Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Honduras through to Panama

Hey everyone. Well it has been a while since the last update and well that probably Monique’s fault because she left me (Doug) in charge of writing this and she knows how much I procrastinate, anyway I’ll get on with it.

Last time we left you with our diving adventures in utila Honduras. From Utila we took a ferry back to the mainland then an 8 hour bus ride through to Tegucigalpa with our mates Kim, Eliza, Jack and Hannah. We stayed there the night before bussing it through to the capital of Nicaragua, Managua. There we were pushed and shoved through an insane bus change to the quaint colonial town of Granada. Our 3 day stay here included: chilling out in the beautiful tree lined plaza, watching a beauty pageant which turned in to a concert where the only people willing to dance were the town drunks – quite amusing – until the towns gay contingent joined in with a display of regaton that drew a crowd of spectators until the dancing got particularly sensual dispersing the crowd rather rapidly. Another night in Granada was spent at the local expat karaoke bar, my renditions of Wonderwall – Oasis and Paradise city – Guns and roses were mediocre while Monique’s Foolish Games – Jewel and Ironic – Alanis Morrisette were brilliant. But it was our duet of Grease lightning that absolutely brought the house down!

From Granada we went on a chicken bus adventure to rivas then another ferry to the impressive island of isla omepete. Formed from 2 volcanoes isla ompete is a haven for lush and forest, wild fauna and awe inspiring views. We stayed here for a few days and just soaked up the beauty.

From Isla ompete we moved on to San Juan Del Sur, a surfer hang out on the south pacific coast of Nicaragua. Here we reunited with our friends Kim, Eliza, Jack and Hannah and had a good night out. We also checked out the beach with some of the most brightly colored crabs we have ever seen, and thousands of them at that.

From San Juan del sur, Nicaragua we moved on to Nicoya, Costa Rica. This involved an interesting, time consuming border crossing, where we waited in lines for several hours. We had hoped to make it to the beach town of Savana on this day, but time ran out and we ended up in Nicoya. It just so happened that there was a big celebration commemorating the area independence from Nicaragua. We sat down and had a few beers in one of the marquees playing loud Latin music with intervals of Latin karaoke and it wasn't long before the locals had us up dancing and partying the night through. I have to say that we were really impressed by the friendliness and hospitality of the Costa Rican people, we made some new friends and had a memorable time.

The following day was spent at a beach called Savana, recovering, before missioning onwards to the capital of Costa Rica – San Jose where we stayed at the Panga, a kick arse hostel before heading up to Tortuguero, which involved 6 hours of bus rides and a lovely scenic boat trip down the the Rio Pavona and Rio Suerte, where with the help of Monique's super spotting skills we saw a sloth, monkeys, heaps of different birds and a crocodile. Tortuguero is an awesome town set in the jungle kind of like a mini Amazon. The people here are of Caribbean decent where they speak a Creole dialect of English man. In the evening we saw the inspiring event of a 180kg green turtle lay 120 ping pong size eggs and then completely exhausted head back to sea.

Before sunrise the following morning, we went on a canoe tour deeper in to the jungle. All the sights, smells and sounds of the jungle waking up were sensational. Later in the afternoon we headed off to our next destination – Puerto Viejo – it took a 3 hour boat ride followed by a 1 hour taxi to arrive at this chilled out beach town. Here we met an interesting fellow who goes by the name of Captain Zero who volunteered to be our leisure consultant. This 60 year old surfer hippy expat wanted to start his leisure coaching by trying to sell us some of his home grown weed, he quickly tried to prove his credibility by showing us a 3 page article in 'High Times' magazine devoted to him and his escapades as Captain Zero who back in the 70's was trafficking container loads of weed from Africa, the Caribbean and Cayman islands to the states. There was even a book written about him called In Search of Captain Zero: A Surfer's Road Trip Beyond the End of the Road. By Alan Weisbecker. And watch out, I did some research on google and a movie is coming out soon. Anyway back to our trip we spent the afternoon with this eccentric fellow and it was pretty interesting.

Next we headed on to Bocas Del Toro in Panama. This involved another border crossing. Its quite amazing how just on the other side of the border there is always a mini shuttle bus waiting just for the gringo back packer, eager to tell you that the only way you are going to get to your destination is with them for the very small fee of US$10 per person, but in reality with a few questions to kind locals you find you can catch a bus with the locals for US$1.25 per person. Then when you arrive at the river side to take boat to your next check point you are accompanied by two guys “helping” you find the correct boat company to go with although it is clearly evident that we already know exactly where we are going. When they 'lead' you to the boat company that we were already going to, they expect a tip. I guess that what we have become accustomed to here in Latin America.

Highlights in Bocas del Toro include: Eating yummy chicken and plantain chips from the road side vendors, Seeing a Red tree frog and chilling out with hundreds of star fish at Playa Boca Del Drago. After a few days there we moved on to Panama city where we checked out the enormous engineering feat that is the Panama Canal. We also enjoyed doing some normal stuff like go to a see the new batman movie and got to a huge shopping centre. From panama City I decided to go my separate way to Cartagena, Colombia, in a yacht and Monique decided to take a plane as she hates sea sickness, and a few days on a yacht in the open sea did not appeal to her.

Next installment we will fill you in on all the details of Doug’s Caribbean yacht adventure.

For now take care every one and don’t forget we absolutely love any feed back, makes us feel just that bit closer to home.

Doug and Monique

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