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Thursday, February 28, 2008, 00:24
Ok, The Bahamas...


So, I was looking back over my "Quick Note From Miami Beach" on Feb. 1st, and realized I didn't have enough time to go into detail about my trip with Troy to Freeport, Bahamas. This is the rundown...

08.01.14 - Monday
Troy & Crystal met Mandi & me at my house at 09:30. We loaded the car, went to say good bye to Nichole & Tara, and stopped downtown to say bye to Mom. After a couple stops along the way, Mandi & Crystal dropped us off at the airport, and within the next couple hours, Troy & I were airborne. After a short stop in Houston Texas, we took our final flight today to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We rented a car (as I said before) to tour the area and get some food (I-HOP), and decided rather than returning it and finding some benches to sleep on, we made our rental car home for the night (in the parkade).

08.01.15 - Tuesday
Bright and early we made our way through the airport to check my laptop and cruise luggage into Luggage Storage. FYI: Not much for food in terminal 1, but that's where you'll find the rental cars. Currency exchange is open the longest hours in #2. Luggage storage is in Terminal 3, along with better shopping and food, but we enjoyed the cafeteria in T4 the most. (That's my advice if you end up in FLL). Once we made our rounds of the airport, we checked through security and I was randomly picked for detailed screening. Actually really interesting. Troy laughed at me, until his nipple rings set off the beepers and he was taken behind the curtain. Who's laughing now, eh lol. They really didn't do much except verify the source of metal, but still a fun adventure for both of us. After a 20 some minute flight to Freeport, we caught a taxi van to our Hotel (The Bell Channel Inn Hotel) and got settled in.

We decided to catch the bus to the Port Lucaya Marketplace to eat and check things out. After hiking back to the hotel, we lounged around before calling it a night.

08.01.16 - Wednesday
Our first day of diving started out with paper work and a short video, then progressed to the pool for some basic training. Then, finally, aboard the dive boat with dive master Presley, and his wonderful assistant (and nephew) Jerry. We toured the shallow reef before lunch, and did two dives after lunch, one to a small ship wreck, and one to the shark reef. It was really cool diving with the sharks, and with a few of us together, I wasn't the least bit afraid. Might be different doing it solo though! Oh, the Pentax W10 water proof camera works great at 15'. Not so much at 45'. I'll miss that camera. After the day of diving, we headed to the Wednesday night fish fry, which turned out to be not a lot different then wing night here. A lot of people at a row of bars (along the beach, though) hanging out, and eating fish sold by a number of BBQers in the area. It was fun, but we made our way back pretty early to get ready for another day of dive lessons. Oh, check out Troy's "Goggle Squeeze". Beauty!

08.01.17 - Thursday
Today we studied hard, watched some videos, and tried to prepare ourselves for our upcoming test Saturday. After our time in the dive shack, we headed back to Port Lucaya and then downtown. I had a suite to find for "Green Dress Night" on the much anticipated cruise.

08.01.18 - Friday
We were able to sleep in this morning before heading out for our 13:00 dive trip. This time with a cheapo underwater camera, we managed to get some photos of the sharks after checking out a plane wreck. And, I'm currently anxiously and excitedly awaiting emails from a diver we met (Tania) who took pic's of us today as well. I'll post those when I get them. We spent the remainder of the day around the hotel deciding what our plans should be for the following week.

08.01.19 - Saturday
Exam Day! Today Troy and I officially became NAUI Open Water Certified SCUBA Divers. Troy got the higher score, but I'm happy to say we both passed. I was so happy to get that out of the way, cause studying on vacation really sucks. Now, it's all about fun. We spent the rest of the day out, starting at Port Lucaya again, hoping to get our UW film camera photos onto CD (and developed), and hopefully finish up some shopping I wanted to do. We did find some stuff to buy, but had to head back downtown to get our film taken care of.

