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Travel

Central America

Corcovado

April 28th, 2008

 

And into the jungle we go!

Corcovado Park is in the Osa Peninsula on the far southwest of Costa Rica. Not many tourists bother to go to this park as it requires a fair amount of difficult travel. This is good news for hearty explorers like us as it leaves the animals and vistas in pure form. We did take 1 pretty serious shortcut in that we took a small plane into Puerto Jimenez. This allowed us to skip an 11 hour bus ride from San Jose. We didn’t feel too bad about this cheat considering the piles of effort that is to come. This pricey specialized flight was full of well dressed locals. I wondered what sort of affairs they were involved in that brought them to this far flung town. The small plane voyage was spectacular. We flew pretty low to the ground and could see the rivers, mountains and coast lines that defined the Costa Rican geography.

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We land on a tiny airstrip that is surrounded by a cemetery. Kind of a strange city planning choice. We exit the aircraft and now have to finally confront an important issue. We have absolutely no idea what we are doing. We have no guide, map, reservations or supplies. Strangely, none of us are too bothered by this…even though we have arrived in an isolated jungle. Lo and behold, only a few mindless steps into this dusty town, we are approached by an old gray bearded man with a large hat. He looks like an elderly crocodile dundee. He offers some lodging in his Cabinas on the edge of town. We nearly brushed him off but decided to listen. Upon further probing, he is actually an endless wealth of knowledge. He knows the best way to get to the park, a guy who can rent us supplies, the best food to buy at the grocery store, a place to store our extra luggage, a place to stay after our trek, a person to clean our clothes when we return, how to obtain our permit and maps for the park, best supplies to use in the park, best places and times to see the coolest wildlife when we are in the park and much more. This was buffet of information was spectacular considering this town was nearly motionless in all directions. This man felt like our own guardian angel and expected nearly nothing in return. Only that we stay in his cabinas after our trek for 1 night…which cost only a few dollars per person. Stupendous!

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After hours of gear and food prep, we hop on the back of a pickup truck and begin a 2 hour ride further into the peninsula. A few locals hoped on and off the truck as we cruised along…including a 7 year old girl traveling by herself with a pink lunch box. Pretty adorable. We stop when we reach the end of the road. Cars cannot go where we are going. At this point, we have gear and food, but we still have no real plan. A few men are loading a donkey pulled wagon nearby. A few conversations later and we discover that our next mission is to walk along the beach for an hour till we see some cabins. Oceanside lodges for 15 bucks! Score! The donkey is bringing down basic supplies to the cabins for the hand full of guests that will end their journey there. This is our resting point before we descend even FURTHER into the jungle.

The next day begins at 5am and we set out to finally enter the national park. Our packs are heavy and we are tired from getting a pitiful amount of sleep during the steamy hot night. Almost instantly we notice some trees swinging above us…MONEKEYS!! First we see a few white faced monkeys above us, then a big squirrel monkey behind us…and then its babies…and then a few more white faced to the right….they are everywhere! They are not timid either. Swinging and climbing and generally showing off for us. Seeing monkeys like this in the wild was quite a different experience than in Ecuador. Industry and population have mostly destroyed opportunities like this in many other parts of the world. It felt quite special to be so immersed with these spunky creatures. It instantly made it worth all the effort to get there. and this was just the beginning! A short hike later and our path is crossed by a large family of Coati. These look kinda like a mix of a raccoon and an ant eater. They are rummaging through the forest floor. The adult coati don’t seem bothered by us but the babies scamper and hide when we make any sort of movements. A few minutes later we come to our first river crossing and we see a handful of large colorful Macaws above us. Vivid greens and reds and a loud squawking call make these birds quite fun to watch. Biological intensity to the MAXX!

