lunes, 27 de diciembre de 2010

RENO... Last travel post YAY!!i

So I arrived in Reno, after a flight complete with a screaming child and Colleen took me out to meet up with Erik and her lovely sister Erin!

We then headed into Reno, the 'Biggest little city in the world' to meet some friends who were in Costa Rica with me. We met at this giant complex which had a ton of restaurants and a massive casino... just cos we were there we quickly hopped on a pokie machine and I played a dollar... I managed to get bored very quickly and had lost and won enough times to still have a dollar... We cashed out and headed for a restaurant. Everyone else just got desert but I was starving so ordered up a big burger and chips! YUM

We drove back to Colleens place after saying buy to the friends and Erik and fell asleep ASAp (Colleen's bed was pretty much the comfiest thing I have ever slept on).
Bright and early the next morning we left for San Fran.

It was so exciting driving in the states. Erik and Colleen prob got sick of the number of times I said 'its just like the movies'. We made it to SF airport fine and headed to the domestic arrivals level... no sign of Nathan, we called him, he said he was at SFO so we drove around again... still not there, we decided to try international arrivals but missed the turn off so headed through domestic again. He wasnt in international arrivals or departures so as a final resort we hit up domestic departures and there he was! PHEW we were starting to think we were in the wrong airport. The fab four were reunited again!! CHA WHOOOOO

The next four or so days were AMAZINGLY AWESOME

In SF we visited Chinatown, and the Pier and this Chocolate place called Ghirardelli's square before returning to the Pier for tea of Clam Chowder in Sourdough bread bowls! pretty much amazing!! We saw some pretty funny sights but nothing can beat the man dressed as Abu (tights over unsupportive undies with a vest and a cap and a tail)from Aladdin dancing to the beat of another guy playing a small drum kit... so bizzare and gross but mesmerizing!

After driving the windiest snaky street ever we drove back to Reno, having some interesting adventures, such as finding a loo, on the way home.

The following day we floated down the Reno river in tubes... Collen and Erik shared, me and Erin shared and Nathan was the lone sailor, but mainly we all held each others tires so we were one mighty raft. Pretty much the whole of Reno was out for the day but it was super fun chilling and going down the rapiditas. We had this really good takeaway like MDs but better called In and Out, it was pretty awesome, they had a drink option of pink lemonade... huh

As Erik returned to work the next day Nathan, Colleen and I headed out to lake Tahoe, what a beautiful lake. Beautiful BUT freezing freezing cold. We had a yummy lunch, fighting off hungry squirrels, and spent the avo catching some rays and taking a quick quick dip.Then we went to meet up with Erik,and chilled at his Dad's place with Pizza!

Shopping was next on the agenda and we quickly found me a pair of jeans and some good and much needed tops, I think we impressed Nathan with our quick shopping skills even though we were females. That night as Collen's parents were still yet to meet Erik the boys came out for dinner and stayed the night. We had a great BBQ and then chilled and shared some good Flor de Cana and played games and talked to the wee small hours. No one was looking forward to the next morning.

Up early again we dropped Nathan at the airport. Pretty sad times. Colleen and I shopped the rest of the morning finding some cute dresses and just enjoying ourselves. We met Erik after and got ready to drop me at the airport... More sad times. I was not impressed but a flight was to be caught. Yet another screaming child (quite a good contraception method would be to stick teenagers on a plane for three hours with a screaming child or two). And I was back in LAX. I found my way to Qantas, checked in, (they also weighed my hand luggage grrrrrrrr) and before I knew it was on my way back to NZ... Boy was it a cold place in July!!

I arrived home on the 2nd of July and as it was one of my best friend's birthdays I decided to only tell Mum and Dad the day I was coming home (everyone else thought the 7th) so I could surprise her. She was pretty stoked to see me I think :-)

And that was my adventure!! YAY YAY YAY cant wait for the next one though I can wait for the blogging!

domingo, 26 de diciembre de 2010

Mission Impossible... Getting to Reno

So I headed out to the airport... got to the check in counter... all good luggage weight wise but my hand luggage... Since when do they weigh that?? Grrrrr I was only 10 kgs over the 7 kg limit... crickey... some quick rearranging into my big purse and I was away through security...

