March 10, 2006

 

---Today is my birthday, Hip-hip horary!!! I'm 21 now, legal for many things. I'm still the baby on the trip thought. Adam is 26, Ryan is 23, Jared is 22, and will be twenty-three soon. What will I do today? The last time I had a birthday I worked. The time before that I was in Park City Utah . I was at the Minor 49'er pub with Sammy the Hawaiian, and Andrew the Australian. I had completely forgotten about my birthday until that afternoon, when we were sitting in the pub, and then all of a sudden I realized it and jumped up. I turned to Andrew and was like, “Dude it's my birthday!” Andrew was like “What….. No Way ?” I pulled out my license and showed him. I turned 19 that year. That was the year I found out about “Bad Ass coffee”. My Mom had arranged for a carrier to drop by the Park City Base Camp, the place where I was staying, that evening and present me with a care package and a gift certificate to the Bad Ass. Cool! I was so happy; I bought the whole family something from Bad Ass. I even bought my Mom one of the notorious Bad Ass thongs, ummm, yeah no, that would not be cool!

 

Well, those are the last couple of birthdays that I remember. No, there was Lake Tahoe three years back when I turned 18. I was on my way home from spending a week out there. I had flown back and taken the shuttle bus from ATL to Chatt-town. My Mom picked me up over in East Ridge and asked if I wanted IHOP. Yes! I love IHOP! I had no clue that there was a surprise party going on. I walked in at IHOP and there was like two dozen people there waiting for me. They all turned and smiled; they gave me the “What's Up Man” Look of approval. Ariel was there. Ariel is my BOY!!!! He helped arrange it. Zach, Melissa Morris, Josh, and a bunch of people were there. Ariel even tried to get Kaitlyn Murray out there; I had a major crush on her at the time, and had just made my first contact right before I left for Tahoe. It went no where though. I was supposed to take her out to lunch, but the night before, I decided I wanted to go to Tahoe for a week. I called her up and told her I couldn't make it, and that I was going to get on a plane at 4am the next morning and fly to Lake Tahoe, Northern California . She was like, “What”! Yay, crazy right. Anyways, enough about the birthday stories; today is just starting, and I bet it'll be another crazy one to remember.

 

--The Trip Thus Far--

The trip…. It's been wicked cool! I have learned a lot about life and myself. It feels like childhood all over again, trial and error; more or less… growing pains. It's very exciting, don't get me wrong, I'm loving it! I just feel like I'm stepping out in the dark, feeling for something and trying to get by. It's all good though!

 

The States were very quick. I past though most of them doing 70mph, and only seeing landscape as a merging wash directly out my window. It's cool though. I've already traveled though 45 of the continental 48. I wasn't missing much.

 

Mexico was almost the same way, except for the towns. In the towns I slowed down for the “Topes”, the sleeping policemen….. no, the other meaning, a speed bump. This allowed me to see the real people of Mexico . I would slow down as I entered a town, I'd go like 10mph or less, and just chill. Check out the place, the people, and the occasional girl. ? Once I was out of the town, and the reach of the “Topes”, I'd get back up to 70 k ph and cruise, that's something like 50mph… kinda slow. Anyways, it made Mexico interesting. The towns were like ghosts, they'd pop up out of no where and scare you… actually it was the “Topes” right before the towns that would pop up and scare you; but whatever.

 

I remember, before Vera Cruz, as I was coming up and over a rise, and then through a turn I saw it…. The Ocean! It was beautiful! The waves were crashing, and the sky wash this pale blue stretching out to meet it at the horizon. I was inspired. I wanted to drop my heavy load and race along the coast. Well, I really wanted a fine girl with long flowing hair and a dark tan to be riding with me, someone who I could share the picture with.

 

Whatever…. It was one of the greatest feelings so far on the trip. I was stoked! I wanted to stop and grab a surfboard and hit the beach running. The picture continued on for several miles. I was driving through what you could call a beachfront community. Houses right along the beach, palm trees in the yard, hammocks hung between the thatched roofs, and open-air cabanas dropped here and there in the shade. The whole time you could see the water between the trees. You were never more that a hundred yards from the beach.

 

It was just breath taking! From there I traveled to Vera Cruz and moved inward off the coast, but it is was good to see the ocean. It made me very happy. It raised my moral, and inspired me in what I was doing. God is Good!

