Costa Rica Part 2

  The camper was broken!!!  What do you mean by broken?  Well, to continue with our last post… One lovely morning in Utiva, Costa Rica Rian was winding down the camper when he heard a funny grinding noise.  The noise was the cranking mechanism in the pop up camper breaking!  Which meant we could not pop up the camper!  The sound was similar to the sound Rian heard a few months back in Las Vegas when the camper was broken the first time.   We had two days until we had to be in San Jose, Costa Rica the capital to pick up Kevo.  No biggie except we couldn’t get inside our home LOL!  
  The first time in Vegas Rian managed to fix the camper crank handle with some DIY engineering and was confident he could do it again.  The only thing was, he had to take it all apart.  Confident and at the same time keeping our fingers crossed we headed back to Playa Herradura further North along the coast to find a small hotel for the night.  Herradura is only a two hour ride to San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital so we knew we had time.  The family who owned the hotel was very accommodating and hopitable.  After having our attempted Spanish conversation they were nice enough to let us  park under their shed garage so Rian could fix the camper.  Rian sure was greatful for that shed because it down poured rain the whole afternoon.  There was that rainy season starting.  
  Just as it got dark that day Rian had re-assembled the crank mechanism with the piece fixed and the camper was back in action and cranked up! Such a relief! I knew Rian was going to be able to fix it but now we could rest easy and get ready to pick up Kevo. Our last night on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica we spent it back at Playa Herradura. We enjoyed a great evening on the beach. Rian caught a good size snook which I prepared for ceviche. The rain came down that night and Rian filled up the cooler with the fresh rain water coming off the awning to fill up our tanks.  We were officially ready to pick up Kevo!
  Rian and I hit the road the next morning and took the quick 2 hour drive towards the San Jose Internatioanal Airport and waited at the gate for my Dads arrival.   Kevo arrived right on time and we all jumped into the front of the truck and started making our way to Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. We knew the ride was going to be long but whoa we didn’t get the memo about all the trucks! Of course there was traffic, which led to buying of plantains being sold on the side of the road to light rain and then heavy rain all along one very tight and winding road through the rainforest. There were sooooo much tractor trailer truck traffic, banana farms, more truck traffic and then a dark road. After the 6 hour journey we all arrived safe and in Cahuita. We arrived safe but seriously hungry and even more thirsty.
  A big added bonus, besides Kevo finally being with us was our good friends Dan, Tiffany and Bella were hanging in the parking lot waiting for us with beers at the Cahuita National Park.  We checked Kevo into the National Park Hotel and confirmed with them we could stay the night in our van/campers. The ceviche was ate (I realize that snook isn’t the best ceviche option, a bit mushy) lots of beers were drank with even more laughs were had.   It was perfect start to being on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica!
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Morning after our reunited fiesta

  For the next few days we bopped around the area and camped at Playa Cocles. Kevo borrowed a tent from Dan and Tiffany and we sent it up under the awning of the camper in the sand and made a sweet cozy bed for him. We boogie boarded, swam, cooked out and enjoyed beach life. Kevo said it was the best sleeps he has had in a long time. The comfort of the beach and the sounds of the waves gently breaking onshore always makes for a great sleep.
   After living the camping life for a few nights and tearing it up in the town we decided to all check into a hotel for Kevo’s last few days. After checking out a few places we stumbled upon Calalu Bungalows off the main road in Viejo. Falling in love with their pool and awesome bungalows we booked a few rooms and moved in! The outdoor kitchen was awesome, the showers were amazing and the a/c during the night was the real treat. We slept clean and fresh the whole night and woke up dry! For the next few days we cruised on some rented bikes, enjoyed all the beaches in the area, had great snacks at Salsa Brava, loved the cool dips in the pool and had good old fashion fun playing cards and just hanging out.
  After our blissful stay at the Calalu Bungalows Dan, Tiffany and Bella had to head North and make their way back to States and Kevo had to catch his flight back. Rather then driving him back to San Jose we convinced him to book a small flight from Limon that morning of his flight and said our “see ya laters”.  It was an awesome visit and exploration of another great area with Kevo. The three of us are always looking at new places as a potential of us wanting to live there and we all agreed that week that Puerto Viejo was on the top of the list. The overall vibe of Puerto Viejo was all up our alleys and there was nothing not to love about the lush jungle on the golden sand beaches. The waves could be big but in certain areas at certain times the beaches could get Caribbean calm. Rian and I didn’t realize how much we love calm waters!  Airport drop offs are never easy but feeling like we are all a little closer to what we have been dreaming up felt exciting and good. Summer was quickly approaching and time was going quick!
  Rian and I spent a little over a week in Puerto Viejo after Kevo and the gang left. We set up camp at Rocking J’s to be central, rented bikes and kept exploring. Chatting with people and spending more time in the areas we liked best gave us a better idea of what was going on. We meet some relators and checked out a few listings. As we checked out some listings we again noticed the trend of a lot of the already built homes being very over priced and typically seriously lacking in quality. We did notice there were somewhat decent land prices.
  The Caribbean rain and electricity at Rocking J’s made for great night sleep that week with the A/C cranking. This was the first time the whole trip that we had made a point to find electricity to use the A/C. Typically we had been really hot before but didn’t make it a point to find electricity just fot A/C so that’s how hot it was in Puerto Viejo.
  Time was ticking and July was quickly approaching! Our Costa Rican trip so far was beach after beautiful mountain and wonderful people. Good thing we can go back! We knew we liked Costa Rica as a potential place to call home one day but we were not a hundred percent convinced.   With that in mind we hit the road South towards Panama!

 

Costa Rica Part 1

     Rian and I were very excited to get to Costa Rica.  So far the trip had been amazing filled with so many great spots and wonderful people.   However none of the places were particularly screaming out to us, “make me yours!”.  So we were ready to explore more and to hopefully discover a place that we might call our own one day.
      Clearing out at the Nicaraguan border made for an interesting morning. The chaos and confusion that sets in as you enter any of these borders can be very annoying and over whelming but a reality.  If you start this process accepting this reality you should have no problem! Good thing Rian and I did just that that morning.

