Archive for the ‘2007-2008, Central & South America’ Category

One Month done! Ten to go…

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

Some general thoughts on the trip so far…

First and foremost, we are not having problems finding space in our rolling duffels to stuff extra stuff we have… BUT, we are having a very tough time keeping the weight down to the average airline restriction of 50 pounds! Claudette’s and my bags could easily be about 59-62 pounds, but a couple airlines have made us reshuffel the stuff around a bit.

It was refreshing in a small way to be driving late (VERY late) last night to our Los Angeles hotel in North American traffic. Cars were staying between the lines of their lanes. On roads and especially on the freeway, all vehicles were giving each other an abundance of safe distance, instead of riding practically bumper to bumper at every speed, 20 KPH to 90 KPH. People are not nudging their way into the 0.7m space between two other vehicles to force their way into a different lane, (lane of traffic I mean of course, not an actual painted road lane which are almost universally ignored in the four Latin American Countries we have visited). I am absolutely astonished that we did not witness even a single vehicle accident while driving on, or watching traffic on Latin American roads anytime in these past 30 some odd days. This is not to say that we didn’t see some incredibly close calls; we did. But with barely a few centimeter crack between them, we never saw one vehicle come in contact with another. I can only surmise (with my very limited experience, and dubious credentials in these sorts of matters) that all drivers know that each other is driving in a crazy, or rude, or erratic manner (from a Canadian or US perspective) and compensate with a very heightened sense of awareness of all traffic around them. Claudette will be deeply offended by these comments, but I will stand by them.

On the other hand, I have noticed a profound proudness in all Latin Americans we have met. When we have made even the feeblest of efforts to speak Spanish to people they are very receptive to that. Be it the hotel desk clerk, several taxi drivers or store sales people, they are all dying to know how we like their country. They seem to beam with abject glory and huge smiles over any positive comments we make. And they universally seemed to nod their head in lip pursed agreement at any mildly negative comments we have made (such as certain aspects of a slightly lacking transportation infrastructure). Ecuadorians seemed especially pleased when Claudette,the kids or I shared our thoughts on their countries perceived advanced state of building & transportation infrastructure, as well as our perceived observation about the far superior condition of vehicles on their roads. They got downright elated when we mentioned the incredibly low levels of pollution and smog in the cities, especially compared with Peru.

Even our late night hotel check-in manager in Los Angeles (of Argentinian & Peruvian desent) was anxious to hear how we enjoyed all areas of South America. And so, we had an amazing (though thoroughly jam-packed) first month of our odyssey thus far. We were told though that driving in many parts of Asia is very similar to Latin America, (bumper to bumper at all speeds, and constant budding in front of one another). Pollution we also expect to be a major problem in many other countries. We have been warned by a few people especially about the pollution in China, and specifically at its worst in Beijing. This was of course strongly substantiated by an article I just read in a recent WIRED magazine discussing pollution and the upcoming Olympics. We are wondering how poor Jim & Letty have survived the past three years without wearing carbon filtered face masks on a daily basis??? We shall soon enough find out for ourselves of course!

Today is a bit of a down day, catch up on rest, blog & journal entries, and hopefully picture backups & uploading (if I can find a place in LA???). We have two days in Sydney to see stuff before the camper van rental starts, so we will literally hit the ground running! (But only for the first few days Claudette! then you can relax…)

The full story: GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

We spent the day today (Tuesday) touring Quito (about 2.2 million people) today checking out churches, museums and best of all the Equatorial line. It was phenominally cool!!! They had a demonstration of the Coriolis Effect exactly on the line, and then 3 m each side and the water actually drained through a sink straight down, clockwise, then counter-clockwise. Even I (who had taught Alex & Luke about the Coriolis Effect at about ages 7 & 4) had no idea that the results would be so amazingly visible barely 10 feet from the line. I assumed (somehow???) that we would have to travel a couple hundred meters either side to get a distinct difference. Verry, verry cool school lesson… Can’t wait to take the video back and show it in the kids science classes next year…

Tonight I added to the Machu Picchu and the Jungle (first note from Quito) Blog entries the rest of my journal text. I haven’t updated the prices spreadsheet yet, but thought eveyone would love to know that gas on the Galapagos islands and in mainland Quito is abot the same: 35 cents/liter for regular unleaded!!!!! Don’t feel too bad, a guy we met on the boat from the UK says that it is just over CAN$2/litre there….

We fly out of Quito tomorrow to San Jose, then on to LA for a 25 hour stopover…

The full Galapagos logbook entry:

Spectacular Galapagos!

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

We’re still on the islands. With many amazing experiences under our belts after the last few days here. This internet cafe computer on the island won’t read the card with our longer postings on it. When we get back to Quito for a couple days starting tomorrow I’ll update the blog.