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The hike was long and hot. The beach sections forced us to struggle with loose wet sand that was slightly angled toward the ocean. This is not a big deal for a comfortable stroll down Santa Monica beach but quickly becomes grueling with 40 pounds on your back for hours at a time in 90 or 100 degree weather. The other half of the hike was in jungle canopy.This gave us shelter from most of these difficulties. We even stumbled across a few small waterfalls to cool our feet. Some of these water sources connected to the ocean creating rivers that we eventually had to cross. We had tide charts to make sure we crossed these at low tide. Trying to cross at high tide could be disastrous due to deep water, rip tides and even crocs and sharks! So we made sure to adhere to the timing suggestions and it proved to be no problem. After 9 hours of pretty consistent effort, we arrive at Sirena Lodge. This lodge consists of a few wooden buildings and an emergency airstrip (which is an open grass field and doubles as a campground). Phew! We break out our teeny camp stove and bubble up some crappy meager pasta. Not exactly the feast we deserved. We go to bed at 8pm and wake up every hour covered in sweat. Yum!

We wake up at 2am in an attempt to see Jaguars patrolling the airstrip. We sit and finally hike around in search of this rare sight to no avail. Why do we want to see a Jaguar? Because it would be amazing! Aren’t they kind of dangerous? Not to humans. Attacks are extremely rare and deaths are almost non existent. Regardless, by 4am we set out to a river to see the famed Bairds Tapir. Hiking through the jungle in pitch black is a unique and tremendous experience. We have all the normal symphony of bugs and spooky moving shadows that I swear are giant monsters preparing to bounce. The bonus greatness of this hike were the Howler Monkeys. At first they were distant and sparse. As we descended deeper into darkness, their calls became louder and more fierce. Soon they were doing a call and response that surrounded us from all directions! These sounds came from seemingly nowhere! I think i got a decent recording of this experience that I hope to post soon. We arrive at the theoretical Tapir area and find some fresh tracks. This seems like a great start but 1 sunrise later we have not seen any Tapirs. We hang our heads in defeat and walk back to camp for a 6am nap.

Mid day in the jungle is grossly hot. It is hard to do any real activity without immediately sapping all of your energy. So we spent the hottest parts of the day chatting or sleeping in the shade. One of the main topics of conversation was food. I think we each spent an hour per person describing our favorite foods. We were hungry! Another great way to pass the swelter is in a swimming hole. It certainly felt like heaven to lounge in this cool river for what seemed like hours. This river was known to be safe…meaning no crocs or sharks. Being the adventure seekers we are, we had to take a closer look at the the Rio Claro. They gave us some oars and we jumped in a big metal canoe to search for crocs and sharks. The river journey was beautiful. Each side of the river is covered in lush tropical trees and exotic birds. We keep our eyes peeled but only see a glimpse of 1 bull shark. I am not too bothered as we will get our share of sharks during our diving later in the trip. Finally we do some canoe surfing in the waves in the mouth of this ocean fed river. YeeHAW!

Again, we go to bed at 8pm to wake up at 3am for our last chance to see the big nocturnal creatures. Exhausted, dirty, hot, blisters, cuts, bites and all….this silent pitch black hike took 30 minutes to arrive at another possible Tapir spotting ground. Just as the river comes into flashlight view, BAM….a large ugly creature with a long snout is only a few feet away. We are filled with excitement as it pokes around the forest floor. Again, this creature is not bothered by us and approaches quite near us on several occasion. I got some nice video of this encounter but no pictures.

This was an incredible trip. The pictures do not do it justice. I am hoping the video will.

Dominical Vs. Newbie USA Surfers + Nicaragua

April 30th, 2008

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Buenas!

I am titillated that you guys are enjoying our journey. Although I am falling a bit behind with these posts, I will not be deterred (I am typing this one on my iphone!). It feels a little strange hunting down computers to reconnect with the digital world when I am surrounded by such non-digitalness. I have a self-imposed conflict about it actually. Part of me says,¨swoop into analog!¨ and experience every moment without distraction. But a seemingly stronger voice yanks me back to the computer to spew out my thoughts and experiences. I really think it helps digest and process life when you are forced to explain it. Otherwise lovely moments and profound life lessons can evaporate without really sucking all the goodness out of them.