Once downtown, I finally decided on the green suite I needed, but because the pants were size 40, and I'm not, I had to get them fixed. We found a photo lab for our camera, I bought a couple CD's, and we met a really nice guy (everyone here is really nice) who invited me to his church in the morning, and offered me a ride. Oh, and today we sent Mark & Mom post cards.

08.01.20 - Sunday
I got up and ready for my Bahamas church experience, but my 07:45 ride didn't show. I caught the public bus to another church I noticed close by (Zion Baptist Church) and enjoyed the service and very much so the people. Once back at the hotel, I found out my ride came at 08:45. I was worried I heard wrong, but was happy others heard 07:45 as well.

But, the day pretty much ended there. The weather was not on our side, and it rained most of the afternoon. We discussed trying to change our flight and head to Miami early, but found out it would cost too much. So we booked a rental car for the following day, and spent the day bored and mostly watching TV. I was happy to catch the Green Bay/New York NFL game, but disappointed with the results (I'll give you a hint, NY won the Superbowl this year).

08.01.21 - Monday
We were picked up and driven to the rental car lot, and we headed out in our Toyota Camry. We spent the first part of the day on the west end of the island, touring 8 Mile Rock (stopping to collect sea shells and take pictures), checking out Deadman's Reef & Paradise Cove (decided against snorkeling here though, too cloudy and cool, and very low tide) and driving around that corner of the Grand Bahamas.

We headed east for the afternoon where we checked out the Bahamas Recording Studio (closed though), stopped at the East End Missile Base Library (also closed), and randomly stumbled across a "Pirates Of The Caribbean" prop of one of the ships. We hiked through the water caves & caverns in the national park, and hiked to the national park beach for a swim. We got back to the hotel in the evening and called it a pretty full day.

08.01.22 - Tuesday
This morning we returned the rental car and were shuttled to the International Bazaar. Wow, a bit depressing. Unfortunately this amazing shopping center relied almost entirely on the local hotels, which where badly damaged during the recent hurricane. So, most of this bazaar was abandoned. It was like walking through a ghost town. At first we thought we arrived too early in the morning, but soon found out only a few stores were occupied. A lady guided us to a lot out back that was called the "Grass Hut" area, to a shop she worked at. Only a few of the many huts were open, and it made us feel like we stumbled onto the remains of a once thriving civilization that has lost everything. We looked around before heading back to the main area of the bazaar to catch the bus back to the hotel.

From there we got on the 13:00 free shuttle to the beach at the Island Seas Resort. We intended on snorkeling, but the beach here really wasn't that great. We found hiking the rocks more fun, and eventually walked the couple hours up the beach to the Lucaya Market. On our beach hike, there was a narrow but deep channel for yachts to get to into the private resorts and waterfront lots in our way. Fortunately for us a nice couple had used there life boat to get to the beach, and offered us a 30 second lift to the other side. I felt silly, but I didn't want to get my camera wet, so we accepted. We shopped around, headed back to the hotel, and made plans for our last few days on the island.

08.01.23 - Wednesday
Today, in a nutshell. We toured all the same places as before, just maybe in a bit more detail. We checked out some more places around Port Lucaya, then a bit more around downtown including the north end stop at the OBS marine shop, and finally made our way back to lounge around at the hotel for the evening.

08.01.24 - Thursday
Today we dive. We got up fairly early, had breakfast and relaxed until our 13:00 dive. We had a bit of miscommunication about today, so it cost us double what we thought, and we went to 80' on the first dive instead of the 100' I thought we discussed, but it was an interesting dive and we had fun. The second dive of the day was back to the shark reef. It is a really cool dive, but I think this time was one too many in the same spot without a camera. That sums up our Bahamas dives. We spent the evening packing and hanging out.