 

From Mexico I moved into Guatemala . Guatemala was cool; it felt like the states though, not what I expected. I mean…. It is very third world, but where we were staying, and the people whom we were working with made it seem like the US . Most spoke English, had money, and were highly educated. We had electricity, showers, a good place to stay, and easy access to the Internet and kitchen. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining; I'm stating that Life was easy, not hard and challenging. I really enjoyed Guatemala , and wouldn't mind traveling there again in the future.

 

The number one thing I liked most about Guatemala is the people! The people we met there. Cindy, the lady who bought the Land-Cruiser from us; Hailey, the girl that is living at Cindy's house; Beth, the girl from Ohio who is teaching at the CAG, Mynor, the cool soccer guy who works at the CAG; Johnny, the 15yr old kid who's mom thinks Jared is a bad influence on… Johnny is so cool! And so many others. Guatemala was great for the people and the bakeries…. Great pastries!

 

El Salvador ……..

Not good! Well, I liked the food, Papusas. But I was eaten a live in the gas-station parking lot we stayed at. Check out the pictures, not fun at all. The country looked and felt like the midwest. Small rolling hills, with the occasional big one, desert like landscape with small trees and bushes, long brown grass everywhere, and very hot and dry. It was cool, but I'm glad we drove pretty much straight through it.

 

I've heard that El Salvador has some crazy surf spots, with wickedly sick waves and breaks. Whatever, I'm at Mal Pais , Costa Rica now, and the waves here are radically sweet and knurly Dude!

 

Honduras was our next stop. The drive in was very steep. We climbed the mountain range for almost an hour. The road was a two lane road, and was very similar to the one that goes up the front of Lookout Mt. , except for the fact that there were Semi's and small loaded trucks creeping slowly along creating traffic jams. That is where I learned how to pass traffic fast and quickly while trying to navigate a turn. You honk your horn a few times, letting any on coming traffic know you're out there, then you give it hell and step on the gas, shift quickly and pray that you make it. I never had any problems, and to tell you the truth, it wasn't all that scary. You might wonder why I didn't wait for a dotted line, or straight way, well, there are none, all curves and turns going uphill. All the traffic I passed was never moving more than 10mph, so if you stepped on it in 1st and redlined it, popped it in 2nd and stood up on it; she would go and pass any truck or Semi as though it were standing still. Even with a heavy load “Aslan” can get the job done. I remember racing a Chevy 1500 with a V8 in Mexico , no competition; “Aslan” smoked it!

 

We ended up on “The Valley of The Angels”. Cool place, Small town, very touristy. I liked it, but wouldn't make a special trip to return some day.

 

The group we met up with was an Adventist mission group from the states, mostly from Boston , or parts of Vermont . We met up with Jared's uncle Kevin, and brother in law, Tom. Kevin and Tom were cool; we had a lot of fun with them. Jared was always trying to wrestle his uncle, and kick box with Tom. It was so incredibly interesting to watch, like baboons quarrelling, throwing leaves and dirt at each other, super primitive; it always made me laugh, it was quit amusing.

 

We also met Julie there. She is 25 and attractive; it was good to finally see a female of our species that was our age and race, as well as fun, beautiful and friendly. She made the mission group worth putting up with. Yeah, I'm not a big fan of mission groups, especially Adventist ones. I not saying they are bad, just not me. They have strict schedules, funky food, and seem kind of fake. I loved the people individually, but as a whole they tended to share a fake image that the leader expected of them. They wear it like a badge of pride, “look at me and what I'm doing”; but only when they are together as a whole. Individually they were real. You could see them for who they were. I remember when Jim Cheney stood up and gave his assigned devotional for breakfast one morning. The first thing he said was that he wasn't an Adventist. I was so happy to hear that. I knew that whatever he said or did, it was real. He wasn't having to up hold the mentality of the group, just like us, he was independent of anyone's expectations, a free spirit to live believe and worship how he felt God was calling him. Jim was a good guy, and I give him props for standing up, that took balls to go on that trip and to stand up and let it be known that he was different; it made him real. God bless Jim and hold him close, he is a true Christian, a man who accepts who he is and wants to know God, to help others, and live in peace. No “look at me”, see how good I can be, what good I can do, just real. I think we are going to look Jim up in Alaska . He lives in Anchorage , and has offered us a place to stay and hang out when we get there.

 

Nicaragua ? Bad thoughts come to mind when I think of Nicaragua . In Managua , the Capital, I got two traffic violation tickets within 5 min. Not cool!!! They were for *#*% reasons, excuse the language, but its true; both times for touching the white lines. Go figure, you can't touch the white lines or merge lanes, no signs, no warnings, just crooked officers out to make a some money of missionary Americans. I am still quite sore over the whole situation, but its in God's hands.

