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Up, up and away

a travel blog by veritykent

Five and a half months, twelve countries........let's see what happens!
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So here we go........

Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala

So here I go with my travel blog. For those of you who read Lal's I'm going to warn you now that mine will be much less eloquent and probably a bit more erratic!

Well first off I landed in Miami where the overhead announcement informed me that if I was transiting to Central America my bags would meet me there, as planned at Heathrow. However when I came to going through security I was told that this was not the case and I would have to pick my bag up and then check it back onto my connecting flight to Guatemala. I waited at the carosel for quite a while and couldn´t see my bag so thought I'd trust the previous annoucement and headed through customs without my bag. So you can imagine my relief when my bag actually turned up in Guatemala as planned!

I made my way straight to a line of taxis outside the airport and was taken to Hotel Spring in Guatemala city which I had pre-booked. I was very simple and clean with friendly staff so I was quite settled on my first night which was nice. I was so exhausted as it was about 2:30am in England I had been up since 6:30am! I dropped of to sleep very quickly and woke refreshed and ready to start myu adventures. The man on reception at the hotel helped me book a taxit to take to the chicken bus which would take me to Antigua.

This was probably the funniest experience so far. There was only me and one other lady on the bus when it set off which I thought was strange as I'd heard they pack everyone on pretty tightly. I soon realised why this was though. Basically there's a guy who hangs out of the open bus doors yelling the destination at passers by and if they show an interest in getting on the bus slows down just enough for them to leap on! I can only really describe it as friendly curb crawling! Along the way various vendors jump on the bus for a couple of stops to sell you newspapers and nibbles and then get off again further down the road. At one point someone came on to preach the bible to us for a while. I thought the whole journey was fantastic and loved the whole disregard for timetables.

Luckily there was a Canadian bloke on the bus who helped me get off at the right place and so I wandered through Antigua looking for the hostel I planned to stay at. It was actually very close to where I jumped of the bus so I didn't have to walk very far! It's a great little hostel with very friendly staff, clean rooms and bathrooms and free breakfast and internet thrown into the price. I felt a bit lonely that afternoon and was a bit unsure of myself but I soon got chatting with the other people staying there who are all really good fun.

That evening we all decided to go to a local football match at it was the team that our hostel owner supported. It was such fantastic fun. We all learnt the chants on the way there and then continued to sing and shout for the next two hours! Not great football but a brilliant atmosphere.

Yesterday I ventured up a live volcano (Volcan Pacaya) with the others from the hostel. The ascent was NOT FUN in the boiling sun and walking on gravel and sand which was not easy. However it was worth it to get to the top and see the amazing views and watch the sunset go down over the surrounding moutains and volcanoes. We were not close to the liquid lava abviously but the rocks were warm enough for soem people to roast marshmallows on! Even though you couldn't really see it in the daylight, the lava lit up the night sky and made the smoke glow a pinky red. It got very chilly after nightfall though so the descent came as a bit of a relief.

permalink written by  veritykent on March 6, 2009 from Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala
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Lanquin and Rio Dulce

Lanquin, Guatemala

I spent a few more days after the volcano day in Antigua soaking up the sun and taking in the relaxing wayof life. It is such a gorgeous town with markets and a beautiful central plaza surrounded by old buildings and purple flowering trees. I was going to be doing a five day language course whilst I was there but I met four great people who were moving on to Lanquin on the Monday morning, something that I was planning to do after my course, so I decided to go with them instead and do some language learning when I'm staying with Lals in Utila.......it was definitely worth it and we had the most fantastic couple of days.

We caught a shuttle to Lanquin which took about six hours and decided to stay at a hostel aptly named El Retiro. Right on the river and surrounded by thatched huts to stay in, it was a pure chunk of paradise (apart from the bedbugs!) We spent the first full day lounging in the sun and taking refreshing dips in the river and then yesterday we took a group tour to Semuc Champey, definitely the highlight so far. Famed for its emerald gren pools and river it didn't disappoint. The first activity was exploring the caves (allegedly a year or two ago some Americans spent three days trying to find the back of the caves but failed - just to give you an idea how extensive they are) by candlelight. We were each given our own candle and then we trekked through endless passages ways, up and down rocks. In some places the water was so deep we had to swin, which is harder than it sounds inflipflops and whilst holding a lit candle!