08.01.25 - Friday
Our last full day here. We made a trip downtown (our bus driver kept falling asleep at the wheel!) to finally pick up my green pants from the tailors, and made our way back to the International Bazaar to wait for a matinee movie. We found a cool little restaurant / day lounge called "Caribbean Roots" and played a few games of pool. We got to the theatre early, but hung out until "Cloverfield" started. Most of the way through the movie, I was very interested. By the end, I was so disappointed. Great action, interesting recording style, but not my type of ending. Anyway, for our last night at the Inn we were looking forward to the much talked about "1 Man Band" playing tonight in the lounge. Once we realized we were a few generations younger than his style, we decided to get some sleep and get ready to check out in the morning. At this point we were laughing about it. Once in the room, and getting into bed, we started to realize the "1 Man Band" might actually cause us grief. Our heads were against the wall shared by the lounge, and the wall must be very thin. The party got louder as it got later, and we just wanted sleep. Somehow, a time later, we managed to sleep through it.

08.01.26 - Saturday
Departure Date. We were awoken by kids on the pool. At about 07:00. Glad they're having fun :) We eventually got up and made our way to the airport (got downtown by the bus, and to the airport by Taxi) and got ready for our flight over to Florida (FLL). Once aboard, we found out someone else had the same seats assigned them as us. We asked the flight attendant, and he told us we were on the wrong flight, this one was going to Brazil. I asked him to make sure our luggage made it on the flight, because I was OK with that lol. He told us it was another empty flight, so we could sit anywhere. We enjoyed our short flight, and after collecting my stored luggage, and catching a short shuttle, we got on the Tri-Rail to MIA to catch a cheaper cab to South Beach. Along the way, I met many people, some who I chatted with online, going to Ships & Dip III (the cruise)! It was really cool. We found our way to the South Beach Hostel and found TGI Fridays for supper. And fortunately due to future happenings, Troy wanted to take home a memory card full of the photos I was putting on the laptop. (As the laptop was never to make it home!) After a few hours of photo sorting, I finally called it a very late night.

08.01.28 - Sunday
Port Day! This morning we got up, repacked, had breakfast (my first meal at Big Pink, a cool restaurant near the hostel) and made a trip downtown via public transit to tour around. We got back to the hostel, got our gear and caught a taxi to the Port of Miami. We discussed Troy's travel arrangements (I guess he got it all figured out; he's home lol) and I boarded the Carnival Victory for my first cruise.
Ships And Dip III!!


posted by Trevor


Sunday, February 17, 2008, 19:04
Last Night In The Jungle


Well, this is it. It's almost all over. Tomorrow we fly to Fort Lauderdale, Florida USA, and then Tuesday we head back to Calgary, Alberta Canada. Since I last wrote, this is the fun we've been having...

So, Tuesday morning we headed to find the Canadian Embassy, with these directions:
Located west of downtown San Jose, in Sabana Sur, behind the Contraloria in the Oficentro Executive complex. Building 5.
Really. And no one could tell us how to get to Sabana Sur. After some searching, we finally found it, and arranged for our emergency passports.

From there we headed North to La Fortuna, stopping at the delicious "Bugy's" restaurant in San Ramone to visit Jefry (the owner, who we met during lunch in Tambor on Saturday) and have lunch. We made it to La Fortuna (on Volcan Arenal) and checked into the Arenal Backpackers and got settled in. We met a group of rafting instructors from the States and went for supper near the hostel.

08.02.13 - 08.02.14
Wednesday we made our way back to San Jose and the Canadian Embassy to pick up our emergency passports, and we made our way south east to the Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo. (Volcano? Oh ya, we stayed on a volcano last night. It was so cloudy and rainy that we couldn't even see the top of it, but we did stay on a volcano!) We stayed the night at "Jordan's Jacuzzi Suites" and due to the clouds and the rain the next day, we decided to head back to the west coast, just further south. We drove back across the country, and found a nice hotel for the night in Dominical. I'm under the impression that this is one of the more expensive settlements in CR to spend a night. I think maybe the San Jose people might make this a weekend beach retreat. But, we stayed the night in the Diuwak Hotel, and in the morning headed south.