We’re all well, having a fantastic time! (Irregardless of 75% of our family violently emptying our stomachs in the first two days from being on the small boat in slightly turbulent waters. The burst blood vessels in my left eye should heal in a few weeks…)

In Quito & the Jungle log.

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

I left my small USB card reader at the security counter in the Lima airport this AM, so no more transfers until I have a chance to buy another… BIG bummer on that one…

Quito is nice, we only checked in to our hotel this evening at 5:30 and head out again tomorrow at 7:00 AM.

We get to spend a couple more days here when we come back from the Galapagos in five days.

Everyone is well and excited!

The full Jungle stay logbook entry:

Hot tub, Smott tub

Friday, August 31st, 2007

Written: Wednesday August 29 2007

Today we are in Agua Calliente. Translated from spanish to english it is Hot Water. Funny name for a town!!! It is named that because it has some hot springs, which we just came back from! It was only ok because it wasn’t o-natural. It was built with like 7 different pools. some are warmer, some have sand at the bottem and others are kinda shallow.
I think after being in the hot springs a hot tub will do nothing anymore, so now I have a reason not to go in!! Haha!! I never really liked hot tubs.
Tommorow we are doing some hiking( I think). Our leader will leave us for that day.
Well s’all for now bye!!!
Alex

No words can describe it… Machu Picchu!!!

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Asounding! Amazing… remarkable…. stunningly beautiful…. No words can really do justice to the day we just experienced!

It was truly amazing and a dream all at the same time. We took a whole lot of pics… Tonight I´m working on finally uploading the last of the Costa Rica pics…

My only conclusion is that EVERYONE should come here once! (And more importantly, it doesn´t have to be near as expensive as we originally thought.)

(Thanks Ann!!!!! Yer awesome! I read your amex e-mail)

The full log entry description:

Prices and old posts

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

I finally updated the two older posts with the text from the Palm. They are from Aug 24 & Aug 26

Also, I uploaded the prices spreadsheet so far. If someone from Smith and Edm. could check on those similar items and e-mail me the Canadian price, I’ll add those to the spreadsheet as well. Thanks!

The link is:

http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=p-pcM7eaWeCoLi4qeKv8jMA

Compressed Breathing in Cusco

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

We landed in Cusco late this morning and right away the smaller quantities of oxygen at this high altitude started affecting Claudette. Her chest felt slightly heavy, and a very slight (non-hurting) headache started forming in her frontal lobe. I followed suit with similar symptoms within an hour. We bought some pills that help to circulate oxygen in the bloodstream better, and if either of us gets worse at the base town of Machu P. tomorrow, we will take the perscription Altitude sickness pills we brought. The two kids seem unaffected so far but Luke is tired and needs a couple hours of downtime (just like his Momma).

The town here is very beautiful and nestled in the mountains with around 200,000 people. There are internet cafe’s in abundance! And our hotel is about 100m down a narrow lane (too small for cars) just off of the main square.

I’m doing backups right now but will upload some pics later tonight I hope…

Yet another time needed to catch up

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

Right now we are in Cusco, Peru. We went through Lima were the earthquake hit, and it turns out there was no real damage there, and it barely got hit. Else where there is lots of damage and I think around 2000 people have died. glad we were not here!!!It is ok, but there are a few problems.
We are at a very highish altatude so we can get something called altatude sickness. You can feel like your chest is being compressed and sick to the stomach. The cure-ish, cafeine!!!! I haven´t been afected by the altatude yet but my parents have, and luke kinda has. We aren´t sure if we should give luke medacaton and make him even more hyper then he allready is!!!!!!
The other problem is they are people evry few steps who ask you if you want to buy something! Now it has kinda become a source of entertainment , because me and my dad learnt how to ask if it is free!:)
Other than those problems things are great!
Bye bye for now!!! Alex

Lima unleashed

Monday, August 27th, 2007

We landed mid this afternoon after a relatively uninteresting flight. The mountain range inland a ways looked pretty cool sticking out of the clouds. We dipped down through the clouds parallell to the range, and sure enough there was a beach and a runway below. Couldn´t really see much carnage from the quake. Some rooftops gone on a bunch of houses, but Claudette figures that they were normal. The epicenter was a little ways out of Lima apparently. We´ll get more info tomorrow.

The Lima airport had free wireless for phone use. Unfortunately I didn´t check or realize this until we were pretty much ready to leave. I´ll have the phone charged up for when we´re back there tomorrow though.

