New Zealand: 3/19 – 3/25

(New Zealand) Picton >>> Blenheim >>> Wellington >>> Waimea >>> Ohakune
3/19 – Hiking the World-Renowned Queen Charlotte Track!
3/20 – Leisurely Day around Blenheim
3/21 – Tandem Bike Tour around the Marlborough Wine Region!
3/22 – Day 2 of Wine Tasting and Catching the Ferry to the North Island!
3/23- Putt Putt, Tuatara Brewing, and the Te Papa Museum 
3/24 – Enjoying some Frisbee Golf on our 4th Anniversary! 
3/25 – Celebrating 15 months of travel with Deer and a Kite Festival!

Continue reading “New Zealand: 3/19 – 3/25”

New Zealand: 3/5 – 3/11

(New Zealand) Dunedin >>> Warrington >>> Pukaki >>> Mount Cook National Park

3/5- Ultimate Frisbee, Unlimited Beer, and NZ ER 😦
3/6- Internet Time and Injectable Donuts!
3/7- Big Delicious Brunch, Cadbury World, and Albatrosses on the Otago Peninsula!
3/8- Knocking Items off Our To-Do List
3/9- Frisbee Golf and Pizza – The best parts about traveling!
3/10- Moeraki Boulders and Traveling to Twizel
3/11- Mount Cook Village Museum and Relaxing in the Mountains

Continue reading “New Zealand: 3/5 – 3/11”

New Zealand: 2/12 – 2/18

(New Zealand) Takaka >>> Puponga >>> Nelson >>> Nelson Lakes Area >>> Hector >>> Greymouth >>> Arthur’s Pass

2/12 – Hiked to Aorere Caves and Watched Seal Pups play at Wharariki Beach!
2/13 – Golden Bay and Driving back south to Nelson
2/14 – Shopping in Richmond and Driving through the Central Mountains
2/15 – Hiked Mt. Roberts Circuit around Nelson lakes
2/16 – Wifi in Westport and Hiking the Heaphy Track!
2/17 – Cape Foulwind, Tauranga Bay, Pancake Rocks, and the Punakaiki Caverns!
2/18 – Rec Center, Monteith’s Brewing, and Hiking in Arthur’s Pass

Continue reading “New Zealand: 2/12 – 2/18”

Colombia & Ecuador: 4/23 – 4/29

Salento >>> (Ecuador) Quito >>> Tena

4/23
Rest Day and Explore Salento
+ With Corey still recovering from his stomach sickness, we spent most of the day relaxing in our room again.
+ Luckily, HBO was running a non-stop marathon of past Game of Thrones in preparation for the premier tomorrow night, so we watched a bunch of those. It was a good break from all the on the go traveling and exploring we’d been doing.
+ In the afternoon we headed out to a Colombian restaurant we’d read about to get the popular trout they serve in Salento. It was tasty and filling, although very garlicy.
+ There was a set of 100-200 stairs nearby that went up to a overlook of the city. So we climbed up those and met 2 different Americans on the way.
+ In the evening we just relaxed again and caught up with email and stuff on the Internet.

4/24
Rest Day in Salento
+ We spent most of the day relaxing in our room and enjoying the cool weather, tv, and working wifi.
+ We did venture out for a late lunch at a place called Brunch. It was packed entirely with gringos, and had a fun and decorative scene. Plus, the burgers we ordered were humongous! Corey’s came topped with chili and it overflowed so much it filled up the rest of his plate. They also had the best hot wing sauce we had tasted since buffalo wild wings back in Florida!
+ We didn’t decide on what hike we wanted to do until around 6 pm and through What’s App we managed to book the 2 day tour through Los Nevados National Park starting the next morning.
+ That meant most of the rest of night was spent packing our normal backpacks and hiking bags.
+ Then we got to watch the season premier of Game of Thrones on HBO!

4/25
Hiked through Valle de Cocora and into Los Nevados N.P.
+ Woke up really early without getting enough sleep and groggily ate breakfast.
+ Left our bags at the hostel and met our guide, Andrés at the office. Then we caught a Willys Jeep for the 30 minute ride into Valle de Cocora.
+ We walked along through the lush green valley of the super tall wax palms (Colombia’s National Tree) for about half an hour until we entered the Bosque (forest). Then we hiked uphill for a few hours until we reached Paramo scenery. Here, the landscape was littered with Frilajones. These are a unique type of plant that only grows at this altitude.
+ We walked along the rolling mountains and got up to about 4000 meters before descending to 3600 where the Finca (farm) was where we would spend the night.
+ Overall we had hiked over 8 hours and 16 kilometers and almost all of it had been uphill. Needless to say we were very tired.
+ After a couple hours of rest, we all gathered in the kitchen for an authentic Colombian dinner. We were happy to have warm stew and drinks (more delicious aguapanela!) since the temperature was rapidly dropping outside!
+ After supper we taught a few card games to our guide, like Go Fish and War. It was fun to practice our Spanish with Andres. Andres even caught on that Liz does not always understand even when she smiles and nods! Lol!
+ Then we all called it a night and got ready to sleep in what was by far the coldest temperature we had experienced since we started our trip. We don’t know how cold it got to (would’ve been in Celsius anyway), but in our dorm beds we needed to sleep with all our clothes on (double or triple everything), a blanket underneath us, and 3 blankets on top of us! So very very cold.

4/26
Hiked back to Salento and took a bus to Ecuador!
+ Woke up happy to see the sun and we also had an amazing view of the glacier nearby. It could be summited by another 6-7 hour hike (each way) and another day of acclimatization to avoid altitude sickness, but we didn’t have the time or money to attempt it this time.
+ After breakfast it was time to complete the loop in Los Nevados National Park.
+ Our return hike through different scenery took over 8 hours again from our Finca in the Paramo highlands back to Valle de Cocora. It also involved a good number of uphill climbs, but thankfully most of it was downhill.
+ During the 2 days we didn’t see many exotic animals, but tons of cows, some sheep, horses, donkeys, mules, and dogs. The cows here in the highlands were different than any we had ever seen before. They were dairy cows and much bigger and somehow they were much cow-like. They reminded us of ones from chick fil a commercials.
+ Caught a Willys Jeep back to Salento and said goodbye to our guide.
+ Back at our hostel we took a much needed shower, changed, ate our leftovers, and caught a bus out of town to Armenia.
+ We were going to go to San Agustin, Colombia but at the last minute we decided to just head straight into Ecuador! So we bought a bus ticket to the border of Colombia and settled into the first double decker bus we’ve ever been on for a nice 13+ hour ride. (Our longest single bus ride of our travels so far!)

