A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: ajthalita

Our Current Travel Plans

Well, things have changed again for our travel plans. A few days ago Thalita was informed her grandma in Brazil broke her hip and will be undergoing surgery. Thalita is leaving this Wednesday for Brazil to spend the next month with her grandma to help her recover after the surgery. The current plan is for me to fly down to meet Thalita in Brazil in late September, and continue our trip from there. Most likely we will travel around Brazil for a month and a half, then head into Bolivia, and then leave from Peru to be back in time for Christmas. Start checking out the site again later next month for new entries from Brazil!

Posted by ajthalita 14:46 Comments (1)

Into Costa Rica and Trip Changes

View Mexico, Central and South America on ajthalita's travel map.

We took the TICA bus from Managua to San Jose, Costa Rica on August 2. It was supposed to take 9 hours, but after immigration and rerouting due to a bridge collapsing earlier in the day, it was just under 12 hours for the total trip. We got to San Jose just before midnite, with no place to stay. We met a very nice English girl travelling by herself and we all decided to share a taxi to a place where she had a reservation. Well, the place she had a reservation told us she had to have been there before 10pm, and they already gave away her room. So that sucked. The taxi driver took us around to several cheapie options to find a place, but all were full due to a festival that week. We drove through some hardcore ghetto and saw tons a hookers, hoochie mamas, pimps, drug dealers, and of course transvestite hookers. After this tour of the San Jose nightlife, we decided to just go to one of the big chain American hotels, cuz it was 1 am by now. We chose Garden Court Inn and fell asleep. The next few days were spent mostly at the hotel soaking up all our money's worth until our flight out.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, we decided to fly home for a bit due to some family issues. The plan is to stay at home for a month or so and then start back on our trip.
Below are some random pics we took in San Jose. First is me doing a part from The Shining.


Second is a store in a mall that caught our attention for some reason.


We caught a flight back to Orlando. I will post more about our trip plans in the next posting.

Posted by ajthalita 14:23 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (1)

Into Nicaragua: Leon, Las Penitas, Managua, and Isla Ometepe

View Mexico, Central and South America on ajthalita's travel map.

Well, it's been a wicked long time since we updated our blog. I'll explain why later on. Anyways, here goes.
We took a cab to the King Quality bus terminal early in the morning to catch the 6:00am bus to Managua. When the ticket lady got there at 4:30am, she informed us there were no more coach tickets, only the primera clase, which were about 60 bucks a piece. We sat around for a while thinking about what to do, and in the mean time she came by and said she could give us a discount of 3 bucks each ticket. Wow. Well, we weighed our options, checked the TICA bus (which were sold out as well) and then decided to buy the tickets. The ride was nice, first class has it's own section below the huge bus and we watched a few good movies. The highlight of this bus trip though, was meeting a really cool guy from Virginia, Shin, who works for Students Helping Honduras. We chatted it up for a long time, slept for a while, and finally arrived in Managua eight hours later.
After we got our bags, we said goodbye to Shin, and caught a cab to UCA(University of Central America) where all the minibuses leave for Leon. We immediately got in one, and made our way to Leon in about 1.5 hours. We were so tired from travelling all day, we picked a hotel from our Lonely Planet book, went there and signed in right away. After that we had a grocery store dinner of avocado and tomato sandwiches and went to find Leon's small movie theater in hopes of some A/C. We watched the new Batman and went back to the hotel to crash.
The next morning we woke up early. We had used a laudromat close by our last time in Leon, so we went searching for it to do some much needed clothes washing. We found it, put our clothes to wash, and found a step just outside to sit and wait. We're just sitting there when all the sudden Thalita says, "No way! AJ, Look! Get the camera!" Below is what we saw. The pic isn't that great, it's from far away, but this dude was just walking down the street as naked as the day he was born. Crazy.


This next pic is a lion outside a church. Very fitting in Leon.


Well, that naked dude started the morning off hilariously. After the laundry, we headed to the small market where buses leave for the beaches of Poneloya and Las Penitas. We caught a bus after a bit, and were in Las Penitas by early afternoon. Coody, Parsons, and I had stayed at Hotel Suyapa Beach last time, so we got a room there for 2 nights. It was hot and stuffy but had fans which made it ok, until the power shut off for most the night time. That was pretty horrible. Other than that, the beach was great, we swam alot, and ate some very filling meals at the attached restaurant. Here's a few pics from our couple days there.


