Pictures of Central America!

Ok, I know some of you have been dying to see my pictures since I got back. I finally got them all organized after I got my new laptop last weekend. I think if I started to organize them all using my old laptop, you would’ve all waited until mid-October. I recently got the Toshiba Satellite A200-AH7. Future shop had a special deal going on that I couldn’t resist. Not sure how much money I saved but it was a lot. I also got a new HP all-in-one printer for only $20! It’s a scanner, photocopier, and printer in one! Wish I had one of those when I was back in school. Oh well.

Anyways, if you want to see all the pictures, you can click here or click on one of the countries below:

Mexico
Belize
Guatemala
El Salvador
Honduras
Nicaragua
Costa Rica
Panama
Colombia

And for something extra, you can also see my camping trip to Olympic National Park

Thanks for taking a look and for sharing my adventures. I hope to share my video with you sometime soon!

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The Immigration Nazi

Well I had quite the scare at the Mexican airport. Ok, no bomb threats or any delays or anything but this was something out of the ordinary. After a 4 hour and 35 minute plane ride from Bogota to Mexico City, I had to quickly jump on another connecting flight to Guadalajara within the hour. I thought it would be a quick and easy process. I was wrong. I had to pass through immigration first and when I saw the line up I just choked. It was probably going to be a 1.5 to 2 hour wait the way the line went. I was like, oh gosh, I’ll never make my connecting flight in time! To make matters worse, these four (fairly overweight) elderly American couple budged right in front of me. I was going to say something but I was like, what’s the point. After about 15 minutes waiting in line, there was this lady that came by asking if we had a connecting flight. If we had, we could go through a shorter line! Sweet action. Why didn’t she come by earlier so I didn’t have to stress out? Anyways, I went on the shorter line and that’s when I met the Immigration Nazi. I’m not sure if this guy had a bad day or if he is like this all the time. He was quite upset at people not filling out their immigration papers out properly. I could even hear him about 30 feet away trying to explain it to people. After a few minutes it got even worse. He stepped outside his desk and came out to the line. He showed a sample immigration paper to everyone in the line up and said if we didn’t fill out it the papers properly we would have to go all the way back of the line! He explained every single box and where to sign our names. I thought people would get it by now but the funny thing was that the Americans who budged in line early had to go all the way back of the line for missing some fields! Sweet justice! When it was my turn, I took a huge gulp. The Immigration Nazi asked me a few questions and I was quick to answer hoping I had filled out my papers correctly. After an agonizing few minutes which seemed to take forever, he finally stamped my passport and I was off to my connecting flight to Guadalajara that I managed to make!

Last Day in Bogota!

I did get to walk around the city of Bogota including notable places like Plaza de Bolivar and La Candelaria but the main attraction was climbing Cerro de Monserrate, the highest point in Bogota. Roberto, Shalom, and I took a taxi to the base of the mountain where it was a tough 1 hour climb to the top. Along the way you can stop at certain vendors selling all sorts of stuff. When we got to the top, we could see pretty much all of Bogota….for like 1 minute. The clouds quickly rolled in and it started to rain. We quickly ran to the church nearby and sat in on one of the many mass services they had. It was quite interesting to see a charismatic catholic church. After the service we had to take the cable car down since it was still pouring rain. We then walked pretty much all around the city checking out the different sites. By the end, I was so tired and drained from all the shopping. We decided to buy some groceries and have a low-key dinner for our last supper. I didn´t want anything greasy or the standard arroz, pollo, and ensalada combo that I usually have. So for dinner we just had a basic salad with egg, tuna, tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumber, and this special type of rice that Roberto made. It was really good! The day wouldn´t be complete without my last hot shower. I almost cried after I took it. I am going to miss you shower! You´re my best memory of Bogota!

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The hike up Cerro de Monserrate (Roberto, me, Shalom)

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Taking a break from our strenuous hike

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Roberto and I in the famous Plaza de Bolivar

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Having an asian dinner at Shalom’s place (roommate is Amanda)

The Haircut (and Shave)

My first night in Bogota proved to be a cold one. Practically the whole time I was here it was cold. I am going to say right now that Bogota is colder than Canada this time around. The city is a little over 2600 metres and I found it a bit hard to adjust to the altitude the first day and also the cold weather. It was the first time during my Central America trip I have been this cold. Even my layers of clothing wouldn’t help. I woke up a few times during the night to put on some more clothes but it was useless. The next day, I suggested that we have a fire since Shalom’s apartment had a fireplace. The problem was that there wasn’t a fire screen. We looked everywhere around the city but no luck. We did manage to find one of those slow burning logs to use during the night. It was the best thing we did that evening, just staring at the fire and eating our milk and cookies. Other than that, the other thing that kept me warm was a nice, hot, scorching shower. The shower was so hot it almost burned my skin. It felt soooo good!

