Costa Rica to Guatemala

Trip Start Feb 14, 2006
Trip End Dec 15, 2006

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Flag of Guatemala  ,
Friday, September 8, 2006

Hi everyone

Punctuation will most definitely suffer in this email as I am writing on a keyboard-meets-honey type computer.

Last time I wrote we had arrived in Costa Rica and were ready to leave immediately. Let me summarise what happened when we decided to stay.

We raced out of San Jose (waving goodbye to the porn with limp hands) and up to an area in the west of the country called Fortuna. The place is famous for having a huge volcano that is still active. We saw lava and concluded that it was. Further evidence was that there had previously been a town called Arenal (I think) right at its base that had simply disappeared one morning after a large volcanic burp. They rebuilt the town a couple of kilometers away and in a stroke of creative genius called it 'New Arenal'.

Fortuna became our base for a while due to the complexity of Louise and I getting jobs for next year. The hospitals (12 of them in total) have given us a number of useless hoops so that we can jump through them. They are also run with the precision of a blind basketball team. Louise was recently asked if she could 'come in tomorrow' for an interview. Luckily she wasn't doing anything so all was well.

After THAT day we managed to visit the beautiful cloud-forest of Monteverde and saw the descriptively named 'resplendent quetzal bird`. This bird was so important in Mayan culture that Guatemala named its currency after it (the quetzal). This is despite the fact that most people think it's extinct. In Mayan times the Rulers wore Quetzal feathers as part of head-dresses in complex ceremonies. Now obese tourists wear quetzal t-shirts whilst partaking in the complex ceremonies of 'no-respect-for-local-culture' and ''why-you-no-speaky-english'

As you may have guessed, my biggest problem with Costa Rica was, unfortunately, the abundance of a certain 'subcategory' of tourists (Think Kuta Beach in Bali). My spanish is basic at best but most hotels were so surprised I spoke any I was often mistaken as a Spaniard (seriously). I remember asking an African American (who was, amazingly, dressed up like he was about to star in his own rap-video) where the best place to see wildlife was (we were in the jungle). He gave me a list of 6 bars in which to get drunk. I bought his CD though.

We eventually managed to cross the border and get into Nicaragua. Body cavity searches are a casual annoyance now (as opposed to a much-looked-forward to adventure). Nicaragua is a charming though incredibly poor country with a really crap history of dirty wars and dirty politicians. The boat to Ometepe Island was basic at best, I even remember a British girl exclaiming 'My god! Its just like a slave-ship!' I would have laughed but I had to keep rowing so as not to get whipped. We went to the island to climb another volcano and I have to say that it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Swinging on monkey-bars hard. However, we were rewarded with an incredible volcanic lake at the top. Louise had a swim whilst I lay crying on the ground from all the pain.

After visiting the colonial city of Granada (lovely but hot) we took another monster-bus-of-unspeakable-pain across 3 countries in one go. We arrived broken and bruised in Guatemala a couple of days (and a small stay in prison) later. Antigua (where we arrived) was one of THE MOST touristy towns I have ever seen. It was like antiquity and disneyland decided to join forces to create a History-cum-Goofy ride. We were, however, in the shadow of yet another volcano that had a very interesting story of how it killed lots of people. The volcanic crater had slowly filled up with so much water (from rain) that when it erupted a tidal-wave exploded out of it and managed to drown the town below. You have to marvel at the irony of being drowned by a volcanic eruption, don't you.

Anyway. We have decided to stay in central america for 2 weeks longer than expected to do some further Spanish training and do some volunteer work with yet another animal sanctuary.

Hope everyone is well and things remain great wherever you are

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