South America, Here We Come

Main entrance to Old Town Cartagena at night.

First stop, Cartagena Colombia!

We can’t tell you much about Cartagena because it was so hot/humid we didn’t spend much time outside. We arrived on the first day of a 4 day holiday commemorating the independence of Cartagena from Spain.

Dan and Lindie out on the street during festivities.

This is a big, no make that a huge, deal in this town. Partying in the streets, and you wouldn’t believe all of the firecrackers that people threw. It didn’t seem safe because they were thrown around people and under cars but I didn’t hear/see any actual problems. We spent a short time when we met up with our former shipmates the first evening around the crowds but spent the rest of the time either in our air conditioned room or away from the crowds.

Cartagena is a good sized city of around one million people. It boasts an historic old town. We didn’t see much of it although it would have been nice to if the heat/humidity hadn’t made us hermits.  We felt safe where we were (except for the firecrackers) but I wouldn’t advise you to use the street money changers, Dan had one pull a slight of hand on him which cost us about a hundred dollars.

Dan, Lindie, and the Capitan.

Nearby is Santa Marta, also on the ocean, which is supposed to be a destination place that we missed as well. Doubt we will get back this way again but if we do, we will see both the old town and |Santa Marta.

We had originally planned to go by bus to Bogota but it was going to be so long that we flew. It was a little under $100 per person, including checking two bags and taking the rest onto the plane. The plane was a jet and very comfortable; it was a short ride of about 90 minutes. We ran into some of our shipmates at the airport but that is the last we have seen any of them.

Selfie on the airplane

Raquel’s Ark and Cat House

Raquel has a wicked sense of humor. The cats include a jaguar and house cats. She used to have a margay but it died.

This is a small rescue center in Vulcan, Panama. The animals currently include chickens (Raquel is vegetarian), a jaguar, an owl, two-toed sloths, baby howler monkeys, a tayra (member of the weasel family), raccoons, white-nosed coati, a weasel and some house cats. Continue reading “Raquel’s Ark and Cat House”

Thinking of Home

Spruce Tree House, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado. January 2017

I am reading House of Rain by Craig Childs. It is non-fiction, about the Anasazi and Craig’s travels to their ruins in the four corners area of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona. I am enjoying it, even though it has me a little homesick thinking of SW Colorado and areas I have been and those I can go check out. Thinking of friends too!

 

 

 

 

Slow Traveling

Volcan Baru looking from Isla de Muertos (Island of the Dead) in Bahia de los Muertos (Bay of the Dead) on the Pacific Coast, looking up to 11,398′. Boquete is east and down the slope to the right of the peak just a couple or three miles.

.
Slow traveling is actually a term people use when they move from place to place without any hurry.

Originally the reason for slow traveling was a way to live frugally for a couple of years. Later it was an idea with motion, gaining momentum, with nothing strong enough to slow or stop it. I remember waiting at the airport in Houston for our flight out of the country, physically tired, mentally sapped, and whether all preparations were complete or not, we were about to fly to Costa Rica.

I thought “What are we doing? What are we getting ourselves into?” Momentum won as we took the flight.

Or maybe it wasn’t momentum, perhaps my cousin, Ginger, said it more accurately “You are wanderers.”

The fears and doubts were just that. The learning curve has been pretty gentle. My Spanish is improving, a few more words here and there.

Now in our third country, I know that there are so many nice people from all over. Sure, there are the few to watch out for and places to avoid. That has been easy, as we meet other travelers who have been places we are heading toward.

The world is beautiful and I am glad we are on this journey.

Pura Vida and Driving in Costa Rica

I learned to drive in New Jersey and thought I knew what aggressive driving was. No way!

We rented cars twice and within an hour of driving, I knew that Costa Ricans forget about their national saying “Pura Vida” when they get in their cars. “Pura Vida” refers to the relaxed, easy going lifestyle here.

Many don’t believe in the posted speeds

Once in their cars, many are in a hurry: speeding, tailgating and passing, AND the passing is done on curves, no-pass zones, in the fog…anywhere they think there is enough room to get by. The only plus is that often the vehicle being passed is going v…e…r…y slow.

Narrow Bridge
One Way Ahead

Oh, and many roads are narrow, with steep gutters, sharp curves, and lots of one lane bridges on country roads.

This one has been here for many decades
Depending on where you are, roads can be rough

Leave lots of time to get to your destination and let your travel days be very flexible days.

San Gerardo de Rivas, Costa Rica

Looking down the valley. The white areas on the hillside, middle left, are actually greenhouses. I could not see a road up to them. That’s a lot of work if true.

This is a day to explore and find some waterfalls near San Gerardo de Rivas. We hope to do a little hiking and catch some nice scenery.

So we head further into the mountains from San Isidro and I asked directions several times to be sure. “Donde esta la cataratas de San Gerardo. I received directions in words and pointing, so onward we go.

The road is deteriorating. Now it is two concrete strips for the tires and now it is rougher and steeper and the concrete is not always there. We park and walk up the road. My final directions include “Uno kilometer.”

 

Trail head to Cerro Chirripo, at 12,533′, the highest point in Costa Rica. Need a permit to climb and there is a lodge partway to stay at since the climb takes so long.

The walk is beautiful.

Cows on a very steep hillside. Notice horizontal “paths” for the cows to walk up and down the hillside. These are normal size cows, so notice how high up they really are.

We end up at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve where we discover that these are different waterfalls. It turned out that the waterfalls I thought I had directions for was San Gerardo de Doty, three hours away.

Meditation maze in the forest

Cloudbridge Nature Reserve is a 1540 acre reserve where they have planted over 50,000 trees for reforestation. In 2016 and 2017 a jaguar was spotted. Costa Rica has a very strong conservation ethic and hunting is prohibited to preserve species. For more info on their reforestation project.

Mark a diagonal from lower left to upper right and most of that area has been reforested.

The walk in to the smaller waterfalls is quite easy. The higher one is a bit of a trek up a very steep trail and was well worth it.

On the way out, I suddenly came upon a garden in the forest, just a couple of minutes walk from the entrance.

Garden in the woods.

On the way back into San Gerardo, we stopped at recycling bins and to take in the view.

Umbrellas are useful in the tropics and are more comfortable than rain gear.

The upper part of San Gerardo snakes its way up valley with the river.

Peering over a huge boulder at the houses below.

What a great day!

San Isidro de el General, Costa Rica

We rented a car to check out the Pacific side of the mountains and take a day trip to the coast.

Today is a quiet day. We went for a walk, I worked on my Spanish, read a little and now am on the computer. It rained hard for a couple of hours. I don’t mind that at all.

We are staying at an Airbnb house up on a ridge. The valleys on either side are beautiful!

Bramas in the field.
Those fields on the mountain at center right background are probably 70 degrees. Incredibly steep and not uncommon here.

 

Golden-Mantled Howlers in a Mango Tree

What howler? Look left of center and see the two tone brown? That is a howler monkey.

We are walking a trail to the beach at Charco Verde Park on Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua when I see that a few mangoes are dropping out of the tree. Otherwise there are no sounds, at first. Then I hear movement to one side, high in the tree. We crane our necks around until we finally see a howler monkey. Eventually I see at least eight. There could have been more, but most of them were taking a siesta and it was easy for them to blend in. Their deep voices can be heard up to 3 miles away.

Range: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala
Weight: Males up to 21.8 lbs. Females up to 16.8 lbs.
Height: Males – 20″ to 26.6″; females – 18.9″ to 24.9″
Prehensile tail: 21.5″ to 25.8″
Social structure: live in groups of 10-20 individuals and at puberty leave the group to join another