I sat and waited and waited for the plane, boarding time came... no plane... take off time came... no plane... but the TV screen still said 'on time' hmmmmmmmmm about half an hour after take off time I began to become concerned about making my connecting flight... so started to hunt down some COPA staff... very difficult... went to the help desk... no one there... hmmmm... got back to the boarding gate and more people were starting to ask questions. Eventually a few COPA staff came out to the gate and told us they decided not to have our flight anymore...grrrr so they were combining our flight and the one with the same destination an hour later... however all those with connecting flights out of Panama to the US would not make their connections so would get a connection the next day... THIS WOULD NOT WORK...
I had a connection from LA to Reno and HAD to be there on next day as on the following day we (Collen, Erik and I) were headed down to San Francisco to pick up Nathan from SFO airport.

So thus began my fight to get to Reno.

I was told to go back to the check out counter where my bags would be delivered back to me and from there they would work out a way to get me to LAX...

They told me at first again that I could simply wait for tomorrow, when I told them again that this wouldnt be possible they offered to send me to Mexico??? as if Mexico City and Reno were the same place. They really were not too helpful so as they fluffed around I did some translating for a poor Aussie guy who had a connecting flight from LAX home. We eventually managed to get a flight to Guatemala City for the night where they put us up in a nice hotel, then the next day they flew us early to LAX. I still missed my connection but was able to get a flight later that day. I hung out for about 8 hours in the airport myself but it was ok. I survived! and the aussie guy made his connection so... only a whole 12 hours or so late and a lot of stressful conversations I arrived in RENO!!! to see Colleen's beautiful face waiting for me!

Thanks COPA! You guys are awesome

sábado, 25 de diciembre de 2010

Bout time I worte about travelling with the Irish Lasses

So I have been home for quite a while now and have decided to start writing about the next stage of my travel. It will be a pretty quick overview and probably is more to remind me of the trip than to tell you.

Ok so Leona and I got back to the mighty San Jose and chilled for the day... I do believe a movie and Patacones were involved. That evening as I was typing away at the computer a wee voice said... Is that you Ruth? It was none other than MISS DEBS ADAIR! After meeting her lovely friends, Susan and Laura (aka wee duck) we had a good solid sleep. We hung out in SJ the next day for the girls to rest up a bit then we left Leona at the hostel and made our way to the beautiful Nicoya peninsular. On the way we stopped in Puntarenas and the girls meet my host Momma and sisters, it was lovely to see them again and we also got an awesome lunch out of it (thanks Mama Tica)

We caught the avo ferry over and then hopped onto a bus, the bus however couldnt take us all the way to Montezuma as there was a massive hole in part of the road... so a four wheel drive hire later and we had arrived!

After exploring, cooking tea and learning how to operate the most confusing kitchen in the world we slept (kinda) with the sound of a stormy sea freaking the heck out of wee duck.

It was so lovely to see the sun the next morning and we made the most of it my setting off nice and early to walk to some waterfalls. The first part of the walk involved doing some extreme river crossing, the normal gentle stream was now raging from all the rain the night before and the best place to cross (according to the friendly local) was at the top of quite a rocky waterfall. Thank goodness we all made it across! It was a bit of an introduction to the wilderness for the Irish girlies though!

The rest of the walk to the waterfall was equally as interesting, climbing muddy hills with ropes anyone??

The falls were awesome though, so full of water that it was not safe to swim but amazing to see!

The following day we left Montezuma and made our way back through Puntarenas, stopping to see a beautiful family on the way. A lunch of Patacones and frijoles put in good spirits to make the next leg of the journey to Liberia. We arrived late and quickly arranged transport out to a national park the next day.

The national park was beautiful, it was jungly and then cleared out so you got a view a the entire area. It was such a great day it was very tempting to climb the volcano, but due to sore legs from our waterfall adventure we decide to walk to... another waterfall. This was was stunning, and after such a hot walk it was great to be able to swim. The water was beautiful and clear and the sun came through the trees at perfect spots so it wasnt too cold.

after a snack of mangos we headed back to the main entrance for lunch, a cold beer and more walking through a geo thermal area. By the end of the day we were super tired.