4/27
Arrived in Quito after 23 hours of travel!
+ Took bus into Ipiales, Colombia and crossed the border into Ecuador!
+ Caught chicken bus to Tulcan, then another 6-7 hour bus towards Quito.
+ Bus broke down on the way so we switched to a different bus and finally made it to Quito! (over 23 hours after we left Salento!)
+ At the station we needed to catch a taxi towards the hostel we wanted to stay at. Unfortunately we were never able to book it because out of the 3 buses we were on, wifi only worked in 1 and it cut out about a minute before we were able to complete the booking. So for about 11 hours we didn’t know if the hostel would still have a room for us or not.
+ Luck was on our side because when we arrived, the receptionist said they only had 1 room left and it was only for 2 nights (exactly what we wanted!). So we tiredly carried our bags one last time down the hall and stairs to our room, which turned out to be huge and really nice!
+ Although we wanted to just lay down and relax, our empty stomachs forced us back out again. Our hostel was right next to a happening area though so we didn’t have to walk far to find a pizza place that was recommended by Lonely Planet.
+ While waiting for our pizza to be cooked, we got some Ecuadorian beers next door. We ordered the special of 3 for $5 thinking they would be small ones, but they were each 1 liter beers! Plus, when we finished our 3rd, they put down another. We told them we’d had 3 already and they were mistaken, but they insisted they were right so we actually got 4 big beers!
+ While eating the pizza we talked with the owner who was a really nice guy and gave us tips for Quito the rest of our time in Ecuador.
+ Being so full of beer, we didn’t finish all the food our hungry eyes had ordered earlier so we took our food back to the hostel and each laid down with a sigh of relief. We had traveled for over 24 hours and hundreds of miles in buses, shuttles, and taxis. We had also made it south of the Equator and to our 9th country on this trip!

4/28
Explored Mitad del Mundo and Quito breweries
+ Relaxed at the hostel in the morning. Finally decided around noon to go explore the city.
+ Caught a taxi up to the Mitad del Mundo, which stands for the center of the world! It is located directly on the equator at 0 degrees latitude. Spent 3 hours exploring all of the cool museums and scientific demonstrations about the effects of the equator.
+ Caught another taxi back south to the Mariscal district of Quito. This place was very lively and had tons of fancy/touristy looking restaurants, shops, and bars everywhere. Very different from the quiet and quaint part of Old Town we were staying in.
+ Ate at a Mexican restaurant called El Mariachi Taco Factory and split a humongous 2 foot long burrito!
+ Then we went down the street to a brewery Corey had read about called Cherusker Cerveceria. This micro brewery had a pretty good selection of homemade brews and we got a 5 glass sampler. We assumed they would be small 4 oz pours, but they were all big glasses! Really good deal.
+ After finishing our drinks and watching the Ecuador national soccer team defeat the Argentinian team on tv, we headed out. Another short cab ride later and we were at our final destination for the evening: Bandido Brewing. We hadn’t planned on getting more food, but the overwhelming delicious smell of pizza made us change our minds. So with another sampler flight of Bandido’s craft beers, we took in the unique setting of the brewery (in a type of church/worship center) and had some of the yummy pizza.
+ Once we arrived back at the hostel, we found it still strangely deserted (like it had been since we arrived!). So we hung out in the tv room outside our room doing stuff on our phones and tablets while movies played in the background. Ended up going to bed way too late, but it was nice to enjoy our own private hostel for a while.

4/29
Travel to Tena
+ We had breakfast in the morning in the very pretty courtyard (again, by ourselves). It was nice to enjoy the cool weather, garden, and music they had playing.
+ Then we checked out of the room and moved our bags downstairs to the game room area. Our plan was to hang out for a few hours doing Internet stuff until we caught a bus to Tena. So for the next 4 hours we lounged around on the giant cushions/beds they had researching white water rafting companies in Tena while Liz “Shazammed” about every song from her new favorite cd.
+ Eventually it was time to say goodbye to what had been one of our favorite and nicest hostels we’d ever been in and move on (it was tough to pull ourselves away). So we caught a taxi down to the bus station, then booked the first ticket headed towards Tena.
+ The bus company we were on was called Amazonas and it looked like a decent enough bus (reclining seats, a tv) but it proved to be a very strange experience. Whether it was because it was a Friday afternoon, the bus driver’s preferences, or just a cheap budget company, the bus moved so slowly for the first 90 minutes! Like slower than a bicycle would’ve gone. On the highway nonetheless! We honestly thought something on the bus might have been broken since we were moving so slow, and everyone else seemed annoyed. And to top it all off, it was not a direct bus (no stops), it was a chicken bus. So it was constantly stopping for people to get on/off. We were sure our 5 hour trip was going to turn into a 8+ hour trip.
+ Luckily they put on the movie Rush Hour (in Spanish) to distract us, but by the time it finished, we were just exiting Quito’s borders! So we went to sleep to try to gave time pass by quicker. It didn’t really help because even after we woke up we had 3+ hours left.
+ We thought about taking out our tablet to watch stuff on there, but Ecuador buses are notoriously known for bag slashing or theft, so we didn’t want to advertise our fancy electronics. So just when we were getting restless, they put on another movie: Rush Hour 3! (Don’t know what happened to #2) So we watched that and after it finished we only had another 30 minutes or so to Tena. Hooray!
+ After finally making it to town, we caught a taxi to our hostel, checked into yet another room way too big for us (3 beds this time) and ordered a pizza.
+ We saw on snapchat our friends Brittany and Josh had just gotten engaged so we FaceTime’d with them for a while and caught up on what’s been going on, which was nice.
+ Then we devoured the pizza, watched tv, got updated on the NFL draft results, and went to sleep to prepare for our full day tomorrow!

Click here for more photos from Colombia & click here for more photos from Ecuador!

Costa Rica: 2/27-3/4

Tamarindo >>> La Fortuna (Arenal) >>> Santa Elena (Monteverde)

2/27
+ Today we had originally planned for Corey to go surfing, but his thumbs had not fully recovered from the scooter accident so we chose to forgo the free surfboards offered by Pura Vida hostel and just go exploring instead.
+ We decided to grab breakfast smoothies at a restaurant Liz’s relatives recommended called Nougi’s. It was a nice spot right on the beach to hang out in the shade and people watch.
+ After we had our fill of turning down trinket peddlers every few minutes, we left and went down the road a little until we found a Soda (local restaurant that serves Tipico food). One of the few cheap restaurants in town. We had lunch there and planned out our route for the day.
+ Our plan was to spend the day at the beach. We walked along the Tamarindo beach and since it was low tide we explored the rocks and tide pools, looking for sea life. We didn’t see much however, so we continued down the beach until we got to the river crossing, which separated the beach from the Marino Las Baulas National Park.
+ This area was another long beach on one side (with absolutely no trees or shade of any kind) and an estuary on the other side where you can take river trips with local guides to look for crocodiles. We opted to just pay the $1 to cross the river and skip the $20 river tour, since it was basically what we have in our backyard at home.
+ The beach on this side was a lot calmer and had clearer water, so we went swimming for a while. We eventually decided (after our 3rd coat of sunscreen already that day) that it was simply too hot (with zero shade) to stay any longer so we headed back across the river and found shelter at a restaurant on the Tamarindo beach.
+ It turned out the restaurant was connected with the Brewery we had stopped at the night before, even though they had different menus and names. We got their half order of “Big as your Ass” nachos and had some more craft beers.
+ We then headed back towards the main part of town, while we stopped into different tour agencies to inquire about onward transportation the next day.
+ When it was time for sunset, we grabbed some beers and found a nice place on the beach to watch the sky turn orange and purple again. These sunsets definitely weren’t getting old yet!
+ On our way back to the hostel we decided to finally become official backpackers and cook at our hostel for the first time! So we popped into the grocery store but ultimately decided to just go cheap and easy and cook Ramen and Mac n Cheese. Just like the good ‘ol college days!
+ While we were carrying the groceries to the hostel, a Howler monkey crossed the street right in front of us. He was almost crawling across the ground trying to be sneaky as possible.
+ After dinner was over at the hostel and our bags were packed, we chose to spend the rest of the night lounging in hammocks at the hostel (skipping the expensive and rowdy party scene) and prepare for our next Costa Rican destination, La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano National Park!
+ While we were planning in the hammocks, some guys at the hostel next to us started smoking weed out of a seashell and going on and on about it. They were also repeating how amazing Tamarindo was and how they could stay forever. To each their own, because we did not really share the same feelings and felt that 2 nights in Tamarindo was plenty and that we had enjoyed other beach towns earlier in our trip much more.