We eventually emerged into blazing sun and took a relaxing tube trip down the river. Basically you sit in a rubber ring and then let the slow current carry you downstream whilst you take in the scenery - stunning and perfectly relaxing. From there we hiked up to a lookout point - exhausting - to catch our first glimpse of the actual pools. It's hard to describe them or to give them justice using words so I will try and upload a photo of them soon so you can see for yourself. Deep green and in a sort of layered formation they made the perfect end to a tiring day. We were allowed to dive in and swim around for about an hour before we had to get the bus home......aboslute bliss.

Today we woke up and two of our travelling buddies headed off for Tikal, some ancient ruins in the jungle that given time I would have loved to have done myself. Instead Marcus, Emily and I set off for Rio Dulce which is a lakside town in the north-east of Guatemala. So far not much to report as we have only just got here but it appears to be an extremely bustling and lively fishing town. We only intend to stay one night here before heading upriver to Livingstone, a true backpacker hangout! To be continued......

permalink written by  veritykent on March 12, 2009 from Lanquin, Guatemala
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Puerto Barrios, Guatemala

The last time I sat down to write an entry I was in Rio Dulce about to head off to Livingstone, that was a good couple of weeks ago so much has happened since and I am now in a completely different country on a little island in the Caribbean!

The boat ride from Rio Dulce to Livingstone was maybe one of my favourite things yet - it was the most beautiful journey and so peaceful. The river was surrounded on each side by 100ft banks completely swathed in jungle greenery and as we travelled pelicans with 4-5ft wing spans would just glide along the side of the boat at eye level. I honestly could carried on the journey all day but sadly it only took a couple of hours to reach our destination. To fill you in, Livingstone is completely different from mainland Guatemala, as it is home to a mix of lots of different races and cultures. Coming from the mainland which is predominately inhabited by Latin Americans (fairly obviously!) Livingstone has a strong Caribbean influence as many Carib and African people settled there ages ago. The change was quite dramatic and walking through the town on the way to the hostel it felt like being in a completely different country. The houses were all painted in the pale blues and turquoises and there was a lot more noise - not intrusive but bustling. The hostel we wanted to stay at (Casa de la Iguana) was full on our first night so we checked in a little hotel down the road which was basic but perfectly adequate. We went for supper at Iguana though as they serve up a big meal to everyone in the bar area so it was great to chat to different people and find out what there was to do on the island. We found out that the beach and jungle tour was pretty fun so we signed up to do that the next day. It was a good choice as we basically saw the whole of the island in one tour which was perfect as we were only planning on staying for two nights. We met up with our local guide and he first walked us round the town giving us a bit of history and showing us the important local things like the schools, church and cemetry (a huge thing there as they celebrate the Day of the Dead) and then we headed into the jungle. Possible the hottest I have ever been in my life, it was still great to wander through jungle undergrowth past Mayan settlements and stray goats! The walk took lead us down to the river which we gratefully paddled in until our little boat came to pick us up to take us downriver to the beach. It was a little dug out canoe that we had to sit cross-leeged in single file in to fit us all in - absolutely gorgeous, I think Daddy should get one to add to our canoe collection at home. The beach was all white sands and beautiful blue waters so we all had a swim and some lunch before heading off to what I suppose was the highlight of the tour - the Siete Altares (Seven Altars) which is a series of seven waterfalls that are shallow enough to walk up to the largest one at the end which as a great plunge pool to swim in. We all agreed that there was probably not much better than swimming at the base of a waterful in the jungle! We'd managed to book into the Iguana hostel for our second night which was good fun, defintely the place to go if you're looking for a backpackers haven with plenty of rum!

permalink written by  veritykent on March 30, 2009 from Puerto Barrios, Guatemala
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Utila, Honduras

