Friday, March 30, 2007

Seasick in Paradise

After about a week in Panama City, I managed to get a hold of a Captain of a sailboat to take me to Colombia.

The sailboat, Irene, was 37 feet and had 7 passengers when we left the port of Portobelo in Panama. The crew consisted of the Captain, Humberto, 44, his first mate and girlfriend, Lady, of less than half his age, 21, and Humberto´s Nephew Juandavid, 20. Then there was myself and three people from France. At times it was a little frustrating as the crew would be in an indepth conversation in Spanish and the other three would be speaking in French. All but 2 people spoke English, however we did most of our communication in Spanish.

The first few days of the trip were wonderful, with the exception of the third night. The third night was the first night we spent sailing instead of anchored in a bay. Let´s just say dinner didn´t stay down.

We visited many of the San Blas Islands which are georgious, postcard-perfect, islands with white sand and terquoise water, just of the Carribean coast of Panama. They streach from just east of the Canal to Colombia. Most of the islands are scarcely or uninhabited and the only people living in the area are the Kuna, an indigenous tribe. The Kuna were granted the land by the Panamanian governement and essencially have total control over the area.

Snorkeling was a frequent activity and there were some beautiful reefs. I saw a manta ray that was roughly a meter and a half wide.

The last few days of the trip weren´t as nice for a couple reasons. For one I began to get a little sick of the crew they were fun but I couldn´t stand them after a while. Also, the trip was supposed to be 5 nights, six days. Instead it was 7 nights, 8 days. As well, the captain tried to get me to pay money that I wasn´t supposed to, then ended up ripping me off five dollars. He was even more stingey with the others. The only good thing about the extended trip was we got to sail in a beautiful catamaran and there were dolphins jumping all around us.

So here I am coke-capital of the world.

I´ll have to go do some exploring before I say anything else.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Sleep Walking

On my last day of diving, I woke up a little late so I was in a hurry to get to the boat. My room mate mentined some Isreali guy was looking for a key from me but I didn´t have any idea what he was talking about so I scurried off to the boat. When I got back someone mentioned something similar; that I had taken someone´s room key the night before. Someone else then told me that the night before I had gone into someone´s room and got in bed with them. They awoke and were startled and as I left I took their room key. I kept hearing little bits and pieces of the story until finally I found Ido, the friend of the guy whose key I stole. He preceeded to tell me the story, while laughing his ass off. He had left the key in the outside of the door to allow drunken friends to enter later that night. He said he awoke when a man opened the door, but he didn´t recognize the man as one of the people staying in the room. He was about to say something when the man sat down on the edge of his friend Mosha´s bed (who was at the time sleeping with his girlfriend) and laid down. Mosha awoke but was still quite tired so he assumed it was his friend Ido playing around. He quickly realized the man laying beside him had dreadlocks so, startled, he yelled ¨What the hell?¨ The man replied Öh, sorry¨, stood up, and left the room, taking the key with him.

Now apparently this man was me. I have no recollection of the event as it was 4:00am. The only reason I believe such a rediculous story is becasue so many people were telling me it was true, and my friend said he went into my room and retrieved Mosha´s key, which was sitting beside my bed...

Scuba Surf

I got my open water scuba diving liscence when I was in Bocas Del Torro. I can´t describe the beauty of the life under water, but those of you who have dove know what I´m talking about. It feels like you´re floating weightlessly, in slow motion, across an alien planet. I´m sure the beautiful reefs and fish of the Carribbean Sea added a little to the experience as well. I hadn´t planned on scuba diving when I arrived, however a $175 three day course by PADI with 2 free dives shounded quite appealing.

I left Bocas the day after my last dive with some friends I met. We headed to beautiful Sta. Catalina on the Pacific side. I did exactly what I wanted to do for 4 days... nothing. Well, surf a little too. We had a beautiful round purple cabina right on the beach. There´s not much better than opening your front door and walking out onto sand.

I got to Panama City with my friend Kat and we went to see the canal for a few hours before her flight back to Los Angeles.

Panama City is a cool place. It´s like any major city and doesn´t look all that different from Toronto. However it´s nice to be here as it´s a change. And with big cities comes big diversity. There´s a killer vegetarian restaurant around the corner from my hostel that can support my veggi needs.

Uh Oh.... Today´s St. Patty´s day isn´t it? I wonder if they do green beer here...

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Boozing Boondoggle

I returned to the lovely South Eastern Carribean in Costa Rica. I called some friends that I met in Nicaragua to see if they wanted to hook up for a bit. It turned out they were planning on driving down to Panama in an old Volkswagen Westfalia
with their friend who in San Jose. I was planning on heading to Panama, however once I got to San Jose, to my dismay, yet not to my surprise, the van was broken so we all went to Cahuita for the weekend. After a three nights with Jeff, Jill, and Jake, I headed to Manzanillo with Jeff, Jill, and two friends we met in Cahuita, who also had previously met Jeff and Jill in Nicaragua (far right and far left in picture). We also had this crazy, true Rasta guy come up trying to sell burned reggae CD´s. (middle)

*Side note: One of the best parts of traveling... and wow there are many... is how often you run into people you met in the past. On Ometepe for example I turned around and out of nowhere my friend Philipp from Granada climbs up a ladder and into the loft. I only have a little over a month and a half left, but I´m sure I´ll run into at least a few people I know.

Manzanillo was great. For an entire day all we did was snorkel. The coral reef there is beautiful. I saw so many crazy fish, a nurse shark(completely harmless) a stingray, and a huge crab.
I had to go to Puerto Viejo again to take the bus to Panama. It brought back great family vacation memmories.
Now I´m in Bocas Del Toro, a small island in the far West of Panama. Panama seems a lot safer and richer than anywhere else I´ve been. They haven´t sold their souls to tourism like Costa Rica has so maybe it´s teh Canal. They seem to have something different going on here, but I can´t put my finger on what.
To end I´d like to point out this picture to the right. This is in my current Hostel, Mondo Taitu.
You may need to click on the picture to blow it up, but you will quickly notice that half of these over achievers are Canadian. Cheers Canada.

Saturday, March 3, 2007


I spent three nights on the island of Ometepe in Lago Nicaragua. It was sucha beautiful place. It didn't have the paradise look and feel of the Carribean (It's easy to compare... if I turn my head to the left all I see is the sweet, baby blue Atlantic and a waving palm blocking half my view) but it had a majesty I've never seen or felt.

I climbed the smaller of the two volcanoes. It was a long hike; 6 hours total.
The first 5 kilometers were clean, but steep. The last kilometer was knee deep mud. The crator was slightly unimpressive. It was a cool crator lake that was possible for swimming, but that meant wading through waist deep mud. I stayed on land. The bummer was the crator was set into the volcano so we couldn't see the surrounding landscape. On the descent, however, I was able to snap a picture of the bigger volcano from 1/4 of the way up the smaller one. You can tell by the picture how small the ithmus is between the two volcanoes.

I'm in Cahuita, just north of Puerto Viejo. I'm going to chill here for a few days, soak up some serious reggae, then head to Panama fo who knows what.