This first one is Thalita on the rocks that separate the beaches of Las Penitas and Poneloya.


This is us at the mouth of the river that empties into the ocean close by.


This is Thalita just after sunset our second night there.

We woke up the next day glad to be getting out of that hotel. I don't mind not having power sometimes, but when you're paying for it in the hotel bill, it's really not cool when it goes out for long periods of time.
Anyways, we headed back through Leon, and straight to Managua on July 24. We spent 2 nights pampering ourselves in Managua at the Best Western. We scrubbed the weeks worth of grime off, and enjoyed some nice super clean sheets. The Best Western was great, but very expensive for our shoestring budget, so we headed out after that.
We caught a bus to Rivas, then a short taxi to San Jorge, where the boats leave for Isla de Ometepe. Ometepe is a volcanic island on Lake Nicaragua made up of two volcanoes, the larger is Concepcion, and the smaller is Maderas.
The boat wasn't that bad for nausea like our previous boat trips have been. Here is a pic of the island from the boat.


The boat over took about 1 hour, and it was about 4:00pm when we docked. We knew we wanted to stay in Altagracia that night, so we had to find a bus there quickly, and luckily, there was one close to the dock. We hopped on for an hour ride across the island's one "paved" road. We got off the bus at Hotel Castillo, signed in, and got something to eat. We retired to the room to shower and read a bit before going to sleep. The room wasn't too bad, but after a couple hours of reading in the bed, we both started to itch. And itch some more. Bedbugs! We tried to sleep, and did a little, but most the night was spent scratching.
The next morning was Sunday, which made it tough to catch a bus to the other side of the island. Apparently only one went at 11:30am. We waited from 11:00am to about 12:30pm, leaving ample time for "Latin American Time" with the promptness of bus schedules. We were thinking about taking a bus to the turn-off for the other side of the island, when a drunk on a bicycle decided to hassel us. He was so wasted, but was demanding I give him money for more rum. We decided to walk away quickly and catch that bus to the turn-off. We get dropped off, and started walking, hoping to catch a ride towards Finca Magdelena, the place we wanted to stay that night. After a bit, a lady in a truck that taxis people down the 4wd roads, pulled up, and we road the rest of the way with her.
We got to Finca Magdelena, and it was gorgeous. It's a massive old farmhouse with a large amount of property. It's a cooperative run by 20 or so families. They grow tons of organic produce, including organic coffee. They have several dorm rooms with cots, many private rooms, and hammocks on the porches. We opted for the dorm room for $2.50 a night, what a deal! Here's me in the dorm.


After settling our stuff, we went to the desk to sign up for hiking Volcan Maderas on the next morning. Here's a pic of Volcan Concepcion, the bigger one, as seen from Finca Magdelena at the base of Volcan Maderas.


We went to sleep pretty early to make sure we were ready for the hike. We woke up, had some gallo pinto with eggs and coffee, and met up with our guide. We only had one other guy going with us that day, a Canadian named Mike. Before we left our guide made us get another 1.5liter of water, saying you'll need it. We already had 2, but we figured we should listen, and we were so glad we did. We left for the hike and made our way up the 4 hour ascent. It was freakin tough. Not just for the steep mountain, but the trail is mostly slippery mud, which made it much harder for us. We finally made it to the top, and then realized to get to the lake we had to descend a steep trail for a few minutes. Here is a pic of the lake at the top. Some folks swam in it, but it was only a few feet deep and leeches kept crossing my mind.


After a halfhour break, we started the way back down. This was easier on the lungs, but tough for balance. I fell 6 or 7 times flat on my ass in all that slippery mud. With lots of scrapes and sore bodies, we made it back down. In all it took us 8 hours and 15 minutes. Our guidebook said 7-8 hours, so we were pretty happy. Here is us at the bottom of the volcano, muddy, but happy we finished.


We got back, and immediately headed for the showers. I just walked in with all my clothes on, in an attempt to clean the mud from them. Showered and clean, we got some food, and chilled in some rocking chairs to watch the sunset. We met some really cool folks that night and stayed up talking for a long time with them and Mike, the guy from our hike. Our new friends were very nice people, and we had such a good time with them, we decided to stay another day at Finca Magdelena. We woke up late, lounged around all day, and had another night of the same. Wicked cool. The next morning we woke up, and had some breakfast, took it slow, decided to share a cab with Mike back to the dock, to head back to the mainland, and back to Managua. Here's a pic of us and our friends we met hanging out just before we left Finca Magdelena. From left to right: AJ from US, Thalita from US/Brazil, Mike from Canada, Franco from Switzerland, Eana from US, and Dave from Ireland.