Annnnnyway,

After Corcovado, we took a string of ridiculous transportation connections to get to the beach town of Domincal. This included a boat, 3 buses, a pickup truck and a cab. One of the bus rides in particular was tremendous. There were easily 30 or 40 people standing without seats for this 2 hour leg of the trip (including us with all of our bags). Some of the highlights of this ride were: yowling cats and canary-like twirps blasting from the front of the bus, a 7 year old girl doing a Britney Spears like dance around the seat pole and periodically sticking most of her body out of the speeding bus, an endless string of semi trucks wildly honking at us for reasons we could only guess at, pot holed roads that would catapult us into the air amidst the smacks of rocks into the bottom of the bus. Going places is fun!

We finally arrive in this sleepy surf town and decide to rent some surf boards. The town has an authentic beach vibe to it. No commericial chains, low number of tourists (and those that we met were ultra cool) and a slow paced attitude towards everything. I definitely want to return here. Dave had some decent surf experience. Scott and I are basically newbies…although this is Scotts Very First Time. The waves look safe enough and the water feels like a bath tub. There are only a handful of wave riders out with us, so we have plenty of room to goof up. After a brief lesson from Dave, we start shredding. I am able to stand up enough times to feel like a rad dude. After 30 minutes or so I lose track of the other 2 so I decide to get out and search for them. I notice a bit of commotion further down the beach and decide to check it out. I notice one of the distant shadows is holding 2 pieces of a surf board….no….that couldn´t be Scott! Should I run for my camera or make sure he is ok? I opt for the good samaratin route and later regretted it. It was indeed Scott holding 2 short boards that were once 1 longboard. Yowza! He was perfectly fine and nearly wrote off surfing on the spot…later to vow revenge on the great blue beast.

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After some basic eat-sleep-bus in Jaco and San Jose. We took a long border-crossing bus to Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. I have to admit that I am pretty average when it comes to history and even the specifics of current affaris. I try to read some Google news every morning, but this skeleton of knowledge feels quite inadaquate when arriving in a country full of culture, armed with all of my own stereotypes and fears. What do you think of when you hear Nicaragua? Drugs? Crime? Sandinistas? Certainly these things are a part of the countries history, but it is only 1 layer. Maybe it sounds cliche…and I am certainly not qualified to comment on this with any authority…but we have met quite a number of openly giving and hospitable people in a country with much less than our own. A stark contrast to some of my experiences in the wealthy cities of America. A man on the street saw my expensive camera and told me ¨Money makes Money¨. Perhaps he meant Money Wants Money.

We rented a car and did some of the highlights around the capital. This included the 2 cultural mecas Grenada and Leon. We browsed some of the museums that preserved pictures and artifacts of the cival war. The pictures of those who died were quite intense. The architecture was colorful and authentic. Again, no tourists in sight. This is now the expectation rather than the exception. The last stop of the day was Lake Nicaragua. This is a massive lake with 2 volcanoes in it and feels very much like an ocean. There are even fresh water sharks! We arrived at sunset and assumed our experience would be an average stroll and a simple photo. As per usual , a random stroke of luck appeared in the form of a man with a boat. He would motor us around the lake for a small fee. Hurray!

After some elbow nudging of my fellow travelers, we have decided to descend on the Corn Islands…a Carribean (and scuba) paradise. Scorch!

More to come!

brad

 

Corn Islands

May 1st, 2008

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Although our stay on mainland Nicaragua was absurdly brief, I felt a trip to the corn islands was good for several reasons. First, I felt our vacation needed an injection of relaxation. We were regularly getting up at 4am (or earlier!) to catch buses to the next destination. Inevitably our backpacks would end up spewing all of our clothes, camera gear, wet stuff, etc all over the room. Packing and repacking this everyday can be a bit of a grind (I know, poor me). Sooo, I thought 3 days in the same lazy place sounded excellent. And the 2nd reason, SCUBA! I needed to feel better about hauling my heavy scuba gear around these countries.

