Sunday, March 25, 2012

Travel adventures 2.0

What a day. I have been stuck in La Paz, Bolivia for two days trying
my best to get to Arequipa where I have a flight on the 24th (it is
now currently 10pm on the 23rd so I'm skating it a little bit fine),
but I was unable to go due to protests just outside of La Paz. It was
understandable why; they raised the tariff for entering the city by
50%, so there were large rocks across the road, and people sat across
the road to completely block any passage. It was STILL like this when
I passed through, but luckily after an hour of scouring the town, we
found an unblocked route and got through to the border to Peru. After
all those fun procedures, we found out there was ANOTHER protest on
the Peruvian side - this time miners were protesting that mining
should have to be completely legalised; people were rouge mining and
exploiting the country's resources. Again, understandable, and again,
dammit. So I ended up in another little van, or 'collectivo', for
another town two hours along Lake Titicaca and am now... finally...
Aboard a bus like what I paid for. I bought some natural sleeping
pills and I think this 10hr bus is the time to give them a whirl!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bogota bag

After four glorious days scooting all over in a car I rented with
three other girls in Panama, the trip ended by me hopping out of the
car and onto a plane. I had a layover in Bogota that was dramatically
shortened by the usual lateness of the planes here (my first one went
by this, but my second was right on time), and it seems upon landing
that I moved along a little faster than my bag with everything in it.
I really should have stuck to my usual an always stashed a fresh pair
of undies and my pj pants, but the road tripping fever obviously got
to my head and I didn't go quite as prepared into that adventure.
Luckily, I always keep my toothbrush, camera, and lonely planet nearby
so it's actually not much of an inconvenience.... I kind of like not
having to drag my big bag with my to the next spot an instead have it
delivered. Turns out if I head off to Cuzco (near Machu Piccu) before
they deliver it then they'll even deliver it there.... It's honestly
pretty tempting; I'll just have to invest in a new deodorant for the
23hr bus ride!! Haha. Is it wrong that I think this way?

Thursday, February 23, 2012


I'm more and more of the mind that the rest of the world drives pretty
haphazardly, and the western 'developed' countries are pansies behind
the wheel. I know everywhere has their fair share of road rage, but
I'm not talking about that; instead what I think is that we are the
anomalies, not places like India, Italy, China, and here in Peru where
it's a bit of a risk hopping in any car. We are honking, swerving,
dodging, and kind of just going with the flow in all of the ruckus and
it seems to work just fine. Weird, hay?

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I'm in an unlicensed taxi with black tape over his plates paying less
than a dollar to get somewhere. Some say sketchy, I say awesome!

(there were a bunch of them arguing over my friend and I... When I picked the nice guy, another cabbie said he wasn't licensed and we'll get robbed, shot, and killed. Then he shook his pelvis at us and winked and called us pretty. Such a great way to instill confidence)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

El Salvador buses

It's about an hour/ hour and a half from Santa Ana to Lago de
Coatepeque, and costs a whopping 45cents per person. I bought a bag of
water (it's how they roll in central America!) for 15cents, so since I
packed a lunch, it should be a cheap day at the lake! It's wild
here... All around central america on these smaller or 'chicken
buses', people are constantly hopping on and off selling their wares,
foods or drinks. I admit it's really handy when you spend a whole day
traveling or even on short trips, and they're usually cheaper than
store bought items. One dude just finished up selling when the bus
pulled off, so he just opened the back emergency exit and hopped out
onto the road with his food and condiments as we were hitting a good

Monday, January 9, 2012

Operation El Salvador

I'm on the bus in El Salvador typing this while we dodge potholes on the pavement and the driver sits on a modified seat; the frame of its former self strung to be like a lawn chair. The front door never closes and there are still stickers from its days as an American school bus. I started the morning in Nicaragua, crossed into Honduras and finally into El Salvador.

No one here has a lot by western standards, the roads are often out of shape, and the comfort levels and personal space levels are constantly dived past and rules seem to almost be expected to be bent. I see shotguns ALL the time (aside from Nicaragua so far at least), and things are much more eclectic and worn in than our cultures in the west would approve of. The personal space and comfort levels being challenged mean that intercity buses can be as cheap as $1. Can't wait to see whats in store for me in this country.

Here are a few shots from Nicaragua!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Honduras - Roatan Island; West End

I'm currently on this little island on the carribean sea off the east coast of honduras where I've spent both my christmas and new years. It was a typical island christmas; not much festivities, but a whole lotta closed shops, hanging out at the beach, and random christmas parties littered here and there. It was kind of a non-event for me. I can't even remember what we did that day; it doesn't stand out from the rest of my week, and I didn't even write in my personal journal about it at all other than saying who I was with and the name of the island that I'm on; Roatan.