We got to the dock just in time to catch the next boat back. As soon as we got off, we saw a bus going all the way to Managua from the dock, which would cut out going to Rivas then Managua. That was great. We said goodbye to Mike, and got on the bus. We made it to Managua and found a nice little guesthouse called Pousada de Ruth. 25 bucks for nice room with a/c and private bath. We spent the next few days just hanging out in Managua. We went to an Irish pub up the road called Shannon bar, where I extended my love of Beastie Boys to the locals with some loud songs on the jukebox.
We love Nicaragua.

Posted by ajthalita 12:38 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (1)

Gracias, not ¨thank you¨, but the city

overcast -17 °C

So, I´ll start with our long day of travel where Thalita left off. We caught a bus from La Ceiba to San Pedro Sula that lasted just over 3 hours, but was fairly comfortable, especially compared to the boat ride we´d just experienced. We got to the main bus terminal in San Pedro, and got out the Lonely Planet guide. From the map and info in the book, it looked like we´d have to bus it to Santa Rosa de Copan for 2.5 hours and then bus it to the small town of Gracias (our destination) another 1.5 hours or so. But as we stand there just off the previous bus looking through our guide, a bus pulls up with Gracias plastered on the front, and we jumped and hugged and danced. Alright, no we didn´t, but we were excited, because rarely do things happen in Central America that work out completely to our advantage. That was sweet. We took a pee break (I love thinking of what my mom thinks when she just read that I used the term pee break), and then headed to the bus to wait by it til it left at 2pm. We left and made the gorgeous ride to Gracias, feeling the temperature drop little by little as we climbed into more mountains. Marvelous.

We pulled into the bus station, if you could call it that, at about 6pm. We walked up the steep hill, the same as I did with Coody and Parsons earlier in the year, to a great little hotel called Guancascos. We checked in, dropped the bags, and got something to eat at their ajoining restaurant. We went to a grocery after that, got some water, and some cheetos (They have puffy cheetos that are small like the crunchy ones, so sweet), and went back to enjoy some hotel TV, something we hadn´t enjoyed in a few weeks. Again, marvelous.

The next day, we woke up with aspirations of walking around the city to ¨take it all in¨. So after some breakfast, we headed to the room to shower and get ready, and then it came.... All I will say is that Montezuma is a sneaky punk. He exacted his revenge on me a good 9 or 10 times that morning, which changed our plans around a bit. I spent the rest of the day laying in bed weak and dizzy, drinking as much water as I could (thanks Elizabeth for the propel packets).

So next day, after some rehydration therapy and Cipro started, I felt much better. So we walked around the city for a few hours. We first headed up the hill to Castillo San Cristobal, a small fort atop Gracias. This is me in a lookout post at the castillo.


It was very cool and we could see The Celaque National Park, where I had hiked with Parsons and Coody earlier in the year, and where Thalita and I planned to hike the next day. After that we walked around to find the three main churches in town, San Marcos, Las Mercedes, and San Sebastian. We got to San Sebastian last, where we found this massive tree, and Thalita said take a photo of me while I climb it. This photo is after her daring descent from the top of the tree. She´s so hardcore.


The next morning we woke up to go hiking, and it was starting to rain and the clouds stretched forever. So we decided to just go on to Tegucigalpa. That was even more of an experience than last time I did that route. We took a minibus from Gracias to San Juan for about 1.5 hours through the rain and mud. We fish tailed so much I thought we were going to flip. We arrived at San Juan and we went to wait at a little comedor with about 12 other local folks to try to get a ride on a pickup to the next city La Esperanza. Coody, Parsons, and I had done this also previously, so I didn´t think it would be tough. We waited for about 45 minutes, and nobody picked anyone up. Finally a few of us walked over to this guy´s minibus and asked if he would take us, since we could guarantee him a full minibus. He denied our request with a laugh, and we walked back to wait some more. Then about 30 minutes later, he drove over, opened his doors and said ¨lets rock and roll.¨ No he didn´t, but he did give us all a ride. It was a long 2 hours down mostly mud roads with about 14 of us in this van a few feet longer than a Dodge Caravan. Thalita got the unluckey spot sitting backwards, hunched over, between the driver and front passenger seat. Needless to say, she was not a happy camper.