2/28
+ The next morning, the shuttle bus we signed up for arrived at our hostel exactly on time at 8 am to pick us up! This was a first for Central America! Luckily we were ready and loaded into one of the more comfortable buses shuttle buses we had been on so far.
+ Our 5 hour ride to La Fortuna was split in half with a stop at a touristy rest stop that had a bunch of Scarlet Macaws hanging around in the trees. We skipped the overpriced snacks offered there and instead ate the subway subs we had bought the night before for the trip today. (Corey loves subway and it’s one of the foods he misses most from home).
+ We switched buses at the stopover area and although our second driver was a little more reckless, we managed to arrive safely in La Fortuna and checked into a really nice big private room we had reserved at a newer hotel called El Secreto. It even had AC! This was a welcomed sight after the last 5 or 6 days in dorm rooms.
+ After soaking up the cool air on our comfy king bed for a little bit, we headed out into the city to explore and pick our excursions and tours for the next few days.
+ We ended up picking a tour that included hiking 2 volcanoes, visiting multiple waterfalls, going over some hanging bridges, checking out some nocturnal wildlife, and ending with a soak and mud bath in natural hot springs! We reserved 2 spots for tomorrow.
+ A huge pizza restaurant with flashing lights and delicious looking pictures was too tempting to pass up so we got dinner there and ordered their extra large pizza. Turns out that extra large is for like 6 people so we had more than half leftover to take back to our hotel with us, but that’s Ok because leftover pizza is still just as yummy!
+ Back in our room we got ready for our big long day tomorrow and then passed out.

2/29
+ Our hotel stay came with a free breakfast of Gallo Pinto so we ate that up before we set off at 8 am for our first destination, La Fortuna Waterfall! This was a huge 70 foot tall waterfall that you reach after walking down 500 steps. Corey went swimming at the bottom of the falls, but Liz was too chicken for the cold water.
+ On our way back up the steps, we passed a couple that had just gotten married and were walking down the steps to the falls still in their wedding dress and tux! We hope that dress stayed white and not too muddy!
+ We then met up with the rest of our tour group for the 2 volcanoes tour (we did the waterfall part on our own). On the tour, we met some nice Canadians and tons of Germans. This seemed to be common in our travels, as Canadians seemed to be the most prevalent, followed by Germans, Australians, and British folk.
+ Our hike up Cerro Chato was about 2 hours through cloud covered rainforest and got progressively muddier and steeper as we went along.
+ Along the way we stopped for a break and while people were snacking, a Coatimundi was running around trying to get free food from people.
+ At that point we were on the highest point of the mountain and from there it was a 30 minute hike down into the crater to swim in a volcanic lake! But those 30 minutes were by far the steepest and muddiest. This made for tough hiking and climbing.
+ At the bottom we went swimming and ate lunch as a few more even braver Coatimundi were actually stealing people’s lunches right from their bags! Just like monkeys or raccoons.
+ During the 2.5 hour hike back up and down the other side of the mountain to our next destination, we didn’t see any wildlife but we did enjoy walking through the cloud forest/rainforest.
+ Along the way we walked over 2 hanging bridges, and saw another impressive and secluded waterfall, plus a toucan flying overhead!
+ By the time we made it to the Arenal Observatory Lodge, it was dark and we got to hear some of the nocturnal sounds of the jungle. At the lodge, we walked to a pond and viewed some of the famous, red eyed frogs that Costa Rica is known for.
+ Wet and cold because it had been raining for 1-2 hours now (and we didn’t have our rain jackets), we loaded the bus and traveled to a natural hot spring in the river. It’s popular amongst both locals and tourists so it was pretty packed but it was still neat to be in a natural one as opposed to a man made one. At the springs, we were served Costa Rican cocktails and given mud facials by our guide with exfoliating volcanic mud.
+ After an hour or so of making new friends and letting the mud dry to make our faces look like a ghost, our 12 hour excursion came to an end and we were driven back to our hotel. We then spent the next hour cleaning all of our muddy stuff off before taking a nice hot shower and climbing into bed to watch some cable TV, what a luxury!

3/1
+ Today we are going to just lounge around our nice room and catch up on some things we had fallen behind on, such as research + planning, uploading pictures, and the blog (and a wonderful nap!)
+ After relaxing in the room and some more leftover pizza, we went into town to book the rest of our desired activities for our remaining 2 days here.
+ We booked hanging bridges through a different part of the Arenal Volcano National Park and a hot springs excursion at a really nice resort nearby that we had heard great things about. We actually found a great deal with the springs that included dinner and was about $22 cheaper than anywhere else we had seen (they gave us the national Costa Rican price).
+ Dinner was at a very busy Soda that came recommended and was a good, cheap meal (although again service was severely lacking – a theme in Costa Rica so far).
+ In our room we just watched some stuff on our tablet before calling it a night.

3/2
+ We spent the first half of the day doing the same thing as the day before and enjoying our comfortable bed and A/C.
+ We headed out to town for lunch, again at a local soda to pay 1/2 or 1/3 what we would at the touristy restaurants.
+ When we were finished with that, Corey got a hair cut at a local barbershop! His first haircut overseas and conquering another milestone that officially makes us long-term travelers!
+ After that we grabbed our bathing suits and day pack and caught a taxi to Baldi Hot Springs Resort. We were worried the place would be super crowded and resemble Wet n Wild back home (as it’s the largest hot springs resort here and most family friendly), but we were pleasantly surprised to find most of the 27 pools empty or at least sparsely populated and still very serene and tranquil.
+ We spent the first 4 hours there pool hopping between all the different pools of varying temperatures. Most of them were the natural thermal pools ranging from 96-115 degrees, but they did have an area with a natural sauna with 152 degree water, as well as some cold water pools dispersed around the property too.
+ In one spot, they had 4 fun slides that you could go down, so Corey went down all of them a few times while Liz hung out in the pool at the bottom and served as the videographer. The slides were surprisingly fun and best of all, there wasn’t a 30 minute wait each time like in Orlando!
+ Our dinner reservations were at 8 and it was an all you can eat buffet! Needless to say, this was a welcomed break from our normal meals and the first time we had eaten at a resort during our travels. We stuffed ourselves with all the different foods and about 6 kinds of dessert, including a chocolate fountain!
+ The last hour was spent pool hopping again and Corey managed to make it to all 27 pools! The pools were even more empty now and we felt really pampered having these massive luxurious pools (complete with steam, lights, waterfalls, swim-up bars, etc.) all to ourselves!
+ The rain started coming down just as we finished up and we changed and caught a taxi back to our hotel.
+ Back in our room, it was finally time to pack up our bags to leave the next day, despite Liz’s plea that 4 nights wasn’t enough! This place definitely was one of the nicest and most comfortable places we had stayed at during our trip so we were reluctant to leave.
+ While flipping through channels in bed, we managed to find Mary Poppins in Spanish! So we watched that for a while listening to the dubbed songs and laughing.

