Sunday, December 30, 2007

Along the backbone

We zipped along Coasta Rica, pausing breifly to toush base in Nicoya where we got REAL dirty spelunking in caves of Barra Honda National Park. Met up with a French-Canadian chica, Crystal, and the three of us caught a ride back to town for dinner. Then we made INSANE headway by bus, and also a ferry over the penninsula, overnighting in Quepos and then a really slow bus driver took 5 hours to transport us to San Isidro. Missed our bus, got the next one out of town to the border. Stranding room only, but we soon found some seats. Then crossed the borderon foot (oh, yeah, an exit stamp...) got a bus to David, and another to Panama City. No food, little water, very little sleep, a whole lot of money later, we were at Zuly´s hostel. Destination anticipated April 2007. Here we are, with a fat deposit on a boat to Cartegena, Colombia. It takes 5 days, departs on the 3rd. We stop over a few nights in San Blas Islands where we spear fish, and chill on seculded beaches with 13 other travelers. Then we try to get a boat along the Amazon to Peru. Wish us luck!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Finally broke out of Utila

We weathered some raging storms off the coast of Utila, Honduras which kept us running to the ferry dock every morning at 5 media AM only to hobble back to the room we rented, and I had forsaken as our crummy luck. We did, however, get some fantastic snorkling in early one morning because of this. Manuel has only snorkled in the Yuba, and myself when I was 10 in Maui. What I remember of it, is vague. We dashes out to the beach and attired ourselves with flippers and masks. Then realized we werent so sure of the rest. Clumsily lopping along the beach, then stumbling, falling, blatantly looking like an ass we realized that snorkling was going to be a learning experience. We soon fell into a ga¿ravitational pull with the current swirling around a coral island from both sides. In a slightly deep impression we spotted both manatee and B fish. Scared the hell out of me until I saw my panick frighten both away. I mostly prefer spying on the bright little fishies in the reefs, and am going to have to work myself up to those montrous entities I have been so far unawares to under the deep blue. The ferry finally pulled us out of the stench bog of Utila around 8 AM on Wednesday.
It took all day to ride a bus from dreaded La Ceiba, through San Pedro Sula and finally down to Tergucigalpa. A couple of frenchmen had been trailing us from Utila, then taking the lead, and as we caught up to them again in a Taxi in Tegucigalpa, we all banded together in broken English/Spanish/French to find a $5 hotel room and the TansNica busline which would take us straight through the Honduran and Nicaraguan border to San Jose, Costa Rica in about 20 hours. (Thanks for all your help Micheal and Alex!) Here I am, at the Pangea Hostel in San Jose. After the experience of La Esperanza, San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba, and Tegucigalpa, where we went hungry for lack of ambition to face the ugly horriblness of an unplanned and developing nation, we welcome this beautiful Americanized city. Today we spent arranging our Navidad accomodations, and trying to find useful items we have done without for too long. It was fantastic in a dememted sort of way. To fight the rush of holiday shoppers, and a big red Santa in the midst of warm Central America. Manuel successfully found some flip flops (they dont make shoes for big feet down here) and I got me some vitamin B1 supplements to fight those malaria ridden fae. Oh! And the best of all was my trade in of Sandman Vol. 10 for a Costa Rica guide book. Whenever we ride a bus I cant wait to get off, except for the knot in my stomach asking my rationality, where the hell are we going to sleep tonight, and how do we find it? There is a certain sense of satisfaction which comes of knowing how much raw culture we have experienced thus far. We found it first hand, no help but vague realiance on our idiot idiomas and luck. So many places we have traveled with the snide looks of locals who dread the face of gringo on their territory. And we understand it so well. Do we not patronize and scoul at the tourists in Nevada City? They are quite a neccesary laugh and entertaining conversational topic on lazy summer days. But the security the Lets Go, Costa Rica on a Budget offers is something I am willing to trade my endured traveling angst self for.
While crossing borders from Nicaragua (we may trek back that direction yet) into Costa Rica, Manuel and I were attacked by a pleasant surprise. A New Zealander lept onto me. It was Charlotte, and Susie wasnt far behind. We all came to a most simultaneous decision that the Caribbean stormland was not our place for a holiday. So we are meeting up on the Pacific side in Playa Tamarindo. As if the name werent similar to my own enough to spark interest, it is located on the cusp of a national park with breeding sea turtles. We are also staying in a hostel owned by a Mariana, and she says they are having a fiesta for the holidays. We are getting ready to jump on the road again manana, and I am curious where the winds will take us come New Years. Good Solstice to you all, and lets enjoy the Full Moon. Love and bliss!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