      Learning from past borders we accepted the help of a Nicaraguan man Michael.  Michael was the first of at least five Nicaraguan men to run up to our moving truck.  He jumped on the side bar introducing him self and directing us to the correct parking lot.  These guys like Michael work for tips and are for the most part hard working good people.  It’s easier to accept their help and tip them typically a small amount in our eyes but goes a long way for them.
      Michael gathered our correct paper work from us that would be needed to cancel our Nicaraguan car permit and led us to a small line outside of the official building.  Typically at this stage of the process there is always a lot of fast speaking of Spanish and paper work being flipped and flashed around.   Essentially the officials are making sure the VIN number on your paper work matches the VIN on the vehicle you are now taking out of the country.  Easy.  Well that morning they were trying to pull a fast one on us.
     Michael our assistant and some other random guy speaking English tried to convince us that we needed to pay more money to the official who had our paperwork or we would have to be further inspected before our paper work would be approved.  They pointed to the other side of the road and claimed we would have to pay them or our vehicle would be put into an x-ray machine.  Knowing this sounded dodgy and we were not in a rush we told them that they could go for it and inspect away!  We didn’t have anything to hide so why would we not want them to further do their job?  They realized their plan wasn’t working and we weren’t scared or confused.  Michael must have decided he didn’t want to risk losing his tip that he would receive once our paper work was eventually returned to us, so he spoke some very quick Spanish to the official and  presto our paperwork was finished and the OK was given to go!   Rian then gave Michael some of our last Cordoba and thanked him for his help.  Unfortunately that was the only time we felt like someone was really trying to rip us off at a border.  Too bad they did because instead of giving Michael the rest of our Cordoba Nicaraguan money like we usually do we bought a big stash of plantain chips before heading out.  I don’t know exactly what it is but Nicaragua makes some of  the best plantain chips.  We were successfully ready for Costa Rica!

     The Costa Rican border was a little more familiar to us since we were there last year but we used the help of a nice man anyways and sailed right in.   With the proper paper work in hand we drove into Costa Rica with Salina Bay as our possible first destination for the weekend.  Of course we needed groceries since we always make sure we arrive at borders with no food because most countries say you can bring in meat fresh produce.   We came to realize that no one at these borders ever checks for food but its always better to be safe then sorry!  This was our first Costa Rican price tag shock.  We had heard from a lot of Overlanders that Costa Rica was very expensive compared to the rest of the other countries in Central America.  Food was yes a little more expensive but the store was in great shape with lots of fresh stuff on the shelves. There were of course a lot more American brands available at a price as well.   A good example of the price increase that annoyed me was the cost of the five-gallon water jugs.   Typically we had been paying from 30 cents to two dollars but in Costa Rica it was $5.  Loco.
      By far one of my favorite spots in Costa Rica was the first stop at Playa Rajada, the bay south of Bahia Salina on the Pacific coast.  This place was probably one of our favorite spots on the Pacific actually.  We were lucky enough to be one of the only people camping right on the beach under some nice big trees with lots of shade.  The beach was more protected and calm with fine light grey sand.  The trees and grass were all fresh and green and starting to get more lush with the start of the rainy season.  It was a great first few days chillen in Costa Rica.
     As much as we could have stayed at Rajada Bay forever we started making our way South on the Nicoya Peninsula.  Rian and I had a month before my Dad Kevo would arrive in San Jose, Costa Rica.  A month may sound like a long time but really time flies on the road.  Kevo would arrive and all of the Pacific coast of Costa Rica was our goal to accomplish in one month.
      Curious about seeing more of the Nicoya Peninsula we ventured South past Tamarindo.  We made a few good stops in Samara, Playa Coyote, Santa Teresa and Playa Tambor.  Last year we made a few stops on the Peninsula so we really hung out in the out skirts and enjoyed the endless beaches and waves.  Convinced of the beauty but knowing we wanted to see more we hopped on the car ferry to cross the Gulf of Nicoya to Punta Arenas.
       Making our way through the ferry ticket lines that day we met a great group of people.  They were originally from the States but had just moved to Costa Rica.  One of the gentlemen from Florida had just purchased a bar in Manuel Antonio.  We swapped stories and contact information and had some laughs.   It was so nice to meet people as excited as we were about moving to a new place and starting a business.  What was a wake up call during that morning was hearing how much money these business cost.  Of course we had been online searching for businesses and homes for sale and it was looking like either a big loan was going to be needed or seriously meeting the right people with the right opportunity.   It could still happen but we need another option.  What we were finding through out the trip that property along the Pacific coast could be found at a decent price but anything already built has a big price tag and in Costa Rica an even bigger price tag.   This got us thinking more and more as our travels continued.
      Rian and I continued traveling South a long the coast of Costa Rica camping at some really great spots.  Playa Herradura was our first stop along the main land Pacific side of Costa Rica.  It was a great calm bay where Los Suenos Marina is located.  The marina brought back our yachting memories and got us to thinking again.