A short flight later, and we land in the calm oasis of Big Corn Island. The airport is little more than a room next to a concrete slab. One of the cabbies casually suggests us to stay at his lodge. We ask a few questions and decide to go for it. It is pretty much paradise on a remote part of the island. We have a balcony view over one of the prettiest beaches I have ever seen for something like 10 dollars a night. There are virtually no other tourists on the island…mostly locals wandering around going about their business. I wonder how any of these restaurants and businesses can stay open with such sparse interest. I suppose a few customers a day can sustain the simple island life.

As we are getting acquainted with our temporary heaven, we take notice of one of the primary ways of getting around the island….Golf CArts!! We pay the small fee and now we have wheels! Needless to say, it is endless amounts of fun cruising around paradise with our fairly rugged vehicle. It can go down trails, cruise the beach and handle the paved roads to restaurants and pubs. Although we had a map, we usually opted for the more adventurous route of swerving onto trails that seemed the coolest. Sometimes we would pass by small jungle living quarters and wave to the smiling locals. One of the homes had a group of kids and parents throwing rocks at a tree. We pulled over to see what all the action was about. They are trying to knock down some delicious fruit from a tall tree. They welcome us to try our aim with them. Although we had a few close throws, they were clearly the champions of this match. Further down the trail we arrive at a massive home situated on a magnificent peninsula. A man with a shotgun heartily greats us and gives us a few driving tips. It turns out shotguns are no big deal in Latin AMerica. Anyplace worth anything has a private guard toting this massive weapon. We thought this area was appropriate for an impromptu wheel barrel race. Me and Carrie DOMinated the the Dave Katie team by almost half the length of the entire coarse. I have some hilarious video footage of this.

As it got darker, we had to flick on our carts headlights. Sometimes we would be leisurely cruising down the coast, enjoying the crash of the waves…when suddenly a growling barking dog would come blasting out of the dark forest. They would full on chase us as we eeked out every last drop of speed from our getaway cart. Lucky for us, these dogs were not truly interested in catching us and were content to just run behind and bark. One of the most bizarre sites happened as we rounded the corner of one of the least populated parts of the island. In the distance we hear the bOOm BOOM booM of dance music. We pull up to a seemingly abandoned dance hut with only 2 unassuming women behind a small bar. We take this opportunity to Dance HArd in this most bizarre of dance clubs. We end the night in a club that is 100% locals. We are the only white people there. The flavor is overwhelmingly reggae. I can´t help but feel some of my nerdness come out with so many smooth moving dred lock friends bobbing and weaving around me. The social etiquette is clearly something that takes a bit of time to learn. But being awkwardly out of place is yet another great reason to travel. Overall, this day was rated as Fun Galore.

Lucky for us, the fun does not seem to ever stop. The next day we booked a full day of diving out on BLowing Rock. This is a small rock outcropping a good hour boat ride off the island. I am bonus excited about this dive trip as it is my first opportunity to use my underwater video case for my video camera. It is a fairly large and elaborate contraption that I was honestly a bit intimidated to use. I knew I would be ok in these tropical waters because there was virtually no current, the water was warm and the underwater visibility very good. This all makes for a comfortable dive and great conditions to capture the wonderful colors and creature of the ocean. The dives are wonderful and I am filled with creative joy while using my camera. One of the coolest parts of underwater videography is that you don´t need cranes, dollies or other fancy equipment to get interesting angles….you just use your body and fly over the reef, or swim upside down and shoot directly into the sun beams casting from the surface, or any other creative aqua cinematography maneuver you can conjure.