We did make in to La Esperanza in one piece, hopped on the last bus available to Tegucigalpa, and spent 4 hours nodding off, and complaining about being hungry. Oh and another thanks to Elizabeth, we chowed down on that jerky this day, you are a life saver.

So we´re in Tegucigalpa now, staying at the awesome Hotel Guadaloupe 2, love that place. We are at the mall today having an ¨American day¨, watching a movie and getting a bite to eat. Thalita found this awesome restaurant called go green that deals exclusively in the art of salad making, if that is in fact an art, so she is now a happy camper. We leave tomorrow for Managua, Nicaragua on another long bus. Until then.

Posted by ajthalita 15:06 Archived in Honduras Tagged hitchhiking Comments (0)

Voyage to Utila

View Mexico, Central and South America on ajthalita's travel map.

It was about 8:20 in the morning when we arrived at the harbor to pick up the Utila Princess ship that leaves twice daily, only to find that the 9:30 ship was cancelled so we had to hang out until the 4pm ship. AJ and I decided to go to the mall in La Ceiba to kill some time. Well, time was never ending and then we finally headed back to the harbor. We met two chics that had just arrived from Utila and warned us about the boat ride to Utila. They said if you ride outside you will get soakin` wet, but if you ride inside ``you will be ill.``

So AJ and I decided to take preventative measures and premedicated with Dramamine and took our chances sitting inside. While boarding the boat, one of the crew members was handing out little plastic bags to everyone walking in the door. I didn´t think anything of it until I sat down, and I was like why do we need a plastic.... Ohhhhh.....they`re barf bags. That was an ominous start to our voyage.

Those chics were so right about getting soaked. Literally 10 minutes on our way to Utila, we heard shrieks from the outside, and everybody sitting outside came running into the cabin and jammed themselves inside. Everyone of them was drenched!

As I looked around, I noticed that all the locals were nodding off. I was starting to feel queezy so I decided to try to nod off myself. That was my lifesaver! Until I finally fell asleep, I really thought I was going to have to use my lovely barf bag. The boat ride was about an hour and a half, but it felt like it was never going to end.

We finally arrived in Utila and it was just chaos trying to get our bags. Here are a ton of people on a tiny pier, all wanting to get their bags first. The crew members just started piling up all the bags so I knew this was going to take forever. I left AJ at the pier waiting for our bags, and I went to go check into our hotel. I had made a reservation and told the hotel we would get there at 6pm. Well, we didn´t even get off the ship until 6pm, so I had to rush over to the hotel. I finally found it, checked in and made my way back to the pier to find AJ.

We unpacked, showered and went to find something to eat. We ate at Bundu Cafe right off the maindrag. It was a really chill and relaxing place. They had a book exchange, big tables that fit lots of people and huge pillows to lay back, and the food was great! There was a movie playing so we just hung out for a while.

The next day we woke up, left the hotel first thing in the morning because it was really dirty and disgusting and went searching for a new place to stay. We decided to stay at Rubi`s Inn. It was so refreshing because it was right on the water, and the rooms were immaculate. After that we rented some snorkel gear at Bandu Beach and went snorkeling right off the beach. The weather was really overcast so the visibility wasn`t great. We saw some little purple fish with yellow on their fins and a couple baracudas so that was cool.

The third day in Utila we just chilled and rented snorkel gear again. I decided to go snorkeling right off the dock of our hotel. There were some kids playing and swimming aournd there, plus the water was super clear. The visibility was much better then the previous day so I snorkeled on and off for several hours. That night we packed our stuff up and at some dinner at Bundu Cafe again. We met some Americans, Brits, an Irish chic, and several others that were in Utila getting their dive master certification.

The next morning we boarded the Utila Princess back to La Ceiba, again premedicated with Dramamine, but no barf bags were given on the return voyage. This ride was much harder, but we pulled through. We had a long day of traveling ahead.

Posted by ajthalita 17:17 Archived in Honduras Tagged boating Comments (1)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 13) Page [1] 2 3 »