6 Feb 2004
Apparently the waters surrounding Ometepe Island have fish with thorn-like fang teeth. Well, I didn’t want to swim in Lago de Nica anyway. The ferry getting across was rough but, I knew the secret now…little white pills. Seasickness be damned. Much to Leo’s delight, we have been riding in the back of a pick-up truck belonging to new friends of ours: Lori and Don from San Diego. Lori and Don routinely rent out their tiny San Diego house, making much more income (some crazy, jaw dropping amount) than they can at the office. With the rental income money, they travel with their three children for months on end. There are so many ways to live. We met them in San Juan Del Sur, Nica. They are true vagabonds. Of course, due to Leo pulling on our pantlegs and asking us to ask them, we indeed did ask them about Lego Land. Yes, we can certainly visit with them if we ever make it to Lego Land in San Diego. We are so tame. Another friend was with us in the pick-up truck: Kennedy. He is a commercial painter in California. He paints for six months and travels for six months a year.
Last night we picked up a Nica man who had been seriously hurt in a motorcycle accident. The driver, Don, agreed to take him to the hospital so Kennedy and Dean lifted him into the bed of the pickup. As we rolled along the bumpy road, the man hollered with pain but he was very brave and trying to converse with us.
Prior to that we had found Ajo de Aqua a natural spring in the woods. It took a few hours to find this place but we had loads of fun seeing all the sights and hiking through the jungle of Ometepe Island.
In our cabana last night we had two massive spiders. I didn’t need to sleep anyway.
On the ferry from Punta Renas, Costa Rica to Paquera. It is a beautiful ferry ride (no little white pills required) over the calm waters of the Gulf of Nicaragua. Leo is throwing peanuts to the flock of gulls following us off the side of the boat. He is giggling with glee.
When we arrived in Costa Rica, we were at the edge of Mal Pais, a dusty little seaside village with molasses paved roads. They put molasses on the roads to keep down the dust. The place smells amazingly sweet because of it. Mal Pais is known for it’s astoundingly, expansive beaches and surfing. We walked for about ten minutes, sweating profusely due to the heat and humidity and found a youth hostel stuffed with surfers who were about half our age and twice as cool. They immediately took to Leo and started entertaining him. The hostel was tiny and our room was right outside of their common area: a patio with old plastic patio furniture. We prepared for bed while Leo squealed in delight with the young surfer dudes outside our door.
I awoke in the morning to a nice surprise: a massively fat june bug standing on my chest and staring at my face. Holy shit. Big bugs scare the be-jesus out of me. I flung my sheet off of me and the june bug hit and literally made a clattering sound on the floor. Clackety-clack. I jumped up and kicked it out the door. Then I involuntarily shivered. Ew. That was gross.
When we all got up, we went to the beach….oh my god…it stretched forever…and went to the waters edge. We marveled at the temperature of the sea. It was TEPID!!! Who knew the ocean could be tepid?? It certainly isn’t tepid in Nova Scotia. The North Atlantic causes me an instant headache upon putting in a toe. Here we swam and frolicked for hours…checking out the tide pools and exfoliating with the warm sand. It was heavenly.
We had heard that one of my step-brothers and his family would be in Mal Pais at the same time as us. We wondered if and how we would find them…suddenly there was Patrick, walking along the beach and greeting us like it was the most normal thing in the world.
We were overjoyed to see him as Patrick is a true vagabonding adventurer. He really got us. After talking for a while with Patrick, we made plans to meet up later at their hotel: The Blue Jay. Trust me, the Blue Jay was a little nicer than our june bug – surfer-boy place. When we returned to our hostel, there was the june bug from my chest. Apparently it had landed on its back when I kicked it out the door. You know what that means to a june bug. Certain death. There were a million teeny-tiny ants transporting it bodily to god knows where. Lovely.
The next day we climbed into Patrick’s rental jeep and headed up and over the mountain, on very bad, nearly washed out roads, to the village of Montezuma. We occasionally had to exit the jeep so Pat could drive over some particularly bad areas. When we did that, Leo just couldn’t understand it and would remark about it. At one point he wanted some answers from Uncle Patrick about why we were getting out of the jeep. Patrick’s response was one that will go down in history: just… get in the truck he said with a fake exasperated lilt and a very sweet smile with kind eyes at our little Leo. We all laughed and laughed, especially Leo. We walked around the village and then had lunch. It was impossible to relax outside. It was so extremely hot and the sun was treacherous. Any bit of exposed northern skin was burned in seconds.
After returning to Mal Pais from Montezuma and stopping for a photo of an incredibly intricate and tangled five meter wide strangler fig, we returned with glee to the beach. Leo drifted in the shallows while I walked along marveling a the crabs and how they so quickly bury themselves when they sense a large presence. So cute. I bent down to touch a few of them and they tried their best to deter me by quickly pinching at my fingers and retreating bodily into the wet sand. As Leo and I made our way up the trail heading to the Blue Jay Hotel to meet Patrick et al again, we were startled at the loud sound of the local howler monkeys in the trees. At the howl, I grabbed Leo instinctively to protect him and then we had a laugh about it. My laugh was more of a nervous titter.
Iguanas, lizards, palmetto bugs, ants, hermit crabs, howler monkeys, grass hoppers, birds and butterflies in beautiful abundance in Mal Pais.
Patrick had us come to the Blue Jay for dinner and it was pure decadence! He gave us half of his ceviche and it was the best we have tasted yet. It was so lovely to be with them and to connect in another world despite myriad possible changes, problems and hiccups. We actually made it happen and it was very sweet.
From my journal, written 13 February 2004
We have been here two nights in a pit of a room, in a hostel. It’s okay because there are a few interesting travelers to talk to. One couple spent several months in South America and have been telling us of the benefits of traveling to Argentina (I always remember that guy we met in India in 1994…’Argentina, Argentina, Maradona, Maradona’ — he wasn’t put in prison in Tangiers because coming from Argentina he was associated with the soccer star: Maradona). Anyway, they describe it as a European environment of the finest food, hotels, excellent service for seriously cheap. She said ‘imagine traveling to Europe, going to a restaurant with white linen, candlelight, five glasses, having wonderful food…WHATEVER YOU WANT and paying two dollars!!!’
Leaving Mal Pais, the ferry ride across the Gulf of Nicoya enroute to Punta Rinas was, once again, beautiful, very hot and sunny. Following that, we were quite packed tight for the bus ride. The ticket agent did the old hold-back-some-change-and -see-if-they-notice scam. I noticed. The bus ride was very warm and almost panic-level humid and sweaty. I literally had to conduct some personal deep breathing exercises, we were that squished and hot on that bus. Finally we caught the wind up in the hills and we all breathed a sigh of relief.