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Our final day we decided to take a short boat ride over to Little Corn Island. I didn´t think it was possible, but this place is even MORE chill than Big Corn. There are no cars or carts of any kind. Only people relaxing in all directions. We meet up with an enthusiastic french women who is running the only dive shop on the island. The diving is similarly spectacular. My 2nd dive was spent carefully exploring a set of underwater caves. This was without a doubt one of my favorite dives ever. The feeling of exploring a long lost magical kingdom was constant. Every hole we emerged from revealed even more intricate structures and delicate coral. This is one of those things that the video will not do it justice (let alone my handful of after thought photos). I finally also realized why I love diving. I love seeing so many interconnected layers of detail and complexity. You can spend your dive whizzing past the beauty and have a breathtaking experience. You can also spend an entire dive staring at 2 foot of reef and discover an entirely different world of beauty. And then considering how the macro and micro interact sends my happy thoughts through the roof.

After our island adventure, we hightailed it to El Salvador. We did an excellent horse ride around some of the ruins and bomb shelters of a recent civil war. Our tour guide was intense and explained his countries history with great pride. This authentic history lesson was capped off with him letting us run the horses down a swerving dirt path. I felt like a cowboy in a movie.

Onward to Guatemala!

Volcanos, Kayaks and Fuel strikes…oh my!

May 8th, 2008

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Holey Moley…the adventure never ends!

We begin our time in Guatemala by arriving in the strangely clean and comfortable city of Antigua. This is in stark contrast to the raw and difficult landscape that lays outside of the city. Cobble stone streets, brightly painted buildings, interesting decaying churches and large fountain filled town squares will be our jumping off point to several nearby attractions. Our first choice is the Pacaya Volcano. While climbing a volcano does sound instantly intriguing, we were all a bit skeptical. Most of us had experienced volcano hikes in the past that resulted in a hohum viewing of thick clouds around the top of a distant mountain. Not exactly the thrill we had in mind. But for only 7 bucks, we were willing to give it another shot.

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On the drive out to the volcano, we noticed the highway was lined with large semi trucks and fuel tankers. Hordes of people were wandering this LA-ish traffic jam as if it were a sidewalk. It appeared that Guatemalan truck drivers were on strike. I hope we have enough fuel to get back! We arrive at the start of the trail and are immediately swarmed by kids holding handfuls of walking sticks. They are yelling Spanglish phrases of ¨stick, stick….es necessario¨,¨taki taki, es manza!¨, ¨3 sticks for 5Q¨. They followed us for a good 10 minutes until I finally bought one. I tried to descretely pull a Quetzal coin out of my wallet but they all mobbed me and one even grabbed for my wallet. In my haste, I gave the coin to the nearest boy but took my stick from a different boy with better sticks. My blunder even further increased the havok. I can only hope they shared my meager offering rather than smack each other with their sticks. I guess these are the perils of the walking stick industry.

Just as the 1st sales squad faded away, we couldn´t help but notice the cavalry of teenager mounted horses trotting close behind us. They wanted to be our ¨taxi¨up the mountain. We politely said No Gracias fo the first 15 minutes. But when they continued asking for the next hour as we clambered up the volcano, our responses grew more and more sarcastic. Although their sales technique is annoying, I presume it is not all that flawed. I can imagine a knackered hiker finally giving up after climbing up the steep trail for an hour. It was actually pretty amusing and they did cash in on a few rides.

We arrive at the first vista and see the smoldering volcano in the distance. This was already cooler than our past volcano hikes. Snap a few photos and Hurray! But then we come across some solidified lava piles. That is cool too! But THEN we arrive at a vista where we can see actual hot oozing lava at the base of this behemoth rock mass. This could only be cooler if they let us walk right up to the lava….and he set us loose! Walking around the lava flows was quite a neat experience. First of all, it was freaking hot! We were quickly covered in sweat within minutes of our arrival. It was also quite surreal to watch the oozing lava take a few sudden flaming glops from above. I hope it doesn´t do a flaming glop on my head! Even the ground itself provided a thrill. In the cracks of the dark black rock peered more lava. It was directly beneath our feet. In certain areas, I think it began melting my boots Each step sounded like we were walking on a thin lake of ice. Except when this ice breaks, you fall into a lake of fire! Not to worry though, as tourists do this all the time. I got some really nice recordings of lava bubbles steaming and exploding that I will eventually share with you all. It has proven difficult to upload audio properly at these internet cafes. The hike back gave us a bonus treat of a beautiful sunset. 7 bucks well spent!

