a cheaper country! (Not to mention I was itching to get a camera!)
I managed to pick up the newer version of my stolen sony camera. It was really hard to hand over the money for the same camera (well I guess it wasnt that hard, as it was actually Andrew's visa) but i know that the money I spent on a decent camera will come back to me in the memories it saves for me.
I had planned to upload a couple new pictures from the camera, but I have officially found the slowest internet connection in all of Central America, so it will have to wait till next time.
Also, we made it to the Costa Rica Volkswagen Club blog! Check it out

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining

Costa Rica. Rich Coast. Ill say. Almost like driving back into the
United states, Costa Rica reminded us we were still actually in
Central America by the way chaos ensued after a terrible auto crash on
the highway near Liberia and people were driving one way all over both
lanes as well as utilizing the bumpy sides of the roads while one lone
police officer tried in vain to organize things. We were also reminded
in the harshest of ways when we parked in a guarded parking lot of a
hostel, went inside for a quick game of scrabble and a beer, and
returned to the van only to find two cameras and an iPhone stolen.
Needless to say I was devastated as I lost a ton of pictures from the
last week or so, that I had yet to upload to the computer. Photography
is a passion of mine and of all my possesions for sure my camera is
one very close to my heart. That being said, it could be worse. The
robbers were kind enough to only make a slight tear in the screen
window and close the window once they were through stealing our
things. We still have the computer with ALL the pictures and we are
still healthy and in one piece. So as our German friend Daniel always
reminds us... It could be worse.
And the silver lining you ask? Well after the evening of the robbery 
in Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast, I was not feeling very 
impressed of my very first encounter with the Caribbean, so I was keen 
to pack up and head back to the Pacific. We eventually decided to move 
towns and spend a second and final night on the east coast. As we 
drove into the small town of Cahuita there was already a different 
feeling. We had lunch at a local restaurant, fajitas with a kick of 
Jamaica served up by a beautiful patua speaking woman with a huge afro, bright 
yellow tights and the booty to fill it out too! As we drove around to go and find the 
national park where there was apparently a small campground we were 
called out to by a young owner of a hostel who was stoked on the van 
and keen to check it out. He immediately offered his parking spot to 
us for the night. On second thought he took us to playa negra where it 
would be fine to camp on the beach. Then on final reflection he took 
us to his friend Camerons house who has a beautiful house near the 
beach as well as a closed in parking spot for our van. They were all 
so keen to help us out and have been showing us all the local fruits 
as well as the local poison dart frogs that live in the garden.

It was an amazing redemption to the initial impression of the 
Caribbean and through these new friends we have been able to really 
discover the true beauty of this somewhat hidden gem of Costa Rica. So 
even though I will be lacking in pictures for the next while, I will 
not be lacking in memories and great experiences. 

Here are some pictures from a couple weeks ago, before the camera incident:

Local Fisherman

Hanging out by the pier. We are such big deals that we all get our own benches.

Daniel and the waves

Enjoying the sunset at Playa Grande #1267

This is what dreams are made of

You remember this painting that we got done in Sayulita? I think it was prophetic of the amazing camp spot we found at Playa Marbella. As soon as we arrived we knew we found our special spot, frozen in time.

Pure bliss... need I say more?... Things definitely could be worse

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I cant believe we passed by a whole country without blogging!! I
apologize for that!
We are now in Costa Rica after spending about a week in Nicaragua. We
had a really great time, for the most part except for a sad occurence
near the end of our stay when we lost an important member of our
journey... but more on that later.
Our first night in Nicaragua was spent playing with some kids in the
small town of San Jacinto, nestled in the shadow of two volcanoes.
There we checked out the bubbling mud pools, accompanied by a young
Nicaraguan named Carlos, who proceeded to poke the mud pools with
sticks to prove to us how hot they were. Not exactly nature
conservation at its best, but I suppose at least they were proud of
their little part of nature.

We were stoked to see some form of organize garbage collection!
Carlos and one of the other girls... they were actually really happy kids... I promise

We continued on to check out Old Leon. An old colonial city founded in
1524 and was subsequently covered in ash by a volcanic eruption and
not rediscovered until the 1960's! The ruins were not mind blowing but
the view across the lake of mont Momotombo was pretty spectacular and
our guide was very informative of many aspects of Nicaragua.

We stayed the next night at the artisan town of Catalina, overlooking 
the crater lake of Apoyo, as well as the city of Granada and further
out, the massive Lake Nicaragua. It was refreshingly cool in the
mountains and we actually had to wear sweaters and jeans at night!

This is Pumper, we met him and his owners, Steve and Wendi, in Grenada
and are planning to get together in Panama to ship our cars together
to Colombia! I am really happy that Kumu will have some company
without us on the long journey over!

Heading to the beaches we were both really excited to see this sign of
the recycling plant! However on closer inspection we quickly realized
that it was just a big garbage dump where they burned all their
garbage... Just like everywhere else in Central America. I guess you
really cant believe everything you read.

We finally made it to the beaches and spent about 4 days at Playa
Madera, just north of San Juan Del Sur. It was a picturesque little
beach, but the waves were huge and I didnt even go out surfing once! 

We explored some of the surrounding beaches, but after the catastrophe
Andrew had with my beautiful board, we figured that the ocean was telling us to move on. Very sad day for our crew. Luckily some guy offered to buy it for 40 dollars... So I guess thats better than just a broken board!

We did find some crazy creatures in the surrounding area! At first we
though this was an ancient Pteredactyl, but finally realized it was
just a long gone monkey.

Turkey or space alien??

Rush Hour in Nicaragua

We are already in Costa Rica enjoying the super hot humid weather and hanging with friends. We managed to find a wicked spot right on Playa Grande, just north of Tamarindo where the waves are perfect and the company is amazing. Hope everyone is enjoying the cold back home. Muahaha