The next morning Emily, Marcus and I began a very long day of travelling which started with a boat to Puerto Barrios, then a taxi to the border followed by a bus to San Pedro Sula and then another bus to La Ceiba. We started at about 8:30am and didn't stop moving until about 9:00pm that evening - we were all pretty exhausted so we checked into the nearest hostel ready to head to Utila the next day. It turned out that pretty much everyone in the hostel was doing the same thing so we all shared taxis the next day to the port which worked quite well and then all boarded the Utila Princess to take us across the water. An hour later and there I was, on the little island that Lals has called home for the past six months - I had loads of butterflys about seeing her I was so excited! There were loads of people at the dock from all the different dive schools trying to get you to go with them so I sought out someone wearing an Alton's t-shirt and jumped in their pickup so they could take us to the dive shop. Lals was on the morning boat so she didn't get in until about 12:30pm but when her boat came in I was standing on the dock jumping around like a child! It was quite an emotional reunion but fantastic to finally see her home. As soon as I had stepped off the ferry I could immediately understand why she has not been able to leave. The town is adorable and full of lovely wooden houses on stilts and the hustle and bustle of a little seaside port. Alton's itself is also great - it's pier stretches out into the water and has a double level area at the end strung up with hammocks. The top deck is perfect for sunbathing, whilst the lower deck is where everyone hangs out during the day to read their dive books etc etc.

I started my Open Water Course the next afternoon and am now a fully qualified diver up to 18 meters! Alton's give you two free fun dives (fun dives are what the qualified customers come to do) with the course so Lals came as my Dive Master and we just went off swimming on our own. It was the best feeling being deep under water with Lals showing me all the fish and different coral - can't wait to do it again before I leave. It's about $50 a fun dive so I think I'll wait until Jonny and the boys get here before I splash out on another one so we can all go together.

Since qualifying I have to admit that I have been living a life of luxury, sunbathing and swimming in the crystal blue waters during the day and sipping on rum coctails at night! Lals' flatmate left last week so she very kindly let me stay in her spare room until her new flatmate moved in. I felt like I was in a tropical Rhosneigr! I am having the most fabulous time here and I know it will be hard to leave but after Utila I'll be heading to Nicaragua where I am sure many more adventures await me! Until then ........

permalink written by  veritykent on March 30, 2009 from Utila, Honduras
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Utila 2

Utila, Honduras

Well I ended up staying for almost four weeks in Utila which is much longer than I had originally planned, but as Jonny had said to me before I went away, it was definitely the most fun month of my life! I continued my relaxed lifestyle for another week or so, just exploring the town adn doing little trips with Lals. We went bike riding one day, and snorkeling the next so it was a very relaxing couple of weeks. Then on my last week, Jonny and boys came up to join me which was also incredible fun. I greeted them all at the ferry with huge butterflies in my stomach and off clambered these four bearded boys! Jonny has shaved his head and dyed it blonde which was very strange and it took me a while to get my head around the fact that it actually was my boyfriend and not someone else! I had been staying at Lala´s house (thank you so much once again lalsy) up until this point but when the boys arrived we all moved into Alton´s accomodation again. Jonny and Iggy started their Open Water Course and Sims and Husky did their advanced so for the first couple of days I continued to top up my tan and read my book whilst they were in lessons. Husky´s birthday on Thursday so Lals took us all on a fun dive which was great fun. Chip allowed us to borrow his underwater camera so we spent a lot of time posing for some silly photos! They were great dives, it´s so much more fun going with your friends as you feel like you´ve shared something pretty special when you come back up to the surface.
Saturday was a very sad day, inevitably so. I had to say goodbye to Utila, which was beginning to feel like home, Lala and Jonny and the boys all in one day so I was a bit of a teary mess in the bus station. Luckily a very nice German guy called Lennart came over to see if I was ok and we got chatting about travels and it turned out he was heading the same way as me so we decided to stick together for a bit. It was brilliant to have someoe to talk to as it helped take my mind off things, and also he spoke a bit of Spanish which an added bonus as my thinking hat was not on particularly straight that day!
Together we hopped on a bus from San Pedro Sula where I had left the boys to Tegucigalpa which is the Honduran capital, and where we had to spend a night to break up our journey, and then on to Leon the next day. We were intending to get a bus that would take us all the way from Tegicugalpa to Leon, but unfortunately it was full so we ended up catching three separate chicken buses - extremely hot, sweaty and dusty - so we were both very relieved to arrive in Leon, check into a very nice hostel called Bigfoot and have a nice cold shower!

permalink written by  veritykent on April 15, 2009 from Utila, Honduras
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Leon, Nicaragua