Our arranged ride didn´t show up at the airport and we were hounded by drivers looking for passengers. When we actually decided to take a cab we were (Honestly!) attacked by several cabbies. I specified that I only wanted a station wagon and they continued to fight over us. One driver was being helpful and was carrying the largest bag, but he went past the first station wagon taxi in line and kept on truckín several cars back. A fight nearly ensued, and extra cabbies from the two main companies were getting out of there cars and approaching to support their two different co-workers. In hockey I would have said I was álmost in the middle of a bench clearing brawl. The one guy was loading our bags in to his small station wagon, while the front of the line taxi is loudly arguing and trying to appeal to my sense of fairness, all in VERY loud voices. Claudette just ushered the kids into the backseat and closed the door to escape the melee. Before letting go of the last bag I was adamant about getting a price from the driver. He was playing dumb and saying,¨”yes, Hotel Cassalla, I will take you there” while I´m asking how much. Finally he tells me 65. My best look of shock didn´t deter him and he pulled out the rate “guide” paper showing how much from the airport to our neighborhood. Luckily we had looked at an example chart in the terminal and knew it should be less, (about 50). When I showed him the 51 price on his chart, he replied that no, that was for a small car. I went to unload the still open hatchback of our bags and yelled to Claudette (over top of the other still arguing cabbies) to get the kids out, cause we were going to find a Green Taxi (competeing company) who had a coordinator inside earlier, that would take us for only 50. At the sight of me unloading bags and yelling to Claudette, he siad no, no… of course he would do it for 50. $60 Peruvian Soles is $20 CAN by the way. The tour company will be reimbursing us for the fare as well, since their driver didn´t show up.

After taking a half hour to get setteled in at the hotel, (VERY nice & quaint, with two rooms) we met with our GAP tour leader. We are the only four booked and GAP still ran it, which is pretty cool. So, we get him to ourselves for the next 10 days to Machu P and the jungle tour. We had supper, then some amazing Churros (Costco´s are good, but these were simply AMAZING!) then the other three went back to the hotel. I went in search of a radio Shack to get a USB charger for my portable audio player, since my phone charge doesn´t work for it (even though they have the same connection type???). I´m off back to the hotel a few blocks away now.

Last day in Costa Rica

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

I still haven’t had the opportunity yet to get to an internet cafe’ computer (with enabled USB plugs) and upload my longer post from a couple of days ago…

Today was really great! We got picked up by a 30 seat tour bus, picked up more tourists from other hotels, and then went on up the mountain. We made a few stops for views, bathroom breaks and coffee at a famous, award winning plantation. Once we got to the volcano center it was a brief 600m walk and then we were there. It was very spectacular! We were a ways (possibly 60-80m vertical) above the primary crater lagoon. There was an abundance of steam rising, and several sulfer outlets around the edges. It was a spectacular view down two sides of the mountain, and on one side we could see out to the Carribean Ocean.

After that we dropped a few passengers off (who didn’t pay enough) and continued on to a waterfall garden. It was a well designed complex of a huge bird aviary, butterfly gardens, snake displays, amphibian displays and waterfall viewing (with a requisite resteraunt & gift shop of course). I shot many pictures, and quite a bit of video footage. The tucans & parrots were a brilliant blaze of colors, and we got to pick up and hold butterflies in their area. The humming bird area (not enclosed with nets) was particulary facsinating with probably almost 100 of them zip-zipping around. I’m unsure of how my pics turned out there since it is too difficult to adjust the shutter speed. I’ll probably finalize the disk in the next couple of days and get a bunch more pictures up…

Tomorrow we fly out at 11:00 AM, but have to be at the airport for 8:00 so still no real sleep-in.

The big city

Saturday, August 25th, 2007

We arrived in San Jose this afternoon. It was about a 3.5 hour bus ride for about $8 per person… We are just wandering around the city a bit this afternoon, and are booked for the all day tour tomorrow (Sunday). I haven{t found any open wireless connections near the hotel yet, but will keep looking for an opportunity to use the phone.

It{s rainy here, and a little bit cooler than on the coast if that makes any of you Northerners feel any better…

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Place appropriate Alice Cooper song title here…

School’s out! For the yee-hear! Friday we finished up and received our certificates. We let Inga use to phone to call her Mom (whom she hadn’t talked to in a week). Luke has grown remarkably attached to her in the week and a half that we’ve been here.

After school and after entering some stuff on the internet for a bit, we went to the beach. Since this is our last day here we were going to pay to go to the National Park again. Our fellow students quickly informed us that they were going as well and that admission was free today since it was National Parks Day in Costa Rica. We had a great time and took turns with a bunch of other students looking after the stuff on the beach. The waterfront was quite a bit steeper here than the main public beach we had been going to. This made the swells much genteler at standing level, since they only get large and crash down a meter or two from shore.

The park closed and we were kicked out at 4:00 PM, so we all went out for a happy hour drink and a plate of nachos. Me, Alex & luke, and several hot women… It was terrible for me. On the bus Luke forced Claudette to sit with some stranger and saved his double seat for Inga. Poor boy… Great taste in girls though, she is very sweet. We said our goodbyes, gave her an address sticker and came home for supper.

