Saturday, March 29, 2008


I´m well.
I´m in Antigua.
I haven´t been online for more than 10 minutes in the last two weeks.
I´m off to watch March Madness at the one sports bar in Antigua.
I´m very excited about this.
I´m starving for some March Madness goodness.
UCLA vs. XVIER at 5:40.
Get excited.
Get rowdy.

BIG DAY, people, BIG day.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Apparently it´s legal for me to dive to 18 meters now....

No but seriously. Whose idea was that?? I can´t even open my eyes upon resurfacing without wiping them off first - god forbid there be a droplet of water still lingering on my eyelashes! Not anymore my friends, not anymore.

One 17 hour day of travel, one $25 ferry ride (?!?!), two hours of most-legit-dive hater dive shop shopping, three two hour classroom lessons, two confined water dives practicing skills, and two open water dives to 14 and 18 meters later..............................and I´m a certified Open Water Scuba Diver.

I´ll make this snappy since

a) im missing sunset as we speak (I type)

b) ive spent about 4 hours on the computer today, which is 3 hours and 45 minutes too long

c) pictures really can describe better than words!

<-----setting up our tanks on the dock

<--Our first dive spot.......crystal clear Caribbean waters! No complaints. Except maybe that I was getting a little toasty in my wetsuit. Ok, I´ll be quiet now.

Definitely one of the cutest creatures Ive ever seen....just hoppin along the oceanfloor, all casual styles.

Me, being.........well, me. But underwater.

Doing some serious investigation....

This is Moises. He was one of the instuctors at Parrot´s Dive Center where we got certified. He was probably the funniest, kindest, most wonderful Honduran guy we met. (Thank you Jen for being obsessed with the Patriots, noticing the big guy wearing the jersey, introducing yourself and confessing your love for the team, thereby guaranteeing us longlasting friendship and jersey borrowing priveledges!!

 18 meters depth.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Quick update....

After literally, I kid you not, a full 17 hours of traveling yesterday......

sources of excitement:
1. having reached our destination after world's longest day of commuting...aka 3am shuttle, 5am bus, 2pm bus, 4:30pm taxi ride to bus terminal, 6pm bus, 9:30pm taxi to hostel. seriously??
2. we are one day away from starting our diving certification course wohoooo
3. ummm....oh, im on a beautiful island off the caribbean coast of Honduras.
ok bye love you all!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Nica Nica Nica Nicaraaaaaagua!

Well its been a while since my last real post, so let me attempt to catch you up on the last week and a half without boring you to death... (ha! as if one could get bored with the intricate details of the happenings of my life!)

After a fantastic week or so in Bocas, Jen and I headed to San Jose to catch a bus the next morning to Nicaragua. We were not looking forward to this one night in San Jose because....well, San Jose sucks. And this is coming from a girl who truly loves big, bustling, dirty, scary, smelly, smoggy cities (did someone say Bangkok? Or....La? :0 ). But we figured we´d make the best of it, so we showered, got in pj´s, gave ourselves manis and pedis (much needed after the beach) and went to bed relatively early, (since our bus the next morning was at 5:30am) only to wake up and find our floor (and jen´s shorts!) entirely soaked. IN PEE. Yes, our lovely little dorm roommate decided that 47 beers was an appropriate amount to consume, and thus was not sober enough to know that our floor was in fact, not the baño. GRRRRRRRRRR.

Anyway, after our little pee fiasco, we headed to the bus station where we luckily scored two seats on the Tica Bus (nicer, pricier bus line in Central America) which was supposed to make border crossing much quicker and less painful. Uhhhh, right. Tica Bus or no Tica Bus, the border requires 14 hundred thousand hours of standing in lines and attempting not to get robbed.

So.... 14 hundred thousand hours later....we made it across the border, and bused it to the small port town of San Juan Del Sur. The hostel we found happened to have an extremely large flat screen tv, which is funny because it also happened to be.....OSCAR SUNDAY!! w00t w00t!
You better believe I claimed the remote as soon as it was available, (which I was sure would make me every guy´s enemy), but as soon as I found the channel and saw all those shiny red strapless dresses, I knew it was going to be worth it. (Sidenote: whats up with Renee´s new hairdo??)...So I missed you all for my mom´s awesome Oscar party, but I was there in spirit!