So that evening Lennart and I had a very nice relaxed supper in a restuarant across from our hostel and spent the next day just wandering round the city. April is apparently the hottest month in Nicaragua so around midday it simply gets too hot to explore. Luckily our hostel has a very small, but very refreshing plung pool so I spend most of lunchtime sitting in the shallows reading my book. We met another lovely Swedish girl called Louise and the three of us went for supper and drinks that evening. She was telling me that there´s a beach about an hour away by bus so that´s what her and I got up to yesterday. It´s a very strange beach which I can´t really explain without photos but I´ll try my best. Basically the sand is a mixture of black and Normal sand so it has the appearance of dust or dirt. It´s long, beach which just appears like a vast expanse of Shoreline, with these huge, powerful waves crashing every few seconds. All this mixed with the fact that we were pretty much the only people in sight, make it quite eery altogether, but spectacular to look at. It was a bit too hot for me to sunbath so I spent most of the day lying in a hammock reading my book which was pure bliss.
I was meant to be going volcano boarding this afternoon on the boys recommendation but unfortunately I went to sign up about ten minutes too late and the trip was full up. All very annoying really as I was hoping to beat the boys´top speed - oh well, I´ll just assume that I would have done instead!
Tomorrow I head to Granada with Louise, which I have been told is not a very interesting city but there´s a few gorgeous day trips you can do to surrounding lakes which sound glorious so I will tell you all about them in my next entry.

permalink written by  veritykent on April 15, 2009 from Leon, Nicaragua
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Granada, Nicaragua

Granada, Nicaragua

Well I'm not sure what those boys were going on about....Granada is beautiful and maybe one of my favourite cities so far. I can see their point that it probably isn't a good exaple of 'true' Nicaragua as it is quite touristy in the main areas, but still the buildings are gorgeous, brightly coloured colonial structures and the Central Park is a blissful place to spend an hour reading your book.
When I arrived I headed straight to a hostel called the Bearded Monkey that Jonny and the boys had recommened to me. They didn't have any space in a dorm but luckily I had met two lovely Swiss girls on the bus so we booked into a three man room together. We were all quite tired after our hot couple of chicken buses so headed out to grab some lunch and then wandered down to the edge of Lago de Nicaragua. It was a beautiful walk down to the shore and the view point offered some pretty good views of the lake, though I am sure I will get better photos when I take the ferry to Isla de Ometepe.
That evening I met up with Louise and her friends, and Lennart again as it was her (Louise's) last night so we went for a very nice Mexican meal and some drinks at a bar. A very lovely evening but I was sad to see Louise go as she was a great girl to travel round with.
The next day Lennart and I signed up to visit the Laguna de Apoyo which is a lake nearbye to Granada. The Bearded Monkey hostel offers trips to a hostel which is run by the same person and for a small day fee you can use the hotel's facilities and use sunbath on their land. It was such a great day of really doing nothing! There were lots of little places to sunbath on sun loungers so I grabbed one in the shade and read my book for a few hours before doing a little bit of sunabthing and plenty of swimming in the lake. It's freshwater which made a nice change from the salt sea that I had become used to in Utila, and about ten metres out into the water a platform had been floated so you could swim out and sunbath in the water. There were also canoes and rubber rings that you could use if it took your fancy.
It's such a cliche but it really is a small world! I met a couple from England who had both been to Birmingham Univeristy and when we got talking about where we go to school I mentioned that I had been at a small girls' boarding school near Wales, and she chriped up "It wasn't Moreton Hall was it, only you remind me so much of my friend Emily Arthur who went there"!. It turned out they also knew Hannah Boon well, funny old thing this travelling!
After a lovely day at the lake, the bus took us back in the late afternoon and Iwas feeling surprisingly tired having done nothing all day! I deciced to get some food at the hostel (yummy nachos with chicken and beans) and then read my book for a few hours before having a relatively early night.
Yesterday Lennart and I decided to take the bus to a nearbye town called Masaya that we were told was home to a fun market. We spent a few hours wandering round looking at the stalls but it was huge and slightky overwhelming so I'm sure we only really saw a fraction of the stalls. I bought myself a baseball cap to wear during the Inca Trail and some gorgeous rainbow striped flipflops that I had seen and wanted to buy in Utila, so they made me feel pleasantly nostalgic. Overall I have to say I was nothugely impressed by the market, and thought the one in Antigua was much better by far, but hey ho, it was a nice little excursion to see a bit more of Nicaragua. We arrived back in Granada in the afternoon so I wandered off by myself to take some photos of the town and try and get my hands on a South American guidebook at a book exchange. It's notoriously hard to find, so it was unforutately a fruitless search. I managed to capture some pretty piccies though so not a completely failed mission.
Last night I just had some quiet drinks at the hostel bar and once again read my book in bed, a very pleasant evening.
Today (Mummy's birthday) is my last day and night in Granada so I have been making use of the speedy internet for about the last two hours getting all my photos uploaded so people can have a flick through. If anyone (who isn't mummy as she already knows about this) wants to look through them, then go to: www.flickr.com and log in as me.
Username: veritykent
Password: Charlie
You should then be able to browse through the photos. The best way to do it is to look at the "sets" that I have created as it gives the pics some structure.
Tomorrow I head off to Isla de Ometepe, an island siutuated about an hour offshore from a small town called San Jorge, and home to two pretty fine volcanos, one of which I intedt to climb whilst I'm there. I will tell you how I get on in my next blog.