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      We checked out Jaco, Manual Antonio, Quepos and ended up on the beach in Dominical a quiet surf town.  The beach and waves continued for what looked like miles and the camping spot on the beach were perfect.  Time was going by fast and we were only half way down the coast and we hadn’t even touched the interior yet!  We headed South towards the Oso Peninsula where the Corcovado National Park is located and the Gulfo Dulce which intrigued us as we do love calm waters.
       The Oso Peninsula is stunning!  There is only one road in and one road out. The gas stations are far and few in-between and the natural beauty surrounds you. One spot that stinks out was on the calm waters at Playa Blanca. It was a quiet spot in a small neighborhood with lots of shade, grass, local pups and red macaws. The camp spot was under a few big almond trees which we found out is a macaws favorite snack.  The first morning waking up and enjoying out coffee out side we were jaw dropped with the insane amount of local macaws having their breakfast above us.   Needless to say the camera was locked to our faces that day.  I also now have a seriously big appreciation for professional animal photographers, especially birds.
      Rian and I continued further South on the Oso Peninsula.  We stopped in Puerto Jimenez for one night enjoying the calm water beach and local ceviche.  We continued to follow the dirt road out of Puerto Jimenez to Playa Matapalo. The dirt road from Puerto Jimez wasn’t too big of a deal but the road or more like the path that lead to Matapolo was a bit tight.  To our surprise there are a lot of small inns and hotels that dot the path down that way.  We found land and homes were a bit better priced down that way compared to the very popular Nicoya Peninsula.  
       We arrived at Playa Matapolo just in time for a swell coming in so it was a little more “crowded” then we thought it was going to be. Perfectly we found one clear-ish spot in between a few huge trees right on the beach. Surfers were camped out next to us and there were many other surfers and their families enjoying the swell. We set up our spot and busted out the chairs to watch the show. A local man who worked in one of the hotels up the hill was selling fresh tamales making for a great lunch to continue watching the swell grow bigger and bigger. This was yet again another perfect spot with lots of entertainment and of course the wildlife.
       There was one week left before Kevo would arrive in San Jose and Rian and I decided to check out Pavones. Pavones is the most southern town of Costa Rica on the Pacific coast and home to the longest left hand break. Making our way we could really appreciate how quiet and secluded this part of Costa Rica is especially compared to further North.  We approached a perfect grassy spot in front of the beach so we pulled in and spent a few relaxing days in Pavones. We enjoyed the surfers excitement catching some very long waves. The surfers would enter the water further up the beach where the river meets the ocean and then catch a wave that they would ride all the way around the point and far along the beach.  The surfers that day would ride the wave down the beach and literally run out of the water and down the beach to get back in.  The excitement and passion these surfers had was contagious and so awesome to watch. During our stay we ventured into the town to check out the local Sunday football game where we had a few drinks and chatted to some long time expats of the area. Pavones is definitely a hidden gem of Costa Rica which I’m sure the locals want to keep it that way.
      Our Pavones camp spot didn’t feature the most shade so we ended our stay and headed towards Zancudo which would bring us closer to the main high way back North. Zancudo we had heard was a small beach town where the waters were more calm and where a river ran into the Gulf.  Rian wanted to check out the fishing so we headed that way.  Driving a long the main dirt road out of Zancudo we found ourselves at a dead end where the river met the road.  There was definitely no camp spot there so we turned around to look on the beach.   As we were slowly bumping down the road out of the corner of my eye I spotted a sloth!!!! So calm but super excited I directed Rian to pull over immediately! Camera in hand we jumped out of the truck . The baby sloth was eye level in a tree munching away. As we were ogling and staring at the baby sloth an American guy on a motor bike pulled up asking where in Florida we were from pointing to our license plate. Of course we quickly told him the Florida story and where we were from and what we were doing. After he heard we didn’t have a camp spot for the night our new friend invited us to his home where we could stay in the yard on the beach in the shade!
     Rian and I set up camp and ended up spending three nights with our new American friend and his amazing family.   Our time there was filled with fishing trips, feeding the monkeys, swims, beach time and great family dinners. It was so awesome meeting a young expat family living and working down there and enjoying life. We hope we will see them again in the future!!
     Rian and I hit the road refreshed and spent a few one night stops along our way back North along the Pacific coast. As we packed up the camper one morning in Uvita we heard some strange clicking and clanking noises.   That weird noise ended up being something breaking in the crank up mechanism of the camper!!  Great we had one day left before Kevo would arrive and all of our stuff was in the camper with no way to lift the top…. (to be continued).

Nicaragua

  Rian and I flew through Honduras in two days and arrived at the border town of Los Manos in Nicaragua.   This border was another breeze to cross and didn’t take too much time.  We again arrived in the morning so it was cool enough and there was plenty of shade with small lines so we went through pretty easily.  We received our tourist and vehicle permits, immigration stamp and car insurance in about an hour and then we were off!   Rian and I were excited to headed back to the Pacific coast! 
  It was kind of funny being back in Nicaragua, things felt a little more familiar.  It was almost a year last year that were in Granada, Nicaragua for our Spanish school homestay.  This time around we felt much more free!  Free and ready to spend most of our time on the coast to hopefully catch a breeze and stay cool this time around!  Traveling with your home and a/c in the truck is such a treat.  Anywhere we go we get a nice break from the heat and arrive at a new spot with all of our stuff, its great!  
  We cruised west towards the colonial city of Leon.  Leon is a very beautiful city and very similar to Granada.  Rian maneuvered comfortably through the small colonial streets knowing what to expect from last year.  After driving a half hour west from Leon we were on the Pacific Ocean again!  We arrived in the small beach town of Las Penitas.  Camping was a little limited but we managed to get a spot at Rico’s Guest House on the beach.   Of course it was a tad hot, but knowing we were on the ocean somehow comforted us.  We enjoyed another spectacular sunset on the Pacific and enjoyed watching the local dog gangs socialize and patrol the beach.  That night the rain came down!  It was the first big rain for the Nicaraguan rainy season, it was awesome.  
  After spending some time in Las Penitas and crusing further south on the coast Rian and I decided to go back to the Laguna de Apoyo close to Granda.  Laguna de Apoyo is a fresh water lake formed in the crater of a volcano.  It was a nice change from the beach while still being on the water.   Last year we had a field trip to the laguna so we knew there were some good swimming spots and a bit of a breeze.  We stayed at the Laguna Beach Club in their parking lot enjoying the cool lake breeze, wifi and the view.  The change from sand to grass was much appreciated.  This year we were much more relaxed and really enjoyed the scenery and didn’t have to worry about our spanish homework! 
  After running some errands and stocking our supplies in Granada we decided to head to San Juan del Sur.  Last year we spent a weekend in San Juan del Sur and spent most of our time on Playa Maderas so this time we decided to check out Playa Marsella.  Last year we meant to stop in at the Aussie Hut in Playa Marsella but time went too quick so this year thats where we headed!  We saw the Aussie Hut on Google maps but it was not the easiest place to find actually.  We decided to walk along the beach to see if there was a sign or any indication of the place.  We saw a big hut and what we thought was an Australian map, then we heard “Hey Mate, over here!” and that was the start to our very awesome and extended stay at the Aussie Hut in Playa Marsella.  
  It was such a blast hanging with an awesome Australian family as well as their guests at their home/inn.  We chatted, swapped stories, laughed a lot, drank lots of everything, and ate amazing food all week!  Rian and a few guests went out on a fishing trip and came back with a big catch of yellow tail jack, mackerel and bonita.  We threw it on the barbie and had a serious feast!
  Playa Marsella is the beach next door to the surfing beach Playa Maderas.  Last year when we visited there were only one or two small hotels and now this year we could see a few more.  The area is for sure getting more and more popular.  The Aussie Hut has the best location in our opinion though, the beach is beautiful and the ocean is more calm and it is far enough away from town.  Nicaragua is a great place and for sure only going to get more popular.  For us we want to keep going and see more though.  The company and vibe for sure topped off our Nicaraguan stay!  We felt like we were ready to move on and Kevo (my Dad) finnnnally was able to book a trip to come visit us in Costa Rica!   So we were on the move again!