What's good in Roatan? If you're not diving, then you're immediately a minority. I truly mean that. Everyone that's here seems to be coming here to get their diving certification on the cheap (I hear it runs about USD $250 and takes 3 days; $20 more for the published materials).  I did not get certified, I didn't even snorkel here, and i didn't get a ride on the submarine that I only just found out about here. That sounds pretty radical, and surprisingly cheap if my source is to be trusted.

I've been staying at a great place called Georphies. It totally rules for a backpackers. The dorms are $10p.p. (they sleep 6 on bunks), 3 room sharesies have a kitchenette and are $15p.p, and then the more gangster pads are also avail for something between $25 - $60 a night. This is CHEAPER than the 3 roomer if you're a couple but you have a shared bath/kitchen with the other half, but then there's the fully private ones. There's hammocks on every porch, and it seems like a cat self-assigns themselves to their own territory. My favourite we named Jackson, but found out his name is CatCat. ha.

The islands main street is dirt / sand, and although I've heard rumours of it being paved, apparently those rumours have been around for about a decade, so I see the road plans are on island time. Favourite baleada place in town? CINDY's. Second, the little lady and her kids who set up next to the Cannibal cafe at 7om every night. She's amazing. I want to say she's my favourite because she's so rad and I love supporting her with my business, but Cindy's really does have the mackin-est Baleadas. Avoid that yellow and white shack next to the Blue Marlin. What is a Baleada? It's a flour tortilla with beans, powdered cheese, and avocado if you order the veggie one, but at Cindy's the veggie one also comes with onion, tomato, and sometimes some yellow or green bell peppers (capsicum)! (20 Lempiras is USD$1)
Prices (if you order a veggie): Cindy's 30 Lempiras; Lady in the Lot: 20 Lempiras, Yellow shack 30 Lempiras, guy on the dock by the King Crab restaurant 30 Lemps. You can totally overdose on Baleadas, so pace yourself and make sure you get more sustenance when you can.

Some places i liked in town:
Sundowner bar - happy hour is 5-7pm, and the monkey La La is their signature drink, although it seems like a lot of places serve it, and I'm told it's baileys, vodka, ice ... some other stuff i forget all whizzed up into a icey bevvy. The restaurant next to georphies .... not rudys, but the guy next door; BALLING burritos. Not so Mexican in style, but packed full and tons of yum veg. My buddy got the chicken and was stoked with it, but they're famous for their rotisserie. Actually, I think the place is named Rotisserie Creole or something. The little wooden A frame sign is missing some letters so I didn't really pay attention.
Tranquil Seas (Catch a cab there!; about 35 lemps a person if you're sharing a cab), a pimp nice place with a private beach that is great to go to on Tues or Thurs for their Paella, or do like I did and go there when there's free live music, order a drink, and play games - they had scrabble, cluedo and some other fun ones. OH!. Earth Mama. Organic smoothies and a phat yoga studio out the back. I only went there for the smoothies and the free refill coffee! Smoothies are L100-120, coffee is L30. If you are lucky and scored a kitchen, then do like we did and make some cheap eats along these lines:
1 can coconut milk, soy sauce, peanut butter, veggies like onion, zucchini, carrot, bell peppers, etc and some noodles. Mix BOTTLED water with the peanut butter slowly on a hot pan to make a sauce, then add some coconut milk and soy sauce and mix it up, then add the veggies and cover to cook it all, add the rest of the coconut milk when the feeling suits you, cook the noodles and drain and then ta da! super yum feast.

Also, for the cheapest way to get around the island, the best way is to walk to the main road and flag a cab there - it's immediately cheaper! if you get one on the dirt road in the West End, you seem to get the lazy tourist prices. Haggle with them, and avoid being ripped off. One guy will try to charge you $10, then the next $1.50. For water taxis, it's a fixed rate of L50 ($2.50) from west end to west bay and vice versa. If you get a slower one though, you might be able to get away with sitting on the bow for en epic ride and best seat in the house!

And if you come to Roatan or Utila, don't expect to get between the two for less than $50p.p. Stink, but true. There's catamarans that do the trip, otherwise it's take the ferry back to La Ceiba for 2 hours, then the other ferry to Utila for another hour, and that'll still be around $40-45 or so and some possible sea sickness. People were totally barfing on the way over, and it was fairly calm. These Hondurians seem to be down with barfing. They had plastic bags and paper towels being handed out for those who may want it by the staff.

walking around at night seems fairly safe, but there are some dodgy dudes who like to sling words your way from their beer perches, veg being sold out the back of trucks, and of course, guards with shotguns are a common sight (as is in the rest of central america I've heard). I saw so many on the mainland, and even saw a guard outside of Pizza Hut guarding what... their secret sauce?

So tomorrow at 7, the ferry takes us back to the mainland, then it's a 7 1/2 hour bus ride back to Tegucigalpa before heading to Nicaragua. Here's to a bit of crazy, and I'm on a tight deadline to reach my 30 countries before 30 on my birthday in 16 days. Wish me luck.