After supper the kids went accross the street again to visit until bedtime when we had them pack up their bags and jump in to bed. Our bus leaves for San Jose’ tomorrow (Saturday) at 9:30 AM. We’re staying at a pretty cheap hotel there, and are taking a tour to an old semi-dormant Volcano on Sunday. Unfortunately we decided (well, Claudette did anyways…) that the Arenal volcano was too far away.

An outrageous price! (I think?)

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

I saw today in the Pharmacy next door something that made me do a double take. They had, behind the counter, a bunch of boxes of

I forgot the card with a long post written out. I guess I will hafta upload it from the hotel later. Now it’s later and the hotel is locked down so that the USB ports don’t work. Guess I’ll hafta wait and find an internet cafe’ tomorrow (Sunday) sometime…

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The things I saw were viagra, Levitra & Cialis. The funny/odd part being that they were all in single portion boxes. That made me think that these boxes were the drug companies demo pills that they give away in abundance to doctors, except this doctor was selling them. And holey crap! what a price…. 5000 colones ($10.00 US) per pill!!!

Good guesses though!

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The originally written post for today:

Too much beach?

Today was our second last day of school. We brought out our world map first thing and completely blew apart Freedie’s lesson plan, but we spoke mainly in Spanish to make it “educational”. We talked mostly of our trip, and he asked many questions in Spanish.

After class today it was still extrordinarily beautiful outside. Usually we can see rain clouds that are a few hours away, ready to sprinkle the beaches by 3:00 in the afternoon. Today though, none of us were particularly strongly leaning to going to the beach. Instead we had lunch and then wandered into Quepos main town to get some more cash and shoes for Luke. These are his third pair already in 10 days! I fear that at this rate, we won’t have enough cash to make it past China!

We went souvineer shopping, found some shoes, and enjoyed walking around town together one last time before we leave in a couple of days. We stopped in at a grocery store and wrote down all sorts of prices on scrap cardboard. I’ll make a google spreadsheet with the prices sometime and share it publicly with a link from our blog. We are going to try and get prices for common things from all of the countries and areas we visit.

Speaking of prices, I noticed at the pharacy the other day an abundance of Viagra, Levitra & Cialis on a shelf behind the counter. The funny part is that all of the packages were single pills (for roughly $10 US per pill!) and a doctors office was next door. I then realized that the doctor was probably selling all of the single portion ED pills that the drug companies give away as demos. Too funny!

I stayed up late Wednesday night (until about 1:00 AM) helping the oldest son fix his computer. I backed up all of the families files to one of my portable hard drives. Then I showed him how to re-partition and format a drive to reinstall windows. Before that though we took it apart and gave the inards a good cleaning! (including intentionally busting off the processor locking arm).

Maricella had planned a special dinner for us for tonight, since Ania wouldn’t be home on Friday. Extended family and friends were invited for a great BBQ. After supper we gave Maricella a couple of humble gifts. An inuckshuk with a descriotion written in Spanish by Claudette, and a deck of cards with the maple leaf flag on the backs. We promptly all sat down and shgowed everyone how to play spoons. It was a blast! Claudette filmed and photographed a few hads which should be funny to view later.

The rest of the long weekend.

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Sunday morning we left fairly early (9:30) after I ran out and picked up the rafting pics CD and got some drinks for the picnic. The drive out to RAINMAKER CANOPY TOURS was about 35-40 minutes, and quite bumpy for the last 15 minutes. The ride up the valley towards the rainforest and “mountain” was spectacular though. On sundays they are usually closed, but since Maricella´s daughter is living with the owner, we were tagging along on a private family tour and picnic.

The suspension bridges were amazing and the views absolutely breathtaking! Luke was a little cautious, but we went along the trails & paths as Mick (the owner with his greater family) guided us along pointing out animals and all kinds of interesting facts. The pics I took don´t really do it justice, but they are on the pic page now.

On the day before, (Saturday August 18, 2007) we went rafting. While I commented bbefore on what a blast we all had, I hadn´t seen the pictures yet. I´m uploading some now, and the photographer got some spectacular shots of our raft. We did all survive another day though.

A few more prices for those interested: (keep in mind that 50,000 Colones cost us $105 CAN to buy, while for US$40 we got about 21,350 Colones)

Prices.

Prices and a tourista weekend!

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

After supper, (after the beach, after school) yesterday we relaxed, and went to bed early (about 9:00 or so). I don’t think the family we’re staying with is used to their guests sticking around home so much. They’re probably more used to kids (16-30) who go nightclubbing most nights.

Today (Saturday) we rose early again to go on a booked river rafting trip. It was fantastic, but shorter than we had thought. The pics the guide in a kayak got of us were awesome! and I’m going to pick themup tonight to hopefully get on the web in the next day or two. It was just our family with one main guide (who lived in B.C. for awhile and spoke English very well) plus a guid in training. Luke was enormously scared at first and we had to force (read: threaten) him to go. He was laughing tonnes and had an absolute blast! The guide-in-training got tossed out once and we almost lost Alex. Luckily she had her feet wedged in propperly and I pulled her in after composing myself from laughing so much. Her eyes were GYNORMOUS!!!!