Guatemala & Honduras

  The raining season was slowly slipping into our daily occurrence, well at least it was in Belize! So we were reminded that we better get going so we don’t get washed out further down the road!  We aren’t in a big rush but definitely eager to see more of Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.  Still so much coast to cover!!  So with that Rian and I did not spend too much time in Guatemala and Honduras.  We figured theres always later or on the way back up!  
  Crossing into Guatemala was again another breeze.  There was an exit fee for Belize, we got our passport stamped, received an import permit for the car in Guatemala and a new passport stamp and we were done!  We changed some money into Quetzals, bought a new sim card and filled up the gas tank which was much cheaper then it was in Belize!  
  We drove West in Guatemala for an hour or two and stopped at the Maya ruins of Yax-Ha, a recommendation of Thors’.  We arrived at mid day and figured we would drive up the big hill to see the ruins before setting up camp.  We could have walked up later but it was one of those “we have motivation lets do it” kinda things.  But let me tell you, we truly experienced the change in seasons in Guatemala that afternoon, boy was it hot!  
  What made Yax-Ha a different experience for us was that you really had to use your imagination to picture the ruins as they were or might be still.  Today most of them are covered by huge trees and jungle. Some of the temples are uncovered and being restored but others just looked like big hills with vines, trees and roots covering the structures.  Even though it was 104F or 45C we took a nice stroll through and enjoyed asking each other multiple questions that neither of us had any idea as to the answers.  This got us in the mood for Tikal and getting a tour guide!
  The camping area at the park was on the lake and had great palapas.  Unfortunately the lake is home to very big crocodiles so we didn’t go swimming that day, but when we arrived a school bus with Guatemalan students was having lunch there.  Some of the students were gathered together giggling and whispering and from what we could tell trying to speak English.  It reminded us of ourselves all the times we try to get ready to speak Spanish.  The ladies came over and introduced themselves and told us in English that they are students studying English and asked if they could practice with us.  What a treat!  Both sides did there best to try to think of questions and answers.  Just like us trying to understand Spanish they asked us to speak slower and we all had a laugh since we all understood the difficulty of learning a new language.  We swapped names and are now friends on Facebook!  
  The next day we ventured towards Tikal.  Since you can’t enter the Tikal National Park until after three o’clock unless you want to pay twice we headed to the Lago de Izabel to cool off.  It was surprisingly a very cool and clear lake that we enjoyed thoroughly in the heat.  We reached Tikal and arranged for a guided sunrise tour the following day.  We also finally broke that day and used our air conditioner.  It was awesome!  At least we made it this long with out it! 
  We woke up at 3:30am to meet the group at 4 to walk through the park to Temple 4 to watch the sunrise.  It was dark but of course still way too hot for that early in the morning.  As we walked with our flash lights the light reflected on what we thought was droplets of water but really it was the reflection on thousands of wolfspiders, ew.  We followed the guide and climbed to the top of the temple and waited for sun.  The howler monkeys and birds were awake chirping and chatting away.  The mist of the morning lifting from the jungle and the sounds of the jungle was unreal.  Unfortunately the clouds blocked the sunrise but it was probably for the best for heat purposes.  From there we toured the ruins and were very happy we had a guide with us so we could ask all of our questions and actually had answers!  These ruins are the most restored and are truly amazing.  The placement and measurements the Mayans calculated to line up the temples with the exact position of the sun during each equinox throughout the year blows my mind.  The power and amount of people they had to build these cities is incredible.  You could spend days absorbing the ruins and allowing your mind to wonder, it is very a special place.
 
