A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: iamcraig88

Tena

Whitewater Rafting!

rain 20 °C

Hello everyone,

First off.. I´m sorry, I haven´t blogged much, my last one was 4 countries ago. I´m not sure why, I guess things have just been a little crazy, or maybe I´m just a little lazy. Either way, not much has been blogged by me, sorry.

So, now we are in Tena. It is a small town in the Orient of Ecuador. The Orient is a very jungle-y area, with lots of rivers, sometimes it is called the mini-amazon. Its a pretty nice town, not too big, not too small, not too hot (at 600m above sea level), and the best thing about it, is that it is the whitewater rafting capital of Ecuador.

We are staying in this really nice hostal (at $5 a night) in our own room. It serves a cheap, easy, and good breakfast, which we´ve taken advantage of both mornings. The only downside of it is that its way outta town, at least a 8 minute walk to anything, no big deal.

Yesterday was a day to chill. We all wandered out into town (when it stopped raining.. it rains a lot in Ecuador) just to explore. Later, I went out and actually bought something (a bag.. probably not for me). Also, while I was out I found some good icecream, and talked to another traveller who we met crossing into Ecuador. That night, we met a guy named Neil who was staying at our hostel, and the four of us went out for a cheap, fast meal.

Today, well, today was an exciting day. We didn´t chill, I definately wouldn´t call it that. We went whitewater rafting! We headed out with the hostel owner, two guides, and Neil. After a 20-30 minute drive, we hopped out of the truck, and organized gear. The next thing we did was a half-hour rediculously muddy walk (Ryan is gonna throw out his shoes) to the river. Then, after a quick lesson on oru guide´s commands, and various other river-smart things (that I already knew.. of course) we hopped into the raft, and our second guide got into the safety kayak. Then we were off.

For probably around an hour and a half to 2 hours, we plowed through waves and scraped over rocks. Till we met where this river met another. It was awesome. I ended up falling out near the end of this session because of a huge wave, and was able to swim correctly and bounce off a nice sized rock (with my feet) and grab the raft again. I was helped back in and we continued on.

Where the two rivers met, we had lunch. It was really good, and really filling (suprising for a tour lunch). Then we were back on the river. The water got much bigger for this session. We did less craping on rocks, and more plowing through and over waves. It was even better! Soon (probably too soon in my books) we came to a road, and this was the ending point of the tour. We beached the rafted, cleaned everything off, and got everything up to the roadside. Then we had a great game of throwing rocks at trees, and throwing rocks at other rocks (guides included). Soon, the truck came, and we threw the raft up top and barreled down the road.

We got back to the hostel, got into dry clothes, other to wander into the rain to find an atm (we wandered for a long while, then gave up and took a taxi, cause it was pouring rain). Then we came here, the internet cafe.

Tomorrow we are off to Baños (which means bathroom in spanish.. but whatever), then after that, we are off to Cuenca, then into Peru (our last country!).

Take it easy everyone, I hear the weather is improving way up there.

Peace

-Craig

Oh.. I forgot, we are now in the southern hemisphere, and the toilets don´t flush the other way.

Posted by iamcraig88 15:41 Archived in Ecuador Comments (8)

Leon

The city that stole my hat.

sunny 27 °C

So, here I am, writing about the first place we stayed in Nicaragua, while I'm in Panama, so forgive me if some details are foggy.

We arrive in Leon at around dusk. The bus stopped way outside of town, and if a local on the bus hadn't told us that this was, in fact, Leon, we wouldn't have gotten off.

When we unloaded ourselves and our bags, we ran into Dave. Dave is an English guy who was basically in the same shoes as us. He jsut got off the bus, and had no idea where he was, and only spoke a little bit of Spanish. It was quite funny, he asked where something was to a lady in Spanish, and she said something, and we thought he understood, cause we sure didn't, and we asked him what she said, and he answered something like "Well, I'll be f*cked if I know". With Dave´s compass, and our guidebook, we slowly made our way to the hostels. On the way, I had a disaster.. I took off my hat, cause it was dark by this point, and then tucked it under my pack-strap, but a few minutes later, it had disappeared! I backtracked, but found no trace of it.