We made it through some rough territories. Caught a ride outta San Juan to La Esperanza where they havent finshed the highway. We stayed the night in our first encounter of a not -so- pleasant hotel where we were bug bitten despite our sleeping bags. Then made our way up to Lake Yojoa to find D&Ds renouned Bed and Breakfast Brewery with supposedly fresh blueberries that I culd almost taste on my tongue, but were not in season upon our arrival. After sampling every beer and playing alot of poker with our stash of Quetzals from Gautemala, we dicided it wasnt our scene and made headway for the Caribean coast. We are very happy here at Roli s Hostel. There is a beautiful, spacious garden, outdoor kitchen (we love to cook tortillas, empanadas, refried beans, eggs, fresh vegies, oatmeal....), free bicycles (I am in love with a particular bike that I swear I already dreamed about and want to buy it), free kayaks (tomorrow), ping pong, chess, a ceiling fan, radio!, and a shower head with actual water pressure. The climate here is a nice sweat -like the sauna I adore, and the terrain is flat so bike riding is an easy breeze. Not many cars, and the taxi we took for fun and to spare further exhaustion yesterday tardes was a bicycle as well. The beach here has been traumatized by oil rigging and central americas obbession with plastic bags. The locals LOVE plastic and packaged foods. They stand like hot shots with cheap striped grocery bags and throw trash out the window with little thought. Oh! Inspires me to do some education artwork, murals maybe, to educate people of the biodegradable-not of plastics, ect.... BUT, the government here is not yet in support of a proactive approach to this problem, and our hostel has a petition to try an encourage future awareness of the people in power. We hope to encourage our New Zealand Amigas to meet up with us here and then travel to Costa Rica for Xmas together, as we know they would love it as well. We miss you Suzie and Charlotte! Hope you are all safe and happy at home. Love and miss you. My heart is with you Grandpa, and I play my bones for you on the ocean at sunset. Love love love. Tamoura and Manuel

Friday, December 7, 2007

Off the roads of Honduras

Hola mi familia y amigos! Just a short reasurance of our health and good spirits. We have been recluse in the Honduras forest of Celeque National Pargue. There we frollicked amoungst giant granite boulders and were well fed by Alejandrena tipica comedor. She was a patient and friendly old woman who had lived on that mountain for at least 20 years. She was born in a nearby Mayan village and cooked on a traditional adobe stove with wood burning fire. We were even gifted some pino for use as candles, as the pine trees here are extremely resinus and full of a red coloring. We had the whole park to ourselves since Monday, as the rangers were not at all about hiking the couple miles uphill from Villa Verde to keep watch on us. We had a room in the visitor center with bunks for 50 Limpiars a night and 50 Limpiar parque entrar fee. No electricity, and not an english speaking person for meters circa. In fact, as we hiked into Gracias this manana we caught a ride with a bus of locals and ended up in San Juan, where we hiked somemore in the heat of El Sol tarde, searching for Agua Termales and found a ride with a familia who spoke english. Upon first contact they actually thought us European and then inquired as to why we refused to speak english when we said we were from Clalifornia. I hadn´t even noticed they were speaking English, and it took a momento for me to find some homeworthy words! Ha! Though our spanish is progressing, we find ourselves speaking our own breed of ídoiot idiomas. Now we find ourselves in La Esperanza with little idea of what we are doing here besides letting worried loved ones know we are happy travelers. We will make our way towards Lago Yojoa (for fresh picked blueberries and home made pancakes) and then to the Misquito coast (in Nicaragua?). No luck finding somewhere in Central America to ship our much anticipated backpacking hammocks with misquito nets, and so we must still stick to regions which supply lodging.

Much love to all! And muchas gracias for all your well wishes and prayers. Please try not to worry if I havent updated my blog, there is so much to see, and most of it is nowhere near the internet. Hasta la vista....

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lake Atitlan

Found a little reclusive paradise in San Marcos ashore the lake Atitlan. The city is made up of winding pathways through temperate\tropical forrest. It consists of many holistic schools and centers for care. There are fruit and avocado trees and a small market. We stayed at El Unicornio where there was cocina and enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast with Amigas Charlotte and Susie. We made sweet potato empanadas, refried beans, rice and avocada. Yum! Today we caught a boat back to pana jachal and are planning our adventure into Honduras. We are staying at the Villa Lupita on a third story next to trees and bird songs. Found a small cafe nearby along back streets with less traffic. There was a kindly drunken gentelman from Australia who has been living here for 10 years. He chatted with us and made many reccomdations for the directin we are going. We are looking at traveling to Copan ruins and from there to the Miskito coast on the Carribean coast. Our friends from New Zealand parted ways with us a couple days ago to go see TIkal, but we all made plans to meet up for Chritmas on some small islands off the coast of Coasta RIca and then we might join them in labor on a cocoa farm in the Cloud forest. Hope all is well back in the states. Having the time of our lives and staying safe in our adventures.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Post Modern Pop Civilisation