  It was hot as you know and we had enough ruins for the day so we decided we would have a nice a/c truck ride and headed south!  We loaded up on more groceries, got a quick hair cut and made our way to Finca Ixobel.  The next morning we started to pack up so we could get back to a coast, seriously it was hot in the jungle but then we we got to chatting with Gerrit and Els from Holland.  We talked and talked and talked until we realized we should just stay another day and keep talking and have a coffee!  The day went on like that and led to us all having some beers and snacks and then to combining ingredients and making a wonderful dinner together and having some wine.  The chatting went on for maybe 16 hours that day!  It was the best!  Els and Gerrit have spent the last three years on the road exploring South America and are now making their way North. The conversations and comfort we had that day was priceless.  Like I have said before, the best part about traveling is meeting new people and swapping stories and enjoying new company in a new places! 
  Refreshed and our faces hurting from smiling and laughing so much we headed South to Rio Dulce.  There was a celebration of Labour Day that day in Guatemala and we ended up not being able to get the truck through the carnival set up to get to the camp spot we had planned so instead we ended up at the Marina.  Ah, good old marinas, home sweet home, but this time on land.  Splurging a bit we paid for the night and enjoyed the pool and the electricity of the marina.   We played some pool volleyball that day with the kids there and indulged in some ice cream that night and snuggled under the blankets with the air conditioner on full blast, it was such a treat.  The next day we decided to go closer towards the Copan border crossing in Honduras.  We spent the night at another great hotel parking lot that had a huge pool and lots of Guatemalans celebrating and geared up for Honduras.  We knew we could explore more of Guatemala but we were getting really really hot and we need to get back to the coast.  Yes, yes I know we missed the Lake but theres later.
  The Honduras border we crossed has the most tourist use to get to the Copan Mayan ruins so we thought it would be an easy one.  We arrived around 8 or 9 in the morning and got in line.  It took about and hour to get our vehicle permit canceled and then we were off to Honduras.  I think the lines were moving slow since it was the day after a long weekend, but it was shady, we had some plantain chips and just waited.  The less rushed you are the easier these border crossings seem to be.  Leaving Guatemala and entering Honduras was another breeze. 
  Once all the paper work was sorted we were off!  We heard that San Pedro Sula might not be a good idea and it seemed like the main road back tracked a bit so we decided to go a different way.  What looked like a main road on the map was definitely not.  Not only was it a long dirt road but it was a long dirt road going through the mountain range.  Nothing a little four wheel drive can’t solve.  It might not have been the easiest way to go but it was definitely the most scenic!  We drove through endless mountains covered in coffee plantations and small villages.  The smell and the view was amazing.  Finally after a longish day of driving we arrived at a hotel that allowed campers.  The hotel also had hot natural thermal pools, but unfortunately they  were being cleaned and refilled but the atmosphere and quietness was priceless. We threw back a few cold Port Royals and enjoyed the evening.  It was much cooler in the mountains then the jungles of Guatemala.  The next morning I even saved a rat that feel into one of the pools that was stuck.  Don’t worry I didn’t touch him but scooped him out with a pool net.  
  We were off again!  Rian and I were finally on the main highway and we just kept on driving!  We drove through Tegucigalpa the capital of Honduras that afternoon and kept going to get closer to the Nicaraguan border.  Using the ioverlander app we found another great hotel camp spot just north of the town Garcias. We enjoyed the beautiful property in the mountains and got ready to get back to the coast!  

Belize

 If anyone had a chance to watch our short video about our time in Mexico you could see we had a great time!  We wrapped up our stay in Mexico in Majahaul, Xcalak, Laguna de Bacalar and Chetumal.  It was probably our favorite parts of Mexico as we enjoyed the super clear waters, white sandy beaches, reef at your finger tips, fishing and as always the awesome Mexican vibes.  After emptying out our refrigerator (Belize doesn’t allow fruit, veg or meat to be brought into the country), changing the trucks’ oil and a quick stop at wally world (wal-mart) we crossed the border at Chetumal into Corozol, Belize!
  The border was super quick and easy, maybe it was because we were traveling on Good Friday (whoops) but either way we lucked out.  The only thing that was difficult was finding a store or restaurant that was open!  Since we ate the camper dry we kind of had to find something or pasta it was!  Luckily a smart family had their veggie stand open and we bought some eggs, potatoes and some fruit.  Since we spent so much time on the Laguna in Mexico we did not stop on the Belize side, instead we headed for the Crooked Tree National Park.  Locals were celebrating and we enjoyed the new green scenery and watched all the birds.  This is when we wish we bought a better zoom lens, sorry guys not too may bird pictures from there.  The first heavy rain of our trip came across us that first night in Belize and we slept like angels!  We only had a little drip action from the sky light handle but nothing a bowl couldn’t fix.  
  Since it was Easter weekend we figured we would head back to the coast!  When we stayed at the The Cavelands in Akumal, Mexico the owner Renzo told us about his friend Patricia (she really goes by Trish we found out) who owns and runs the Kismet Inn in Hopkins, Belize.  We figured a good recommendation was a good idea on a holiday weekend!  Trishs’ motto is “arrive as friends, leave as family” and that could not have been any more true!  Rian and I had an amazing weekend chatting with Trish and fellow travelers, eating her delicious meals and cold Belekins and simply enjoying the Caribbean breeze.  Trish gave us a few tips and told us a couple good stories to illustrate life in Belize a little better.  Her hospitality and warmth made for such a special Easter.  We will for sure cross paths with her again!
 So really since Easter we have continuously met and hung out with amazing people in amazing places.  After Hopkins we headed to the Placencia Peninsula in Belize where Rian proposed almost exactly two years ago.  We caught up at the Parrot Bar in town and stayed at a great hotel on the beach called Mariposas.  Rian and I chatted with the Canadian couple who own and run the property and gained some really useful knowledge.  All the information we gain the better!  
 From there we headed south to Punta Gorda.  There we stayed at the Sun Creek Lodge in the jungle owned by an amazing German family. The rain and cool shade from the huge trees was a nice change. We headed through the Mayan Kekchi village further East from Punta Gorda to get our waterfall site seeing on.  It was amazing seeing how the local families live and work off the land, it really makes you think and opens your eyes and mind up a bit. 
  Continuing from there we headed back north since there is only one border crossing into Guatemala from Belize.  Since we did the catamaran trip and the reef a few years ago we decided on this budget we would keep going. The highlight of going back north was going to the Pleasant Day waterfalls.  This was  was Rians’ original proposal destination of choice two years ago.  Long story short, two years ago we were on our way to the waterfall via golf cart by a recommendation from someone at the Parott Bar the night before.  After driving for what felt like forever I got way to hot and hungry and decided we should turn around, obviously not knowing what Rian was up to!  He popped the question on the beach that night instead and it all worked out!  But now that we finally made it to these waterfalls there was no way we were going to make it that day in a golf cart!  But we finally made it two years later!  The waterfalls are amazing and we were lucky enough to be able to camp at them for the night.  It is a truly a magical feeling being by your self at a waterfall, the energy and peace is unreal.   
  Recharged and ready for more of Belize we headed west towards Blue Hole National Park.  Here we stopped for a nice little hike through the jungle to a very deep cave and then to a perfectly clear and cool Cenote (Blue Hole).  
  From there we spent an unexpected three nights at the Belize Bird Rescue Sanctuary on Rock Farm just out side of Belmopan.  It was such an awesome time to hang out with the rescued birds and to enjoy the very refreshing river.  The birds there are mostly parrots that are found either abandon as babies or seized from people trying to smuggle them back into the States to sell.  The English couple that runs and owns the property told us heaps of bird information we never would have known.  We even held and fed a baby squirrel.  I know its like a rodent but it was so tiny and cute!  
  Our last stop in Belize was at Clarissa Falls just out side of San Ignacio before the Guatemalan border.  Again another stunner of a spot we found ourselves there for a few days as well.  The camp spot was located on another awesome river with rapids.  As much as we love the beach the coast of a crystal clear river is pretty good as well.  Again there we meet and chatted with an amazing guy named Thor.  He is originally from Chicago but has lived in Guatemala and the Yucatan area for the most part of 25 years in his truck camper.  He is a photographer and publishes amazing books on the wildlife and culture of the region.  We swapped ideas and thinkings and gained a lot of good information from him.  Thor generously gave us a copy of one of his published books so now we don’t have to worry about getting any more close of photos, he has captured them all, thanks again Thor!
  Off to Guatemala we went!  Belize will always be a special spot for Rian and I.  The more we chat and meet new people the more we learn.  It is for sure one of the best things about traveling and we hope to keep learning!