The next morning Jen, Sonja (wonderful girl from Vancouver we met at the border) and I hopped on a collectivo and headed to Maderas beach, about 30 minutes north of San Juan....

Walking out the front of our cabaña....

It took me FOREVER to get this picture, and I´m pretty pround of it...humongous sting ray!!

The freshest ceviche you could imagine....por dos dollares!

The hammock in front of Ceviche Man´s stand...I spent many an hour in that!

Sunset in front of my favorite rock yet

So happy to be in nica

Sorry, I was midly obsessed with this rock, and how it cradled the sun for about 45 seconds before it set

For sunset one night, Jen, Sonja and I headed up to this place called Surfcamp Hideout where an eccentric character known to all as Crazy Dave cooks up a mean dinner for a bunch of skaters and surfers who stay at his hostel on the hill. We meet some really great guys from Montreal, had some delicious chicken fajitas, listened to (blasted?) some great music, and took in some killer views of the coastline...

The three chicas

Sonja and I in the fajita line!

The next morning at the ungodly hour of 6, I woke up to a POUNDING on our door, and a man´s voice yelling "Good morrrrrrrrrrning! Rise and shine! This is your activities director, Christie! We have a special surprise in store for you!" (It was just Mushroom Mark - apparently everyone has a nickname - a totally hilarious, quirky guy from Whistler who has lived on Maderas beach for a few years renting surf boards and spearfishing gear). So I rolled myself out of bed, followed Mark down to the beach, trying to hide my grumpiness for being woken up so early, only to find that there were tons of baby turtles hatching in the sand right in front of our cabaña.

Mark, thank you for waking me up.

After an unexpectedly amazing morning (see above pictures??!!)....we hopped in a van and waved goodbye to our precious Maderas beach and all of our new friends. On the ride back, we started chatting with a guy who was sharing the van with us. The conversation started out normal enough...

Me: ¨Hi where are from?"
Him: "La, what about you girls?"
Me: "Oh really? Cool. Jen and I lived there for 5 years for school. Im from Northern California."
Him: "Oh ok. I´m actually from the East Bay but I just say LA because Ive lived there for so long."
Me: "Oh crazy, I´m from the East Bay too. What part are you from?"
Him: "Umm this really small town. Moraga?"
Me: "SHUT. UP."

Small world much? Turned out I had even been in his house in Moraga. (I´m friends with his sister). Craziness.

Anyway, back in San Juan Del Sur, it was time to part ways with Sonja who was headed to Granada for a couple days before her flight home to Vancouver. Jen and I truly enjoyed the 3 days that we got to travel with her - she has such a positive spirit, and is just a great energy to be around in general. She even donated her coconut body oil and leavein hair conditioner spray which may sound insignificant, but were MUCH NEEDED and appreciated!

Next up for Jen and I was Isla Ometepe, an island set in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. The island is formed by an isthmus between two volcanoes, Maderas and Concepcion. After settling in for a couple days (one of which I spent a total of 6.5 hours to go to the lone ATM on the other side of the island!), we geared up to climb the smaller (and inactive!) of the two volcanoes: Maderas. ....

At 6 am, we had a power brekky at our favorite little restaurant by the water near our hostel, and were taken to the base of the volcano by the restaurant owner who also arranges trips to the volcano and guides to take people up. Around 7:45am, with walking sticks in hand, Juan Luis (our guide), Jen and I started up the trail, admiring the beautiful and unique vegetation, the whitefaced monkeys (which I spotted even before the guide), the intense ant fincas (ant farms haha), petroglyphs, banana trees, coffee plants, anis leaves (which I instantly rubbed all over my skin as soon as our guide mentioned that it works as a natural bug repellant....yesss)!

Two and a half hours in.. so far so good, a little muddy, a little steep, a little out of breath....and oh! Sure! Whatever you want, KNEE. Just stop bending. See if I care. Oh wait, I do care. Because now, well, I can´t bend my knee (which apparently is an integral part of hiking straight up a volcano). After about 20 minutes of silently enduring the pain and cursing my knee for failing me (like it has once before, at the top of Yosemite Falls) I decided to apply something that I have learned from practicing yoga these past few years, which is to listen to your body, and let go of your ego. I knew what I had to do. I sent Jen and Juan Luis continuing up, and began my slow descent, solo. The next few hours actually turned out to be an incredible experience. Descending through the mist of the clouds on a volcano...on an a myself. It definitely provided for some quality introspection..