3/3
+ We were checking out today and catching the Jeep-Boat-Jeep transfer tour to Monteverde in the afternoon. But beforehand, we were doing 1 last adventure in Arenal, a Hanging Bridges tour through the canopy and jungle!
+ After breakfast our shuttle picked us up at 8 and it was a bumpy 45 minute ride through the jungle. When we arrived, we met our guide Nancy who gave us a debriefing before we started our hike. Nancy was a great tour guide and took her time to explain all the different plants and find us as many animals as she could.
+ Even though we didn’t see any monkeys or sloths, we did see 2 Crested Gwan’s, spiders, birds, a morpho butterfly, a toad, an eyelash pit viper, and she got a Tarantula to crawl out of it’s hole!
+ We also stopped at a couple of great view points, 2 waterfalls, and hanging bridges where we got to see different parts of the jungle. Nancy was also a very creative photographer and took some really great and unique pictures of us!
+ We would have stayed around the lodge longer to explore other areas and keep searching for wildlife, but we had to catch the first shuttle back to town to make sure we had time to eat lunch and be ready for our next shuttle pick up to Monteverde!
+ Ate lunch at Rainforest Cafe. (No, not the tourist trap at Downtown Disney). Liz finished her meal with a delicious “Choco Vienna”. Expresso, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and crushed cocoa. YUMMMMM
+ Arrived back at Hotel Secreto JUST in time to catch our shuttle for the Jeep-Boat-Jeep (actually bus-ferry-bus) to Monteverde.
+ The first bus ride was unremarkable followed by an hour boat ride through the man made Lake Arenal- almost comparable to Lake Atitlan in Guatemala  (almost!) After we crossed the lake and boarded the next bus to Monteverde, the scenery changed completely!
+ Because we are traveling during the dry season, most of the countryside had been brown as we traveled each country. But here, on the outskirts of Monteverde, everything was covered in a lush green carpet!
+ So the 2 hour bus ride to the little town of Santa Elena was very pretty and our shuttle bus driver was very nice and would even stop to point out some of the cool different birds around.
+ When the bus pulled into town, we hopped off and checked into our hostel, called Pension Santa Elena. We had booked a private room for 2 people and they gave us a room with bunk beds. Despite it being relatively early (around 6), when we asked for a different room with a double bed, he said they were fully booked and there weren’t other options. I highly doubt everyone had checked in already and he couldn’t switch us, he just seemed like he wanted to dismiss the idea and didn’t care.
+ So we dropped our bags and went walking around town to check out different restaurants and speak with tour agencies. We got some info on different activities like zip lining, bungee jumping, canyoneering, hiking, etc. So many different options in this really cool area of the world!
+ We decided to eat at the Mexican restaurant right next to our hostel, Taco Taco. The burritos were relatively cheap (compared to other Costa Rican options) and big and yummy, so we were happy.
+ The rest of the evening we did work on our tablets and we had some of the Costa Rican craft beers they offered right there on site. Then we watched some Parks and Recreation on our tablet before bed.
+ This hostel was weird because they closed the common area and kitchen at 10, so everyone had to leave and go to their rooms. It was the first time we’d encountered this and found it very strange.

3/4
+ Hiking was on the agenda again today but this time we were visiting another famous place that had been on Corey’s bucket list for a long time, Monteverde Cloud Forest!
+ So we ate our free breakfast at our hostel, which actually came from the Mexican restaurant next door – Taco Taco. We then shared a taxi with other people from our hostel to Monteverde in time to meet our guide for the day.
+ We opted to pay extra for the guide since we were told that was the only way we’d be able to see the animals. That turned out to be true, but the only animals we saw were birds. We even got to see the famous Quetzal bird! 2 of them actually! This was special because they have to be in season to have a chance and even then sometimes people don’t see them. If you don’t know what they look like, look them up online because they’re very pretty and unique. We also saw a mot mot, 3 wattled bell bird, centipedes, and even got to hike along the continental divide which had some magnificent views!
+ After our 2.5 hour hike with the guide was over, we went to the Hummingbird garden on the property and got to watch a whole bunch of hummingbirds flying back and forth between the different feeders. Liz really loved that and took a ton of pictures. Plus you could get really close to the hummingbirds, within a foot!
+ We hadn’t done a whole lot of actual hiking with the guide since we would mainly look for birds, then once he found them he would set up a telescope, we’d all look and then take pictures through the telescope. Because of that we didn’t cover a lot of ground in the forest. So we decided to go back into the forest and explore some of the other trails. It was really nice and peaceful and although we didn’t see any sloths or monkeys, the cloud forest and all of the different old growth plants and trees it contained was still awesome and different from anything else we had ever seen.
+ At 2 pm (6.5 hours after we got there), we finally caught the bus back into town and grabbed lunch at a nearby restaurant called Tico Rico. Except instead of getting typical food again like so many meals previously, we chose to get hamburgers instead. Not as delicious as they are at home but still really good and filling.
+ Since we didn’t like our room (or the staff and weird rules) at Pension, we looked around online for a different place to stay for the next 2-3 nights and found a good place nearby called Moon House. We walked over and talked to the owner, checked out the room, and decided we liked it so we booked it. The owner, Francisco, also gave us the best prices for our excursions so we ended up booking all of those through him as well.
+ We then spent the next few hours hanging out at Pension and uploading pictures before splitting a burrito from Taco Taco for dinner.
+ Tonight it was time for another guided hike. This time through the jungle at night to look for nocturnal animals, different from what we could see during the day. We had heard great reviews from people about all the different animals they saw, but read some online reviews that made us wary. We decided to try it anyway but our worries ended up being justified as it was basically a glorified staged hike in someone’s backyard. The guides obviously knew just where every single animal would be residing because not only did they do the tour just a couple hours earlier, but the animals are there everyday. So the 10 people in our group tromped along behind the guide as he “found” different animals like sleeping toucans (maybe real? They didn’t move even with 11 flashlights on them), a Tarantula, snakes, and other types of birds. We however did not get to see the one animal we had most hoped for: A sloth. That was the 1 thing that sold us on the tour is that every person from our hostel that had taken the tour saw at least 1 sloth. Of course our recent string of bad luck stuck with us and despite the guide seeing multiple sloths on the 5:30 tour, we didn’t find a single one on our 8 pm tour. So not only were the animals basically staged, but we still couldn’t find them! Disappointed that  we wasted $40, we went back to the hostel.
+ We were determined to end the night on a high note so we decided to go grab a drink at a cool bar we had heard about. Turns out they wanted a $4 cover charge because it was Friday night and we decided that it definitely wasn’t worth wasting any more money than we just had so we went to our next choice only to discover they had closed 2 minutes earlier. Whaddaya know! So we instead just went back to our room and watched some Parks and Rec on our tablet before sleep.
+ Not our favorite end to the day, but at times like these we have to remember we are blessed to even be here!

Click here for more photos of Costa Rica!

Nicaragua & Costa Rica: 2/20-2/26

Granada >>> Isla de Ometepe >>> San Juan del Sur >>> Tamarindo

2/20
+ Woke up at the Treehouse Hostel to howler monkeys in the morning (and all throughout the night). If you don’t know what they sound like, look it up online. They’re impressively loud for their size.
+ Walked back up the hill to the bar portion of the hostel to check out. Glad to see many of our hostelmates were still alive, although many had no memory of their actions the previous 12+ hours (It was THAT insane last night).
+ Seemingly everyone was ready to leave on the free 11 am shuttle so about 15-20 of us crammed into the pickup truck and truck bed back to Granada. Since we skipped breakfast and wanted fuel for our upcoming travels, we got lunch with Jessie and Tanice and reminisced on the funny times from the night before.
+ After saying our goodbyes, we trekked to the bus station (through another crazy market) and eventually caught the bus to Rivas for connections on to Isle de Ometepe.
+ After a bus, taxi and a very complicated ferry ride (We watched as they loaded a huge semi carrying telephone poles onto the deck of a ferry. Not our ferry thankfully!) We made it to Ometepe!
+ Walked to our hostel as the sun was setting and checked in.
+ Caught our breath for a minute from our long travels all day, then walked back into town to grab dinner.
+ Back at the hostel, Liz passed out immediately while Corey researched on the tablet.