 

That's all I have to say about Nicaragua .

 

Ok Fast Forward ------------->

 

Oscar Newball Jr.

I don't quite think he understands that we plan on staying at the beach for a month or more. He keeps on suggesting that we go to the beach for a day or two and then drive back to San Jose . I'm not going to drive three or four hours only to turn around a couple days later, to do it again in a week. This is our vacation, and we need it. We re-wired Oscar”s house and apartment while there in San Jose , we did our work for him, besides we'll be back in a month and install an irrigation system for him. I'm just glad to be free. He came with us to Jaco beach, his idea, nice place, but very touristy, Americans and Europeans everywhere. I want a deserted beach, with nobody, a place to relax and check a couple of waves. I want to rough it! We stayed in a hotel in Jaco, whatever, it was nice by my standards, but Tanya was like hell NO! She went to a nicer more expensive hotel that was not too, ummm…. Dumpy. I personally didn't want to stay at a hotel. I don't have the money to sleep in a hotel, even if it is only $6 a night, nor do I have the money to eat at a restaurant every meal. Oscar was always choosing to eat at restaurants. I followed, whatever, waste of money. I would rather find a small farmers market and spend a dollar and have enough food for a day and cook my own. Besides the food would taste way better if I cooked it. The restaurants we ate at weren't that great, and cost $10+ for a meal.

 

We are finally here in Mal Pais!!! YES!!! Mal Pais is where Oliver the Belgium lives. We met him at the border of Costa Rica while heading to Monteverde to meet up with Jackie Liles. Oliver is so cool! He's a surfer dude; radical!

 

We'll back to the story; sorry I was just excited about being here in Mal Pais.

 

Monteverde, back tracking….

 

Jackie Liles. We found her in Monteverde. Monteverde is a beautiful place nestled up in the mountains a mile above sea level. It is very windy up there, constant gusts pushing upwards of 20mph all night and day long. I really didn't know Jackie in high school; I might have said ten words to her back then. I just found out she was here in Costa Rica and decide to drop by, humm, not your typical CA thing to do. CA people tend to avoid contact with other CA people who they aren't like best friends with. Anyways, we found her, and camped in her back yard with the blowing wind.

 

I cooked some killer food while there in Monteverde. Ummm, Yummy!!! I made Fajitas the first night there. Fresh peppers, onions, tomatoes, sautéed with salsa, Marie Sharps hot sauce, a little lime juice, salt, pepper, a dash of curry, and Cheyenne pepper. Laid nicely in a flour tortilla with sharp cheddar cheese, and a side of sticky rice, and for desert, sweet crackers and Nutella. Then I made omelets for breakfast the following morning. Perfect shells golden yellow, light and fluffy, cooked all the way through with peppers, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, all lightly cooked and a little crisp to give it a pleasing texture. Salt, pepper, season all, filled with Mozzarella cheese and garnished with a lime wedge and a few slices of red and yellow peppers. A side of battered potato chunks mixed with sweet yellow onions finely minced, and seasons with a mix of pepper, season all, light curry and cheyenne pepper, and Marie Sharps hot sauce. Incredible! smooth flavor, soft inviting texture and just a little kick to spice it up. The phrase is feast or famine…. We always feast when I'm cooking, there is never anything left when we finish a meal, and everyone is stuffed, ready for a nap. See now why I want to buy my own food and cook it, it's a hundred times more fun, it also tastes way better.

 

We only stayed in Monteverde for that night. We left around 12pm and headed for San Jose . Finally, a vacation, whatever, that wasn't going to happen for another week. We found Oscar and started working. It's all good though. Oscar hooked us up with a place to stay and food to eat for a week.

 

Food--we ate three meals a day, this I found very annoying. I normally eat once, maybe twice, but three times a day; it turns everything upside down. You first have to break from what you are doing, clean up, eat, become full, lie down for a second, then walk back to what you were doing, try to remember where you left off and then start again, only to in two three hours do it all over again. The eating process takes forever! I didn't know how we were ever able to finish the projects at Oscar's house; we did it though. We wired four bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room and kitchen, and the downstairs bakery; all from scratch. Designed the circuits, ran the conduit, pulled the wires, installed the receptacles, switches, and fixtures. Ryan really knows what he's doing. I have a good general idea, but he has it all laid out in his head. It's good to have it all laid out in you head, especially when you are running that many wires and circuits; less mistakes. When it was all finished we flipped the main breaker on and everything worked the first time… all the lights, switches, and receptacles, first time. Ryan is Good!

