March 11, 2006

Puerto Viejo

IMG_0405[1]PUERTO VIEJO, COSTA RICA - 'Necessity is the mother of invention'. Or motivation in our case. After the sights, sounds, and people we met in Nicaragua kept us in the country much longer than anticipated, Ryan and I sat down to do some math. Numbers crunched, we came to the desperate realization that in 17 days we would have to cover nearly as many kilometers as we had done in the previous two months combined. Seventeen days and I would be catching a plane from Panama City for a brief sojourn back to Canada for a medical school interview. Travelling a the speed required was clearly possible, yet having a deadline, let alone knowing where we are going or what we are doing every day when we wake up in the morning, wasn't something either of us had much familiarity with.

So it was that we left on the night boat from Ometepe four days ago. We bade farewell to all the good people we had been travelling with, and we started to move. Ten rocking hours through the night on a soaked and vomit smelling boat may have been too much to bear; were it not for some help. Always thinking, Lewis (who decided to join us for the ride) suggested we bring some drinks aboard, and with him, the drinks, and another travelling trio, the night passed fairly quickly away. We managed to sneak up to the first class deck to avoid the dead air/vomit ambiance below, distributed Gravol to those in need, and managed some sleep after we had exhausted our supply of beer and yarns (mostly of love lost).

Morning found us on the boarder town of San Carlos, eating one last breakfast with Lewis, when the time came to catch a final boat into Costa Rica. I had my fifth (clearly not my last) axle installed in the town of Los Chiles, while such mundane tasks as laundry were taken care of for the day ahead. Since then and until today, travelling became a routine which made the days quickly blend into one. Statistically, we covered 370 kilometers, 85, 125, and 165 sequentially over three days, but it seems of little importance now. Having essentially whizzed through the country, our asses are now sore, we are in possession of two liters of red wine, Puerto Viejo seems like good fun, and we have the vague notion of striking off to Bocas del Toro (mouths of the bull) in Panama tomorrow. Stay tuned.

January 05, 2006

Adventures in boredom

San Jose International AirportWow, two posts in a single day. I can explain... As I near my 22nd hour of loneliness in San Jose International (Costa Rica) I have to admit I'm starting to get bored. There's only so much sleeping and sitting one person can do. I've tried to break up the monotony with periodic visits to the Burger King in the food court and now my belly hurts. One more hour until I get on that stinking plane. I'd better stop taking photos; the world is still a little over zealous about airport security. Maybe I'll go brush my teeth again... tick. tock.

And back again....

Another long day spent on the concrete floor waiting for ticketing agents to let me into the land of food vendors and departure gates has come and gone. In 8 short hours I'll be on a plane, zooming back to Guatemala City on the last leg of my Christmas hiatus to pick up where I left off. I'm hoping that Brian meets me at the airport armed with a vehicle that will fit the bicycles (note to Brian or Willie: regular taxis won't do the trick, we need a mini-van with folding seats)

So far I've managed to remain blissfully ignorant of all the untold horrors that the bicycle boxes are surely suffering on their way-too-long trip to Central America. I've heard too many horror stories and realize that I'm not lucky enough to escape unscathed.

I am, however, happy to report that the only noticeable damage incurred thus far appears to be focused primarily on my wallet.. Despite my best attempts, the bicycle boxes ended up overweight and wouldn't hold all the luggage; I was forced to check a third bag.

The powers that be are surely smiling down on me as they prod me at my weakest spot; my wallet:

  • Mini-Van Taxi with folding seats: $65

  • Special Airport plastic wrap: $22

  • American Airlines overweight luggage: $60

  • American Airlines extra bag: $109

  • American Airlines 'bicycle bags': $20

  • TACA Airlines luggage surcharge: $120

  • San Jose departure fee: $30

Ouch. I purposefully haven't added it up; I prefer the general feeling of dread to having the full weight of the exact cost sear into my brain. I don't mean to complain, I'm still mourning the fact that I'm no longer earning a regular paycheck. There are people who are far worse off than I. Besides, any hardship I've endured is completely self inflicted.

It's almost a given that we'll discover something broken or missing/forgotten after settling in Guatemala and reassembling the bicycles. The fun part is trying to anticipate what it is. After sitting with myself for 18 hours now all that comes to me is that, in my haste, I neglected to let the air out of the tires of Brian's bicycle. It didn't occur to me until we were at a cruising altitude of 31,000 ft somewhere over Cuba; too late to do anything about it. Does this mean they'll explode, implode or will they be fine and good as new when we land?

December 20, 2005

My flight home ... and why it's not cheating....

It's four in the morning and I've been sitting in San Juan International Airport in Costa Rica for 15 hours now. I've never slept so well. I know; blasphemy!? I'm meant to be travelling the world 'without taking an airplane' but I can explain, I swear.

There's a loop hole; I always leave loop holes in the rules I make up, and if there isn't one, I create it. As long as I return to the exact spot I left, I can continue travelling as if I'd never left. The little red arrow can continue to bounce along its path around the globe uninterupted.

For the real purists out there, here's how it's working logistically. Yesterday I flew out of Guatemala City for San Jose, Costa Rica (where I'm sitting now, and have been for the last 15 hours). I'm heading to Miami in a couple hours, then on to Toronto. I'm leaving the arrow in Guatemala with Brian, Willie and Caroline and will meet up with the four of them on January 5th.

In 2002 I did my time. Christmas on a beach on the Gold Coast of Australia with a pile of other Canadians missing the snow and cheer of a classic Canadian Christmas. A single Christmas away from home is more than enough for me, and in my opinion, something nobody should get in the habit of missing. I've got all the snapshots I need of me wearing a Santa hat on the beach.

Brian and Willie should be settling in to a 2 week binge of Spanish lessons in San Pedro on the crater lake, Lago Atitlan. Brian has promised to keep us all updated with the occasional post.

Christmas is about getting together with family and friends. I be landing in Toronto early this evening and plan to head out for some food and drink, before driving North tomorrow. If you're reading this there's a good chance that you know me, and if you know me, there's a good chance you live in Toronto. I have no phone, but if you have nothing better to do on a Tuesday night, check the comments on this post, I'll have picked a suitable drinking hole before 8pm.

I can't wait to swap beans and rice for turkey and mashed potatoes.