We had a fairly short day of driving today, and made it in time for a nice sunset in La Fortuna in one of Ponderosa's beach houses. Probably the coolest little place to stay, but the famous surfing and massive waves don't really happen until April. Good to know. Other than all the hermit crabs on the beach, not a lot else was going on.

So Saturday morning we made our way back to Dominical, because the beach there is nicer (more sand, less boulders), and there's a bit more going on. So we found a hostel this time (Dominical Backpackers) and spent the night visiting with other travelers. Just FYI, this place is a place I might avoid next time. Although it was a lot of fun watching the big black and red crabs crawling all over the place (Red Crabs) including the bunks, it wasn't as much fun wondering if they might decided to sleep with us at night. We happened to be on the 2nd floor, so, although they did make it upstairs, I think they all found bunkmates on the first floor, good thing for us! Other than the crabs, the place was not near as clean, as comfortable, nor as entertaining as what we've come to expect in this country. (and other than entertaining, that really isn't saying much!)

Today is Sunday. Our last full day in Central America. After we left the hostel we checked out a cool little surf shop called the Blow Fish Surf Shop. From there we made our back along the Highway of Death to San Jose (this time in daylight, much nicer!) and found by far the cleanest and fanciest hostel yet (I think it's called Hostel Toruma?), and still for the same price as everywhere else. Very classy. We checked out a bit of downtown SJ, and now I'm writing you all a little note.

Tomorrow we catch a mid day flight to Florida, and Tuesday the 19th, we'll see you all in Red Deer! Ok, one sec, let me post this so you can read it...


posted by Trevor


Monday, February 11, 2008, 21:45
Robbed In Costa Rica!


Well, It's been eventful, that's for sure! This is the rundown of my days in CR.

08.02.03 - 08.02.04
I picked Mandi up from FLL (that's Fort Lauderdale International) on Feb 3rd (Sun) and we flew from there to SJO (San Jose) on the 4th (Mon). We got in, rented a car from Alamo, and stayed the night at the Costa Rica Guest House. We had the address, but oh, they didn't mention, the streets aren't labeled! So, after a few hours and many misunderstood directions (all in Spanish, of course), we checked in, and planned our next day (we're traveling day by day this trip).

08.02.05 - 08.02.06
On Tuesday, we headed west to the Nicoya Peninsula, with Montezuma as the final destination. We made a pit stop on the PanAmerica Hwy to zip through the canopy (a Zip Line canopy tour). That was a lot of fun. We then continued on, through our first check stop (all good) and onto the ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera. We headed south and after an exciting drive, we found a hotel in Montezuma close to the beach. We booked 2 nights, and the next day we drove west to check out Mal Pais. We found Frank's Place Hotel, and the Tranquila Backpackers, and headed back to book our Isla Tortuga excursions for tomorrow. I booked my dive, and Mandi booked her snorkel, and after some wandering, we called it a night.

On Thursday, we took a boat tour to the Turtle Island (didn't see any turtles), and split at the beach. I got on the dive boat, and Mandi headed off with the snorkelers. I was the only diver, so it was a lot more personal. Luis helped me get all my gear ready, and we headed under. Oh, he didn't speak English. At all! Really nice though! But, once under, we realized my regulator didn't seal, so my air was gone in a matter of seconds. We buddied up, and surfaced to change my gear. Once finally going, we headed into a really cool cave, and we took photos of a small 4-5 foot Nurse Shark in the cave. We headed out into the open and we played catch with a Porcupine (Blow) Fish (really fun to watch it inflate!) and poked at a really good sized lobster. Other than an eel and a bunch of massive star fish, that was the most exciting part of the dive. Once back in Montezuma, we helped some new found friends change a flat, and headed west. We stopped to see the local howler monkeys on the way, drove through some creeks and things they call roads here, and checked into Frank's place hotel (Mal Pais) for this night.