2/21
+ Originally the plan was to spend the day exploring the island, but we instead opted to spend it lounging in hammocks (our new favorite pastime) researching for our next city.
+ From our hammocks, 2 large blue and white birds flew over us. These large birds were so different than any other bird we had seen! They had these little plumes on their heads that made them look like some type of cartoon. Almost like a Pokemon! (Over the next few days we discovered these birds are called  Urraca (blue-tailed magpie) and are actually plentiful on Ometepe)
+ Not wanting to walk into town for lunch, we instead stayed at our hostel and depleted our snack reserves.
+ We did eventually head into town for dinner and went to a much cheaper, tipico style food place we had noticed the night before.
+ We also swung into a grocery store and replenished our snack supply (a must have on travels!)
+ Before sleep we watched the movie “Joy”, and prepared our bag to explore the island the next day.

2/22
+ After breakfast at our hostel, we hiked into town and rented a scooter/moped from a store run by 2 sisters.
+ The island is 2 big round volcanoes connected by a thinner isthmus. It looks almost like a pair of goggles from the air. We were on the far left end, but drove almost all around the island throughout the day! (Everywhere we could that there were paved roads)
+ We enjoyed great views both of the volcanoes and the local cities, houses, and shops.
+ Volcano Concepción is an almost prefect cone shape with clouds consistently swirling around the top. It almost looks like something out of a cartoon! Or like a vanilla ice cream scoop with chocolate on top, except the colors are reversed.
+ Volcano Maderas also has a cloudy top, but it is not nearly as perfectly cone shaped.
+ Because both volcano hikes end in the middle of the clouds with no views, we opted not to spend the money (or 8-10 hours of time) to hike them.
+ While driving we did see a troupe of Capuchin monkeys playing and eating on the roadside. So we pulled over and watched them for a bit (while making sure our phone and camera did not become their new play toy).
+ We also stopped to hike and explore a nature reserve called Chaco Verde, which had nice views of the lake and lagoon.
+ Another popular spot we stopped at was a beach called Playa Domingo. It was a nice beach and did not feel like we were on a lake at all, with the waves and sand. We got some smoothies and took in the sights for a bit before continuing on.
+ Our last stop on the island tour was a place called Ojo de Agua. While it was a nice shaded spot to swim and cool off from a natural spring, it was really just a big glorified swimming pool. We still enjoyed ourselves though and watched as people attempted a slack line above the water (and we even tried a couple times ourselves, with no success).
+ After we left there, we were headed back to our town, which was about an hour away. Around 30 minutes into our drive, the sun set and it got dark. Unfortunately, the scooter we rented did not have a right headlight and we were half blind while driving down the dark roads through unfamiliar territory.
+ After about 15 minutes of no problems (and all day driving it fine), all of the sudden about half of the road/concrete was missing on the right side of the road. Before we even saw that or knew what had happened, our bike fell over on the left side and we both skidded along the pavement for a little bit before stopping. Luckily, we were only going about 15/20 kph when it happened (not the 40-50 kph we were in the daylight) otherwise the injuries would have been much worse. Corey got the worst of it since he was in front, with most of his whole left side scraped badly, but Liz had a couple injuries too.
+ It happened in front of a couple shops and a number of people ran over to help us since they saw the accident (and pointed out how the road was messed up there, which we would have seen if we had a right headlight!)
+ Angry at the fact the scooter defect caused our crash and hurting from our numerous injuries, we gathered ourselves and counted injuries. Luckily the bike still worked (although it was scratched up too) and we continued the drive back to our hostel, hopeful that the rest of our journey involved no more spills.
+ Back at the hostel we showered and spent a good 40 minutes tending to and dressing our wounds.
+ We decided against riding the scooter back into town for dinner and instead walked. We went to the street food cart of a person we had met the previous day and got delicious Salvadorian food for cheap. (Turns out our friend was an El Salvadorian who used to live in the US.)
+ Walked back to the hostel and got ready for the next day while contemplating our conversation with the scooter company the next day.

2/23
+ Ate breakfast at the hostel.
+ Got our laundry we had turned in earlier and packed our bags and checked out.
+ Drove the scooter back to the agency and proceeded to have a not so fun argument/conversation with the workers. We approached the situation very calmly, recognizing both sides of the situation. While we were responsible for the vehicle when it crashed, we also acknowledged that the cause of the crash was entirely due to the defect of their rental product (causing us not to be able to see the road). If this had happened in the U.S. with a rental company, there would normally be lawsuits threatened against the company and demands for not only all money returned, but also the payment for injuries, etc. Unfortunately, this is not the U.S. It’s Nicaragua. So between pretending to not speak English well when it was convenient, the guy at the rental shop was very demeaning and dismissive. After explaining how we couldn’t see the right side of the road with the right headlight out, he proceeded to turn on the headlight in the shop, in broad daylight, and claim he could see everything just fine. What a joke! Of course in broad daylight you can see everything. We might as well inform all the car companies that they only need to make cars with 1 headlight on the side, since it has zero effect on the driving, according to him.
+ After almost an hour of circular arguing (and Corey managing to not punch the smug man in the face for his belittling comments and insults) we settled on them keeping our $100 deposit and paying an extra $5 (on top of our $30 rental). We were both very upset and felt like we maybe should have been much angrier and not reasonable (though in a foreign country, where people can buy off police, that’s never a good idea).
+ Still upset but happy to be done with the situation, we walked back to our hostel, gathered our bags, and then boarded the first ferry off the island. Eager to leave that situation behind us, and happy it was not worse physically or financially, we counted our blessings and put our focus to enjoying our upcoming travels.
+ Back on the mainland, we broke one of our travel rules and paid probably triple the price to make our journey to San Juan Del Sur much quicker and more convenient (as opposed to chicken buses). This was partially because we were so drained from the scooter debacle, and partially because our injuries (particularly Corey’s) left us a bit handicapped and wary of trying to get on/off chicken buses quickly.
+ Thankfully our taxi driver was very nice and took us all the way to our hostel, so we didn’t need to lug our bags very far. We checked in to Casa de Olas and were happy to be greeted by much friendlier people than our previous hostel.
+ Although we were in a party hostel, all of the crazy people from the weekend had checked out that morning. So we were given our own private dorm room, which was really nice.
+ We then caught the free shuttle into the actual town of San Juan Del Sur (we were staying way up a hill about 10 km outside of town). During the 2 hours we had before the return shuttle we grabbed lunch, checked out different tour/bus companies,  had some happy hour drinks overlooking the cove, and explored the town.
+ Rode the shuttle back and spent the next couple hours socializing, playing a new drinking game the Aussie’s call Downers, and eating a family style dinner of chicken curry.
+ Apparently Tuesday nights also have a pub crawl and nearly everyone was heading out. We would normally have gone with, but since we had just spent so much money on the scooter, we decided to be lame and hang out at the hostel instead. So the evening was spent browsing Facebook, Instagram, and enjoying the silence of what was now basically our own private beach resort.