Everyone waited for me, and tehn we found the hostels around the corner. We chose the one called Bigfoot Hostel, which is where we went Volcano Boarding from.

We met a few fellow travellers that night, and deservingly went to bed after a long day of travel.

The next day, we decided we would explore this town called Leon. We went out with plans to see the Cathedral (which is the biggest in Central America) and the museum of local lore and myth. We hit the cathedral first, cause its giant, and really easy to find. We quickly figured out no doors were open, and it was closed for lunch (kinda strange, but whatever). Then we went searching for the musuem, which had proven hard to find. After going way past it, we came back and found it. It, too, was closed for lunch. We waited around till 2ish and it opened up. It was pretty cool, and it was in this old jail that was only recently shut down. We headed back to the cathedral, which was kinda open at this point. They were cleaning it now, so we were only allowed on the roof of the building for an hour or so, which, as you would imagine was pretty cool. After that, we got to wander around in the cavernous cathedral. My favourite part was the Lion statue guarding Ruben Dario (Nicaragua´s famous poet) tomb. After exploring for a few minutes, we headed back to the hostel.

That night, lets see. We (and basically the rest of the hostel) headed to a bar, to watch this local woman sing. It was real good. When we got there it was really crowded, and the power was off, but soon the power was restored and she started. She started with an english song, One, by U2. Then she play a bunch of spanish songs. Things start to get hazy here (we are at a bar, you know). But I remember she played another english song, a Cranberries cover I believe. It was good, everyone enjoyed it. Then she was done playing and we wandered back to the hostel.

Eventually we went to bed.

The next morning, we got up good and late, and started preparing to go Volcano boarding. Thats when we discovered something terrible. We were missing about 4500 cordobas. Thats about $250 US, plus we lost a $20 US bill. It wasn't cool, but it was only money, no passports or other documents.. we were lucky. Apparently the lockbox got ripped right off the wall, and they got into the back of it. The hostel let us stay a night for free, and the guy locked our stuff away in his private safe.

Volcano boarding was awesome, but you already know all about it.

That night, well we were tired, so we hit the sack.

The night morning we got up at a leisurely rate. Leigh and I played some chess. I finally won a game against him! We had breakfast at the hostel (it was cheap and good and convenient). Ryan wanted to go do something, but I wanted to chill for a day, and Leigh wasn't feeling tip top, so Ryan went to something or other with other people from the hostel, and Leigh and I chilled. It was a relaxed day, and Leigh and I sent some letters.

Eventually Ryan got back, we had lunch, then eventually dinner, then attempted to finish the rum we bought two nights previous. It was a fun night for me, I played pool with a guy from Greece, then for a while with a local kid. I played some guitar, and a Canadian traveller asked me to play "Wheat Kings" by the Tragically Hip, probably the most Canadian song I know, it was great. I then proceeded to smoke her at backgammon. Then we went and saw a band play at the bar/hostel next door. The most memorable song was their Spanish version of Elton John's Pianoman.

The next day, we got up at a relaxed time (not really early, like usual) and left Leon for Granada.

I must say, I lost my hat and some money there, but I really liked this city. It has been my favourite.

Bye for now, maybe I'll catch up some more eventually.

Peace,

Craig

Posted by iamcraig88 12:34 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (2)

Volcano Boarding

Thats right, you read right.. volcano boarding

Hello fans,

So, as the name implies, we went volcano boarding today. What is volcano boarding? You may ask. Basically, you climb up this rocky black volcano (live, active volcano, incase you were wondering (it was smoking)). Then, once at the top, we hiked around to the sandy side, got a brief explaination of how to do it, then plunged down the side on this piece of plywood with a rope, and metal on the bottom. It was great, but I can still taste the dirt. Lemme go into more detail.