permalink written by  veritykent on April 19, 2009 from Granada, Nicaragua
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Isla de Ometepe

Rivas, Nicaragua

Wow, what a journey! Even though the Isla de Ometepe is pretty close by to Granada it took a whole day of travelling to get from the city to our hostel on the island! When I say our I mean an american guy called Blake who I had met on my last night in Granada and who also happened to be heading to Ometepe the same day as me, always nice to have a travelling companion, especially one that speaks Spanish!
We started out at 9:00am and caught a chicken bus from Granada to Nandaime, then another one on from there to Rivas, followed by a taxi to San Jorge where the ferry terminal is. This really didn´t take us too long and the ferry (amazing little boat that had an air-conditioned compartment at the bottom and which played a whole hour´s worth of eighties pop videos including classics by Celine Dion, The Begees, Wham and many others!) left pretty promptly and only takes an hour so we were on the island by about 12:30 - 1:00pm ish.
Isla de Ometepe is basically an island made of up two volcanos that rise out of the lake and have joined up in the middle. As I have mentioned previously I wanted to climb the smaller of the two, Volcan Maderas and the best place to stay to do that is obviously on the smaller section of the island at the base of the volcano. When we arrived we were accosted by ´charming´young taxi men trying to tell us that the only way to get to the smaller part was to take a taxi with them that would cost us in the region of $25! This gave us a bit of a shock, but having dicussed it with the bus drivers it turned out that were lying through their teeth and all we had to do was jump on a (very long and slow) chicken bus and it would take us all the way there. So after some lunch we hopped on a bus and started off. The beginning was fairly pleasant, although extremely crowded and we moved along as swiftly as is possible in an old bus that is holding over double its intended capicity. However the journey deteriorated fairly rapidly! The roads became so unbelievably bad that on more than one occasion (I was standing at this point) both of my feet were thrown about 3-4 inches into the air at the same time and then plonked back down again....naturally I got the giggles!
Despite this bone shaker ride, it was actually great fun. The island is made up of little villages so the roads were lined with rustic huts, chicken, cows and more roaming pigs than I could count. I think dads, if you could get over the bad roads you would quite happily set up home there. Everywhere you look there are groups of little piglets being chased around by mothers or varying shapes and sizes, but by far the lovliest were the brown and pink spotted ones.
So eventually we did make it to our destination, a small family run hostel on the west coast of the smaller section of the island called Monkey´s Island Hotel, complete with its own pet monkey. It´s a very basic but perfectly adequate hostel with very plain rooms, thankfully with mosquito nets over the beds, and a large, open air, communal area where meals were served and hammocks blew in the breeze.
Unfortuantely I chose these two days to be a bit under the weather so the next day I didn´t hike up the volcano but sat in a rocking chair and felt sorry for myself for most of the day! This tunred out to be quite nice though anyway as it was such a hot day, I don´t think I would have got much enjoyment from the hike anyway. The hostel is situated on a little spur so has it´s own beach at the bottom of the hill where I took myself for a late afternoon swim and then headed back to the hostel for some supper. It´s such a quiet area so in the evenings everyone just sat around the tables after supper chatting and then mostly had early-ish nights.
The best thing about the island is probably the variety of animals you encounter. Having been based in cities since arriving in Nicaragua I had not had a chance to see much wildlife so it was a nice treat to see huge blue winged butterflys, parrots and little monkeys dotted through the trees. We also had a rather hairy tarantula in our room on the second night which was not quite so pleasant but the hostel owner told us they are not dangerous ones....I´m not actually sure how much this eased my mind!
It is such a diverse island that it idealy one should take at least a week and travel round the island staying at different spots as it seems they all offer different things. However, I do not have a week to spend there, so on Wednesday morning I made my way down to the bus station (without Blake as he opted to spend one more night) and caught the long and rattly bus back to the ferry port. As often seems to happen, I met a great Canadian girl on the bus so we headed to San Juan del Sur together and booked into a great hostel near the beach called Casa Oro. Funnily enough some boys that I had met in Leon were staying here too, and my Australian friend Marcus had also ended up in San Juan so the night turned out to be a fun reunion.
Today I spent the morning getting to know the town, wandering round and strolling down the beach and then headed to a nearbye beach called Playa Remanso in the afternoon with Marcus. The beach at San Juan is lovely to wander up and down but it doesn´t offer so much in the way of surfing so most people staying here just shuttle to other beaches during the day and come back in the evening as the town´s more lively than those at the surrounding beaches. Remanso was gorgeous but had huge waves so I watched as the big boys ventured out into the surf. Marcus did give me a short lesson though when the swell had died down a bit and I managed to stand up and surf right into the beach on my first, ok second, go! I was actually very impressed with myself!
Tonight apparently there´s an open mic night in town so I will probably be heading out to that, but for now I´m starving so I´m off to find some sups.