Ok Im tired of writing, and these chairs are uncomfortable, and I´m hogging the computer, and our friends just got back from the market, and its almost time to start celebrating..................JENS ACCEPTANCE INTO USC!!! Congrats bubba. I´m so damn proud of you.

Dinner at our fav place in Ometepe..

Being a n00b on the hammock

Gloriana, possibly the cutest child. ever.


Saturday, March 1, 2008


^my new favorite kindof potentially racist but mostly funny phrase

Just want to say quickly that
1. I am in Granada, Nicaragua
2. I love this country (been here for a week now)
3. I will blog tomorrow when I can spend more time and upload pics
4. Tonight Jen and I will attempt the inevitable when you are backpacking....


(yes, we are actually paying to sleep on them....the other option was a mattress in the middle of the hostel´s garden, or...benches!)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Coconut milk, reggae music, and thunderstorms.....the Caribbean at last

As sad as it is when there is no new blog post to read over coffee in the morning, consider it a good thing when I fall off the face of the earth for a week.... (Case and point: Bocas Del Toro)
This place was amazing. We arrived early (7am?) on a Wednesday morning, and dropped our bags off at one of the hostels we had read and heard about. There were no rooms available yet (again, it was 7am) so we grabbed some brekky, walked around town, and came back a few hours later to check in to what turned out to be the best hostel thus far. We met so many great people, and basically formed our own little family as we woke up next to eachother, cooked on top of eachother (small but nice kitchen), showered while talking with get the point.
We had a great first night out, which included running into our friend Ryan AGAIN and the two sweet Swiss girls whom he's traveling with. It's always quite a riot hanging with them... as the pictures will tell.
Thursday morning I woke up to the sound of rain pounding down above and around me. So THIS is what they were warning about the weather on the Caribbean coast.... After about 30 seconds of being bummed about the day's plans being ruined (biking a few miles to the beach? i think not), I noticed a wonderful sweet smell permeating the air...
Still in my "pj's" (which differ from my day clothes in that I don't wear flip flops), I made it downstairs only to find:
a) it was valentine's day (yes, i had forgotten, and yes i am a girl)
b) a girl was shredding coconut (hence the sweet smell) to make a valentines day cake for everyone
c) a group of 4 boys had made some delicious israeli dish for breakfast and made a plate of the extra for me just as i sat down
d) the hostel offered FREE COFFEE ALL DAY again
Basically it was the coziest, most unexpectedly amazing valentine's day ever.
The rest of the week was great too...a lot of trips to the beach which entailed a 30 minute boat ride and a 45 minute hike through mud (both entirely worth while).
We are in Puerto Viejo now, have been here for a few days, and leave for San Jose tomorrow (ONLY to get a bus the next day, since San Jose is not a place we would otherwise do twice.)
Then its off to Nicaragua on Sunday!

Hopping on the boat after an amazing day at Wizard Beach

Delicious bbq FEAST for Ryan´s birthday!

Bike riding in Puerto Viejo

Coffee and the two favorite things

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Panama Cityness

Downtown Panama City, as seen from the nearby island of Flamenco....reminds me of Manhattan, no?

Ok, look closely. This is a city bus, decorated in the most AWESOME manner. It´s basically an old US school bus which is then repainted to look like a party bus from the 70´s. Some even had streamers attached to the wheels.

I love this the foreground is a tower from the ruins of Panama Viejo, which was the original Panama City before it was destroyed (BY THE WELSH HENRY MORGAN IN 1671 - just for you, "Roman"!.)...and in the background is one of the modern highrises of downtown ´new´ Panama City, which is the most developed city in Central America.

Old church next to old colonial buildings in the area of Casco Viejo, where our hostel was.

Our street, which we WERE allowed to walk opposed to others.
On almost every corner, there were at least two policemen, telling us which streets we could walk down and which we should avoid for safety reasons. They said if there is no policeman on the next corner, we shoud not even walk down that block!
(Sorry parents!)