2/24
+ Woke up to find Corey’s toiletry bag halfway through our window leading to the monkey enclosure, with all of the contents missing. We reasoned that the monkey must have reached his arm through the fence, in between the partially open slats and grabbed the toiletry bag from Corey’s backpack! We quickly surveyed the monkey enclosure and sure enough, stuff was scattered all throughout their messy playground. We spoke to the staff who escorted us to the gate and then he went in and recovered as many of Corey’s toiletries as possible. In the end, we got back about 1/3 of our stuff, and didn’t lose anything of great value that couldn’t be replaced.
+ We then ate our free pancake breakfast at the hostel and caught their free shuttle 10 minutes down the mountain and into town.
+ From there, we booked another shuttle to Maderas beach, where we happened to hang out with Emilie and Julia again-  two Canadian girls we have been running into multiple times in different cities on our travels.
+ We also ventured off up the beach to explore the jutting rocks, tide pools, and nice tranquil coves. The water in this area was super clear and made for great swimming. We would have loved to stay longer and enjoy the sights, but we had to catch our shuttle back to town.
+ After the 30 minute ride back south, we enjoyed a cerveza while watching sunset over an almost too perfect picturesque setting of little sailboats and houseboats in the cove, surrounded by cliffs. Although we’ve never been huge sunset enthusiasts, even we can’t stop ourselves from snapping way too many photos of the beautiful orange, purple and pink skies as the sun fades away.
+ When the hoards of people on the beach taking photos finally dispersed, we took it as our cue to leave as well and set off for our next stop for the night, a brewery!
+ As we mentioned in Honduras, finding good beer in Central America has been a tough undertaking. When we do finally stumble upon a brewery with delicious craft brews, it’s nearly impossible (and would be downright wrong) not to sample them all … multiple times.
+ So after we finished with our flights of their 3 different homemade beers, we went across the street to a good (an,d cheap) seafood restaurant that was recommended. Our referral source was spot on and we split a delicious seafood dinner, comprised of about 5 different types of seafood in a big paella-like mixture.
+ We caught the last shuttle back to our hostel at 8 and then spent the evening hanging out around the pool watching drunken debauchery from some of the Australian Amigos in town for their last night. The hostel had a policy where if you accidentally bumped into and knocked over the giant Jenga tower, you had to run around the pool naked. Let’s just say it happened often enough to question if they were all still accidents. Luckily, we kept our distance and made it to bed unscathed.

2/25
+ Today marks 2 months of travel!!! It’s hard to believe how fast time has gone by, and how many things we’ve done/places we’ve been to. We were nearing the end of our time in our 5th country, Nicaragua but had 1 more full day for exploring.
+ Hermosa beach was our destination for the day, about 30 minutes south and known for big beaches and lots of Surfing.
+ After 2 more shuttle rides, we arrived just in time to snatch up the last available hammock. The views were great and luckily we had a very strong ocean breeze to combat the oppressing heat. We didn’t laze around for too long though because we wanted to go exploring the tide pools while it was still low tide.
+ So we at off on foot again and for about 2 hours we wandered around on the perilous cliffs and rocky outcroppings. It was very similar to the coast of California with the huge waves crashing against the cliffs and various coves, just far less abundant sea life. We still managed to find a few different sea creatures before hunger drove us back towards the restaurant area. Unfortunately on our trek through a shrubbery area, Liz had her second bout of “I love to put my hand on a cactus” fever. So as her left hand was still recovering from the scooter induced road rash, her right hand’s jealousy led to Liz picking out about 20-30 little cactus needles from the folds of her fingers.
+ Lunch was surprisingly filling and afterwards we spent the rest of our beach excursion lounging in hammocks reading travel guides and watching surfers successfully (and some unsuccessfully) catch some gnarly waves.
+ There was another gorgeous sunset right over one of the huge rocks jutting out of the ocean and we managed to see it through just long enough before hopping on our return shuttle back into town.
+ We had 2 hours to kill (or so we thought) until our hostel shuttle came so we grabbed dinner at a cheap roadside Mexican restaurant, then stopped by the Brewery again for a blues fest they were having. We had heard they would have some different beers on tap, but we were forced to drink the same delicious ones from the night before. Darn.
+ The 8 pm shuttle that was supposed to pick us up never came. After 30 minutes of standing around waiting, we ducked into a different hostel to await the next shuttle at 10pm that headed right next door to our place. While we waited, we researched for our border crossing into Costa Rica the next day.
+ After finally arriving back at our hostel, we spent our last night there hanging out with people, swimming in the pool, and preparing for tomorrow’s travels. Luckily, we somehow still had the whole 6 person dorm room to ourselves this whole time!

2/26
+ In the morning after breakfast we booked flight tickets out of Costa Rica since they require you to show onward transportation when entering through customs.
+ We said goodbye at the hostel and then walked down the hill to the main road to wait for the chicken bus from San Juan Del Sur to Rivas, where we would catch a different bus to the border.
+ After standing around for a while with no luck, we finally agreed on a good price with a taxi driver to the border, skipping the backtracking to Rivas and saving some time. He was nice and gave us some helpful tips and info for Costa Rica. We’re really happy we took Spanish Lessons in Guatemala otherwise we wouldn’t be able to communicate well in these types of situations!
+ The border crossing was rather seamless and relatively quick, compared to other crossings we had done. We even got a good exchange rate from the Nicaraguan Cordobas to the Costa Rican Colones. Which is good, because we had been repeatedly warned by many other travelers how expensive Costa Rica is compared to other surrounding countries, so we would need every penny we could get!
+ We immediately caught a bus to Liberia, where we would catch another bus to our destination for the next few days, Playa Tamarindo. This place was recommended by Liz’s relatives so we were excited to visit some of the same places they had been.
+ Corey was particularly excited about Costa Rica, as it had been near the top of his bucket list for many years! Plus he read so much about the country in the guide books, he was anxious to do all the exciting adventures Costa Rica offers!
+ After arriving in the Liberia bus station we got our next ticket, but unfortunately the bus wasn’t leaving for 90 minutes so we plopped down in a bus station cafe and did more reading until it was time to undergo what was to be our most interesting chicken bus ride yet.
+ We sat in the back row bench this time to keep an eye on our bags, even though we knew it would be a bumpier ride. Although the ride was only about 2 hours, we had some very interesting characters sit next to us. The first was a drunk girl in her 20’s who was very friendly and even spoke decent English, but was very hard to understand due to the slurred words and erratic train of thought. The second was a large sweaty man in his 40’s who at first seemed angry and standoff-ish, but then also started talking to us about who knows what. We both tried our best to communicate in Spanish or English with him, but we were never sure exactly what he was saying. It turned into a 20 minute game of charades while we covered topics ranging from snow, Santa and chimneys, him maybe or maybe not liking various states (we’re not sure which) and smiling a lot. Or none of those are correct and we were as confused as we looked.
+ This “chicken bus” was different than most because instead of going on the most direct path to it’s destination (but still stopping frequently to pick up people) it turned on a bunch of side roads, and in and out of neighborhoods. So it took twice as long as it should have. We asked someone if this bus was indeed headed to Tamarindo and they just responded “Yes. Pura Vida” (Meaning relax and go with the flow).
+ After finally making it to the end of the bus line, we walked through town to Pura Vida hostel and checked into the last 2 dorm beds.
+ We quickly befriended a Canadian guy who had been staying in Tamarindo for about 10 days already and loved it. He gave us some tips and pointers about the area and then walked us about halfway towards a dinner spot he recommended before we parted ways. Liz was craving some southern style BBQ and she was in luck because Tamarindo was the most touristy place we’d been since we started in Cancun, so they had tons of American style restaurants and shops (at American prices) and huge resorts too. So we easily found a BBQ restaurant and indulged our nostalgic taste buds.
+ After dinner we walked around exploring the city and found another brewery! (One of the perks of the American influence in the city. ) We sampled some of the craft beers they had on tap, but chose to move along due to the small cups you got and the poor service. But the beer was good!
+ On our walk back to our hostel, we happened to see a giant movie projector screen on the top of a tall hotel showing the most recent Star Wars movie! We were both excited to watch it again so we hurriedly found our way to the top, only to catch the last 5 minutes or so. Although we were disappointed, they were about to start their second movie which was “The Revenant” so Corey talked Liz into staying and watching. We ended up being the only ones up there the whole time so it was like our own private rooftop theater! Complete with a cool ocean breeze and a cold beer. We were happy we were there for their weekly movie night.
+ Afterwards we went back to the hostel and quietly snuck into our dorm rooms, as usual being the last ones awake.