permalink written by  veritykent on April 23, 2009 from Rivas, Nicaragua
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San Juan del Sur

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Well I ended up staying an entire week in San Juan becuase I was having so much fun and loving spending time by the beach.
The live music turned out to be great fun, especially because there was an amazing couple of (relative) oldies who were having a whale of a time, grooving along with more energy than any of the youngsters!
My next few days there were really spent doing much the same as the first. I would spend my mornings wandering round the town, eating big bowels of fresh fruit for breakfast and then reading my book in the beach side cafes whilst sipping on pineapple and mango juice...absolutely wonderful! A group of us had befriended this amazing local guy called Nelson who had a pickup truck so in the afternoons, for a small fee of course, he would ferry us, and all the boys' boards, to whichever beach we fancied, usually either Remanso or Madera. Here the boys would surf whilst I topped up the tan and swam in the sea and wandered up and down the beach taking photo after photo!
There are loads of places to eat in San Juan, but maybe the best was the Chicken Lady (!) who would serve you a big piece of meat from her barbeque, with gallo pinto, salad and plantana chips with a beer for less than $4! Absolute travellers dream. If you were a boy and looked like you needed mothering, she would also dish out huge bear hugs Miss Brown style.
Now Daddy had requeted that I do something cultural so on Monday morning I woke my new best friend, a lovely English guy on his gap year called Tom, bright and early and dragged him up the hill that overlooks San Juan bay to inspect the enormous plastic statue that watches over the town. It was a fun ramble as we really didn't know where we were going and were just wandering in roughly the right direction. We asked a few locals and eventually ended up on the right, and very steep, track. It was a hot and sticky climb, but totally worth it. The Jesus is really quite remarkable! When you're at a distance, the surface which is made to look like carved stone, is really quite convincing. And then you get a bit closer and reaslise the entire structure is made of large plastic panels. Apparently when the boys visisted him a few months ago he was missing a head and an arm, but I'm pleased to say we saw him in his full form, except for the large hole in the back of his head. The views from up there were amazing but as the wind was blowing a gale, photo taking was quite tricky as I couldn't hold the camera still! I think I managed to get a few good ones though. In fact it the wind made the trip even better because it was making the clouds move extremely quickly through the sky, so if you stood at the base of the Jesus and looked up at him, it really seemed as though he was toppling over you.
That evening Tom and I had a budget supper and bought some nachos, avocado and refried beans (something that definitely needs to be introduced to England - basically it's dried kidney beans that they soak and then fry down into a sort of past...absolutely delicious and served with most dishes) which cost about $2 each and was one of the most filling meals I've had yet.
Tuesday was my last day in San Juan so I decided to stay on the main beach for once and not spend money on being taken between beaches. It was a good choice as I bumped into the bar man of the hostel I had stayed at in Granada, a great guy called Dave, who seems like he's constantly on drugs as he has so much energy, but is in fact not, and just has a very hyperactive disposition! So that evening the big group that I had been hanging out with for the week went out for a 'last supper' to a restuarant called Iguana's which serves the BEST cheeseburger and curly fries that I have ever eaten! I know, not particularly local food but great none-the-less.
Unfortunately when I returned to the hostel I'd had a top stolen from my bag which put a bit of a dampener on the evening. I was hoping that I would be as lucky as Lals and not have anything taken my entire trip, but never mind, at least it was nothing valuble....buggers!
On Wednesday morning Tom and I woke fairly early and caught a chicken bus back to Rivas were we parted ways as he was heading off to Ometepe. I was sad to say goodbye to him as he was great company, but as he lives in Cornwall not far from where Jonny goes on holiday, and is friends with my good friend and soon to be house mate Robbie, I'm sure our paths will cross sometime soon.
I jumped on a bus to the border, and had a very slow, but relatively straight forward crossing. It was quite eery really as all the officials were wearing masks and checking everybody's passport for Mexico stamps. I'm not sure what they would have done if they'd found one, but I guess they simply weren't letting people across the border with one.
From there I took a couple of buses and eventually arrived at Playa Tamarindo on the north west coast of Costa Rica, my first stop in a new country.