For the afternoon Claudette and the kids went back to the beach without any valuables to worry about. I came back to the house to get the phone and head to the COSI school to make some calls again. My arms have a bit of heat / salt water rash anyways, which I want to heal up a bit before I head back into the waves. I was told that the school wasn’t opened on the weekend at all though and walked down into town to use the internet there instead. There is no wireless internet in the town fast enough to use the phone though, so we’ll have to wait until Tuesday after lunch to make some more “hello” calls. I also want to start doing some backups of camera DVD’s onto the mini portable hard drive.

Tomorrow (Sunday) we are going to Casandra’s house for her third birthday celebration. She already had the party at Grandma’s house (where we are staying) on Wednesday, but we’re gonna all go to her house and her Dad’s suspension bridge canopy tour. The drive will take about 40minutes we’re told,and since there’s 12 of us, (toomany for a taxi) we’re going to rent a mini-bus for 20,000 Colones ($40 US) each way.

One of my uncles quereied about actual prices so he could compare to home, Mexico ect. Muchos bueno idea! I’ll put them in the full message below, so you’ll have to click on just this post to read more…

Prices.

Uno Week Finito: some comprehension, tiny sentence structure capabilities

Friday, August 17th, 2007

The Phone is back! After a few days of drying out the phone was working again last night when I tried it. We made a few quick calls, but have run out of battery power. I´ll charge it up again and try calling on Sunday. Yipee!!!

Well it was a long but VERY enjoyable week of school. Claudette is REALLY sailing past me now in sentence composition and we are not even close on word comprehension. (How come she don’t have so good a memory in marriage I wonder???) I barely have any edge on the pronuncuiation over her anymore, (she really shaped up in the last couple days) so it’s really a good thing that this is not a competition!!!

We went to the main beach (just outside the park) again Friday afternoon, after school. I had forgotten my suit though and just rented a chair to relax for a couple of hours while the other three frollicked. I did get some excellent pictures and a bunch of video footage though. The rains came midway through the afternoon, but we stayed there. As the tide came in I had to move my chair and umbrella up a ways, and Luke & Alex built three different sand castles. Each one was further up the beach, aways from the encroaching waves. The third one was barely a small pile of sand, while they spent most of the time building a reakwall out of sand and sticks. They even dragged a huge tree stump from over 100m away, (through the surf) to add to the protective fortifications. Claudette had to help them drag it from the surf in front of the castle to it’s final resting spot. I suggested Alex dig it in, rather than just setting it there and she did. Barely a half hour later the maximum high tide waves were lapping at the wood.

After the beach I went back to the book exchange store to find Luke’s shirt and sure enough it was there. The english girl had set it aside for us. I’d really like to find a world map somewhere in town to give to Maricella for her house, but haven’t found one yet. Perhaps I’ll have to order one on the net and have it sent.

Oh, and H*A*P*P*P*Y B*I*R*T*H*D*A*Y Auntie FLORENCE!!!!!!!!

The end of our first week!

Friday, August 17th, 2007

Well, it´s been a eventful first week. First it was an earthquake and then the other day it was a Tsunami warning, although the Tsunami warning wasn´t all that bad. Rick was pretty sure that the house we are staying at was up enough of a hill, that we did not evacuate. As it turned out the alert was cancelled about 9:30 PM.

Spanish lessons are going great, I can´t believe how much we are learning already. Everyone is doing fine, however Luke was really homesick the other day and missing Pete. As for the rest of us, so far so good. Bye for now, Claudette

Wonderful Water

Friday, August 17th, 2007

While we were watching TV Wednesday night, we heard that there might be a tsunami in this area. This tsunami warning was from the earthquake in Lima, Peru. I didn’t know about either until the next morning when Alex told me.

We have been going to the beach latley, almost everyday. Yesterday Alex got stung by a jellyfish and today I got stung too. I enjoy the water but not the high waves.

I lost my hat when we first got here and just on Thursday I lost my shirt. When we went to buy another, I lost the shirt I was wearing. On Friday we’re going to look for it.

Yuor Title Here

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

Today is going to be lots of fun becaus we are going to a beautiful secret hidden beach where the waves aren’t too high. We are gonnna get a boogie board and a beach ball( yay!!!)

 There was another earthquake yesterday. It was smaller then the other one,but you could still feel it.

 I got my nails done!!! Annia did them and they are beautiful!!! My finger nails are ceramic but my toenails are done by hand and they are beautiful!!! they are pink with little red flowers. My thumbnail came off though cuz it was so cracked!

 Yesterday when we were swimming I was stung by a jelly fish called “medusa”. It stung, hurt, itched and burned at the same time. At first it looked like big cuts, then it disapeared, then it bubbled up as white bubbles and now it looks liike cuts again. Do not get stung by a medusa, it hurts a lot!!!!!!