So very tired of the city. Of course, Antigua is muy bonita; its aching ruins around every cuarto and the whisps of fleurs and weeds sprouting along rooflines and even surrounding telephone cables. However, this county is globalising like mad. Personas have too much pride in their cellular phones and it seems that dinero is at too high a motivation. While comfort and quality expectations seem to be at a higher level of awareness here than in the States, the popular culture of American cinema has brought its powerful influence over these people. They are shocked, with mouth agape, at my torn jeans, and when I make a modest offer for something at market there is resentful laughter howling over my gringo face. The grocers are stocked with foreign label packaged foods, and maize, bean, and other local produce is far too scarce for comfort. The attitude seems to be, what good is a gringo without a wallet full of $? Looking forward to my shuttle to Lake Atitlan in the morning. Going to take it easy and forget about this over civilised neuva atttitude of Post Modern Guatemala. Hopefully I´ll find some fruit on the arboles and keep my hands on the land.

On Sabado Manuel y Yo went on a trek. We survived. It was disheartening at first. So silly to think how victorious our venture became when the chicken buses are an everyday event for Guatemalans. We began our morning at 4 am when I awoke and tried to revel in a cold shower. We left the house in time to trek across town to the market in search of a bus headed to Chitentanga. We were going on a mad hunt for some ´lost´Mayan ruins. Our directions were to find a bus that traveled along the Pan American Hwy Norte. We wanted to get to Tecpan and from there cross the center square and look for a path that lead into the temperate jungle. It cost 4 Quetzales a peice to ride the bus, and we realized we only had 100 Q bills. So off I jumped from the bus in a haste to find some change. The bus started off as we bumped along for an hour and half with a man yelling out the side door, ¨Chichi! Chichi!¨jumping on and off on and off again. Somewhere along the way we discovered that our water had leaked all over my lap (Oh! Thats why my bag felt so cold). Squished 3 to a seat with personas carrying bundles of fresh picked fruit in baskets on their heads, warm wrapped breakfasts in bundles, plastic bags full of juice and and a straw, and questioning stares in our direction.
In Chitentanga we almost missed our transfer as a poor girl dropped her small orange-colored fruits all down the stairs of the bus and I wanted to help her pick them up but the bus suddenly emptied and the ¨Chichi! Chichi!¨gentelman pointed us to hurry in the direction of the bus going to Tecpan.
¨Tecpan? Tecpan?¨asks the driver over and over. He looked at us like, what are you silly gringos going there for? We thought, we are on to something good now. Not even the locals know why we want to go to Tecpan. Ah! Fantasies of a small village with maybe an authentic woven wrap for these chilly nights. And then a long quiet walk through wilderness and into an ancient land of peaceful peoples. Perhaps we´ll meet a Shaman to walk with us along the way and show us his knowledge of the local flora.... Heh.
The bus swerved in and out of stops and villages. From fifty miles per hour to zero for a pickup. There were few coherent stops, and mostly the bus just spotted people with looks of exhaustion and keeled over to the edge of the road. Then took off again at top speed. We were jerked from side to side, meshing into locals and feeling their basket propped against our shoulders. It almost felt like those roller coaster rides at Disney land as they let people off, on, off, on at a time.
As we pulled into Tecpan it seemed as though someone had built a world of concrete boxes plastered with advertisements for cellular phones, Quaker oatmeal, Diet Coke, and every other name brand stemming from American culture. As we climbed off the bus, stiff from three hours of being tossed around we could hear Oingo Boingo blasting from a nearby box-ad. It was so loud we walked in tempo the whole way across town. Locals coming out of their box-ads to see the gringos. Children stared in curiosity and soon we were alone...with seven small boys following us with machetes on their hips.
The road was dissapointingly paved. As we asked every local nearby, pointing to the word Iximchel in my notebook, and asking ¨Donde esta Ece-M-tel?¨with our horrible American accents and then still following the pavement. There was curiosity abroad. As we passed farmers on their rooftops I noticed them pull out their cell phones, one by one with a look of excitement and confusion at our sudden appearance in their funny little village. As we walked on and the farmlands became fewer I began to worry about the tribe of boys with machetes. Did they mean us harm? Fantastic paranoia set in. Were they waiting for us to get beyond the boundaries of town and then beat and rob us? Were the locals really part of some conspiracy gang, cellularly informing their neighbors at the jumping off point? So, I decided to make friends. I began joking with the boys and dancing around like a clown. They laughed! and Laughed! So enamoured they became with me and my silly name on their spanish tongue, they were not ever going to go away. So we caught the next truck with our thumbs and sped up the rest of the paved drive to Iximchel.
A nice picnic. Feeling victorious. Papaya and herb bread. There were cows grazing on the Mayan landscape that appeared to be a series of networking, stone-built sewage systems. There were also tall mounds of steeply inclining stairs and oak tree looming graciously at the top. Then we noticed it.
Not a few. Not a dozen. Not even a class size. There were hundreds coming. Every direction. Guatemalan children singing, dancing, playing, romping over every pillar and hillside. We tried to hike the steep decline down to the river below and every few paces had to stop to let children hike past. There was sweat dripping off their foreheads, and eyes bulged with the incline. Then there was the release of about 30 children a time down the hillside. Jumping out of the way to let them down, we finally gave in to our disappointing fate and left in half the time it took us to reach the hidden and remote Iximche.
The children knew better what to do at a place like that anyway. It is their country after all!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