Jaco

I already touched on that situation, but here are some more details to the events of this diverse encounter.

 

Joy Grabiner… Yep, Joy is back. She arrived at Oscar's place two days before we left for the beach. She then came with Oscar out to the beach.

 

Jaco was Ok. It was a good learning experience for me. I was able to get good idea on what surfboards could cost, new and used. The prices were quite steep, I didn't buy one, I rented two different ones for two days and tried them out to find out what would work best for me. I'm glad I did that; it proved well worth my time and money to become educated in the market and style of surfboards.

 

Other than surfing, and board searching, Ryan and I hung out with Adam. At night we hit the streets looking for girls and good times. It's a tourist town, lots of places and people to see and meet. Our phrase is: “The Bears are beginning to look Good…” i.e. we need find some “colorful” scenery to mingle with.

 

The first night we struck out, somewhat. The second night we hit the Jackpot! We first headed down the “Jungle Bar and Grill”, a place where we had played pool the night before. Nothing, so we walked back towards another cafe that had live Caribbean music.

 

On the way we saw this blond chick walking on the sidewalk. Adam went over and broke the ice, “How you do'n?” just like Joey Tribiani from Friends. She happened to be walking with her mom, whoops, but it was cool. She was heading to the same cafe we were. Cool! Her name was Marissa, and she was from Canada , but was living in Jaco for the time being. We went to the cafe with her, but she wanted to spend time with her mom, so we gave her some space and grabbed a pool table there for an hour.

 

Adam then noticed this super hot girl chilling up at the bar top by herself. Ok, lets get something straight, Adam is a lady's man, super cool, a big dork, and very white. He just goes up to her makes her laugh and asks her if she wants to play a game of pool with us. Sweet! Score! Her name was Vicki, and she was from New Jersey . She also lives in Jaco, and teaches English to adults there in the area. She is very similar to us. She decided to get out of the states and do something crazy. She just bought a ticket, hopped on a plane and flew down. No job, no friends, in God's hands…. I don't know if she planned for it to be in God's hands, but to go in to the dark alone, you need the “Light” to find your way and be successful; God always has a plan. She found a job, got a house, and made friends. She was really cool. I think she is maybe 26. Anyways, we chilled for a while, and then gave her and a girl named Rosemary and guy name Edwin a ride up to the next town.

 

There we went to the club called “The Backyard.” Reminds me of the “Drink”--just as many Hispanics. LOL! Cool club, lots of dancing, music, and cards. Ryan and I grabbed a table and played Rummy for an hour or so. Adam, well he dances. Pretty good, he does ballroom, swing, and club/freestyle. He's white though, he's really funny to watch, but he's good. Imagine “Ernest” from the Ernest movies dancing to hip-hop. Hilarious!!! Adam rocks! Don't forget he's good though, he really knows how to move.

 

We moved on though. We took Edwin and Rosemary back to Jaco, and went to the “Monkey Bar”; Very similar to “The Backyard”, except more locals. I went and parked the truck back at the hotel, and walked back to the Monkey Bar. On the way a prostitute approached me. Yep, her phrase was “Sukki- Sukki, only $20, You like”; my reply was NO, I don't like. No Gracias!!! Ryan was approached later, His prostitute only wanted a $1, yep $1 US dollar. No Bueno! Very Scary. Anyways, back at the Monkey Bar Adam went back to his dancing. He danced a lot with Rosemary. He had a lot of fun. Ryan and I watched the “Billabong Odyssey” on the big screen there at the bar. No dancing for us.

Rosemary tried to dance with us. I was not in the mood to “booty-dance”, besides, I'm a white guy, I don't booty-dance. Ryan, well, he was smooth. He put his arms up in the air and didn't move. He pretended to be a pole. She just looked at him and laughed. Awesome! We returned to the room around three or four in the morning. Adam returned with the sun saying good morning to the world there in Jaco. He only got two hours of sleep before we had to check out of the room. I guess you could say he danced the night away.

 

Surfing in Jaco?


Adam, the dancer

I don't know if you can call what we did in Jaco surfing. It was an attempt at surfing. I think I rode maybe two or three waves; definitely had one really good ride, but definitely not surfing, maybe the singular form… surf.