Anyways, during the day our main adventure was trying to find a decent haircut place. All the places that we found did not support the straight razor for shaving. It’s illegal here in Colombia. If you want a decent shave, you basically have to go and buy your own razor and give it to the barber. How lame. Anyways, we did manage to find a barber but I had to settle for the electric shaver for the shave. I can’t complain though. I mean, $3.25 for a haircut and a half a shave….can’t go wrong with that. So the backpacker look is gone. The barber was a bit brutal too. He was so bad that I had to take the razor from him and tell him what I need done. He didn´t even cut my neck hairs properly. He basically just surfaced the skin just a tad bit. Since Shalom spoke Spanish, I told her to tell the barber to rip my skin off with the razor so that all the roots from my hair would be gone. Apparently that didn´t work. So I took the razor again and showed him the proper way to cut neck hairs. It was quite the show.

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Half backpacker, half business man

The Overnight Bus to Bogota

So this is the last overnight bus I will be taking on this trip. And boy, am I ever so glad this is the last! I’ve travelled on quite a few overnighters in my life and was even prepared for this. I packed my fleece jacket, rain jacket, toque, pants, socks, and also snacks for the videos. I felt like I was all set for the 9 hour bus ride to Bogota. However, this was not any other bus. First of all, the AC was just too overpowering that even my layers of clothing wouldn’t suffice. The volume of the movie was also loud and that didn’t help with the sleeping. Not to mention they showed the video until 12 midnight! Anyways, not sure how many hours I slept but not that many. The roads were really windy and the bus driver kept jerking the bus trying to pass semi-trucks on the curves! To make matters worse, I woke up in the middle of the night sweating hot! I think they turned off the AC in the middle of the ride. So I took of all the layers and just tried to let the sweat evaporate. Luckily I bought a 5 litre jug of water before the ride. Then when I started to become comfortable again, they turned the AC on! ARRGGHH!! Anyways, I arrived in Bogota earlier than I expected and I called Shalom, the friend I will be staying with for a few days. It was an adventure getting to her house though. I thought I had the right address but I guess I wrote it down wrong. So the taxi driver was basically driving in circles trying to find the place. I finally called Shalom and got the right address. She had an important meeting in the morning though and was all dressed up for it. Me….well….I haven’t showered in 3 days, my clothes stink, and haven’t had a good night sleep in a long time. Plus I have to shave my beard off in the next few days. Anyways, check out the contrast….(don’t mind the pink slippers)

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Trying Something New in Medellin

This trip is all about trying things new. I haven’t gone paragliding before so I thought I might as well take advantage of the beautiful views of the surrounding mountains in Medellin. After a gruelling 14 hour overnight bus from Santa Marta to Medellin, I was crazy enough to go paragliding. I went to this popular hostal hopefully to get a free map and some information about the city. However, the reception lady wasn’t at all helpful since she said she would only help me if I stayed the night! I was planning to take an overnight bus to Bogota. Anyways, I called Juan up, the owner of the paragliding company I was going with and he picked me up at the hostal and took me to the launching point which was about 30 minutes from the city. I had to go tandem but since the pilot guy was right behind me, I felt like I was actually in control. I had a really good flight in. Even Juan mentioned that I lucked out with the weather since it had been raining the past several day! I got a bit dizzy at the end since the pilot guy was doing a bunch of stunts near the end. I had enough and told him to land or else I would throw up. I had a couple of good pictures and videos during the flight but my battery ran out mid-way.

In the afternoon, I ended up just walking around the city and taking the Metro everywhere. I did do a little bit of a hike with great views of the city (as if I didn’t get enough from the paragliding). The city reminded me of when I went to La Paz, Bolivia with all the houses situated on the mountains. I found Medellin’s Metro very easy and efficient. It’s the only subway system in Colombia actually. The weirdest part of the city was seeing these weird statues (boterro statues) all over the plaza. Not only were they big and fat, but they showed all the privates of the body.

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Getting set up and ready to go!

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Another paraglider with breath-taking views of the city

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Enjoying the view of Medellin from Cerro Nutibara

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They had all sorts of strange statues like these in the centre square

Tayrona National Park

After Cartagena, I took an afternoon bus out to Santa Marta, which is as far as I could go before visiting Tayrona National Park. I got ripped off along the way. At the bus terminal in Cartagena, I met this guy that said there was a direct bus to Santa Marta and that I wouldn’t have to change buses in Barranquilla. I should’ve remembered the first rule in Colombia – never trust anybody! Anyways, I kinda knew I was being ripped off in the first place but it was too late. I hopped on the bus in a mad rush and paid the guy. When I was in Barranquila, the bus driver told me I had to get off and hop on another bus to Santa Marta. Right there I knew I had to pay another bus fare since the other bus had my ticket. I bargained with the ticket guy on the bus to no avail. It’s ok though, it wasn’t a huge loss. I’m just glad I made it to Santa Marta.

The next day I woke up early to head out to Tayrona, which is one of the most popular national parks in Colombia set on the Caribbean coast. It´s just a very chill place with nothing to do but stare at the beautiful beaches. It was very relaxing indeed, but also a bit expensive. I went on this half hour hike in the park where insects and lizards were crossing my path for the whole duration. The scariest thing was seeing these huge grasshoppers jump and fly right in front of your face. It totally freaked me out. Besides the hiking, the beaches are the main attraction. But because of the rain, I pretty much stayed indoors and watched TV and laid on my hammock.

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Early in the morning in Arricifes beach

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This is at the nude beach in Cabo (sorry no nude photos here)

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The Caribbean coast in Tayrona