¡Antigua hermosa!

We arrived safely in Guatemala City yesterday afternoon. After traveling for 20 hours straight we felt exhausted and crazy. At immigration I found two amigas who were planning to attened Sevilla as well. They had been working on a cacao (chocolate) farm in Costa Rica for the last month and wanted to improve their communication skills. Somehow, everyone seemed to beleive I had a good idea of what I was doing. Before I realized, there was a parade of gringos behind me headed for a shuttle to Antigua. The ride was very long, but was wonderful to watch Guatemala fly by. I also found that is much easier to try speaking Spanish when it is expected of me. There was a nice gentelman in the shuttle named Brenden from Costa Rica, and we tried to converse a little. While I often unknowingly slip with some of my poor high-school French (¨Merci,¨ ¨Noir,¨ Ës toi?¨...), Manuel and I figure it makes us seem more Canadian. We could not find our school, and so went with our Ginga friends (Susie and Charlotte, New Zealanders) to El Gato Negro Hostel in the city center. There we found a wonderful little bedroom and good food and beer. After walking the city streets that evening before dark we found a small package of Cuban cigars and ended our night with a small celebration and poker in our room. Today we found our school, and they were most hospitable and understanding about our tardiness. We moved to the Student house where it is quieter and our room is huge with fireplace, window, tables, chairs, shelves. There is also a wash area and garden on the upper story of the building to enjoy our time. We have three meals a day included and the atmoshere is much more to our liking. We are very excited and happy to be in this beautiful and exotic city; With Spanish architecture crumbling, grass and flowers growing out of rooftops and citrus trees bending with the weight of their fruit. So far our travels keep getting more comfortable, and I feel as though part of me has always been here. Our classes begin right after lunch at 2.
Hasta más adelante....

Estudia espaniole es muy difficile. Primarily because it took a half hour of rambling along cobbled streets in el hot sol with locals bothering us for shoe shines and various fliers of no interest. How fast the marvel and beauty in my minds eye can turn on itself. Yet, back at the hostel after a tedious four hours of feeling quite imbecile and illiterate (I am exagerating) I found myself ¨home sweet home¨and perched atop our roof with a spectacular veiw of the nearby active volcano. This AM Manuel and I contentedly threw our belongings into our room and gave our beds a test jump....and....the shaking didn´t stop. There was a pleasant earthquake which is still evident in this luminous volcano as we sit in the moist night air and watch the red lava flow forth through its fount. The molten steam rises up into the air towards a chesire moon which grows larger day by day. Darkness falls here around seven in the evening, which is also when dinner is served. There are five other guests at this house. Two Iranians who currently reside in Sacramento and Manuel and I are in dispute amoung two young women who I beleive to be Dutch. Another lady who I like very much is from Portland and the conversation was not lacking in curiosity nor enteratinment. For the rest of the evening we have diligently been studying our notes as I do hope to progress quickly and blend in a little more everyday.

Buenas Noches mi familia y amigos.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

For five months, Manuel and I will trek abroad Central and South America. We plan on attending an immersion program in Antigua, trying to make it from Panama City, Panama to Cartagena, Colombia (thank you Zuly's hostel )by charter boat before solstice, searching through the South American Explorer's club ( ) archives for little known trail routes to Macchu Picchu and other Inca ruins. We want to sleep under the open sky, walk through some of the last standing nearly unexplored and fading fast wilderness', test our limits against the elements, and return in good heart and health.

I have been saving every penny for over a year now. I have begun making thoughtful purchases of :

walking boots ( )
a Voyager bag ( )
a sleeping bag ( ),
an AtWater towel,
a spanish to english phrasebook,
and platypus water bag.

I have also decided to pack along tea (Nettles, oatstraw, rose hips, corriander, red raspberry leaf, calendula, lemongrass, wormwood), my trusty tinctures (White Willow bark, Valerian, Oregano Oil), Vitamineral Green, Arnica, a small sewing kit, some books for the airport, and the clothes on my back.

Love and Bliss!