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Yucatan Peninsula

  Driving across the skinny part of the Mexican mermaids’ tale, as I call it, was a lot quicker then we thought.  We went from Salina Cruz to Villahermosa.  The roads were ok, the topes were of course there, wind slowed us down a bit, the boat almost blew off the roof, but all and all it was successful.  As we drove more into the middle of the country everything all of the sudden turned bright green!  There was even a little sprinkle of rain.  We drove a total of 8 hours to get closer to Palenque in the Chiapas state.  The last few hours the road got real, real bad!  I have never seen pot holes that big!  It was like tire blow out central!  But anyways, we made it the next day to Palenque!  The ruins, the jungle, the vibe were all so beautiful and such a refreshing change!
  The ancient Mayan ruins of Palenque are unbelievable.  They seriously leave you speechless when you think about the intricate construction of these massive structures with their culture and beliefs seen throughout them.  It is amazing how they have withstood time and to think of all of the ones that are still standing undiscovered in the jungle, unreal.  We arrived early to the ruins and soaked up the scenery and imagined what they must have been like ages ago thriving as a community.  We bet the heat that day and St. Patrick’s day was celebrated accordingly with fun at the campground pool having great chats and drinks with friends.  The howler monkeys did not make an appearance that weekend but their voices were oh so heard.  The little guys sound like massive gorillas!  We might not have seen them this time but we will be sure to see more as we travel further south.  
  Continuing east from Palenque we arrived to the Yucatán peninsula of Mexico!  Cenote, flamingo, ruin and beach heaven.  Words can not describe how amazing the cenotes really are.  Cenotes are fresh water pools that are formed when the lime stone rocks collapse and connect with a huge under ground river system.  No wonder the Mayans set up shop in these parts!  We camped at a few cenotes and enjoyed them all to ourselves.  One Sunday afternoon many local families and friends of the area gathered and picnicked at the cenote we were also camped at.   I think we might have been in the nicest town in Mexico that day.  As we enjoyed the cenote, arts n’ crafts and hammock time we met the most friendly outgoing people.  Together we all joined in conversations as best we could, they shared their beers with us, asked us questions about our travels and everyone enjoyed eachothers company.  Considering the lack of Spanish the four of us have we had some decent Spanish conversations that day.   To top off our awesome Sunday Funday we built a fire in the cenote cave and enjoyed the evening as our talented friend Dan performed some of his beautiful music.  With the glow of the fire and the acoustics of the cave it was a weekend to always remember.
  After feeling rejuvenated from the cenotes we headed back to the coast towards Celestun on the Gulf of Mexico.  It was flamingo time!! I don’t know about you but I have never seen a flamingo in the wild, if you want to I highly recommend Celestun.  We took a boat up the lagoon and arrived at literally a sea of flamingos, the endless pink was amazing!  The flamingos turn pink from the crustaceans they eat found in the lagoon which also makes the water have a slight tinge of pink.  The small baby flamingos were only a pale pink having not ate enough yet, so cute! The tour through the lagoon and the mangroves was another amazing Mexico experience.  
  We continued along the coast and headed around the tip of the Yucatan peninsula.  White sandy beaches, every color blue water and of course the tourism lines the Riviera Maya Coast.  We had a proper Cancun session and enjoyed a free camp spot in the middle of the hotel zone over the weekend.  One special spot worth mentioning that we spent a few days at was at a place called the Cave Lands in Akumal.   This place is owned by a very cool Dutch man named Renzo.  He welcomed us to his property where he has cabanas and tent rentals as well as a few camping spots and a teepee tent.  On his property over the last 10 years he has dug out a cenote and a lots of caves.  He has lights and even a hammock swing in the caves making them such a cool chill space.  Of course our magical musician friend Dan spoiled us again playing in the caves that weekend.  I was so enwrapped those few days enjoying his property and the near by cenotes I didn’t take many pictures, sorry. It was such a cool place where you could tell if the caves could talk they would be telling some very interesting stories.  If you are ever in the Tulum area check it out for something special! 
  After a few days enjoying Solomon Bay and the Sa’an Kain National park we were getting at little salt slicked as the winds were blowing hard. We decided to head to Bacalar Laguna, a fresh water lake a little inland, that also has cenotes.  This Laguna is as clear as you could imagine with white sand giving it the appearance of the Caribbean.  Our “live free or die” New Hampshire friends Dan, Tiffany and Bella headed to Belize to continue south to meet incoming friends soon and we decided to go back to the coast.    We can’t wait to see them again in Costa Rica!    
  Rian and I are chilling on the Costa Maya coast in Xcalak enjoying the reef and white sandy beaches.  This is the last town before the Belizean river border and it is very quaint and peaceful.  It may just be the last Mexican frontier before tourism explodes here on the Caribbean coast.  We checked out a few property listings and found there to be a lot of beach front land for sale.  There are tough environmental laws here to protect the reef and mangroves which is good because it is definitely a very special spot.  We are enjoying our last few days here in Mexico before we cross the border into Belize.  Before crossing the border we have to make sure we eat all of our meat in the freezer, veggies and drink any liquor we may have so they won’t confiscate it.  I’m sure the next few days won’t be too bad for us 🙂  Hopefully we catch some more fish while we are here!
  We hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend and we miss you! XO 

