Tuesday, February 12, 2013

PANAMAzing Part 1 - We get reminded that necking is not an appropriate activity at public pools.

I know we keep saying this, but our experience in Panama has got to be the highlight of the trip.  (Well Panama, along with Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Belize anyway.)  We saw some truly incredible feats of modern human ingenuity and engineering, explored a town known for giving Sir Francis Drake dysentery, and stole away to our own private Caribbean house on Bocas Del Toro.

Look who we found in Panama! Brenton and Shannon from Ruined Adventures.  We've been following their blog and fb page since long before our trip was a reality.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Failed attempt at a mad dash to Panama. Aka Nicaragua

While driving through San Miguel we passed the hotel we planned to stay at so we made a quick U-turn on a very busy road and this was the sight that greeted us.  To think we had been driving along with a sunset like this directly behind us...  Unfortunately there was no good picture to be had of the volcano and it's sunset eruption.

Ok so new plan.  Originally we wanted to wander down to Panama, seeing the sites as we go.  The problem is, there are a ton of sites.  In order to finish this trip anywhere near the time we planned, and to relieve the ticking clock that is stressing us out, we have booked it down to Panama.  We have seen a little bit of each country in Central America, and now we can take a little more time on the drive back North.  This way, we can see a bit of everything and adjust our pace as necessary.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The very best unknown festival in all of Central America.

Our trip through El Salvador coincided with the greatest event that no one knows about: The Hammock festival of Concepcion Quezaltepeque.  To say Kaytie and I like hammocks would be an understatement.  When we were dating, we spent more than a few nights in a hammock, watching a movie or listening to music on a beach behind my house.  Ever since then, we never turn down the opportunity to hang up a hammock.  So you can imagine our excitement when we stumbled upon Concepcion Quezaltepeque's annual festival.  This little town in the northern part of the country is known for it’s hammocks and most of the hammocks you see for sale on the side of the road or in tourist shops throughout Central America come from Concepcion Quezaltepeque.   Not only does the town have the best prices on high quality hammocks, it also boasts the world’s biggest hammock.  Now this we had to see… 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ups and Downs in El Salvador

After leaving El Zonte, we drove inland towards San Salvador.  From what we have heard and read, there isn’t much to see in the city itself, so we thought we’d go in on Saturday, visit the LDS temple there and then move on.  The temple is almost the same age as the one that we visited in Xela and it is very similar in its construction.  It’s another stunningly beautiful building and we enjoyed our time there.  Again we got to know a few of the people working there.  One of the older missionaries walked past our car in the parking lot and did a double take when he saw the license plate.  He was so excited to see Wyoming that he took a picture (How often is someone stoked to see Wyoming??)  Then he waited for us at the entrance and asked to take a picture of “the most adventurous couple he’s met.”  We were flattered.  A few of the other workers said similar things and then one of the sisters asked us what has been the biggest surprise or challenging adjustment of the trip.  We thought about it for a minute and then I responded that the biggest surprise has been that it’s not nearly as much of an adventure as we thought it would be.  She kinda scoffed at that but it’s true.  That has been the biggest surprise.  The people are kinder and more helpful than I expected, the food is tastier that I expected, and the bathrooms are cleaner that I expected.  Of course there are some exceptions to those examples and overlanding comes with some specific challenges (border crossings, finding camping spots, living entirely out of a car, etc…) but we have found it to be an overwhelmingly positive experience. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

El Zonte, El Salvador (Why we may not return to the US)

Crossing borders is not my favorite activity.  The governments down here love piles and piles of paperwork.  They want 4 copies of your title, passport, DL, exit paperwork from the previous country, birth certificate, parent’s marriage license, vehicle owners manual, and a high school report card.  Ok, so maybe not all that stuff, but they do want an inordinate amount of crap and it all has to be stamped.  They stamp a bunch of papers, you go make 17 copies and take it to another office and they stamp it some more and send you back to the office you were at three offices ago.  And on top of all that you are constantly swarmed by people who just want to help …for a fee of course.  It’s not a terribly difficult process but it still makes me anxious and I don’t like it.  So after a particularly unorganized border crossing with long lines in hot, dingy offices, I was ready for some relaxation.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Final week in Guate. No waterfalls, just some amazing people!

After a quick trip to Utah for Justin and Jenna’s wedding, we made it back to Guatemala.  The volcanoes above the clouds let us know we were in the right place. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Lake Izabal and Guatemala City

After Tikal we drove into Flores to find a church and while we waited for the next meeting to start, we found a little park on the Lake Peten Itza and took a leisurely Sunday afternoon nap.  It was a nice way to start the next leg of our trip.  The drive to Lake Izabal was on nice paved highways.  There weren’t even that many tumulos, which have become increasingly common in Northern Guatemala. (A tumulo is a Guatemalan version of a tope).