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The next day we planned on taking a morning shuttle to Lake Atitlan. Not too surprisingly our driver stopped at a gas station to fuel up for the journey. There was a long line and signs that said ¨No Hay¨. We went to the next station…it had cardboard wrapped around the pumps with the same sign. We repeated this process for awhile until the driver stopped and made a few calls. He returned with the sad result that there is no diesel fuel near Antigua. Doh! He drove us back and we had to begin our scavenger hunt for someone who could get us to Lake Atitlan. We visit tourist offices, car rental offices, random dudes with vans and ease drop on other gringos trying to solve the same problem. Strangely enough, there was another scavenger hunt happening simultaneously as ours…but this one was with teenage girls in school uniforms with cameras who were earning ¨extra credit¨by taking photos with us. We must have been approached by at least 10 groups of giggling girls who asked for this impromptu snapshot. I couldn´t help but feel like a celebrity. I finally got my 15 minutes of fame.

We finally scrounge up a ride to the Lake and arrive during the night. It is a small lake community that has only 1 real section of street with any activity. We poke our heads into an establishment called FREEDOM Bar. We can hear the stomping bass and squelching synthesizers from a full block away. The club is almost completely empty except for a girl fire hula hoop dancing by herself. Chalk up yet another bizarre contrast for Latin America! The next day we spring up early enough to acquire some Kayaks to paddle around this spectacular lake. It is surrounded by 3 volcanoes, lonely beaches and forgotten villages. Upon getting a bit lost in this massive lake, we ask a local fisherman in an old wooden kayak for directions to Los Marcos beach. His tip helps us to arrive to this unassuming stretch of sand. The sparse cast of characters include a bohemian guitar playing man in short shorts playing iponema style jazz, women selling fruit on their heads and a mini squad of mini kids wanting to playing some mini Frisbee with us. We work up quite a flurry of excitement until we had to rip ourselves away from them. To show our appreciation for their incredible disc skills, we give them the bright green disc as a ¨regalo¨. They are happy. We are happy.

Phew!

Tomorrow we are off to the water caves!

CAVES!

May 11th, 2008

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Nonstop action!

We endure more sweaty bus rides and miles of loose rocks called “roads” until we arrive in the far flung communities of Lanquin and Semuc Champey. Dave and I broke off from the ladies for this adventure (they went to a big Guatemalan market to shop). The big attraction here are the caves. We arrive late in the afternoon and head directly for the cavernous Lanquin Caves. We are told that many thousands of bats blast from the entrance of this cave every night at around 6:30pm. That gave us 2 hours to explore. We don our headlamps and begin the adventure. It turns out that the front section of the cave has some electrical lighting. At first this is actually kind of disappointing, but it turns out that these lights help us appreciate these spectacular huge chambers. Large stalactites/mites form into beautiful columns and intimidating spikes. We venture deeper and deeper until the lights go away. This require some messy awkward navigation. Don’t fall into the endless dark abyss to your left and right! The sound has also nearly disappeared. Nothing but the occasional wet plop and a few bat cackles. I hope the audio recordings are good!

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We had to monitor our time carefully or we might get caught inside the cave during the nightly bat rush. Maybe we should let this happen on purpose! We return to the cave entrance just as the sun is setting. We are the last ones out and they promptly shut off the electrical lighting. This cloak of darkness was what the bats were waiting for. We find ourselves a comfy seat slightly inside the cave and wait for the dark horde of death to engulf our view. We are told to keep our flashlights off for the rest of the night. We obey for a good 20 minutes and wonder when the bats are going to begin. We begin to suspect something when the flappy whoosh past our ears increases into a more constant rustle. We guess that maybe 5 or 10 are passing us at a time. When we sneak a few flash photos, it is revealed that 100′s are passing us every second! Kazam! This was a most excellent way to start our time here.