Friday we booked our bunks at the local hostel and rented our surf boards. We checked out the waves at the beach - they were good, I wasn't. Mandi did a bit better. I achieved a great level of board rash, and a good bump on the head from some other surfer chick trying to offer me advice. So, we retired our boards and hung out at the hostel. Met everyone, I played pool, we played some cards, and we generally relaxed for the night.

Next morning we headed out, planning on driving north to La Fortuna. We stopped for brunch at an amazing hotel in Playa Tambor called the Tambor Tropical. We met some really nice people, had a great breakfast, and got robbed. The nicest place we've been to so far, in a great area, parked in plain sight of our seats in the outdoor dining area, someone managed to get into the car, take my camera from the glove box, and both our small packs from the trunk. Mandi's bag had our passports, her wallet (debit card, credit cards, ID, etc.), and bracelets and necklaces, and my bag had my laptop, my Personal Organizer (IPAQ) all my keepsakes, ALL OUR PHOTOS! (mine from the Bahamas and cruise - my apologies to my Ships N Dip friends, the photos online are all I have left, and in that quality) and both our cell phones. Oh, and my razor. I need to shave! So, we spent the rest of the day meeting people in the area and looking for the red Geo Tracker soft top (black top) that was transporting the guys seen looking in my trunk (the culprits!) and finally crossing the ferry and staying the night in Puntarenas. Also this night the local bank took my debit card. At this point we were almost out of local currency as none of the ATM's in the south part of the peninsula would accept it. And remember, Mandi's was stolen. Not very many locations take Visa here. Things started to get extremely frustrating!

Being Sunday, it was a bit of trouble getting help at the OIJ (Police Investigative Unit) but we finally got it - in Spanish. We gave our report and got a copy, and finally headed back the long way to Tambor (the ferry only takes cash, we didn't have enough) up and around the top of the bay. On the way, we were stopped for speeding, but I think out of pity, due to no passports and no cash, we were let off the hook, and told to slow down a bit. Whewww! We made our way south and met up with some local guys (Americans living here working at Coldwell Banker Real Estate) who had been giving us advice and other help (oh, if you're ever looking for land or a home here, make sure you go to them, and disregard all the major ad's for Century 21, these guys are the greatest! Chazz & Spencer) and sat and had supper with them. They recommended a great place to spend the night (H & B Cabinas), so we checked in there and got some sleep.

Monday morning we made a stop at the local mechanics yard where we stopped a few times before to see if they had any new info. We had previously offered them a reward if they find our bags, but no word yet. As we were leaving, we saw a vehicle matching the description of the thieves. Now, we've seen this one before, and even gave the police the plate numbers, but this time I decided to approach the driver, as the truck was parked on the side of the road. I was a bit nervous, and his English was almost non existent, but I found out some important information. He was a traffic cop, and was no where near the Tambor Tropical on Saturday. And, he was one of the most well known, friendly guys in the area. And this wasn't just based on his word. As we talked there on the road, every passer by said hi to him. He followed me to the Tambor hotel to clear his name, and everyone there knew him and vouched it wasn't him. I then found out more info about the Tracker involved, and his didn't match. I was feeling pretty bad. Not to mention I gave his plate numbers to the OIJ! So I drove to Cobano followed by him and the hotel manager (all in good spirits, both very friendly about it all) to the closest OIJ office to add to my statement that his truck wasn't the truck in question. Tonnes of fun! So now, square one. No clues.

We got our gear together and headed back North around the bay, and all the way back here, to San Jose and the Hostel (part of the Guest House we first stayed at). Tomorrow we go to the Embassy for temporary passports. We can use those to get money out of our accounts, and to finish our trip around the country. Although we still hope to see a part of Panama, we've given up our hopes to see the canal, as there's still plenty to see in this country.

So, for now, bed. We'll see what new excitement tomorrow offers. Wow, what a week!

