“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” -Robert Louis Stevenson

I can’t believe we finally made it to Panama. I wonder how many buses and boat rides it took. (I really need to look into offsetting my carbon footprint.) We crossed the border by walking across the tines of an old railroad bridge. Unfortunately this also happened to be the time that we noticed our hard drive was missing. We decided to keep going and hoped when we unpacked our bags it’d appear.


So we continued on to Bocas del Toro an archipelago off the east coast of Panama. We stayed the first night in the town of Bocas which had all the restaurants, tours and bars you could ever want, but seemed to be lacking a bit of the charm we were looking for. So we took another boat to a smaller island called Isla Bastimentos. At this point it was confirmed… The hard drive was gone. At least we knew where it was, tucked safely under the mattress back at our hotel in Costa Rica. Argh! We tried to make the best of this day and took a hike across the island and went for a swim at a yellow sand beach called Wizard Beach. But poor Ezra was preparing himself for his long day of transport back to Puerto Viejo to retrieve our lost gear. This would entail two boat rides and four bus connections – one way. As you can imagine he was a bit cranky as he woke at dawn and made his way back to Costa Rica.

1-IMG_1179 2-IMG_11813-IMG_1264 4-IMG_1279 1-IMG_1194

1-IMG_1231 2-IMG_1239

4-IMG_1248 2-DSC03321 - Copy

Meanwhile I found myself with a day to kill as both of us traveling was expensive and unnecessary torture. The island we were on was pretty but didn’t have a lot in the way of entertainment and so I relaxed and prepared a nice meal for Ezra (we cook most of our meals on a hot plate) when he finally returned for dinner. He told me about his day and the nice German guy he met (who turned out to be Dutch and since I forget his name I will call him Dutchy from here on out) and we celebrated with a nice cold beer and coconut curry.

The rest of our time in Bocas was spent at a leisurely pace. Unfortunately a lot of the activities required tours and being on a tight budget we decided it wasn’t worth it. So one day we biked on the main island of Colon (Dutchy later told us he saw us cruising around) and hung around our little shack with the company of cockroaches, rats, poisonous frogs, cicadas and termites. We also met a nice local guy who showed us his artwork and regaled us with tales of his life from Cuba. He was a cool old cat that said “baby” a lot and shared a few beers.

Next it was on to the town of Boquete, which was named as one of the best places to retire and as such property is being snatched up. I’m not sure I’d want to live in town but the surrounding hills were shrouded in fog and covered with coffee plantations. There were some fantastic trails. One day we hiked what I called the cow path, I’ll give you one guess why, which unsurprisingly reminded me a lot of the Midwest. We also hiked Volcan Baru which was very beautiful along the river and eventually led through bamboo and up to a tall and slightly scary lookout. Of course we ran into Dutchy mid-trail and he convinced us to check out the lookout. I don’t actually think this was part of the trail, more like scrambling up the side of a mountain without a safety harness and at the top you are rewarded with, yes a nice view, but also a sheer cliff crashing down into the abyss. Was this such a good idea, I’m not sure?

1-DSC03350 - Copy 1-DSC033531-DSC03449 - Copy1-DSC034751-DSC034471-DSC03497 1-DSC03532 - Copy 2-DSC03944 - Copy1-DSC033873-DSC03950 1-DSC034062-DSC03432 - Copy1-DSC03547 - Copy 1-DSC038152-DSC03569 - Copy 3-DSC03587 - Copy4-DSC03657 5-DSC03740 - Copy  

Our time in Central America was almost thru. Now it was time to get to Panama City (where we ran into Dutchy on the way to the bus and two more times in the city. One time while chatting he pulled a beer out of his bag, it was barely noon, I couldn’t help but admire his style) and meet up with the Swedish couple we’d be sailing with. We spent our last week in Casco Viejo, visiting the canal and tying up loose ends as we prepared to join the 38-foot catamaran named Happy as crew.


