Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 10 - San Jose-Houston-HOME


Unfortunately, I can NOT say the trip home went smoothly!  Martin and I woke up a little late, or taxi driver was a little late, we didn't have enough cash to pay him when we got there, and...long story short...WE MISSED OUR FLIGHT!!  Here are a couple of pictures I took while standing outside of the airport waiting on Martin to go get cash to pay our driver - not realizing we were missing our flight!

Yea, I feel like I'm a pretty experienced international traveler by now, and THIS was certainly NOT supposed to happen!  We were there more than an hour early, but apparently it is near impossible to get through security if you are trying to get back IN to the United States from Costa Rica!  After begging and pleading with management, we were told there absolutely was NOTHING they could do to get us on that plane.  I booked another flight for 5 hours later, made it through all the security lines where they checked and re-checked every single thing I had, and stood in the terminal as I watched my plane take off -- THE ONE I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE ON!  Ugghh...

I had plenty of time to chill in the airport, so after buying a prepaid phone card and calling home to let everyone know about my small disaster, I bought a couple books and found a corner to sit on the floor and read.  Skinny Bitch is one good book - haha!  :)

After several L O N G hours in the airport, I finally got on my flight, short and easy in to Houston, grabbed some dinner at Chiles (a good 'ole cheesebruger and fries never tasted so good!), almost missed my next flight (seriously ) and finally landed in KC tonight! 

Here is the sunset leaving Houston...


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day 9 - Jaco Beach, Costa Rica

I´m sure you are all sick of hearing this (or maybe just sick of hearing from me in general) but today was another ridiculously awesome day... :)

It was just an absolutely beautiful morning in Montezuma.  I was said to have to leave so soon, but I hopped on a speed boat at 9:30 am on the beach in Montezuma, heading for Jaco.  That is across the peninsula of Costa Rica, so we had to cross part of the Pacific ocean.  It was me, a dentist from Florida, and his two girlfriends...haha.  They wrapped all of our bags (luggage) in big trash bags because we were on a pretty little speed boat and we were going quite a ways, pretty fast, so they said there was a good chance we would get wet!  There aren´t any docks here in Costa Rica, not that I´ve found anyways, so they pull the boats in as far as they can and then you just walk out through the water to hop on.  No problem for me, the rich old dentist and his two old ladies were NOT happy about it! ;) 

So we took off, FAST, and I was kind of loving it, just being out on the ocean, but it got real old real fast when we got farther out in to the wide open ocean, and the waves got bigger, and the boat kept going faster!  I literally think we were flying over the ocean, and after laughing for a little while, I eventually began hanging on for dear life, bouncing all around! Well after about 30 minutes of fighting the high seas ;) the driver abruptly slowed down, and I was like THANK YOU it´s about time he realized he´s going to fast!  But he slowed down because there were DOLPHINS swimming around us and he didn´t want to hit them!!  I mean how much better could my vacation get right!?  I was like a kid in a candy store just squealing with excitement...I didn´t even know I liked dolphins so much!  It was the coolest thing ever to see them swimming around our boat and jumping through the waves!  I was just giggling and screaming and snapping pictures, you know how excited I can get!  The driver was having a good laugh at me...  So when the dolphins stopped jumping, I hunched down and was visibly distraught. ;)  Well the super cool driver said ¨ want more dolphin??¨ About all the english he knew, and of course I grinned and said yes, so he turned the boat around and went back to find them!  Once he saw one or two leap out of the water, he drove around really fast in big circles, to create a big wake or waves, and then you should have seen the dolphins!!  Apparently they love to play in the waves that boats create, so lots of them were swimming RIGHT beside the boat and then leaping through the waves we created!  It was seriously awesome.  I don´t know if Ive ever even seen a dolphin in a park or anything, so seeing them jumping in the wild was SWEET! :)  The driver finally said, good??  And I let him drive on...haha. ;)  It was hard to watch AND take pictures at the same time, so they didn't turn out so hot, but here they are...

So it was about an hour to Jaco dock again, just sludging through the water with my backpack.  The beach we pulled up on was just awesome though!  SO pretty...

I hadn´t really heard too many good things about Jaco, just that it is the prostitution (which is 100% legal here) and drug capital of Costa Rica.  I actually thought it was okay!!  Not my favorite town in Costa Rica, pretty touristy, but it was alright!  I walked up to a little shop in the middle of the town where you can book tours and stuff, and told them I wanted to surf!  They told me the best place in town was right across the street - literally.

So I dumped my backpack and bags there for the day (yes I am very trusting) and took off with my swimsuit and camera to SURF!!  Luckily the owner of this surf shop, who used to compete on the Costa Rican national surf team, said he was taking another girl out for a private lesson in about 30 minutes, so I got to tag along!  BEST DECISION EVER!  ;)  I went with the owner / lead instructor Mauricio, his American gf Lacey (who just tagged along), and another American girl, Liza.  Both of the other girls were around my age and we hit it off! 

