ups and downs

Monteverde Travel Blog

 › entry 13 of 14 › view all entries

As I get older, I am starting to lose my umph for lengthy trips.  I mean, financially and logistically, it makes sense to spend as much time in a region of the world as your  job and the funds it provides you with allows.  When I think “Africa,” I don’t think “safari in Kenya.”  I think “safari in Kenya, Swimming with whale sharks in Mozabique, I think Sauvingnon Blanc in South Africa, I think basket weaving in Malawi, I think drumming in Nigeria, I think walk like an Egyptian, I think gorillas in the mist…”  If I did those things in separate trips, that would be about seventeen grand in round trip tickets, when about six grand could buy me six months to tick off my Africa checklist. 

The problem is this.  Unless you have a pretty cushy budget, lengthy trips require a lot of roughing it.  And yes, roughing it is part of the fun.  But roughing it has many definitions.  Walking barefoot in thick squishy mud through a banana plantation in the late afternoon to a rugged road - an hour plus walk in mud-caked flip flops to our totally remote hostel  because we’ve missed the last bus and we’ve realized that  the sun is about to set and we have no torches…ANYTIME!  But taking a taxi and then a chicken bus to a border crossing to get swept up by two local dudes who manage to extort forty dollars from us by getting our passports stamped ahead of the hour-long line, then hoofing it across the border to be told by a boob staring police officer along the way that we don’t need stamps in Costa, which causes us to completely forego the Costa Rican border, hop on a southbound bus ��" have the driver check our passports and take our money, and proceed to be stopped at a police checkpoint twenty-three kilometers down the road, where a snarky dipshit cop pulls us off the bus, which proceeds to drive away ��" and our only options are hitchhiking or waiting for the next bus to go back to the border to wait in line to get stamped to get back on a bus to be laughed at by the same snarky dipshit…no thanks!

I owe the whole of Nicaragua to my blog.  Although Nica had its moments, Ometepe being the highlight, most of the past few weeks have been a hostel vortex ��" moving from city to city to whatever the ‘buzz’ hostel  is.  I have to say that some of the hostels themselves were, in fact, trip highlights.  Lazybones in Leon, with pool, pool table and sweet, cheap private room, was the breeding ground for some beautiful friendships, particularly with Anna, a 31 year old Northern Californian transplant who, in the week we traveled together, became Sarah and my honorary middle cousin.  As fortune would have it, Lazybones was next door to ‘The Chicken Lady’, who served up the best local fare that I’ve had in Central America. Oasis in Grenada , from certain angles, felt like a villa in southern Spain.  Lago Apoyo had so much potential.  Monket Hut, a small rustic house perched on a phenominal lake started out as a wonderfully peaceful retreat (which was needed desperately by Sarah, who had the flu) until, at 8:30pm, a group of seventeen students from the Jersey shore rolled up and proceeded to blast Usher on repeat until 3am.  Next was Ometepe…ahhh Ometepe.  Butterflies, hippie hideouts, horseback riding, unreal gourmet pizzas ��" served up  by an Italian man named Christiano from a natural wood burning oven in the middle of the jungle, volcanoes hugging the lush landscape and the aforementioned trek through a muddy banana plantation.  In Little Morgans hostel, which deserves a blog of its own (soon come), we added Carmen and Francesca, two 21 year old Scottish chicas, to our posse.  Though San Juan Del Sur was a souvenir goldmine, offered up good ceviche on oceanfront patios, gave Sarah a taste for shredding waves, and a brilliant masseuse gave our muscles the love that they needed, the beach was a dump and the general vibe of the place made my spirit hurt. 

We're in Santa Elena right now, just on the fringe of the Monteverde cloud forest.  Paid sixty dollars for some miso soup, two sushi rolls and some hot Sake yesterday (not realizing that the bottle of water was $4 and the tax was 23%) and then paid $40 today for ziplining (totally worth it).  After three days in Costa Rica, Sarah and I have decided to hightail it down to San Jose and hop the first flight we can to Bocas Del Toro, Panama.  CR is expensive as F. And we’ve agreed that, despite some of the good times that we’ve collected along our route,  every destination has paled in comparison to Utila.  Sarah and I are built much the same, and we both feel the most inner peace in a setting that includes white sand beaches and crystalline waters.  We want to end our journey together the same way we started it ��" rubbing noses with sergeant majors and dancing to reggae and spending happy hours in bikinis and feeling inspired and relaxed and alive.

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photo by: smhirsch