Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Because I can

Current base of operations: Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Every time I come back to this beautiful province, I convince myself that I need to live here. So many lakes, so many evergreens, and such nice people. I need to find a way to legitimize time spent here over the summer. Perhaps I can find a field position or internship. But for now, that is just wishful thinking.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Costa Rica Part II

We left San Gerardo on the morning bus to San Isidro. The bus was crowded but comfortable and the scenery was beautiful. Then what seemed like the inevitable happened: our bus broke down. This came as no surprise because 1)the buses are typically old and sketchy and 2) a typical Costa Rican mountain road is hard on any vehicle.

Everybody unloaded the bus and lined up along the road and enjoyed the morning air. My travel companions and I speculated on how long we would be waiting for another bus- probably a few hours. But no. There was a replacement bus on the scene within no less than 10 minutes. It blew my mind. I would almost guarantee that if a similar situation were to happen in the US, passengers would have to wait at least half an hour for a replacement, even in a metropolitan area. Later on in our trip, a few Ticos would argue that the only reason the replacement process went so smoothly is because the drivers expect the buses to break down, and can therefore anticipate a delay. Notwithstading, I was thoroughly impressed with the efficiency of public transit throughout the entire country.
So after arriving only a few minutes late in San Isidro, we scrambled to catch a connecting bus to Dominical. This bus, however, was extremely crowded and somewhat uncomfortable for me being 6 foot 3, but we arrived safely and in due time. Dominical is a small surfing town on the Pacific side, a few kilometers south of Quepos. We ate lunch in town and caught a taxi/utility truck to a nearby ecolodge called Hacienda Baru, which served as our base of operations for two nights. We did a lot of hiking and saw a lot of wildlife. It was beautiful and very relaxing. That being said, I would rather let pictures do the talking:
Red flower, sorry I can't identify it.
There were leaf cutter ants everywhere. What an industrious species- they were capable of clearing a 5 inch wide path across the forest floor 25+ meters long. Fascinating.
Barbed wire wrapped around a Spiny Cedar- not an endemic species, but rather one that was introduced from Asia.
There was no shortage of iguanas, or large trees for them to live in either.
Likely the largest tree I have seen in my life - about 10-12 feet in diameter towards the base. Truly inspiring.
A 3-toed sloth climbing around during the day. Very interesting creatures indeed, and it was a treat to see one being active.
A more typical sloth sighting.
Dominical is somewhere in the distance. I believe the elevation was about 600 ft. asl where this picture was taken.
Typical of the pacific coast, the beach was deserted...
Except for a few inhabitants of the crustacean variety.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fui a Costa Rica.

So a few months ago I noticed that plane tickets to San Jose, Costa Rica were pretty cheap- $250 with taxes from Washington, DC. I figured why not, I could go for a few days over Thanksgiving break. I was in Costa Rica with my family for 10 days in December 2006, and had a great time, save for getting a pretty serious food-borne illness at the end of the trip. Nonetheless, I wanted to go back and practice speaking Spanish since, after all, I am going to be living in Equatorial Guinea next semester. To make a long story short, a friend agreed to book the tickets with me on short notice and I pretty much forgot about it until the week before we left.

San Jose

The capital city isn't very spectacular and I would imagine is pretty tame for Central America. However, it is still a developing country and there are constant reminders of this- prostitution, homelessness, drugs, petty crime, etc. For that reason I didn't really wander around with my extremely conspicuous camera taking pictures of everything. Not that I didn't feel safe, I just thought it would be a bad idea to call attention to myself. Plus, there wasn't too many picture-worthy scenes to be found- San Jose is pretty much an urban hellhole, although it does have a few decent parques and an avenida central with shops and whatnot. I was particularly disappointed by the presence of KFC, Papa Johns, Etc. The following picture sums up the downtown area of the city.

We stayed in a hostel that was nothing short of a military compound, as almost every business or household is barb-wired to the teeth. Seguridad is a serious issue throughout Costa Rica, especially in urban areas. One thing that did surprise me was the existence of a vegetarian restaurant (one of three supposedly in San Jose) with excellent jugo de guanabana y hamburguesas vegetarianas. Cheap too- about $3 for a meal. It kind of blew my mind that there was a market for vegetarian cuisine in Central America.

Anyways, the next morning we left for San Isidro de El General where we ate excellent authentic latinoamerican food while waiting for a connecting bus to San Gerardo de Rivas. No pictures of San Isidro although there was a huge two-towered cathedral in the middle of town. Not a very charming town but it served its purpose as a transportation hub.

San Gerardo de Rivas was awesome. Neat one-road town next to cerro chirrippo, at 12,500ft, the tallest mountain in Costa Rica that we tried to ascend but were denied by the park service because we didn't have reservations. Soon we teamed up with a fellow traveler from Slovakia who was also denied trail access and spent the next two days exploring, eating delicious food, and checking out a nearby private reserve, Cloudbridge to be exact. The temperature was perfect, there was an abundance of birds, and plenty of friendly people. The setting was relaxing and the company very entertaining/interesting. I will let the pictures explain.
Rio Chirripo Pacifico (?).
Un caballo.
More later. I haven't slept in two days so I am going to work on that. Enjoy.

First (Second) Words

After opening this blog for the first time my inbox was inundated with spam, so I closed it out. Since spam is inevitable, I am going to surrender to the modern age and use this service since (hopefully) the damage has already been done.

So before I add anything interesting I guess I should add a disclaimer since free speech is unfortunately just an illusion put on by the governments of the world. You would be surprised to learn what many people are serving jail time for here in the US relating to ideas expressed over the internet.

Disclaimer: Any information or ideas expressed within this blog are for entertainment purposes only. The ideas and events discussed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions or actions of the author.