But no rest for the wicked and the next morning we headed off to the Nicaraguan border... ugggggg I hate this border, it is dirty and unorganised and full of slimy bus drivers.. and seeing I had to hang out here for 3 hours once in lines it is no surprise it isnt my fav place. But to get into the Great State of Nicaragua it must be done. So after a few frustrating moments we found ourselves on a bus heading toward the ferry for Las Islas de Ometepe.

We gto the first ferry we could across, got slightly damp from waves splashing over but survived then quickly decided where we wanted to go on the island adn made a bee line for the bus (away from the mob of travel guides). We got a lovely room on the lake front and got set fro a few relaxing days.

The island is such a lovely place, it is just paradise. Day two on the island involved a ton of reading, a walk and a long swim for me across to a smaller island. Half way across I stopped an thought, crap I didnt check to see if there were crocs in this lake (I knew about the rare fresh water sharks but decided to risk my chances)... hmmmm keep swimming...

We had the most amazing meal that night, and the next day set of for another part of the island where we hired kayaks and did some intense paddling,(note to self dont kayak with Madam Debs as you will end up with the brunt of the work :-P)nah just kidding, it was seriously about 3-4 hours of constant paddling and we did awesome!

We left the Island the following day and headed for Granada, it was so nice not to do too much traveling. We hung around Granada for a day just looking at the churches and markets and the carried on to Somoto.

This is the home of a canyon. It was a long trip so we booked an early morning tour so we could get into Honduras the next day. The Canyon was quite different from the last time I did it. It was a lot fuller of water an this meant some great rapids! Laura certainly loved it!!! She got swept down a rapid that we were supposed to walk down and the look on her face as she floated past was sheer terror... but pretty priceless! She did so well!

So we crossed over into Honduras and got as far north as we could for the night. But due to stupidly slow and late buses we didnt make it to the capital city where our bus the next day left from at 7.30 in the morning. GRRRRRRRRRRR

We were exhausted and grumpy and then could only find a hostel room with three beds for the four of us... so we pushed them all together making a giant bed, begged the hostel owners for another pillow (for some reason this took two tries and finally a very angry voice) (we made up for their grumpiness by taking advantage of the hot water showers and all shaved our legs) and bunked down for some brief but much needed shut eye!

An early 4.30 start to catch the 5.00 bus was not very welcome but had to be down, so we all trooped back down to the bus stop we had left only a few hours earlier. We made it to the Capital Tegucigalpa on time for our next bus, and even managed to sneak in a few phone calls to Ireland and some breakfast as well.

The Bus took us to La Cieba, where we caught a ferry out to Roatan... I had to sit on the edge of the deck the whole way as I felt so gross. Was so stoked to be back on tierra firma. In the dark we navigated West End and found a hostel where it was cheaper for us to get a private cabin, we also made an United Station friend called Nancy (quite a hilarious girl). We planned to stay here for a while so we made the Cabin our home!

The next day wee duck and I signed up for scuba lessons, we spent the rest of the day snorkeling the reef! Man God is so amazing I just cant even begin to describe how amazingly fantastic the reef was.

Scuba lessons began with theory... but by that avo we were out for our first prac lesson, sadly Laura had some congestion probs so had to pull out of the course. I got one on one lessons after that so managed to get through the course pretty quick.

I learnt how to use the jacket to help create a good buoyancy, learnt to clear my goggles if the filled up underwater, learnt some emergency techniques etc most of all I kept reminding myself to NEVER HOLD MY BREATHE, I really didnt want any lung blowouts or anything... I quite like my lungs.

By the afternoon of day two I was ready for my first open water dive, I felt almost as if i were in space floating around under water. The fish were amazing and I saw some crazy creatures, including a HUGE moray eel.

On day three I also saw a stingray and a trumpeter fish and a thousand different types of crazy worms. But still no turtle :-( and I had now finished my course, I was a certified PADI open water diver. We were staying for one more day so I decided to book in for another dive praying I might see a turtle.

The next day I went on my final dive in Rotan, (man would I have loved to stay and dive forever, and I saw TWO turtles! Thanks God! On was a larger one eating stuff of the reef. It just sat there and ate as z swam around it, the other was a baby turtle swimming for the surface. It was awesome to turn and see the light streaming through the water and watch the turtle flap toward the light. I was soooo over the moon!