The Canal!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I´m in Cuba........with a broken neck.

(Or at least I feel like I´m in Cuba... and I feel like my neck actually may be broken.)

Jen and I arrived late last night in Panamà (Panama City) and took a taxi straight to our hostel in an area called Casco Viejo, which is an old colonial district with narrow, cobblestone streets and old churches, salsa clubs and plazas at every corner. All the Panameños here wear the typical Panama hats (creatively named "Panamas"), which paired with the cobblestone plazas makes us feel like we are walking through the streets of old Havana. (Not to mention that we took up cigar smoking today.)

Our hostel is actually in an old colonial mansion, which ALMOST makes up for the fact that my bed is
1) totally broken....hence the broken neck
2) in a dorm room with not one, but seven boys (and jen)
a. one of whom does not deem it necessary to at least throw on a towel on the way to the shower at 8 in the morning (first sight in the morning: stranger´s white bum running in front of your face across the room)
ahhhhhhh dorm life, right?

It´s pretty hot out compared to the perfect cool breeze of Boquete, which is why Jen and I have decided to seek refuge in the airconditioning of the internet cafe. (Although... I struggle with calling this place a ´cafe´, when it could be more accurately labeled ´chilly internet dungeon with frightening bathrooms´). Although we´ve heard some negative things about Panama City, I am pretty excited be here. This city has so much history, which makes walking through its various districts that much more interesting. The area we are staying in is where the city basically had to be rebuilt after being completely ransacked and destroyed in 1671, leaving only the ruins of Panamá Viejo (which we will be visiting tomorrow). And duh, the city also holds one of the world´s greatest engineering feats...the Panama Canal.

One last thing before I reimmerse myself in big-city-heat-and-sun-and-noise-and-traffic....
the quality of our life as travelers just improved 10 fold, as we just purchased....crappy plastic ipod speakers!! (No, seriously though. TEN FOLD.)

I lied. ONE more thing....the guy next to me is frantically clicking around on a site called "Cyber Cupido". He´s about 65 years old. Ok thats it for now!

Friday, February 8, 2008

An ode to antibiotics and gingerale

I´ve been there before. We all know I´ve been there before. After enduring all the symptoms of malaria every 3 days for a month in Southeast Asia, I´m pretty much a travelers-sickness afficianado. (Not to mention I think my stomach now has a steel lining....let´s hope for no repeats.)

Jen, on the other hand, is just a spring chicken when it comes to getting deathly sick in a third world country. Not anymore! Poor girl woke up at 3 in the morning on Thursday not feeling so hot, shall we say. I´ve been more than extatic to run mini errands as her private doctor, since fetching 7up is pretty much all one can do to help. After a full day in bed yesterday, she finally made it out into the sunlight TWICE today. (And trust me, that´s a big day!)

This morning on my way to pick up a pedialite for my little invalid, I stopped in the local fruit and vegetable market which you would never know existed as it is hidden in an old, unmarked building with two hidden, unmarked entrances. Once I finally made my way inside, I was overwhelmed by the number of vendors selling pretty much the same thing: fresh fruit and vegetables. Once again the only gringa in sight, all eyes were on me to make my pick of vendors. I first opted for a small vendor in the corner where I bought a ginormous bag of green beans for $1. With my extremely limited spanish, I asked the older man behind the counter if I could take a picture, and with the smile and si, si, si goahead...kindof had a field day with produce pictures!

Since I was standing there looking like an idiot for so long, playing around with the color settings on my camera, zooming in on random vegetables, etc.. I wanted to show the woman behind this counter what I was doing. I think she was a little confused at first, because she looked back at the vegetables (probably to make sure they all had color, not just the red cabbage). She loved seeing all the pictures, and she called her husband over who then yelled for their little boy who had been chillin on the ground working on half a watermelon the whole time. He could NOT get over the pictures, and we ended up playing a game where he´d have to find the colored item and shout the was probably the cutest thing I´ve ever seen. And it definitely made me want to learn spanish even more, since all I could manage to say was "uhh errr guapo!" (uhhh errrr handsome!) after taking his picture.

Just striking up some convo with our know.

El Mercado