Pop-Oy-Oy-Oyo!

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The border crossing from Costa Rica was fairly straight-forward, we are getting pretty good at the game! Our first stop in Nicaragua on our drive North, was stunning Popoyo on the Pacific Coast. The drive along lake Nicaragua to Rivas was pretty, and as we got closer to Popoyo, the road became smaller – and smaller. Continue reading

Costa Rican Beach Life and a Drive to San Jose

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On the weekends, the Costa Ricans really come out and enjoy everything there is to enjoy about a beautiful beach. They roll in, like a boss, onto the beach in their swanky 4×4 vehicles. Then, they turn up the tunes to immediately set the mood and claim their immediate area. A whole family plus some extended relatives exit the vehicle, before emptying the trunk of all the essential beach gear. This is including, but not limited to: Coolers filled to the rim with beers, sodas, ice cubes, rum and mix. Inflatable mattresses, rings, whales. Bikinis, sarongs, speedos. Chairs, hammocks, pillows. Full meals: meat, chicken, rice, beans, pasta salads, fried plantains, chips, salsa, tortillas. The list goes on. On our drive from Manuel Antonio to San Jose, we stopped at Esterillo Beach and soaked it up. Just another beautiful day!

Life guard tower

Boats on Beach

Volleyball net

Birds

Pattern in Sand

Tropical Oasis

Kyler to Surf

Kyler surfing

Im on a Boat

As we continued our drive to San Jose, it was noticeable that many drivers were not focused like they should be. Traffic towards the capital was plentiful and we were in a horde of weekend beach-goers returning to the big city. After a day (or weekend) of drinking and enjoying themselves (no drink and driving for us!), driving seemed challenging to many. Perhaps that is why the entire main divided highway – both directions – were dedicated to the beach-goers returning to San Jose that Sunday evening? …we were not sure what was happening and decided to stay on the right side of the road – you know, just in case!

Traffic in one direction

You Wouldn’t See This At Home:

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We left Dominical around 11am, after a run and breakfast. The drive to Manuel Antonio, where we are now, was not far. Only about 42 km lies between the the coastal towns. Manuel Antonio is incredibly hilly. It is one of those hills where you encouragingly pat the dash of your vehicle to show you care (and really hope to make it to the top).

After pulling into our hostel for the next couple of nights, I was happy Honeyvan’s work was done. When we headed to the beach, we decided to give Honey a break and hop on the local bus. Due to our surfboards, two buses refused us. We realized we would have to get a cab. When this little taxi showed up, we did not consider it fit for the task. Five people and two boards later, we were on our way!

We be Cruisin’

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No better way to check out the island than to rent a bike and go cruisin’! We are based in Bocas Town on Colón island and headed for the nearby beaches, Paunch and Bluff. Our bike ride took us through town, by the local airstrip, from narrow asphalt roads to sand and literally biking on the beach.

Just stunningly beautiful and really cheap fun! $3.75 bike rental – Yes, please!

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Aaaah! Cold coconut water, some air between the toes and a nice view – We are two lucky folks!

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Scenes from Playa las Lajas

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A short drive from David, Panama’s second largest city, we found Playa las Lajas. Unlike Costa Rica, the road leading there was a dream to drive on! The scenery was beautiful, the cattle along the road was well fed and due to rain it was green and lush. The town of Playa las Lajas is actually situated 8 km away from the beach. In an attempt to really pump up the beach feel on your way to the ocean, they have invested in some highly decorative bus stops. Best bus stop I have ever seen!

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As we arrived at the beach area, we realize there really is not much there. Appearently crowds come in on the weekends, but we did not see a single person, it being mid-week. We made a left turn at the T-intersection by the beach and eventually came to a property with some colorful cabins on it. Some people were sitting under a palapa roof, not doing much. The cabins must have been wonderful, a long time ago. They could have needed some attention five years ago, are are still longing for the upkeep they did not receive. Imagine how incredibly cute the little cabins could have been if they did not pose a danger to stay in! We payed $5 to park Honey on their property and camped there overnight. The weather was somewhat gloomy and some rain would come and go. We played frisbee on the beach, went for a swim and a surf, followed by a fish dinner.

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We had a good time, but somehow we both ached to move on and look for something else. Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the humidity and heat, maybe it was the general lack of energy, maybe it was us just not quite figuring the place out. Either way, we decided on a massive change in plans and changed coasts! More on that in the next post!

Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio

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What a Day! The national park provided us with quite the adventure. In the morning, we got on a 50 cent bus from where we are staying to the park entrance and then paid the $10(!) entrance fee. Bag was packed with water, granola bars and a banana. Keen to hike!

Siri Kyler Manual Antonio

Can you spot the keeners?

Within the park there are several paths to different destinations. The first path we followed eventually lead us to a beautiful waterfall. The path became less and less obvious as we got further into the jungle and the crowds thinned out. By the time we reached the waterfall we were the only ones there.

Manual Antonio waterfall Siri

Nice to have a shower every once in a while!

We got back on the main “road” through the park and were stopped by the crowds. Their guide had caught sight of a sloth hanging out in the trees. We probably would not have noticed if their guide had not pointed it out. That is the cheaper way of spotting wildlife!

Why hire a guide when you can perve on other guys' spottings?

Why hire a guide when you can perve on other guys’ spottings?