So after about a 10 minute lesson on land on a long board...

...I am not kidding you, I popped right up on my first attempt at a wave!  Who knew I was a natural surfer!  Haha... okay not really, I crashed the next two times without really getting up, but it helps so much to have someone who actually knows what they´re doing!  I´v tried to surf a couple of other times, but never really figured it out or gotten up.  I sure can now, all alone!  He taught me how to paddle and how to read the waves and pick the good ones, etc.  I´m really not to bad!! 

It was SUPER cool and I think I´m going to pick it up as a hobby.  Except I live in maybe not. ;)  So anyways, after surfing for about 4 hours, with plenty of breaks in between, I was WORN OUT (and decided I needed some more pictures)! I see now why surfers are so ripped!  It is hard work to paddle with just your arms to get up enough speed to get up on the wave! 

Pretty sure I bruised a rib trying to hold the board on one side of me and fight the waves to get out to the water.  Other than that, and a couple mouthfulls of salt water, nothing but awesome surfing!! :)  I walked around Jaco a little bit, bought a few more souvenirs.  I found a really nice necklace and earrings I wanted to buy for my mom, as well as a dolphin necklace for Allie, but I didn´t have enough local money (colones).  I argued and argued, and ended up completely dumping out all of my money, which was mainly a huge pile of coins, counting through it all, and finally convincing the guy to give it all to me for the last of my money!  BROKE! ;)  Not really, I still had USD, but I wanted to get rid of my colones. Mission accomplished! 

So I really did NOT want to take the public bus from Jaco back to San Jose or to Alajuela (little town outside of San Jose where the airport really is) tonight.  Even though it is only $4 for a ticket, it takes several hours and to be honest, I´m just over public transportation here!  So the guy I surfed with (Mauricio) said he had a friend who would take me for $60.  That´s a lot, I know, but it was worth it to me.  He was supposed to meet me back at the surf shop at 4:30.  I was sitting there waiting around 4:20 and guess who just happens to walk by on the street.  MARTIN, my friend from Texas that I met in La Fortuna...who I really came here to meet up with but we never found each other!  Twist of fate! ;)  He is so nice to have around because he speaks fluent Spanish, which always makes me feel better. :)  He didn´t want to take the bus either, so we ended up splitting the cost of the ride here...WELL worth it!  Our driver - who happend to be American but married a woman from Costa Rica - dropped us off in Alajuela, which is actually closer to the airport than San Jose and a much smaller town.  We walked right across the street and were both so hungry from surfing all day (he was surfing too...just farther down on the beach) that we ate at McDonalds!  Haha...that place is everywhere!  Then we caught a taxi to Johny´s Place, some little hostel, and that´s where we are now. No air conditoning, but I´m pretty sure they have hot showers!  I am fried, again, even thought I put on spf 55 sunblock...I´m beginning to wonder if that stuff even works!?  Hopefully the shower isn´t too painful! I am officially ready to come home after one of the best vactions ever!! :)

Day 9 - Off to Jaco Beach

Well last night was one of the most enjoyable nights I´ve had in a long time!  After we made it back from the long hike to the waterfall, we took a stroll along the beach and watched the sunset.  It was just gorgeous - nothing like sand between your toes and the sound of waves with the beautiful colors of the sun going down over the water...

We finally walked back up the hill to our hostel (called Luna Llena), and Max cooked spaghetti and garlic bread in the shared kitchen there.  We sat out on the porch perched in the rainforest (seriously - IN the rainforest) and listened to the ocean waves crash againt the rocks and beaches.  I LOVE that sound!! :) 

I went to bed pretty early, around 9:30 I think, while the boys went out, AGAIN.  Haha...they´re much bigger partiers than I am!  So I haven´t ever slept in a mosquito net before, but it was kind of cool!  There are a lot of bugs around here since we are so low and close to the water.  We slept with all of the windows open, so it wasn´t the best sleep I´ve ever had, but it was so crazy to lay there and listen to all of the night time forest animals, frogs, insects, whatever else there is out there, making noises all night, WITH the waves in the background!  Nothing like anything I´ve experienced before! :)  Same thing in the morning, there is NO sleeping in when the sun comes up about 5:30 and the monkeys start swinging and chattering and the hundreds of kinds of birds are chirping.  Yea, that´s it, you might as well get up.  Haha...  so I´m up and at a little internet cafe down in the village.  Going to get some breakfast and then hop on a speed boat for an hour ride across the ocean waters to Jaco Beach.  Martin (the guy I met in La Fortuna who is from Texas) is there and is going to take some surf lessons today.  I am going to try and join him! :)  We fly out of San Jose at the same time tomorrow morning so we can just go tother to the airport from Jaco...and he speaks perfect Spanish so that is always nice. :) 

Well I´m off for now, an I don´t know where I´ll be tonight.  So if I don´t write, mom please still come pick me up at the airport tomorow!! :)


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day 8 - Montezuma, Costa Rica

Well today has been another amazing day, to say the least!! :)

It started out a little rough...  up at 5:15 am to catch our 6am bus - which we almot missed because we didn't have the right tickets, and it was almost full - about half locals and half backpackers!  Thank goodness for Dusan who speaks fluent Spanish - we made it on in time!