 

Click here for more photos of Nicaragua and photos of Costa Rica!

Honduras & Nicaragua: 2/6-2/12

La Ceiba >>> Lago de Yojoa >>> Leon

2/6
+ Our hostel had a nice hearty breakfast ready for us in preparation for our White Water rafting trip we were to go on later in the day.
+ Luckily we weren’t the only ones signed up for the rafting today. We were joined by another nice couple staying at our hostel.
+ The 7 of us (including both guides and 1 of their wives) successfully navigated 2 small rafts through class 3 and 4 white water rapids down the Rio Cangrejal.
+ Maybe the highlight of the trip was when we had the chance to stop and jump off these really tall cliffs into the rapids below. Corey went first and when he resurfaced still breathing, the rest of us decided to give it a shot as well. After our 2 new friends jumping and the crazy guide back flipping into the river it was Liz’s turn. Thankfully Vegas wasn’t taking any bets at the moment otherwise Corey would have lost every cent he had because Liz actually jumped! From 40+ feet up in the air! While Corey thanks the influence of our new friends and some blatant peer pressure from the guide and group played a part, it was still so brave for Liz to jump! Way to go!
+ We were making small talk with our guide in between rapids. When asked our professions, Corey confidently stated he is a pharmaceutical fork!! (The word for sales and fork is very close) The 3 of us had a good laugh.
+ We then finished the rest of the rapids and survived riding on the rafts on the trailer back to the hostel (out of necessity, not just for fun).
+ We decided to explore up and down this only road in and out of the jungle here and ducked into a few different hotels and restaurants. Our favorite was a place called Pico Bonito, a fancy resort style lodge situated right on the river!
+ We ate lunch overlooking both the infinity pool and 100 foot waterfall down the mountain in the distance (not too mention the gorgeous garden that was perfectly manicured).
+ Just in our short time touring the luxury resort, we got the itch to take a break from our backpacking dorm rooms and splurge for a night here. We spoke to the manager who was extremely nice and we were able to land a room for the next night for 33% Off and a free room upgrade!
+ After lunch we walked up the mountain towards the section of the river containing class 5 rapids and were joined by a new friend, Ace, a very friendly German Shepherd. He left his animal oasis of a home and walked with us the whole time up and about halfway back. Unfortunately when we stopped to explore another hotel called Omega, he was chased off into the woods by 2 big (and mean) rottweillers. We were really worried he would get lost but the manager of Omega assured us it wasn’t the first time it had happened and that Ace always found his way home in the past.
+ At Omega, Liz lounged around in a hammock drinking a licuado while Corey went hiking at the hotel’s personal hiking trail for about 45 minutes. We then followed that up with some beers and chatting with other travellers before heading back to our Jungle River Lodge.
+ Liz then flexed her own bargaining skills and got us free use of the hot water showers to avoid another night of icy cold torture showers.
+ After another good dinner right there at the hostel, we watched “In the Heart of the Sea” with Liam (our dormmate) and then feel asleep listening to the rain and weird jungle sounds again!

2/7
+ The next morning we woke up to find out it had been pouring rain all night long and that the river had risen almost 20 feet from the day before! It was now much rougher looking and the river itself was brown instead of blue like before. We also discovered that the power at our hostel (and the whole mountain) had gone out and wouldn’t be back on for a while.
+ We ate breakfast at our hostel again, and then since it was still raining we decided to have a lazy morning inside and watched Bridge of Spies until lunch time.
+ We ate lunch there and then packed up our bags and moved down the road to Pico Bonito.
+ They also did not have power, but we explored their gardens for a couple of hours before we got ready to leave with the owner, Richard. He had offered to take us into town with him to a super bowl party at a cool restaurant right on the beach. This was perfect since there was still no power up on the mountain and there wouldn’t have been much else to do.
+ On the way to the party we stopped at a house owned by the people who worked at Richard’s place and hung out with them for a while. They were really nice and hospitable. We shared some cocktails while we used their Internet to book onward travel the next day. All of the people we’ve met in Honduras have been extremely friendly!
+ The superbowl party was a lot of fun and we met a lot of people, mainly ex pats from different countries (mostly U.S.) who now made their living owning different establishments around town. Plus the restaurant had an all you can eat buffet of delicious food which we (especially Corey) made sure to take full advantage of.
+ One interesting thing that happened was that a Miller Lite rep showed up and whoever was drinking a Miller lite got a free, regulation size NFL football! Although Corey was drinking a local beer at the time, he quickly switched to miller lite to get a football, and it worked! But who knew they had beer reps here in Honduras, how strange! (One of the bar patrons told Liz that the rep used to have sexy girl reps that came around with him until a couple of years ago when the girls were kidnapped by a gang. So they stopped doing that. No wonder Honduras has a safety travel warning.)
+ After the Broncos won we rode with Richard back up to his place (which still didn’t have power) and got ready to leave the next day before going to sleep.

2/8
+ Woke up a little early in Pico Bonito and got ready to leave. While waiting for Richard to take us into town to catch our shuttle, we spent the morning playing fetch with the dogs and admiring the beautiful jungle scenery for one last time.
+ Richard drove us the 25 Minutes down the mountain to Burger King (located in a very touristy part of town with Dunkin Donuts, Popeyes, Pizza Hut, etc. also around the area) where we were to meet our shuttle driver.
+ To make a long story short, the weather was still bad so they had initially canceled the ferry from Utila and our shuttle was going to leave with about 4 people (including us) towards our next destination, Lago de Yojoa. However at the last minute they decided to run the ferry (after some people on the island already bought a flight from the island to La Ceiba. So we ended up having to wait at burger King for almost 4 hours while the shuttle driver ordered another bus, and a couple cars to take all the new people that wanted to make the trip as well (since the ferry had not left the island in a number of days due to weather, there were a lot of people leaving now and wanted onward transportation).
+ So after waiting at Burger King for 4 hours we actually ended up riding with the shuttle driver’s wife in her personal car (a Scion, just like Marymom’s car!) To a halfway point where we got into a different shuttle bus for the rest of the trip. Plus, our bags were on top of a different bus the whole time, but luckily they did eventually arrive at the same destination as us.
+ We finally arrived at our hotel, D&D Brewery, the only brewery we’ve come across and it’s right in the middle of the jungle!
+ We checked in and spent the evening sampling the local craft beers by ordering flights and sitting around the camp fire to keep warm (it was much colder than our previous spot).
+ Went back to the room and watched the movie “Sisters” before falling asleep.