Up in the trees we saw this weird animal that I had never seen before, a three-toed sloth. They have a slow metabolism and move very slowly – or simply hang out. Once a week they venture down to the ground to do what we all have to do. Once a week. Wouldn’t that be something?

Sloath Manuel Antonio

I am not sure if they are a common sighting or not, but a little bit down the “road” we came across another sloth. It was slooooowly making it’s way across a powerline. Every ten “steps” or so it would slowly swing around before it kept going. Some people walked by, snapped a photo or two and walked on. I kept thinking: “I wonder what it’ll do when it gets to the end of the powerline.” We stayed while Kyler was snapping away, I expected it to graciously swing itself around and move over to one of the nearby trees. Shockingly, the sloth (that we had somewhat gotten to know) touched the parts of the electrical pole you do-not-want-to-touch. Zzzzzzzssssszzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzzzssssssszzzzzzzzzzzzzz. With the little bit of life it had left it tried to save itself. Again, Zzzzzzzzzzzsssssssssszzzzzzzzzzz. The sloth got completely fried. It was the saddest thing I have seen in a long time. From one second to another, it was dead. Because humans feel like they need electricity within a national park this peaceful creature had to die.

Sloth powerline Manuel Antonio

R.I.P. little man

It took a little while to get over the incident. It was intense and made me really quite sad. We kept walking and got on the next trail away from the “road” with the powerline. Back to nature, more on the animals’ premise. The path took us up above sea level and the prize at the end was a stunning view!

Beautiful prize for a hike

Beautiful price for a beautiful hike

Pretty bird

Pretty bird

Keen for the view, keenfor the hike, keen for life!

Keen for the view, keen for the hike, keen for life!

On the way back from the viewpoint we were completely on our own and suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a whole pack of monkeys! They were all around us. We stood still as they closed in around us. One curious George came closer than the others. It ate a bit of a leaf on one side of the path, looked, crossed and nibbled on a leaf on the other side. Leaves were falling and trees were swaying as monkeys from further away came closer to us. Ironically, I was eating a banana at the time. You know, monkeys like bananas. After a while of being surrounded by monkeys, I did not feel comfertable holding the banana and kindly asked Kyler to handle it. We finished it, wrapped up the banana peel and made our way out of the monkey pack.

Just doing some monkey business

Just doing some monkey business.

"What, are you forreal??"

“What, are you for real??”

Just hanging out, no biggie.

Just hanging out, no biggie.

Possibly the cutest monkeybaby around.

Possibly the cutest monkeybaby around.

The monkey experience was really fun. We really found a group where we belong. They way monkeys act and move, along with their facial expressions to show emotions, is shockingly similar to human beings. I am not sure who is more advanced.

We kept on hiking and came across a few other animals. Some can be hard to spot. Some are less shy. Biggest surprise? Seeing a deer in Costa Rica!

Four of a kind

Four of a kind

A deer, in Costa Rica? Yes, it appears so.

A deer, in Costa Rica? Yes, it appears so.

A rakoon caught red handed. Hand in bag of chippies.

A racoon caught red handed. Hand in a bag of chippies.

These were the last two monkeys that were spotted.

We all agreed we'd had a great day!

We both agreed we’d had a great day!

A Night with the Turkeys

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Our first night after leaving El Tunco was spent on the beach in Las Flores, further East in El Salvador. The 170 km drive through most of the country (it’s a small one!) went by without any problems. However, a couple interesting encounters along the road is the rule rather than the exeption around these parts. Cattle crossing is as common as the pot holes and corn kernals that are left to dry on the road. A guy in a hammock on a truck is just amusing. B-Rent and T-Dawg: Somewhat of a Hammy-Scoot, yeah?

A little off road adventure eventuelly lead us to Las Flores, semi-known for it’s nearby surf break Punta Mango. We got a camp spot on the beach between swaying palm trees and chuckling turkeys and chickens. They got even closer when the owners of the property decided to feed them one meter behind our van. It woke us up well before sunrise!

Getting in – and out – of Las Flores required a massive effort on Honey’s part. Not only was the dirt road leading there partly washed out in the rainy season, the rocky hill down to the beach was also really steep and bumpy. After that obstacle we had to keep our pace to get across the sandy beach before climbing a speed bump/castle wall to enter the camping property. All of this had to be repeated – in the opposite order – to get back out. Our Honey is a Gem!

Las Flores is a beautiful beach. It is a great place to visit if you would like some peace and quiet, as you will likely be one of few there (especially mid-week.)

If you did not bring gear to go camping at Las Flores and you don’t feel like paying the big bucks to stay at one of the surf resorts, you can chill with this family!

Santa Barbara Date Night

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We celebrated our 82 month relationship anniversary and 2 month wedding anniversary with a beach side dinner in Santa Barbara, followed by a stroll on State St. I had been told by several people how lovely Santa Barbara is – and it fully lived up to my expectations! Beautiful! We drove a little further and parked in a Walmart parking lot, where we had the best van sleep ever! It was 9 and steaming hot from the sun outside in the van by the time we woke up.. We are now fully energized for a visit with some guys Kyler met in Mexico in 2005 down by LA. Yay!

It’s really sunny here.

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And McCafe ice coffees are really good when it’s sunny.

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It’s Summertime!