Feliz Cumpleanos (Happy Birthday) to my sister in 5 days time!
Sorry we’re not home to celebrate with you… but I guess you have bigger things on your mind these days anyway!
Here’s our latest wrap after 215 days away from home…
Countries Visited: 4 (Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia)
Incredibly, it almost seems unreal, we’ve finally made it to South America!
After thinking we’d be well past Colombia before Xmas, here we are, only just having snuck in less than a month after the festive season’s conclusion!
Cheapest Bed: Hospedaje Pena, San Carlos, Nicaragua $240.00 Cordoba ($12.00AU)
Sure this place was cheap, but it was one of the biggest dives we’ve yet stayed in.
Still, it was a remote border town, so we didn’t need much more… except perhaps a bed that didn’t feel like wood or an ever present smell of urine whenever we descended the stairs (we were slept upstairs at least).
Most Expensive Bed: La Choza Inn, La Fortuna, Costa Rica $30.00 US ($37.08AU)
Costa Rica lived up to its expensive tag here… at least there was a kitchen so we could self cater!
Highlight: Tabacon Hot Springs
Costa Rica has reputation for being expensive, so to be able to find something free, was sensational.
Then to have it be a morning in some hot springs (my first such experience) and with some good friends, just topped it off!
Lowlight: Not taking a sailboat from Panama to Colombia
This is something we actually had booked, a boat from the Caribbean port of Portobelo, Panama, down to Colombia’s colonial gem, Cartagena.
We’d been given a heads up that the seas are generally not kind, and we soon learned that our departure port had been revised, and it would cost us an extra $100.00 US just to get there. We baulked at this, given its already expensive nature.
It was a sad experience to miss, however we saved over $1000.00 US by not doing so, not to mention the likelihood of paying to get seasick (the waves were bad enough on the huge ferry we ultimately took)!
Favourite New Food: Chicharrón, Ebejico, Colombia
Tola, a cinnamon or banana flavoured rice custard was a delicious surprise, gifted to us on the dock at Bocas Sabalos by a couple of American friends met at Grand River Lodge on the Rio San Juan… It looked a certainty to have this title wrapped up this month.
Then we finally got to sample some decent Chicharrón and the game was over! Mmmm
Best Beer: Balboa, Panama
I expected a bit more from the beers this month, but despite us trying a dozen different labels over the 4 countries, Balboa which is serviceable rather than great, gets the nod…
Most impressive Church: Catedral Metropolitana, San Jose, Costa Rica
It wasn’t a month for great churches, in fact they were few and far between…
Still, the grand daddy in Costa Rica’s capital gets the nod, simply for its dome alone!
Bucket List Items: 0
New Bucket List Items: 0
Highest Elevation: 1725m Santa Elena Cloud Forest, Santa Elena, Costa Rica
Days in thongs (flip flops): 30
Aside from a morning in gumboots as we traipsed through the Nicaraguan mud, it was truly flip flops all the way!
I think that may change as we start to hit the Andes…
UNESCO Sites: 3 (Panama Viejo & Casco Viejo, Caribbean Fortifications of Panama, Cartagena)
Not a huge number this month, but in those few we visited, the Spanish influence was present in abundance!
Number of towns: 17
Number of beds: 13
Nights in transit: 3 (1 Bus, 2 Ferries)
To share a bottle of rum between 4 people sure seemed swell at the time, I’m not sure my enthusiasm for the decision remained given how I felt the next morning on our ferry from Panama to Colombia…
- Costa Rica finally delivered us some music other than the same 3 songs we’d heard for the past couple of months (even in Cuba)…
- The Nicaraguan side of the border crossing between San Carlos & Los Chiles (Costa Rica) is one of the most disorganised and inefficient you will find!
- The coins that make up Costa Rica’s national currency (the Colon named after Cristobal Colon… Christopher Colombus to most) give me great pleasure as they are large and I imagine them as ‘pieces of eight’
- Incredibly, in Panama’s city of David, we experienced only our 2nd toilet in which paper is flushable (the only other being Casa de Olas in Nicaragua) since leaving the USA.