Pacific Side of Mexico

  From the endless beautiful beaches with waves, to the farms with the sweetest fruits, the endless sunshine and friendly people, all the way to every millionth tope we went over, the Pacific side of main land Mexico was awesome!  
Side note:  A tope is a speed bump that ranges in sizes that start at every small or big town and continue for ages.   They seem to sometimes appear out of no where!  If anything they make the fairly reasonable roads a big pain.  Positive note, you do get to really take in the scenery as you and your vehicle slow right down….oh Mexico!
  The Baja Ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan was a breeze!  Rian drove the truck camper onto the big car ferry, we checked into our cabin and enjoyed a nice long hot shower, a movie and a good night sleep as we crossed the Sea of Cortez.  Arriving in Mazatlan the next morning we drove south and kept to the coast!  We explored beach after beach until we reached Puerto Vallarta where my brother Konnor (AKA Kmann) arrived for his senior year of college spring break!  We arrived in a nice RV park for the week where we met a million friendly French Canadians.  Being a true tourist in Puerto Vallarta with Konnor, Nick and his parents we day passed it at their hotel enjoying the endless buffets, drinks, beach and pool time, went on a great tequila tour,  hit up the night clubs and go go’s in town and enjoyed their awesome company.  It was so great spending time with ones we love on the road!  The timing could not have been any better.
  Once spring break was over Rian and hit the road and continued heading south.  We stopped at surf camps along the way and enjoyed the miles of beaches and palm trees.  Along the way we came across our friends we met at the Baja hot springs Tiffany, Dan and Bella from New Hampshire.   We caravanned along the coast together and enjoyed some fishing, arts and crafts and lots of laughs.  The highlight of the Pacific side exploration for me was helping the baby leatherback sea turtle I found it along the beach one morning on my walk flipped over on his back franticly waving his little flippers.  (Sorry did not bring my camera that day!) I picked him up and brought him a little bit closer to the ocean and saw him successfully make it to the water on his own!  So cute!  On the night of the full moon we walked the beach finding sea turtle paths to where they laid their eggs high up on the sand.  We never spotted a mama turtle on her way but it was probably for the best for her privacy 🙂
  Mexico again proved to be such a beautiful place!  The hospitable and welcoming Mexican people, tasty fresh food, cheap everything and the most beautiful sunsets proves to satisfy our souls.
  Next, crossing Mexico interior from Salina Cruz to Palenque.  Ruins time!!!  Happy Friday everyone and have a great weekend!  Please let us know if you have anything you would like to read about, the internet is hit or miss but ideas are always welcome this way!  Thanks!