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We wake up the next morning with the vague notion of seeking out more caves. We walk only a few steps from our jungley lodge and bump into a previously unmentioned set of caves called the St. Marias. Should we spend 50 Quetzals (7 dollars) or try something else? We go for it. They hand us some candles and tell us to not bring anything else. Flashlights and cameras will be ruined (unless they are waterproof). We are led into a dark smallish cave in the side of a mountain. What makes this cave special is that it is half underwater! The guide lights our candles and we coyly glide into the chilly cave water at the entrance. First the water is to our knees…then our waist…then our chest….neck….now we are swimming through a cave bobbing our heads (and candles) above the water. Now this is adventure! The experience is heightened by the dramatic candle lights flickering spooky shadows in all directions. We climb a few rickety wet ladders to ascend up and down otherwise impassable areas. At one point, our guide climbs up one particularly precarious place and jumps into a dark abyss of water. BOOOOOOOMMMMMM! A giant wet bass explosion echoes through the cave. Drat! the Zoom recorder is not water proof. So of course dave and I follow. I carefully angle my body on the ridge as our zenly silent guide crouches just next to me. I point to my head and point to the large rocky overhang dangling in my future trajectory. He smiles and says “Cuidado”. (be careful). Breath….whoooooshhhh…..Success! Quite a rush. A friendly German fellow caught some pictures of this that he will hopefully send us soon.

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The last leg of the trip took us back down south to the Osa Peninsula. We chose to stay in the eco-lodge land of Bahia Drake. We landed in Palmar Sur and took a muddy truck ride to a mangrove boat ride to arrive at our secluded paradise lodge called Jinettes de Osa. Delicious food, amazing ocean views, friendly staff and a plethora of energizing activities. I spent 2 of my days scuba diving around Canos Island. One of the dives on the Devils Pinnacles was spectacular. These rock formations were absolutely slathered in millions of tiny fish that seemed to collectively morph into abstract shapes with each movement of our big scuba diver bodies. These were my last dives of the trip and I realized I have done almost 30 dives in 2 months! Ka-blamo! I definitely have improved my skills and passion for this sport and have actually started the Divemaster program in LA. What crazy scuba adventures does the future hold!?

Mom decided to take it a bit easier and went for a massage. Turns out the massage lady is also a book and culture junkie…so they really hit it off over the next few days. She also did some of her own trekking and exploring around the small village, again proving her Ultra-Mom status. I finished the last night with a night hike with the BUG LADY. This was a really neat trip. The bug lady and her assistant took us through the night jungle and pointed out all of the bizarre creatures…and most interestingly…their behaviors. One of these was the Trap Door Spider. She approached a random piece of boring mud with a tiny twig….and with great precision, she carefully lifted a tiny lid of mud to reveal a rather large spider tucked away in a hole. She propped the lid up and we all watched in amazement as the spider dutifully reached out and slammed the door shut. Apparently this mud is thin enough that when a small bug cluelessly walks by, the trap door falls and the spider gets a treat. She had so many interesting stories to tell about each bug…she seriously loves bugs and I kinda do too. To polish it off, I arrive home late and mom is kinda asleep. To my horror, I notice a very large spider directly below her bed. It was somehow ironic to have our 1st and only encounter with a large bug in our room, directly after a bug hike. Anyway, I manage to elaborately shooo this guy out the door without me killing it or it killing me. Hurray!

The next day we hurdle off to the airport and mom flies away with no problems. Somehow my flight is cancelled after 12 hours of sitting in the airport/airplane and I end up flying the next day…but I dont care because life rules!

Thanks for reading my blog! I am in the process of editing the epic video and will certainly post that for you all to see.

Adios para ahora!