permalink written by  veritykent on May 3, 2009 from San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
from the travel blog: Up, up and away
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Playa Tamarindo and San Jose

San Jose, Costa Rica

Playa Tamarindo,as I had been warned,w as VERY touristy. I felt more like I was on a foreign holiday than travelling as they were expensively dresses Americans averywhere,s eemingly spending all theirm oney in very pricey souvenir shops! It was a great place to hang out for a few nights before my flight though. I had been reccommended the Botella de Leche hostel which turned out to be a brilliant choice. Obviously the owners have a thing for cattle because the entire hostel was deocrated in a bovine theme with cow print on most of the walls and small herds of model cows dotted around the shelves.
As I only really had one whole day there, having been travelling for most of Wednesday, I just walked around the shops and lay on the beach for most of the afternoon reading my book. I cooked for myself both evenings as Costa Rica is very much more expensive than the rest of Central America and I was trying to conserve a bit of money. The kitchen in the hostel was brill thoughand was open to the common area with big bean bags and sofas so all very sociably stuff really.
I was tempted to stay another night at the beach, but in the end stuck to my original plan and caught an early morning bus on Friday to San Jose which took the best part of seven hours but was pretty comfortableso not too bad really. I´ve got to get used to long bus rides as you can hardly get anywhere in South America without sitting on one for about that long anyway. I checked into my hostel, which again was very nice, and a perfect base for seeing the city. I explored the area near to the hostel in the afternoon and wandered round the Nacional Park which is small, but very sweet.The temperature is noticably different here in the capital, and actually, walking through the park I felt like I was at home somewhere. I cooked for myself again that evening and then just had a very relaxing night in front of a film.
The next morning I got up early(ish) as I wanted to walk around as much of the city as I could in one day. The boys said that they had hated San Jose, but I found a sort of charm to it. It´s true that it´s just a big, busy city, but I much preferred it to some of the capitals I had been to previously on my trip. The guidebook pointed out lots of plazas and lovely buildings that I should visit so I just meadered for a good few hours taking photos and soaking up the city atmosphere. I also had a small parcel and some postcards to post so I went and found the post office, which was situated in the most lovely building I have seen yet on my travels. I took plenty of photos so you can see those on flickr.
It was mid afternoon by the time I made it back to the hostel so I bought some lunch and spend the rest of the afternoon relaxng by the pool and reading my book.
I decided to be a proper traveller and not get a taxi to the airport which would have cost me about $15, and took a local bus instead which was about $1! Took a while to find it and then wasn´t entirely sure that the busd driver knew what I was talking about when I asked if he was going to the international airport, but I got there in the end with plenty of time to check in.
Funilly, when I was queueing to board my flight a girl approached me and asked if I had been on Utila about a month ago and was friend with a tall blonde girl called Alex!! She had been there and Lals had been her divemaster on a few dives. I have said it before, but it seems to happen so much travelling that you meet people again and again even weeks and countries apart.

permalink written by  veritykent on May 6, 2009 from San Jose, Costa Rica
from the travel blog: Up, up and away
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