Thursday´s news… (boring-o!)

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

The previous message I posted today was mostly all written on Wednesday night. 

 Today we went to a smaller, lesser known beach today which was nice. It was in a sheltered cove and had very small waves, plus it was a taxi ride and a 6 minute walk to get to, so I doubt we´ll be going back there…

 Tomorrow we´re going to spend the afternoon at the main beach again. Then we have booked an all day river raft tour in class 2, 3 & 4 rapids for Saturday! Monday is a national holiday for Mother´s day here so no school…  (Bummer!)

Mucho Fun Here, Disaster in Peru…

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

Hi all. Devastating news from Lima of course but we´re all fine. 🙂

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 I never made it to the internet cafe again on the weekend, but stayed at COSI school most of the afternoon on Monday to catch up on postings. Claudette took the kids to the main beach again for the afternoon. The lessons are progressing well. There is tonnes of information to digest. I seem to have a “slightly” better grasp of pronunciations than claudette, while her comprehesion and memory are miles ahead of mine. The kids are in class alone together and are thoroughly enjoying themselves, even though they are both slightly competative with us old people. Looking at the schedule, it seems that Claudetet and I will have another classmate next week.

 On Tuesday, Alex and I went to a zipline tree canopy tour. It was unbelievably fantastic! We didn’t bother having Luke come because we knew he would probably be a little too scared. We found out after we went that they can take kids under 100 pounds with a guide on the same line. Now we have to decide if we want to spend the money (even more actually) to go again. There are 3 zip line tours in the area and one of suspension bridges. We went on the Titi tour just outside of Quepos, and on Sunday we are going to Casandra’s tres birthday party at her Dad’s bridge tour, Rainbow.

 

Our weekend walk in the rain also seems to have killed the WIFI VOIP phone, which really is unfortunate. We bought big ziplock bags after to wrap everything else in and Claudette and I have started debating the merrits of buying another and having it sent to the hotel in Los Angelas for wqhen we pass through in mid October. (So far it doesn’t look good…)

 

Wednesday after school we had (another) rushed and unplanned lunch and then took a guided tour of the actual Manuel Antonio National Park. Entry fees per person, every day are $7 US, and the guide cost an extra $20 per person. It was a two hour, fairly relaxed, walking tour with many stops for animal viewing. The beach we walked by is very nice, and has much less people on it. Not that the other one is really crowded at all. The park beach has a crapload of crabs everywhere though. We really had to walk carefully and make sure we didn’t step on any. We saw several sloths including one 2 toed sloth which is usually not common to this area. We also saw some HUGE ant highways accross the trail, but my video work on one probably won’t do it justice. We also saw a small (1.1m ish) cayman (smaller aligator) in the swap and numerous interesting bugs. The bright red land crabs were pretty neat and the first I’d ever really heard of an “inland” crab. Our guide was unable to help us spot any monkeys on the tour. She found a bunch in the back of a hotel yard edging the jungle, just barely outside of the park, at the end of our tour, though.

 

Wednesday, just after supper there was a 7.7 earthquake in Lima, Peru. Claudette and I experienced another very slight tremmor in class earlier that day as well. The Lima one was very significant, and caused a tsunami there. There were tsunami warnings for almost all costal towns in Central America Wednesday night too. The house we are staying in is about 1KM from the ocean, (the government specified precautionary safe distance) and higher in elevation enough to be quite safe. Even so, the family we are staying with are considering spending the night at the daughter (sisters) home, deeper in the jungle. I am skeptical of the nessesity, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens. Alex and Luke are both in bed and I have almost an hour of homework that I should get done yet tonight.

 

Our First Day and Earthquake?

Monday, August 13th, 2007

Written: Saturday, August 11, 2007

We have been in Quepos for just over 24 hours. We arrived yesterday afternoon during a severe thunderstorm with torrential rain. We now have to start our lists. First on the list will be “Survived an Earthquake”. It was tonite at 7:45 PM. I was laying on the bed in our room reading when the bed began to move from side to side so very slightly. At first I thought maybe a big truck was driving by but the more I thought of it I realized that that was impossible and slowly I realized that it was an actual earthquake. I stepped through the open window into the courtyard as everyone else in the hose was also exitting into the courtyard. Luke and Alex said they didn’t really feel it as they were playing with the dogs. Annia (the 26 year old daughter) figured that it was probably about a 4 on the Richter Scale. Oh, well! I’m sure it’s just the first of many first for the year. However I must say that our host family is great, and Maricela is a fantastic cook even Luke is liking the food. Yesterday was fish and today was chicken, spectacular! Tomorrow we are off to the beach at Manuel Antonio.