Every evening we would go out and buy stuff for tea and by the end of our Roatan stay we had eaten more cabbage than any rabbit ever has. My word... Then Debs got sick... so in Roatan we were for another day. Thankfully she got better reasonably quick and we managed to move the next day back to the main land and over to the Guatemalan border area to see some Mayan ruins called the Copan Ruins.

After an interesting Coffee plantation tour (a fairtrade cooperative where the women and the men on the area share the processing plant but run different companies for differnt markets (men export, women local) we headed out to the ruins. Not as tall or large as the tikal ruins but a lot more detailed with more inscriptions, the still awed me and amazed me that ancient peoples produced them.Also crazily bumped into a couple that I had met at the Tikal ruins! The english tour book was all sold out so Debs Laura and I took turns translating the spanish guide book.

From here the home stretch began, we made our way back to Tegucigalpa, had a relaxing evening and then began a long journey back to the South of Nicaragua, to a place called San Juan del Sur. It is a touristy beach place but a nice place to rest for a few days. The next day (my birthday...22) we headed out to a lovely beach called Playa Maderas, it is really beautiful and we hung out there for the day. That night we headed out for dinner. We decided on Pizza... well it sure was an interesting evening we ended up having to share our table with three (one of whom was very drunk) Canadians... MY word could this man talk about himself... he was youngish, like 26, but already divorced and the owner of a large successful company, his business partner had been killed by his(the partner's) wife and she was now on the run... it was the most bizarre thing ever, we managed to excuse ourselves from hanging with them and partying with them for the rest of the evening and snuck off for some icecream, served by one of the most enormous people I have ever seen. And then true to our regular style we were all in bed at about 9.00

As the weather the next day was pretty crappy we decided to head out and back into Costa Rica, we stocked up on Nica Rum (Flor de Cana whoop whoop) at the border and then the girls hopped onto to a Tica Bus to San Jose, as I had a few days left I headed out to the Coast to a beach called Brasilitos which was very close to another lovely beach called Playa Conchal. That evening I walked along Brasilitos and over to Conchal, instead of sand this beach had a shore made up of tiny shells! so cool, and the water was he bluest ever!

The next day was spent on the beach, reading, walking, swimming, I hung out till after sunset making the most of my last day on a Costa Rican beach for a long time.

I left early the next morning for San Jose, arrived at a hostel and headed out to collect my massive suitcases. Job for the next day... Packing!!!

So I managed to find a good home for everything in my suitcase and pack and spent the rest of the day chilling in San Jose. That night after tea I headed to bed. Little did I know that this was going to be a horrific night.

I woke up around 1 or 2 to some rustling in the room, one of my dorm mates was in the middle of the room fiddling with himself. I, grossed out, turned over so as to avoid seeing this. Then a thought struck me, I was the only girl in the dorm, what if he was really drunk and was going to try something, so I rolled back over to make sure he wasnt going to do anything dodgey. Well, he had moved to the corner of my bunk, I was on the bottom, and was opening his fly... all my luggage was in the corner, I sat up and saw his whole body relax, suddenly it dawned on me that he was going to pee... I started shrieking and screaming.. NO GET OUT!!! THIS ISNT A TOILET!!! GET OUT! NO NO NO NO NO!! After what seemed like an age of screaming I woke him from his stupor and he did himself up again... well I kept an eye on him and he moved to the other end of the room and began the process over. NO NO NO NO NO GET OUT I began to shriek again like a proper banshee, by now the entire room was awake and confused (probably thought I was sleep talking or something) but the aussie guy across the room from me clicked quickly and while swearing profusely he chucked this stupid guy out the room, took him down the hallway to the loos and left him there. I was so nervous that he would come back and pee on me I couldnt sleep. An hour later I popped out to see where he was and he had passed out on the couch!! Phew...
SO DISGUSTING!! If I hadnt woken up
1) I would have been peed on
2) My bags would have been peed on
3) He possibly would have been smoking something stronger than tobacco, so my bags would have been leaped on by dogs in every airport on the way home...
4) the room would have stunk for the rest of the night

I am one thankful girl that I have a good set of lungs on me!!

The next day I left the hostel at check out time and taxied it out to the airport... it was time to head to Reno!