7-DSC042735-DSC043006-DSC043331-DSC04168 - Copy2-DSC04174 - Copy1-DSC039771-DSC039802-DSC039783-DSC040984-DSC041162-IMG_13355-DSC041336-IMG_13647-DSC04366

costa rica

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Having heard so much hype about Costa Rica throughout the years I wasn’t sure what to expect and was hoping that its beauty was not just talk. At this point we were on a very tight schedule and started wondering if we should just pass through. We had solid plans to be crew and needed to be in Panama by mid to end of April. This did not bode well for seeing Costa Rica and we needed to book it South. We decided one stop was necessary and as we rode through we couldn’t stop saying how beautiful it was. Numerous waterfalls passed by as we watched from the windows of the bus and I’m not sure it’s possible for landscape to be any more green.

After a quick night in San Jose we made it to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca where we spent the next four or five nights in this cute little beach town. It was touristy for sure, but it had been able to retain a lot of its charm and character. There was a strong surf culture and something about it made me feel nostalgic for my years in Hawaii. I couldn’t help but daydream about becoming a beach bum. I was halfway there after all, I just needed the beach.

3-DSC03065  1-IMG_1135.JPG (2)

We ran into all sorts of problems during our stay in Costa Rica (unexpected bills back home, food poisoning, losing phones, leaving behind hard drives – more about this later) but it wasn’t able to tarnish how much we loved it. We biked along the coast to Punta Uva stopping to look at real estate signs along the way (what, one can look!), swimming, and trying a sweet treat at a café known for its chocolate. We decided to stay in Puerto Viejo because of its proximity to Manzanillo which was a sleepy little village that we’d read had a spectacular park, which did not disappoint. After spending a day lying in bed and vomiting (food poisoning) Manzanillo was a welcome excursion. I still felt a bit weak, so we took it slow, but the walk along the coast was truly beautiful. We saw more hermit crabs than people and little secret coves abound around each bend.

7-DSC03287 - Copy 3-DSC03139 - Copy 4-DSC03169 - Copy 5-DSC03174

We are thankful for “Costa’s” (read my Honduras & El Salvador post) proximity to the US, and with a little luck, we hope to visit again, and really give it the time it deserves.

6-DSC03238 - Copy 8-DSC03310 - Copy 2-DSC03119 1-DSC03086 - Copy


“To travel is to discover everyone is wrong about other countries.”  -Aldous Huxley

After the epic adventure to get to this fabled land of Nicaragua I was ready to explore it. At the time of buying said ticket we were “convinced” that Leon (where we were dropped off) was every bit as charming as Granada (where we were heading). Shame on me for listening to this nonsense! After one night and half day in Leon we were ready to head out and drug our travel weary bums to the bus station for Granada.



Skip ahead a few hours and Granada was a little slice of perfection after days in dirty vans and dirty cities. This is a place where locals literally pull up rocking chairs and watch the world go by, my kind of place. We spent a few days taking it slow, wandering around town and sampling cheap local fares. We met a few other Americans at a bar, one who regaled us with very paranoid stories throughout the night. Apparently the Swedish boat we were going to be sailing on was probably running drugs and places we were planning to go in Nicaragua were very very dangerous. We met two other nice younger guys who were living in Granada for a year and would continue to run in to them in the upcoming week in Isle de Ometepe.

2-DSC02440 - Copy

granada 3-DSC02465 - Copy

Isle de Ometepe was a magical place where two volcanos are connected by an isthmus which transformed the landscape into something close to perfection. We arrived perfectly in time for mango season and the dirt roads were littered with fallen fruit. Horses and pigs alike wandered the street snacking on the ripe flesh.  We also wandered the street snatching up the sweet jewels and diving for cover (under tin roofs) as the wind picked up and hurled fruit at our heads.  Other activities included a few swims in Lake Nicaragua (where supposedly bullsharks lurk – yikes), bicycling and picnics. We did an all day hike up Volcan Madera which we nicknamed “steep as shit” as we had to clamber up the volcano, at times, by literally climbing up trees and steel ropes. Our 20 years old guide did this in converse shoes while smoking cigarettes and was more concerned about his music selection than his footing. He put us to shame.