Oh, remember, no spell check. And, U & I are very close ;)


posted by Trevor


Friday, February 1, 2008, 18:22
A Quick Note From Miami Beach


I finally have a chance with a signal to sit down and let you know in a few words what's been happening!

After our flight to Fort Lauderdale, Troy and I rented a car to tour the area, and spent the night in the parkade. We flew into Freeport and enjoyed our first week diving and achieving our Open Water NAUI certification, but there wasn't much else to do there with a limited budget. We toured Port Lucaya's market & beaches, the International Bazaar, and downtown for some shopping and mingling, and we rented a car for a day to see the island almost end to end. We didn't spend a lot of time on the beaches, but we did find the ship from one of the "Pirates Of The Caribbean" movies and checked out some caves in the national park. We ended up staying at the Bell Channel Inn Hotel the whole time we were there, as the prices were the best and the staff extremely friendly. I only wish they would have told us that the last Friday night of very month was the live One-Man-Band night, and, it just so happened that our last night there was on that Friday. This could've been a good thing if we were a bit older (old enough to enjoy the band) and if our room wasn't on the other side of the lounge wall, inches from our sleeping heads, but it was really good.

We flew back to Fort Lauderdale and got to our South Beach Hostel via a variety of shuttles, trains and taxi's. We spent some time touring Washington Ave Sunday morning, and made our way to the Port of Miami. Troy made his way home (if he reads this, hopefully he'll tell us how that went!) while I boarded the Carnival Victory, my new home for the week.

I met my room mates and new friends, Adrienne, Amy & Leanna, and toured the amazing ship. I met Matt (who also offered a bunk to me), as well as Jody, Jason & Lisa, who I had a lot of fun with throughout the cruise. We sailed away to the Barenaked Ladies, and partied all week (and all night, every night) to them as well as Great Big Sea, Guster, The New Odds, Gaelic Storm, Jason Plumb, Oakhurst, and various other projects of members of these bands. It was really cool when the bands would join each other for some random concerts.

I was also excited to sit in on Harland Williams act (apparently he's related to one of the Barenaked Ladies) and have pizza with him afterwards! It was really cool to be able to visit with the guys from Great Big Sea (my all time favorite band), as well as the Guster members (like Joe, when he had a mini concert with Oakhurst in the hall outside our room), and actually get to know the artists that much better. Really cool. And of course playing volleyball in one of the many pools, and enjoying the hot tubs and waterslide added to the greatness of the week.

And, on top of it all, I was able to take in a small piece of both the Grand Cayman Island, and Jamaica. On the Grand Cayman, I joined all 3 of my roommates to tour the island, starting at the Boatswain's Turtle Farm, then a stop in the settlement of Hell (yes, that really is it's name) before catching the boat to the Stingray Sandbar. Katie (the local photographer, who is actually from Vancouver) took our pictures kissing the Rays, and I had a great time snorkeling around and feeding these amazing sea creatures!

We made our way back downtown to eat (at Margaritaville) and shop, before catching the tendor back to the ship. Of course we stayed up all night again partying with the bands, before getting up early again to spend a few hours in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. This time, only Adrienne, Amy & I went together on a tour. We went to touch and kiss a dolphin at the interactive Dolphin Cove, and then climbed the waterfall at Dunn's River Falls and Park. It was so much fun, however I would've liked to really experience the real Jamaica, rather than the tourist Jamaica. We did some shopping at the local market, and headed up the gangway back aboard the Victory.

Then, after a great day at sea, and an all night party on the Lido Deck, and the lights of Miami getting closer, I caught my 2 hours of shut eye before disembarking in Miami and heading to the hostel once again. So, today I checked out the beach, and tried to spend some time relaxing. Tomorrow, much more beach!


posted by Trevor


Thursday, January 10, 2008, 02:13
Wondering Where It All Went?


In order to make room for the soon-to-come Central America 2008 entry's, I've moved all the past entry's (March - December 2007) to a new archive page. Check it out below.


posted by Trevor


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