2/9
+ Decided to sleep in late and have a lazy day. Actually had to use our ear plugs for the first time due to all the noise outside by people who were getting up at a normal hour like losers!
+ Spent almost the entire day on our tablets around the main hangout area catching up on the blog and more importantly, watching hummingbirds fly around the area to all the different bird feeders.
+ Liz was very fascinated by all the different types of hummingbirds and their interactions with each other and how close they would fly by us.
+ Tried a couple new food dishes and beers from the bar and eventually headed back to the room somehow tired from perhaps our laziest day yet.
+ Watched “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” before going to sleep.

2/10
+ Slept in a little bit again today and while eating brunch we planned out the rest of our day.
+ Walked 30 minutes to the next town to try and get cash from the ATM. Unfortunately it didn’t like our card so we had to catch a bus to the next town after that to withdraw money there.
+ Finally got the money and then took a Tuk Tuk back south to our desired destination, a giant 43 meter waterfall called Pulhapanazak Falls.
+ We had originally intended to both not only hike to view the waterfall, but to climb behind it. Unfortunately we were not properly informed on just how wet we would get and once there we found out we would in fact get completely drenched and since we did not have a change of clothes or bathing suit with us, Liz chose to stay warm and dry while Corey stripped down to just his shorts and went in with the guide.
+ The waterfall was massive and extremely powerful up close, but a lot of fun to swim/climb up to and behind it. The force of the misty spray alone felt like I was being pelted with BB gun bullets. We viewed the caves behind the waterfall, but the openings were so tiny and pitch black that we didn’t go in.
+ We eventually made it back to the world class photographer, Liz, and Corey changed back into his dry clothes. We then explored the rest of the park before heading out with a little bit of daylight left.
+ Having walked back to the main road and no bus in sight, we decided to hitch hike back to town and hopped into the back of a pickup truck. Although not the most comfortable ride of all time, it was free and we didn’t get abducted/killed so we count it as a win!
+ Corey wanted something different than the same food we had been eating at our hotel so he grabbed some fried chicken from the little town on the way back.
+ Back at D&D, Liz got dinner and we decided it was time to move on to our next destination so we booked onward travel for the next day with the same guy who had brought us here from La Ceiba  (a little more expensive than the bus/taxi route option, but much more convenient and stress-free).
+ We finished the night sipping more of the local craft beer and roasting Marshmallows around the fire with some friends we met from the UK.
+ We did have 1 fun little surprise before the night was up however; the 2 local house cats each brought us dead/half dead mice as parting gifts and symbols of their eternal love for us. They then proceeded to toss them around in the air (as high as 5 feet up) while simultaneously performing acrobatic stunts. The cats were tossing the mice all around us! After watching and laughing for a while, we realized there was a very high probability at least one of us would get hit with this mouse corpse as it flies through the air.  Bed time, we decided- so we packed up and moved back to the room.

2/11
+ Woke up early on our last day at D&D Brewery to do 1 more activity before we left, and that was to actually see the lake (since we did travel all the way here to Lago de Yojoa)!
+ Rented a double kayak and a very, very, very old beat up truck took us to a nearby canal that connected to the lake. After about 25 Minutes paddling through the canal, we reached the lake which was teeming with many different kinds of birds. We explored the outskirts for about half an hour before heading back since we still had to pack up to leave.
+ Once back at the Brewery, we found out our shuttle was going to be arriving around 12 instead of 1 which put us into a mad scramble for the next 30-40 minutes trying to get everything ready. Luckily we were able to get everything together enough to throw it in the shuttle van, pay our bill, and grab a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches to go since we had skipped breakfast earlier and were starving.
+ Took off in the shuttle van with 6 other people to meet our main shuttle driver an hour away on the main road to our next destination: Leon, Nicaragua!
+ After about 7.5 hours in a shuttle bus with no individual seats or headrests we finally reached the Honduran/Nicaraguan border! (Would’ve been a lot faster if we didn’t stop every hour or so).
+ After exchanging money and getting politely ripped off with the exchange rate, as usual, we got our passports stamped and then hopped on the bus again for a few more hours to Leon.
+ Luckily the van came equipped with a dvd player and we got to watch movies the whole way. We watched Pain & Gain, Django Unchained, (most of) Steve Jobs, and Fast and Furious 6.
+ We finally ended our 10.5 hour journey in Leon around 11 pm. The bus dropped us off in front of a famous party place, BigFoot Hostel. We decided to just spend the night there instead of trying to trek across town looking for another hostel at 11 pm.
+ We opted for a private room to get away from the noise, but it was right next to the kitchen and due to some overly ambitious girls cooking about 7 lasagna dishes, our room was literally as hot as an oven.
+ After escaping our room, we grabbed some new Nicaraguan beers and talked with some people and then researched for our time in Nicaragua. We ended up staying up later than everybody else (as usual). Those youngsters just can’t keep us with us seasoned night owls.

2/12
+ After waking up sweating like we just finished a hike, we were already yearning the previous 6 days of cold crisp mountain air. We decided to check out of Bigfoot and hike to the other side of town and check into a nicer, cheaper hostel Liz had found called Hostal Tortuga Booluda. We opted for the dorm room this time since the people seemed more our style (tranquilo).
+ We gathered info from the hostess then set off to explore the city on foot. We grabbed some delicious tipico food (big plate) and 2 drinks for a total of $4! That includes both of us!
+ There is a really unique looking, historic Cathedral near Central Park that we visited after lunch. We climbed up the very tiny stairway to the roof to get sweeping views of the city. It was as if we were transported to Santorini, Greece because everything was white washed! (This Cathedral was built in 1747! Wow!)
+ It was a great view point to see other historic churches and the surrounding mountains.
+ Afterwards, to cool off (or at least that was Liz’s excuse) we stopped in a Smoothie shop and we shared a delicious Shake.
+ Now it was time for our regular interrogation of different tour companies that we do in each city to learn about all the different activities/excursions and price shop. We ended up choosing a tour to go Volcano Boarding down a Volcano called Cerro Negro. The company we chose was called Quetzaltrekkers. They not only had a great price and included lunch, but they were the only company that let us go down the mountain twice! And best of all, they donate 100% of their profits to charity.
+ As we wandered through town checking out all the different shops and restaurants, we were looking to escape the unbearable heat. We stumbled upon a movie theater and decided to watch “Deadpool”. Our first movie theater experience overseas! (Theater was the same, but the movie was only $3.50 and it actually started at the exact time listed! No extra 20 minutes of previews. Weird!) The movie was way funnier than expected and we were happy with our choice.
+ Only a block away was a cool place called Via Via that we went to afterwards to lounge around in the hammocks and enjoy some cervezas.
+ The dinner smelled too appetizing to pass up so we decided to forgo our original dinner plans (which included another 15 minute trek across town) and grab dinner here instead. Liz got some chicken fajitas and Corey got 1 of the best filet mignon steaks he’s ever had! It even included Jalapeño sauce! Soooooo good!
+ When we were finished licking the plates, we got back into a big hammock for 2 just in time for the food coma to set in. After an hour or so, we embarked on the walk back home and spent the rest of the evening lounging at the hostel and updating the blog/pictures.

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