Monday, December 7, 2009

Belize Fall/Winter 2009

The trip to Belize can only be told in terms of the "characters" we met and encountered while we were down there. I would first like to preface any and all stories by introducing the character that drove us to the tropical Shangri-la in the first place. This would be the aquatic vertebrate named, strangely enough, for its vertebrae: The Bonefish. The following video introduces you to the wiry fish that brought us to the island community of San Pedro, Belize.

Now. Although we may have Mr. Bonefish to thank for directing our compasses southward, but the Aycock Family needs some attention in order for anyone to properly contextualize many of our experiences.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Friday, April 25, 2008

Spring Skiing--Peak 1

this was our first view of the peak

So I've been dying to ski Peak 1 of the Tenmile Range, just behind my house. Its such an asthetic mountain to ski, plus I can leave right from my place. How pleasing it was not to have to drive anywhere. It was a CC extravanganza as Josh and Jenny came with me. Thanks guys, it was a lot of fun. Here's some photos...

the last push...


the rollover at the top was substantial

We traversed below the 100ft cliffband and opted for a more northerly aspect. Corn skiing all the way down!

Jenny is a mere dot. This was a big mountain: 3800 vertical feet of climbing from my house to the peak.

Jenny showing us how to ski.

Jenny Haywood

Mountains were made to be skied. SKI THE SNOW!

Reed trying not to fall...

Jenny and Josh at the bottom of the cirque.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

October 25, 2007 Puerto Moin, Costa Rica

This morning I woke up and was all excited to swim in the ocean. After some coffee, I went out and the waves were actually of decent size. You might even say that they were surfable. They were great for body surfing. After a while, Graham came out onto the beach, screaming, "SHARK!" Well, that scared me. I have never swum so quickly towards shore. We'd been hearing all sorts of things about bull sharks-- in Lake Nicaragua, the river, and at Tortuguero (to eat the turtle hatchlings), but hadn't seen one. It did not want to meet one up close. It turns out, it was only a dolpin fishing. Later, when I was walking along the beach, I saw a dead baby turtle washed up on shore, its lifeless body still clinging to a piece of driftwood. It was so little, no bigger than the palm of a child's hand. Such is life.

Graham and I were going to go on a turtle tour to see a female laying her eggs, but we decided not to for two reasons. First, people who had already gone told us it was really crowded-like 100 tourist crowded around 1 turtle trying to lay an egg. Also, we didn't have enough money, if we wanted to make it to Moin. It would have been cool, but maybe another time. Tortuguero is a cool town. Another one of the towns we passed through on this trip that exists without the hindrance of automobiles. Everything is by boat. After our put-in, we didn't see one boat until we arrived in Moin tonight.

It was interesting to talk to some of the people around in Tortuguero.The town is 60% Nica, 20% Tico, and 20% tourists. That is crazy. So at 10:30, we took our lancha bound for Moin. 3 hours later, we were in Puerto Moin amidst huge ships loading up with bananas and the like, bound for all corners of the earth. We got off the lancha and loaded our canoe and paddled 1 K back up the canal where we saw a hotel that was near our pickup. It was weird to be paddling a canoe among large ships. Once we checked into the hotel and secured the gear, we immediately took our passports to downtown Limon in search of a nice immigration officer who would let us enter Costa Rica.

The guy didn't want to give it to us, nor was he nice about it. But we were, and worked him a little. Finally, he siad he would give it to us, even though he only is authorized to stamp incoming ships. I tried to tell him our canoe was a ship of sorts, but my usual wit in English is lacking in Spanish. But, as we have come to notice, we are an exception to most rules governing the borders between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. We got our entrance stamp to Costa Rica, so long as we gave him a copy of our passports. We were more than happy to oblige. Done.

What a huge weight off my shoulders. Now I can say with confidence that I can go home. We'll get picked up tommorrow morning and be in San Jose by mid afternoon and spend the weekend there.

The trip is done and almost every goal won. What a trip it was. I hope everyone reading this has enjoyed living vicariously through us. Sometimes armchair travel is just as fun because your imagination is involved.

October 24, 2007 Tortuguero, Costa Rica

On the morning of the 23rd, Ramon picked us up in his panga and we began the 40 K upstream trek to Tortuguero. On the way, we passed through a labryinth of canals and saw several caimans and turtles. The turtles were just resting on top of logs, basking in the intense sun. We got to Tortuguero and found that MINAE wouldnt let us camp there. Ramon ended up pulling a fast one on us by saying that the original price he quoted us was in colones, not dollars, so he wanted us to pay double what we thought we had agreed on. It's okay though, since it kept Graham out of the sun and in good spirits.