We had a 45 minute drive out to the base of the volcano. Ryan and two others got to ride in the cab, but me, leigh, and the rest were all in the back of a pickup truck. It was nice though, there were seats, and it had a nice breeze, since we were moving so fast. We quickly had the volcano in sight, it was a dark, sinister looking thing. After paying the entrance fee we started the rocky hike up the back side of the volcano. The walk was not straight up the side of the volcano, thankfully, instead, it was across it to where the bottom of the top ridge is, then followed the ridge to the top. This is where the heat drops right off, because the cool breeze from the Atlantic (as the guide explained) picked up here. After that, we followed the top of the ridge around to the main volcano crater. He )the guide) gave us three options: 1. stay at the top, and just look
2. go about 20 metres in, to get a closer look, or 3. go down the full 120 metres into it. Of course, you can guess what we did, started the long decent to the bottom of the crater. The guide gave us one rule, and it was ¨when I say run, you gotta run¨. So, we quickly understood why.. the ground was hot, and once you got going.. the rock was all loose.. you couldn´t stop. So there I was flying down this loose rock in the volcano crater, and leigh was behind me, and I heard him bearing in on me.. very quick. And, just from the sound of his big stomping feet coming towards me, I knew he wasn´t in control. Then I heard a scraping noise, which was him slipping on the rock.. then lots of cheering from the people at the bottom. He slipped.. hardcore.. then he bled. He´s gonna have some nice battle scars. The bottom of the crater was prety cool.. then we started the climb up the side of the crater, to the top ridge again. Ugh, that was hell, it was all loose, and really far up. Once back at the top, we headed to the front slope, its the nice sandy slope (the one that is relatively safe to board down). It was there that we got the volcano boarding lesson. We were told, basically (in a few more words than this) that the safest way to control the board, was to relax, and not try to control the board at all. So, after our lesson on not doing anything, was a practice run to learn to brake. Then, after everyone got to try braking, we put on our overalls, our huge safety goggles, and our singular glove. The guide and two others went first, and of course, I was one of the other 2, cause I was excited to throw myself down a mountain. So, down I went, but unfortunately the guide flew way past me, cause I was imbalanced on the board, so I didn´t move as fast. At my max speed (it was shaking a bit) I wiped out.. BLACK SAND EVERYWHERE. I´m still getting it out of my ears, eyes, and hair. I finished my run, and grabbed the camera, to take pictures. After we all got down, we hiked back to the truck, and headed back to town (in the moonlight by this point).

All in all, lots of fun.

Peace everyone,

Craig

Posted by iamcraig88 18:06 Comments (10)

Our Week On the Beach

Tans are coming along nicely.

sunny 30 °C

So, you've probably noticed we didn't blog or contact anyone at home for about a week. Well, thats because we spend a week on a remote beach. So this blog is gonna be a day by day of what exactly happened (if I can remember it all).

Day 1:

Arrived at the beach, called Playa El Zonte, we acutally got off the bus at what seemed like the middle of nowhere. Fortunately there was a road there, and we walked down it. This is when we saw the first other white people in El Salvador, it was actually a nice change, as we had been getting some minor hostilities in the big city (San Salvador).
Upon arrive (at the actual beach) we found the place we wanted to stay at very easily. The next thing of the agenda was to find someone to give us surf lessons. After asking around, we came back to our hotel, and asked one of the other surfers staying there. He suggested we talk to Alex, the guy who owned the place we were staying at. At the time Alex was out, but as soon as we got back we ambushed him. He said the surf was too big that day, so we had to at least wait till the next day. I forgot to mention, we went for a swim (in the big surf), and we lost the room key, probably less than an hour after it was given to us. Luckily there was another copy of the key. We ate at our hotel, then went to bed after some cards (I think thats how it went down). There were only 2 single beds in our room, so I volunteered to sleep on the floor all week (I know, I'm a saint).

Day 2:

Leigh woke up uber early to see a sunrise (5:00 am), I opted not to because I didn't sleep too well due to extreme heat and the whole sleeping on the floor thing. Uh, lets see, what'd we do today, we ate breakfast right at our hotel. Wait, I gotta take a moment to describe this place. It has a main house-like building with the bathrooms, and the bedrooms, a tv slash surf board room. Then outside, there is a hut, with all the tables for the restuarant, and many hammicks (I love hammicks). Just beside the hut was a pool (mostly for washing salt water off of people and boards). Near the pool was the bar slash restuarant ordering place, which had a set of stairs on the outside to a hangout spot on the top of it, which was probably one of the best places to eat, and it had another 4 hammicks.
Anywhoo.. back to the day. After breakfast, we were informed by Alex that the surf was still too big, so instead of surfing, we went for another swim in the big surf, this time with nothing in our pockets. It was a lot of fun, I swollowed quite a bit of seawater. We didn't do too much else that day; we found a restuarant that sells burgers for $1.50, and went for a walk down the beach. We had dinner at our hotel (Leigh and I downed 5 burgers with a side of fries with each one), after leigh and I did a exploration mission of the restuarants on the beach. Another night on the floor for me.