 

Only Ryan and I got boards. Jared was occupied with Tanya, Adam doesn't know how to swim, and Oscar was with the family. Adam, what? Yeah, he's from Oregon , and doesn't know how to swim. This was his first warm water beach ever. In Oregon the water where he lives never gets above 40 degrees. No swimming for him. We are going to teach him how though. It would be useful, and make his experience with the ocean a lot better.

 

Back to surfing, Ryan gets thrashed…. Yep, Thursday morning we headed out around 10am to catch a couple of waves. We hit the water, it was high tide, and things were looking good. I paddled out, got thrown a few times, but was feeling confident. I thought all was going well, but after being out there for about an hour I found Ryan up near the shore. He said He had taken a bad fall, and that he needed to chill for a while. Bad fall ? Come to find out, Ryan had gotten his ass handed to him! Some how a board, fin, something hit him in the back of the head while dodging and on-coming wave. He received a 2-½ in. gash to the back of the head. It was deep, about a ½ in. or so, and was bleeding. He didn't realize it till his white rash guard started to turn red and he felt the back of his head and found lots of blood on his hands. Not cool! He walked up the beach to Joy, and the two of them walked to where Jared was.

 

Jared ripped off his shirt and tied it tightly around Ryan's head. A crowd form, and people began telling Ryan that he was an idiot for going out there without an instructor; Stupid tourists, surfing is fine, beginners don't need instructors to protect them, they need instructors to give them advise on how to paddle and get up. At the break the water is no more that chest high, its perfectly safe for beginners, something freak just happened.

 

Anyways, I was still out trying to catch some waves, when Jared flagged me down. I rode one in and Jared told me of the situation. What ? I had no clue that Ryan was that torn up. I went over and check him out. We went back to the room, let Ryan grab a shower, and then I cleaned his wound and bandage him up. It was pretty bad, but I was hoping it wouldn't need stitches. I suggested we give it till that evening and look at it again; if it hadn't started to close up, or was still bleeding pretty bad, I'd stitch it up for him. After that we hit the road to Punteranus, and caught the ferry over to the peninsula and head for Mal Pias. Finally, Freedom!!!

Aslan Tears it up again!

 

I love my truck Aslan; he is such a beast! From the ferry drop off point we drove west on a very poor road for about 70km to Mal Pais. There was traffic though; lots of slow cars not designed for the poor road. I dropped it in first, punched it and shifted in to 2nd. Aslan loves to stand up and go, He pulls hard and carries well, no lag. We passed multiple cars at once, bouncing around the potholes cruising over the small rocks. No problem, it's a Toyota . The ride to Mal Pais was a lot better once we got passed the traffic. It seemed all the traffic was one-way, to Mal Pais; It mostly all the cars off the Ferry.

 

PS

It was only Ryan and I; we left Adam, Jared, Tanya, and Oscar back in Jaco. Tanya didn't want to camp on the beach, Oscar had his family, Adam needed to go the Guatemala City in a couple of days, and Jared was with Tanya and needed to get her to the airport on Sunday. We headed out on our own.

 

Oliver “The Belgium ”

 

In Mal Pais/Santa Theresa, we wanted to meet up with our newfound friend from the border; Oliver. He is Belgium by the way; you know the small country off the coast behind England , between France , the Netherlands , and Germany . Anyways, we were out to find his dwelling. He had given us some basic directions; go to Mal Pais, then go to the Santa Theresa side. Look for the “Ferroca” the warehouse. “I live in front of Ferroca”. If you need help finding it, stop and ask for the Belgium . Well, when we got to Mal Pais that's what we did. We ask for the Ferroca, then once we got close, never saw a sign or anything, we then stopped and asked for the Belgium; Oliver. They pointed us in his direction, and we found him. No map, and basic directions. Sweet!

 

Oliver has a pimp house! Its a couple hundred yards from the beach, nestled up in the tropical undergrowth of the coconut and banana trees. It's a two-story place with natural wood ceilings and hardwood floors, beautiful.

 

Ryan and I slept on the upstairs porch with the light sea breeze blowing across the porch all night. It helped keep us nice and cool. Oh, also the porch is shaded; very nice to sit on and type on the laptop. I can hear the waves crashing on the beach from here, and between the palm trees, I can see bits and pieces of the ocean. Right in front of me is this tree, no more than a foot off of the porch and it's branches laden with buds. It's so peaceful.

 

Well that's all for now. I've been typing for a while, and am ready to cook some lunch and help out with the light construction here at Oliver's house.

 

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