Southern Baja

  Cruising south of Guerro Negro we drove through a lot more desert and enjoyed some nice beaches on the Sea of Cortez.  Ending our first week in Mexico we arrived in La Paz.  The air got warmer and the sun stayed out longer, Southern Baja! South bond along the coast we headed.  Taking the advice given from a fellow traveler on the ioverlander app we headed to a beach North of Sargento.  This beach has hot springs along the shore, hey oh!  Passing the town of La Ventana we saw at least a million kite surfers eating up the strong winds making their way down the coast.  After one of our quickest travel time (2 hours, Baja is huge!) we arrived to an empty beach.
  The wind was strong, the sun was out and the temperature was cool, perfect hot spring conditions! The hot springs are along the coast under the rocks.  In some pools you could even see the water boiling, there were legit.  Maneuvering a few rocks here and there to let a little cool water in and you were in hot spring heaven.  Of course I had my first flip flop blow out of the trip fixing up an already made pool, but luckily I remembered we had our sweet $3 wal mart water shoes.  Such a perfect location to debut them!  We hoped around pools and enjoyed the first really warm water soak in a while!  As evening approached a few other van/campers pulled in.  Loving the company we all chatted and swapped stories around the fire keeping warm from the crisp dessert night.  The stars were by the million and then the full moon rose out of the ocean looking like the sun, it was pretty epic.
  As much as we could have stayed forever at the hot springs we moved on with only a week left in Baja before our ferry across to the main land Mexico. Another quick 2 hour ride south and we arrived in Cabo Plumo National Park.   We spent the day and night on a massive empty beach soaking it up.   Since it was a National Park there was no fishing allowed…so we moved on the next day but it was a great peaceful spot where cows even joined us for breakfast. Our next stop was San Jose del Cabo where we ended up at a public free beach that was next to the construction of a new big hotel development.  The hotel even had security there in the beach parking.  It was a very chill local spot which seemed to be far and few with all of the hotels along the coast.  We saw some Grey whales very close to the shore and enjoyed some light Mexican music that night.
  Friday we arrived in Cabo San Lucas with a to do list including, finding a place to stay, laundry, internet, tacos, and maybe checking out the weekend night scene.   Well it was all a success!   We ended up staying at a parking lot on the beach which was at the end of one of the big hotel strips.  That night we had some cocktails on the beach and met up with our friend Ross who I had worked with a few years back.  It was an awesome catch up with him and his crew slinging back drinks, enjoying live music and having a good night out!   We meet back up with Ross to hike to the top  of the mountain above the arches and Lovers & Divorce Beach.  We made our way up and seriously soaked up and enjoyed the good views and company, it was an great way to wrap up our Cabo experience.
  Needing to head back North to get to La Paz for the ferry we spent a day in El Pescadoro on Cerritos beach listening and watching the massive waves.  I kinda wish we had more time there but we were off.  We arrived back in La Paz and went past the ferry terminal to a place called Punta Balandra. Such a cool spot!  The tides go in and out of this shallow lagoon type beach with white fluffy sand on the Sea of Cortez.  It was a perfect spot for our last night on Baja.
  Later that night we thought after the day visitors left it would just be us and a few other campers, but we were wrong.  A big coach bus called the Green Tortoise decided that out of the whole parking lot to park directly next door to us.  We see people going onto the beach to set up tents and tables being taken out and food being made.  After chatting to them we found out they were a type of tour where everyone travels in these big busses from San Fransisco to where ever and live on the bus and/or camp if they could.  It kinda seemed like a traveling hostel.  It was pretty interesting to see the whole set up and to hear how the people really enjoyed it.  There were two guys that ran the bus including driving, cooking and herding the people.  Then I guess the passengers take turns helping with the cooking and the dishes.  I like that everyone didn’t know anyone and they all seemed so happy in everything that was going on.  They were even cracking jokes on taking turns with the bathroom shovel.  I’m assuming it’s pretty budget friendly but it’s cool way to see a lot of places and the sorta sit back.  The passengers raved about the two guys that run the bus and how well they drove.   A friendly passenger gave us pieces of french toast with whip cream and fruit the next morning so they ended up all good in my book!
Off to the ferry we go!

Word of the Day: Gente (people)

  What I love about traveling, besides seeing new awesome places, is meeting new people. Oh!  And I love the food and drinks but that’s a given.  We started this blog because so many people wanted more info, pictures, and stories so here we are giving the people what they want.  HA!  Before we started this trip we knew lots of people were doing the same trip for whatever reasons and are documenting it via Instagram, a blog, a website, Facebook or all of the above.  I was a little hesitant to start one since there are so many blogs out there and really good ones at that, but like Rian said, we can only try.  So bear with me here as we start this journey and I attempt to document and share it with you.  All feedback and comments will be strongly appreciate.
  I of course procrastinated when we were in Australia and the States to actually get the site going. I mean I did some stuff and we brainstormed names and what not, but am I kicking myself that I didn’t get it going earlier when we had great internet? Uh, yeeeeah just a little.  Anyways moving on!
  Yesterday we had a travel day driving through a big desert and mountain area.  We stopped in Guerro Negro for the evening and stayed at Mario’s Tours and RV Park because the restaurant said they had internet.  We had a few drinks at sunset and watched the full moon rise.  Then decided to have dinner in the restaurant to use the internet, a little treat. Here was my chance to get the site online! Weeeell not so much.  The internet wasn’t strong enough, but we did meet two very lovely couples!  Both of the couples were retired and traveling parts of Baja in their motor homes/campers.  We all chatted about where we were from, our back stories and our future travel plans.  We laughed and agreed on thoughts we may or may not have had and talked camper shop.  When both couples asked us where we were going and what our plans were they were both in agreement that they wished they had done a trip similar when they were younger. They both wrote down our website address and were excited to follow us and see what we find a long the way.  We parted good night and headed back to the camper full of lobster ($15 lol) and margaritas.
  Rian and I chatted about how we were excited to see the Sea of Cortez tomorrow and how they were really nice people.  We wondered about the couples, if they were doing Mexican road trips at their age what were they like at our age?  They must have been kinda cool and like minded if even now they are going out of their comfort zones (well their campers were pretty swish but ya know what I mean) and continuing to travel…
  When you travel to a new place, especially a place where you don’t know the language very well you may feel a little vulnerable or maybe even a little ignorant that you don’t know the language.  But when you realize that people are just people no matter where in the world, you are you start to relax and feel more comfortable.  You even may feel a little more confident in the decisions you make and your attempt at Spanish.  Not that Rian and I needed the acceptance of anyone on our decisions but its nice sometimes to meet people that appreciate risk taking and doing whatever it is that you want to do.
  Everyones level of travel varies and when you ask most people what they like most about traveling it’s usually exploring or trying new foods, adventure or it can be as simple as meeting new people.  Meeting new people that may or may not be like you but maybe able to teach you something new.  Last night we shared our knowledge we had with the couples and they did the same because even though in the world we live in today there are people out there that just like helping other people and basically just chatting.  Yes sometimes they may be just chatting about themselves or something random in your opinion but other times you meet people that genuinely take an interest and find a common bond.  That’s a good feeling.  It brings you back to a positive side of the world where you can appreciate not only your own culture but the unknown culture you may be exploring and just people in general.  We are all people or gente en Espanol.  We all have to work, survive and try to get joy out whatever it is in life that brings it to you.  Learning about others and taking the time to think more about yourself  and other as a people brings you to really appreciate life.  Life wouldn’t be lived with out people so lets all try to get a long and enjoy the ride!