Day 3:

Woke up, I think we all woke up at some normal time (except for me, cause I was on the floor). We had breakfast at the nice cheap restaurant right on the beach. The prices were like $0.35 US for a pancake, which was a huge hit with Leigh. I believe Ryan and Leigh had pancakes, while I had eggs and pancakes (not completely sure). The next thing on the schedule was to find out if we could get some lessons on this day. Alex was around, and he said we could do some lessons that afternoon. I believe we spent some of the morning looking for shells, then we lazed in the hammicks for a while. Then we ate lunch, but I can´t recall where, maybe at our hotel, but probably at the cheaper restaurant (I think we had a $10 credit from the morning, cause they couldn´t break our $20 bill, so that was a neat feeling, it felt like a free meal). After lunch we probably played cards and then lied in the hammicks (I know, our lives are very hard) until about 3:30, which is when we got ready for our first surf lesson at 4.
Ah, yes, the surf lesson, what fun. Alex took us a ways down the beach, partly because the currents were lessened there, and there was fewer rocks (I guess he figured we´d be falling a lot). The first thing he did was give us a spiel on what the surfboards were not. They are not sun umbrellas (they don´t like sun), they are not seats (if you get sand in the wax, you will get a terrible rash when you lie down on them), there was a couple other things, I can´t remember, oh well. Then he made outlines of our boards in the sand, and made us practice the procedure for standing up on the board. It seemed pretty easy, and we were soon in the white water (which is whats left of the wave after its broken, they are about 1 foot to 6 feet in height, so some of them are really moving). We were supposed to wait for a big white water, then jump onto our boards and forward in the water, when the white water would catch us, and we´d be flying along. After about a dozen times, and a few tips from Alex, I was standing up on the board with about a 80% success rate. I´d like to say I was the first to stand up on the board, but I´m not really sure, so I won´t. Soon, we were heading back down the beach to the hotel, and we had a quick lesson in the pool, about how to turn the board around quickly in the water. Soon, we had discovered that our two hours were up (time flies when you are being washed up upon shore), and we each owed Alex $20 (well worth the mone I think). Alex then said we could do the next lesson on the next day. We were all fairly tired, but I think this was the night we had a few beers, ryan broke a ping pong paddle (oh ya.. there was a ping pong table there too, pretty intense games) but chucking it at the table. After Ryan repaired the paddle, and I went for a cool-down swim, we headed to bed.

Day 4:

I´m awake early again, and I think that Ryan tried to get up and watch the sunset, but he was back in bed fairly soon after he got up, apparently it was cloudly.. ya.. whatever Ryan. I was up fairly early, so I read some surfing magazines until the restaurant opened, then ordered a breakfast of Granola con Leche and a jugo de piña (both very good). Soon Ryan and Leigh were up, and we went and asked Alex about the lesson this day. He said he was heading to San Salvador, but would be back somewhere around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and would be able to give us a lesson then. We took the boards out that morning to go practice what we learned the day before. Unfortunately Leigh broke a fin on his board somewhere on the way to our practice location, so he couldn´t practice, but Ryan and I got a good little session in. We did it until we got bored of doing just the same thing over and over, and until we felt like we´d have had enough sun. Then we ate lunch (somewhere, most likely at the cheap place, well, cause its cheap), and lazed around in the hammicks, waiting for Alex´s return.
Unfortunately, Alex never returned.. DUN DUN DUNNNNN! (until the next day). So we never got a lesson on our 4th day on the beach. Instead, we took another intense swim in the ocean, then lazed in the hammicks (again). After dinner (nothing memorable) we went to bed, and I spent another night on the floor.