1-IMG_0937.JPG (2) 6-DSC02513 8-DSC025279-DSC02534 - Copy   3-DSC02496 - Copy  2-DSC02612 - Copy3-DSC02623 - Copy4-DSC02637 5-DSC02638 - Copy7-DSC02674 - Copy 3-DSC02707 - Copy   1-IMG_0950.JPG (2) 2-DSC02701 - Copy

Our final days were spent in a small town called El Castillo on the Rio San Juan which borders Costa Rica. All transport was by boat as no roads exist. To reach this end of the road we first took an overnight ferry filled with bananas and slept out on the deck underneath the stars. Once in El Castillo we found a room that overlooked the river, hammock and mosquito net included. A local guide took us down the river and through the jungle. He pointed out medicinal plants, poisonous frogs and fresh jaguar prints.

Life seemed to move at a very natural pace in rhythm with the river.

1-IMG_0996.JPG (2)3-DSC02748  2-DSC02716 - Copy1-IMG_1019.JPG (2) 2-DSC02841 - Copy 3-DSC02854 - Copy 4-DSC02856 - Copy 5-DSC02969 - Copy 2-IMG_1044 3-DSC02766 4-DSC02769 - Copy 5-DSC02780 - Copy 6-DSC02792 - Copy 7-DSC02800 - Copy

honduras & el salvador

“Travel is glamorous only in retrospect.”  -Paul Theroux

Poor little Honduras and El Salvador really got kicked to the curb on this trip. Back when we thought we had months to make it through Central America, instead of two, I had great plans for these countries. We heard from other travelers just to skip Honduras. I didn’t like the sound of this and we decided to head to Copan Ruinas anyway. The town had a colonial feel with cobblestone streets and all the men seemed to loiter about in jeans and white cowboy hats. The ruins outside of town were well preserved and the stelaes (standing stone monuments of the ancient Maya) were incredible. There were also tons of Macaws that had the most brilliant scarlet feathers. However, we were running short on time and decided we had to skip the Bay Islands where we had hoped to do some diving and relaxing. So I conceded this defeat and we got the “best” option for transportation to Nicaragua, and here is where the fun began.

01-DSC02003 - Copy 1-DSC02301 04-DSC02041 - Copy 05-DSC02044 06-DSC02051 - Copy 07-DSC02056 - Copy 08-DSC02071 - Copy  10-DSC02139 - Copy 11-DSC02275 - Copy

We’ve taken some ridiculous forms of transportation but this might just take the cake. To get to Nicaragua (geography lesson- it’s just south of Honduras) we boarded an old broke down minivan before dawn and headed west, not south. We crossed back through the Guatemala border, to just pass through the Honduras border again maybe an hour later. Okay, good we’re back on track. Not so fast, why are we going through the El Salvador border now? I must point out that at each of these border crossings we got out of the van, had to go through customs and immigration and pay any of the “necessary” fees. Once in El Salvador we dropped off some passengers, picked up a few more and stopped at a roadside café for lunch. Ezra and I pulled out our bread and peanut butter and ate our dry sandwiches like good frugal vagabonds.

After stretching our legs for a few minutes, it was back on the road again. I lost track (or maybe I just blocked the memory) of how many more border crossing we went through after this. I think we went back into Honduras one last time before finally crossing in to Nicaragua, because, why wouldn’t you? I can’t be sure of the length of time but I think this excursion took a sweet 18 hours, made to feel even longer by one girl’s incessant chatter about her travels and continually calling Costa Rica “Costa.” Dude, we’re all going the same route, stop talking. Ha ha. All in all an interesting day. Surprisingly this trip made me even more interested in El Salvador. Next time I guess.