25 Hours of Travelling

Monday, August 13th, 2007

Written: Friday, August 10, 2007
 Well we have now completed our first 3 flight segments and 1 bus ride. We left Edmonton at 2:45, flying to Vancouver, Los Angeles and finally arriving in San Jose at 9:00 AM. Then we caught a bus for the final leg to Quepos, arriving at 3:45 MST.

  

Our first lesson.

Monday, August 13th, 2007

Today (Monday) we all got up early to get an evaluation and placement at COSI school. (A little TOO early I believe…)  We had the bus system and other local stuff figured out beforehand so we made it easily enough. I REALLY don´t think that I would want to rent a car here, the roads and drivers are much too crazy!

The lesson was great! Claudette and I are togther while Alex and Luke are with their own instructor. They went to the beach again after lunch, while I came back to the school to organize a couple of tours and upload all the blog postings.

Thanks for the comments all! Asta La Vista, BABY!

Lot’s of new adventures

Monday, August 13th, 2007

 

Today (Sunday) was lots of fun!! We went to the beach, got caught in some rain (it was a real relief from the heat!!!) and decided to walk for about 800 m to the next bus stop to avoid the crowd and get a seat on the bus. Minnyana (tommorrow in spanish) we have to get up early to go to spanish school (see I’ve been praticing!!)

 

Catching up…

Monday, August 13th, 2007

The going away party at the end of July in Fort Smith was really fun. I was only going to spend a little bit of time on the water slide but I ended up spending the whole night on it. I said my goodbyes to all our friends and some unexpected people came for a surprise visit and to say goodbye.

I spent the next two days afer the party emptying my room and cleaning it up.
I saw someone I’m reqally gonna miss( Gracie G) on Tuesday!!! She was saying”I don’t want you to go” practically the entire time I saw her. I’m gonna miss her. I made a friend in the pool at the hotel. Her name is Elizabeth, and she was really nice! I had a really good dessert at boston pizza, it’s called vanilla bean cheesecake. I recommend it!!!!

I had a wonderful time in Edmnoton. I got evertything done. Except for when my parents were spoiling themselves like crazy because it was their aniversery, everything was good.

The way here was wonderful. I found a new song that I love!!! I’ll have to buy it when we come back. It is by an artist called Mica. For the last leg of the trip we travelled by bus. I loved it. At one point we were up in the clouds. My least favorite flight was the last one, It was the longest (even though I was only awake for about half an hour).

I love Costa Rica!!! We are staying with a family and learning spanish. There was a brother and a sister staying here before and they said this was the best house and I beleive them!!! For breakfast they normally have beans and rice and some fruit  (I didn’t go traditional and I had cereal and fruit, but tommorrow I will go traditional). The fruit is way good!! Probably because it is grown here. My bedroom is way cool!!! It has a window which opens up to the tiny back yard, and I can step throu the window! All the backyard is, is a clothsline and nature and you can’t see the neighbor! The house we are staying in is little, but yesterday it held 9 people!!! Now it is only holding 7 people. There are gechos everywhere!!!!!!!!!! The windows have to be left open( so air can get get in and we don’t sweat to death) so anything can crawl in and everything DOES come in!!! Thats all I’m gonna say for now…

HELP GECHO ON THE CEILING HUGE BUG OUTSIDE!!! TO MUCH!!!!

So much happening!

Monday, August 13th, 2007

During the party I got to say Hi and Goodbye to all my friends. We played on a waterslide most of the time and when the waterslide had to be deflated, Uncle Troy deflated it while I was on top of it. So we got him back by squirting him with water.

We finished cleaning everything on Tuesday and we left at 2:00 pm. We got in High Level, and went swimming with the Gauthier’s. After swimming we went to eat. We stayed up until 11:00 eating and watched Hercules in the Gauthier’s room.

We had breakfast with the Gauthier’s the next day, and took pictures together before we started driving to Edmonton. Me and Alex watched Sabrina on the way there, it was a long drive to Edmonton. We had supper as soon as we got to Grandma Vi’s, and then we watched some TV, and went to sleep.

In the week in Edmonoton, we  visited with Grandma Vi, and then we visited Aunty Monique’s, and saw baby Dylan. We also went to Grandpa Ray’s new place for supper, and we went to Grandpa James new lake property.

Thursday we caught the plane and flew to Vancouver. From Vancouver we caught the plane to Los Angeles. At 2:00 AM, we boarded the third plane, and arrived in Costa Rica at 9:00 AM. We took a taxi to the bus stop, and travelled the last four hours to Quepos. The town seems nice so far. There are lots of Gehco’s around in the house which is cool! The sidewalks are kinda crappy, but we walked all around town today. The people we are staying with are VERY nice.

