Christmas in the Bad Lands....Smells Like Fish

Trip Start Aug 09, 2007
Trip End Jul 29, 2008

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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Thursday, January 3, 2008

So our time in Bocas del Torro was pretty cool before Christmas - we had a pretty good routine of heading to the beach, cooking dinner with some other travellers in the hostel and repeating.  Then we ran into our Australian friends who we met in Ometepe, La Fortuna and now again in Bocas.  So we planned a fishing trip with them and took off the next afternoon - an absolutely perfect sunny day - in search of delicious red snapper for dinner.  We caught our own bait and set out with two fishing rods and two plastic pop bottles with string wrapped around them which actually did a pretty fine job as well.  The variety of fish we were snagging in was pretty good though they were all soooooooo tiny!! We ended up with about 60 fish total - a ton of snappers, some yellow finned fish, a fish that makes a sound like `bo-bo` and is thus named a bo-bo fish, some jack fish and others.  It was really really fun and the fishermen cleaned and cooked a bunch up for us in this delicious Caribbean sauce.  I made up some coconut rice that our new friend, ´The Jaguar´, taught me how to make.  Our friends were staying at his hostel so he was nice enough to open up his own house to us down the sidewalk so we could make the rest of our feast.  It was soooo delicious!! 
We left bright and early the next morning for San Jose which we had heard so many terrible things about but found it to be really pleasant!  The people were so unbelievably nice - random people stopping to help us find a ticket office or tell us not to take a certain way or whatever.  While searching for a ticket office we were approached by one of the bus drivers of this line who just wanted to chat - he also wanted us to guess how old he was and we guessed around 50....Turns out he was 73 and was just bursting to tell us his personal secret to looking so young - `mucho sexo` he tells us.  So hilarious and sooooooo proud.  Then his teeth fell out mid-laugh and his face caved in.  So random!
San Jose was just going nuts with Christmas shoppers and festivals, really nice and a good reminder to us that it *actually* was getting close to Christmas despite our lack of knowledge of the date, lack of snow, music, shopping...We left the next morning to get to Mal Pais to meet up with Ian and his family.  After a long drive and a beautiful ferry ride and we arrived on the southern tip of the Nicoya Penninsula and it was just so beautiful! Very rugged, waves crashing over rocks next to an endless beach all lined with dense forest.  There was a family of howler monkeys living at our hostel, big lizards, one nutty rooster (which Nik liked to chase around and mock with fake rooster calls) and a bunch of cute dogs. 
It was so good to see Ian and meet his family.  He also came bearing gifts from Pigtails!! Aghhhh!! Nik and I were beyond excited at having Christmas gifts to open and more so that those gifts were primarily chocolate, fudge and extremely practical items such as toothbrushes and deodorant, soooooo excited!! 
We were also treated to an amazing gift from Ian as well - a deep-sea fishing trip.  We had planned the trip for Christmas Eve to treat ourselves to some fresh eatin´ for the holidays.  Ian, his daughter Heather, his cousin Iain, and us loaded into the boat and set out early afternoon.  We felt a hundred miles away from Mal Pais being out on the ocean with our two man crew, brothers who have fished together for 13 years.  We started trolling and it seemed that no sooner had we started than the fish started biting and we had two big yellow fin tuna's in the boat in no time.  We ended up with 13 of these puppies, friggen hard to pull in!! The guys put a waist belt on me to help keep the rod still but you're still slipping and sliding around the boat trying to pull the fish in.  Then it gets close to the boat and the guys stick it with this giant hook and yank it in the boat.  Blood is dripping everywhere, the fish gets chucked in the cooler where it manages to slap around for the better part of 10 minutes.. I have no idea how...So this was all really f-ing cool.  Super fun. 
So we switch it up to some bottom jigging just for fun and get a couple more and all of a sudden one of the brothers is getting all excited over what he's got and we all reel in our lines so he can pursue this.  We are all wondering what's up when 50m away we see this huge sailfish jump up out of the water full of fight and we're like hoooooooooly f!!!  Our guide has caught a sailfish with a dinky little rod and he's friggen going for it.  So one brother starts driving around the boat tiring this fish out and the other brother is following this fish around the boat passing this rod all around.  He ends up on the nose of the boat reeling in this giant and as it gets up close to the boat all you can see is this huge silver streak below the water.  He gets it in a bit closer and the other brother puts on some gloves and reaches into the water and grabs this thing by the bill and starts wrestling with it against the side of the boat, it's head batting against the boat and its bill pointed right at his head.  Finally, they drag this thing up and over the side of the boat and we are all just staring at this mammoth blue fish taking up the majority of the boat.  One of the fisherman had to reach in what looked like the gill of the fish to remove the lure, it looked as if the sailfish ate the entire lure and it got lodged deep in its throat.  The guys are like, `so, what do you guys want to do with this?` and we're all like, `chuck it back, we don't need it` but then they look at each other and I'm pretty sure I saw dollar signs pass over their eyes and they look back at us so we're like, `orrrrrrrrr keep it...`which they did and likely made a killing. 
Just watching the whole thing was really exhilarating - These guys were so good - with nothing more than a single small rod they managed to pull in a 40kg sail fish within 10 minutes.  They said this is only the 2nd sail fish they've ever caught, and we were there!! Ironically, we were passed in our little fishing boat by one of those big-reel-big-fish-seeking boats just a bit earlier.  They said those guys pay $1000`s of dollars to catch fish like that and let them go.  We payed $150 for 5 people for 3 hours and ended up with one as well.  Incredible.  Best part was that we kept some of the tuna for ourselves and had just incredible barbequed fish for the next 3 nights and could've kept going off just 4 fish for another two nights, but grew a bit tired of it...!  They sold the rest of the fish for $3/kg of fish and they were about 4kg each.
We spent the majority of our time after that point to and from the beautiful beach.  The walk in itself was spectacular and the beach was well worth it too.  I caught one green wave which rocked my world.  The rest of the time I did pretty crummy, but that one made it worthwhile.  Nik did really well and was out there all the time catching waves.  We did one nice hike along a creek as well, saw both howlers and white faced monkeys, partook in Ian`s tradition of sun downer beers and just focused on a whole lotta chillin. 
We left on Jan.2nd to head back to Alejuela, just outside of San Jose to get a few things done before flying out on Monday the 7th to Argentina.  At our hostel, we have met the most interesting old man on earth.  This guy (Cy) is about 70, absolutely hilarious, so travelled, so blunt and honest.  Quote from Cy, ¨That boy who works here he`s alright, he´s gay, but he´s alright¨ and he also like to use the word ¨assbandit¨ a lot.    He cracks us up.

As some final notes we would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a great New Year.  We are sorry that we couldn´t spend anytime with anyone over the holidays, but, we are thinking of everyone on this distribution list.  Everyone, I am serious, this means YOU. 

On Monday we will leave Central America and head for South America to the southern most tip of the continent in a town called Ushuaia.  I am a bit sad to leave Central America, but, we have had some great times here and I expect that we will have equal experiences in South America.

Adios for Now

Niko y Sarita
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