Tortuguero is beautiful, but seems wholly dedicated to tourism, which is unlike any of the places we have been on the Rio. We found a cheap travelers hostel that let us camp in their yard and use their facilities. We are a short walk from the beach. We've encountered many other travelers here from England, Canada, US, Holland, Spain, and Chile, among others. It's interesting to be back again in the community of kindred spirits traveling across Central America. Everyone has a story to tell. It's also very telling to see what the other traveler's comfort level is. I hung out in the hammock for about 3 hours after cooking dinner, nursing a Flor de Cana with freshly harvested coconut juice. I remained in a state of half-drunk/half-sleep until I could muster the strength to walk the 20 yards to the tent. There is a 17-year old from Alberta, Canada here that I believe was trying to ingratiate herself with me. Thank God I managed to circumvent that jailbait.

This morning (October 24th) we woke up early and took Jaime from Michigan and Holly, from England, on a tour of a Cano in our canoe. They loved it. Especially since they didn't have to pay $30 each for a guide for 3 hours and we were faster than all the guides and saw a ton of wildlife. We left around 5:45 and saw spider monkeys, cara blancas, and howlers; tons of kingfishers, a HUGE tucan up close, and tons of herons, etc. It was fun.

Yesterday we took the canoe out in the ocean and surfed it in the small waves- what a blast! Not possible today as the waves were a bit larger and perfect for body surfing or boogie boarding. As I write, I am looking onto the Caribe, toward Jaime laying on the beach. She is a beautiful, long-legged brunette with the most stunning blue eyes. She works as a biologist on a ship in the Aleutian Islands. A very cool girl and a true traveler endowed with the same wanderlust as myself. Its a shame that sometimes traveling doesn't allow for people to get to know each other more closely.

Now, a kid is hounding me to buy weed and all I want to do is write. We leave tommorrow morning at 10:00. $25 each to Moin and then we'll have to deal with a possible immigration fiasco. It is so beautiful here. It's weird being in the same place for more than one night, although the rest has been welcome. I'm starting to think about skiing. I can't wait.

October 22, 2007 Barra del Colorado, Costa Rica

This morning, we woke up and ate gallo pinto for breakfast. I love that dish--especially with Natillo and Salsa Lizano. Abner came in the night before and we left before him in the morning. We crossed the Sarapiqui and checked out with the Costa Rican police and then again across the Rio San Juan to check in again with the Nicaraguan army. It was quite a pain in the ass, but we had to do it their way.

Without really meaning to, we busted ass to "Delta" by around 11:00 or 11:30. Delta was 22 kilometers from where we had camped at the mouth of the Saraquipi. It was there that we had our "moment of truth"--it was the last place we could get our exit stamp from Nicaragua. At Delta, the river splits. The Rio San Juan proper continued northeast in Nicaragua to San Juan del Norte. The Rio Colorado flows east with the majority of the current to Barra del Colorado in Costa Rica. This had been a point of stress for me the entire trip. In idle moments where Graham and I were not talking while paddling, I found myself thinking about this problem. But all in all, I seemed to have shrugged off my habitual fear of borders and the crossing that inevitably follows. We had so many encounters with government officials that were good natured and helpful that I never seemed to get as worked up as I normally do.

Anyway, when we arrived at the puesto at "Delta", the Nicaraguan immigration officer absolutely did not want to give us an exit stamp. Absolutely not. Imagining having that power. At that point, we were as powerless as a pair of canoeists trying to paddle upstream. He didn't want to give us the exit stamp mostly because there is no official Costa Rican immigration on the other side of the river. This means we would be entering Costa Rica illegally, like thousands of Nicas do every year. But we explained to him our situation and and he eventually complied, saying, "I'm going to give you the exit stamp, wish you luck, then wash my hands of it." That was nice of him. It was also nice of us to give him $10 each. Now we can only hope that once in Limon we can get an entrance stamp into Costa Rica. If not, we may have to go to Los Chiles again and get the entrance stamp there, because it is one of the two "official" places to cross the border.

We took the Rio Colorado split, passed the Costa Rican police checkpoint silently and with stealth, and continued east toward Barra del Colorado and the Caribbean. It took us the rest of the day to reach our goal. The river dropped rather quickly and we arrived in town and quickly paddled to the ocean to complete our source-to-sea journey. Man, what a feeling. It's the penultimate sensation of completion. We were looking for a place to get out before hitting the breakers at the rivermouth when we saw a HUGE crocodile that must have been 15 feet long. It scared the shit out of me. Needless to say, we were very carfeul when getting out of the boat to check out the beach.

Out in the rivermouth, there was a number of fishing charters with rich Americans, invariably speaking in a drawn out Texan accent, trying to catch the BIG TARPON. It was a bit weird to hear English again. It was the first native English I had spoken since we got to Central America. Weird. We camped on the beach at MINAE (Costa Rica's Ministry of Natural Resources), which was about 2K from town. Graham set up camp while I walked into town to try and call Oscar and organize our pickup in a few days, get some more food, and find us a panga ride to Tortuguero because Graham has started to react very poorly to the sun from his antibiotics. I got back, and we ate the normal rice, beans, and veggies over the fire. We celebrated with a couple nips of Flor de Cana tonight.