Day 5:

We woke up at a normal time, I actually slept fairly well, better than other nights, but I was still up first, at around quarter after 6. I read some more surfing magizines (in english, else I would just be looking at pictures) until the other two were up. We had breakfast (somewhere), and lazed around a bit (we did that a lot) we probably played some cards, maybe some ping pong. It was just before noon when Alex got back, we figured something bad had happened so we didn´t bother him right away. We instead went for another hunt for shells. When we got back we talked to him. Apparently, he got a super painful ear infection while in San Salvador. He had to drive around all night, trying to find a doctor. He said it was a miracle cause he found one at 4 am. So when he got back, he was very tired, and on a lot of painkillers. He also wasn´t allowed to surf because of the infection. In his words: ´´No surf, I know, it sucks´´. But he still said he´d be able to another lesson with us the next day, as long as he was careful. It was quite funny when he describe what the pain was like. (Warning, this is about to get a little PG-13 on all of you) He said ´´It was like, like, someone was sticking, uh, a.. a penis in my ear.´´ We all got a good laugh out of that. So we planned to have a lesson the next morning. His words ´´Be ready to go at 7:30´´. The rest of the day is a blur, sorry guys, I just can´t remember.

Day 6:

I woke up really early (5:30) to go for a private walk on the beach and watch the surf for a while. I wrote something in the sand, took a few pictures, and watched the surf engulf the rocks I was standing on. A very beautiful morning overall. After at least an hour on the beach alone, I headed back to the hotel. The guys wanted to woken up at 7 to get ready for the lesson. I woke them up by taking a nice sepiatone picture of them sleeping (with flash of course). They were soon up and ready to go. Alex didn´t make an appearance until 7:20, which was when his breakfast was served to him, after his breakfast, we expected he would come over and talk to us, but instead, he started a nap on the floor. We all thought (or at least I did), ´´We´ve got all day, whatever, maybe he didn´t get a good sleep.´´ Then he was up again, and drinking coffee. Thats when he said his first words of the day to us, which were ´´Hey guys, I´m still hungry, so you should probably get breakfast.´´ So we did. We ate breakfast at our hotel, and when we finished, we found Alex napping on the floor again. We didn´t get out on the waves until about 9:30, meh, whatever.
This lesson was a bit different, we were catching bigger waves slash whitewater, and we weren´t jumping onto the board, we started on the board and caught waves by paddling. We were also learning how to turn, but he told us it is a lot easier ´´in a real wave, instead of this whitewater crap.´´ It lasted about an hour and a half. He said we´d do some actual surfing later that day, out on the point, (catch some pointbreaks). Unfortunately, he headed back into San Salvador that day, and didn´t get back till about 8 at night, so we didn´t get another lesson. We ended up eating lunch at the cheap place right after the lesson. I had a fried beef, it was weak at best, but whatever. Again, the rest of the day is a blur of lying in hammicks mixed in with some cards and ping pong. Had dinner, and went to bed in good time, we had an early morning (sorta) the next day.

Day 7:

Woke up at about 6, packed up and were on the road at a little after 7. We said goodbye to the beach, goodbye to surfing (for now), and caught the first bus back to town.

I hope that is detail enough for you guys, you are probably all chomping at the bit, waiting for the information on the week where we weren´t in contact, so here it is.

Take it easy,

Peace,

Craig

Posted by iamcraig88 15:27 Archived in El Salvador Tagged ecotourism Comments (7)

Quick Update

Yes, I'm alive

sunny

Hey fans,

So, its hard to find a way top contact home when you are on a beach where it is hard to find a convience store. So, that was our latest predicament, not a bad one though. We spent the last week on the beach called El Zonte (pronounced Sonte, we were laughed at when we said Zonte). While we were there we caught a few surf lessons, which let us catch a few waves. Its pretty fun stuff, we now plan to find somewhere to surf in a few more places (aka Costa Rica, Panama, etc).

Before El Zonte, we were in San Salvador. Big city, not my cup of tea, too much confusion with buses and too much walking for not enough fun. We actually ended up in the red light district around sundown, fortunately a local was friendly enough to acutally drive us back to our hotel.

Gotta go, times up,

Will blog soon, we are in more civilized places.

Peace everyone, hope the weather is improving.

Later
Craig

Posted by iamcraig88 15:20 Archived in El Salvador Comments (3)

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