Oh yeah, and our "free breakfast" at the hotel was two pieces of bread and two pieces of pineapple...haha!  Some breakfast!  So anyways, it was a harrowing bus ride (on a dirty old rickety school bus) through the tiny and winding roads around the rainforest.  If we would have slipped off the road, we all would have died for sure! ;)  It took us 1 hour and 45 stinkin minutes to go abut 30 kilometers...that's like 18 miles roughly, if that tells you how slow we were going and we stopped like every 10 minutes to pick up some local on the side of the road.  Very interesting.  I always smiled as big as I could at the locals and let them sit by me so they didn't have to stand.  I mean after all, this is their country.  All of the other tourists had there bags laying on the seats and avoided eye contact so they wouldn't sit next to them, and it was just infuriating me!  I mean who do they think they are?  I got so mad when the bus was completely full and there were lots of people standing, that I leaned over across the aisle and glared at some punk German tourist and said can't you move your bag?  And shoved it over.  He sheepishly held his bag the rest of the trip and wouldn't look at me, but two more people got to sit down!  Punk ass...  So anyways, what seemed like an eternity later, we finally arrived in Puntarenas.  Filthy little port town in my opinion.  We got off the bus and caught a taxi to the beach, but had just missed the ferry to Montezuma.  We bought our tickets at a little window in a hole-in-the-wall "restaurant" across the street from the port...

OH YEA, I forgot to tell you, I'm in Montezuma!  We didn't go to Jaco today, haha!  We really wanted to come over here to the Nicoya peninsula area, but the weather has been so bad, and we checked the weather and it was supposed to be rainy and bad, so that's why we were going to go to Jaco instead.  BUT when we got to Puntarenas it was nothing but blue skies, so we decided to chance it and head to Montezuma via a ferry boat.  We had to wait around for about an hour, but got the next ferry, which took about an hour across the water to another little port town. 

We got on a bus and were told it would be aout a 30 minute ride to the village of Montezuma.  Well, two hours later, after another terrible bus experience, we FINALLY arrived in the amazing beach side town of Montezuma!  This place is so cool, just a really tiny (like two blocks) laid back lazy beach town with incredible beaches that lead right up to the jungle!  It doesn't get any better than this! 

 Here is a map of the town...seriously, it's three blocks.

We booked a little hotel in the jungle, literaly IN the jungle, for $15/night.  It is so cute, I can't wait to show the pics of this place, just built right up in the trees.  In fact, as soon as we walked out of our room, there was a monkey just chilling right in front of our little bungalow! :) 

Our first mission was to find a waterfall that I had read about.  Supposed to be an easy 15 minute hike through the jungle to get to it.  Well I don't know who wrote that or what there defintion of 'easy' is, but it was probably the scariest hike I've ever done - complete with water crossings!  We all slipped several times, and if we would have fallen, it was straight down the rain coated mud into the ravine...way down.  (And there were these hissing crabs trying to bite us everywhere!)

We hiked for at least 30 minutes and were all about to give up when we heard the waterfall, and it was TOTALLY worth it to be the ony ones around this amazing spot!  I swam out to it and climbed up the rock wall around it to get a sweet pic! :)  Did a little jumping from the rocks and just soaked in the beauty! 

This little village is really a little gem...not near as touristy as all the other places we've been.  It's almost all locals, which makes everything way better, including this hike!  With no guide, it was a little scary because none of us knew exactly where we were going and there were plenty of water crossings, but like I said, it was TOTALLY worth it to see! 

We hiked back a different way, down along the water almost the entire way since the other way up top was really hard.  Found another cool vine to swing from!

So we were almost back to the trail head when we heard the weirdest and loudest sound ever coming from across the water.  It literally sounded likea cross between a lion roaring, a dog barking, and a pig squeeling.  We all freaked out, and we still aren't sure what it was, but it continued to do it on and off for about five minutes as we all sat there in awe.  I think Max got it on video.  I think it was like a puma or a jaguar or something, if they even have those here, haha!  Right when we turned around to leave, an iguana jumped off the tree we were standing by, and then two monkeys were swining from the tree in front of us.  Just insane to see this much wild life in it's true habitat!! :) 

I am heading to Jaco tomorrow, just for the day to surf, then on to San Jose for my flight back on Monday!  NOT ready to leave this place, but I am kind of excited to get home for a hot shower and big nice bed! ;)  So, speed boat to Jaco tomorrow, and I don't know where I'm staying or if I'll have access to interenet, but if I do, I'll write more then!

Bye for now!