25 Hours: Three Flights and a Bus Ride

Monday, August 13th, 2007

After a whirlwind week in Edmonton we were mostly prepared and caught up on last minute purchases and errands. Not to mention numerous drives each out to Acheson and out to Sherwood Park. We were packed up and left the house before lunch on Thursday after a few late nights and early mornings in a row. With a last quicik goodbye stop at Trucker’s Toybox, we were off to the Edmonton International Airport. Ray, Denise & Monique all met us out there for a last goodbye which was really great. There was barely any security lineup at all and we stayed to visit over lunch before succumbing to the pocket emptying humiliation of entering the “Secure Area”.

 Our first flight was fairly quick to Vancouver, and we hung out there for a couple hours until our next flight. The second flight was also on Air Canada, but on a small commuter jet with a fantastic in-seat media/entertainment system. The LCD pannels were touch screen with individually selectable movies, musics videos, games or other information. Plus adjacent to every screen was a USB port for charging up portable electronic devices like audio players or PSP’s. We had a slight scare when we realized that Claudette or I had “misplaced” our luggage claim tags, and weren’t entirly sure if Air Canada had booked them all the way through or not. When we landed in San Jose’ our bags were safe and sound waiting for us though. San Jose’ was (almost needless to say) hot and instantly muggy. It was certainly beautiful and very lush & green every where we looked. The COSI school had a driver waiting for us and with the two larger suitcases strapped to the top of a little Nissan 4 door old taxi, we set off towards the bus station. The driver knew little English but conveyed to us that we had lots of time, and suggested we stop for a bite to kill some time. We agreed and he came to a parking lot accross from a Subway. Claudette, Alex and I had eaten on the plane, so Luke ordered an omlette for breakfast while the rest of us just got a bottle of water (and a cookie to satiate Rick’s ity bity sweet tooth). I wanted to wander down the street for a bit, but we had all (for some reason???) brought our heavy and cumbersome backpacks and so Claudette denied my request to wander down this commercial street for a half hour or so. The driver had just gotten a newspaper and opted to stay with our bags which were tied to the top of the car. We proceeded to a bank to change some US$ to Colones (the Costa Rican currency) and then on to the bus station. We were warned in e-mails, paper documention and by the driver of the treacherousness of the neighborhood, but kept an eye on our bags and all was fine. We left barely a couple minutes late and endured a spendidly beautiful (but equally harrowing) ride through deep green valleys, up mountainous switchbacks, accross one way bridges and skirting precarious cliff edges right out of some crazy movie. I’ve driven with many an Englishmen before but was astoundeed at the driving here in Costa Rica. Monteray, Mexico was similar for absolute crazy drivers, but the roads there were much better and more uniform and organized. I captured a bit of video through the bus windows and struggeled to get comfortable in the newer but very cramped bus.

Our host family met us at the Bus station and we took two taxi’s the short distance to their house. It is a very new house, since their previous one was reduced to rubble in an earthquake a couple years ago. For the first night we were all in one room with 3 bed spots since there is a brother and sister guest in the other two single bed rooms for just one more night. They were from Alaska and had spent the past four weeks attending COSI and staying with this family and had thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The family have a puppy which Alex & Luke (AND Claudette & I) had great fun cuddling and playing with. Due to our terrible sleeps on the Plane, they crashed about 8:30 while I stayed up barely another hour to type in my log plus visit with the family and other guests for a bit.

Today, (Saturday) we all had nice cool showers, a leisurely breakfast, and then wandered around town for most of the rest of the day. We had lunch at a restraunt suggested by the other students but found it to be quite a bit more expennsive than we had planned, even though the food was really good. Sunday we plan on hitting the beach adjacent to the National Park.

While wandering around town I was hit up by a street urchin and a con guy but brushed them both off easily enough. We bought a new hat for Luke (who lost his) and a rawhide bone for Sol, the puppy at home who loves to nibble on everything, including us!  After supper, sitting around watching TV & visiting we experienced our first E*A*R*T*H*Q*U*A*K*E ! ! !   Ever…   It was kinda cool! Things shook a bit, but it was very brief. Alex and Luke were bopping around and playing with the puppies, so they didn’t really even notice. The family agreed that this was about a four on the Rhictor scale, but the one that brought down their house a couple years ago was about a 6.8 or 6.9. Their rebuilt home is a much more solid construction with elasticity built in for the vibrations of earthquakes

I am dripping wet from sweat, and will need a shower to cool down before being able to sleep yet tonight. The typical afternoon rains never came today to cool things down. It’s 8:30 PM, but I am going to see about possibly wandering down to the internet cafe to publish a blog post. (And reply a HUGE thanks to Dallas for finishing my furnace install.)

WOW! What a time…

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

We all wrote longer blog posts but the card reader is disabled from the public computers we are currently using. We´re all having a great time, and spent today at the beach until a thunderstorm hit. Still we walked partway home in the rain cause it was such a relief from the heat. I´ll try and upload our longer posts (and hopefully some more pictures!) tomorrow from the COSI school intenet connection.   Bye All!