ONE YEAR’S RECAP
Hard to believe but we have just had our One Year Anniversary of leaving Pacifica on April 1, 2016 and being on the road.
How to recap a spectacular year of memories:
A. Survived a blizzard in Mexico, hurricanes in Mexico and another one in Costa Rica (we were far enough inland to not feel full effects), torrential rains and winds in Costa Rica, earthquakes in Mexico, Costa Rica and again in Panama (felt like home), mosquitoes and other biting insect infestations, one cold/flu each, one food poisoning each, sunburns, multiple police stops with only one payoff, truck and camper malfunctions, seven border crossings (it’s a real pain because we are bringing in a vehicle), stubbed toes and wrenched knee, heat of over 100 and humidity up to 100% (tough one for two Pacificans used to their fog), three stuck-in-muds and teachers’ and taxi strike in Mexico.
B. Walked on deserted-for-miles wind-swept beaches, swam with whale sharks, patted gray whale calf, climbed too many Mayan and other ancient civilizations’ pyramids (giving knees a workout), kept a pet iguana (not overnight) and named him Iggy, spotted a wild jaguar in Mexico, released turtle hatchlings in Nicaragua, hunted down the Resplendent Quetzal, Scarlet Macaws and too numerous to mention Life Birds, snorkeled through a swirling ball of jack fish, watched one of the largest ethnic all-day dance festivals in Mexico, swam in Pacific and Caribbean, watched the sunrise from Tikal’s highest temple, endured four days of Carnival in Panama, viewed December 26th Costa Rican El Tope Nacional with 10,000+ horses only parade, one week of Spanish lessons in Mexico and another three weeks in a homestay with more Spanish lessons in Guatemala (better now but still not fluent), visited ornate Catholic cathedrals and a hybrid voodoo-style sect temple and walked jungle canopy platforms.
C. Driven our truck 14,000 miles from sea level up to 11,000’+ and back down again several times and ridden in taxis, tuktuks, moto taxis, train, buses, metros, subways, airplane, ferries, kayaks, barcas, canoes and rowboats.
D. Met great people from Walter, our enthusiastic bird guide in Honduras that was so excited about showing us the birds, he would run from one location to another (we didn’t run with him), to Carlos who patiently tried his best to teach us Spanish, to Luisa and José (other Overlanders from Spain) that helped us get our truck and camper out of Customs and Port in Colombia after being shipped from Panama, to the Calders – Americans who are doing the PanAmerican Highway in stages returning to States to work and visit family, to all the wonderful bird guides we have had, to people we meet in the street and are curious about the truck camper, to the police officers who led us around a 12km. unmarked detour so we wouldn’t get lost, to the hotel clerk who took our empty propane tank on his motor scooter to get filled and to the mechanics in Honduras who fixed our locked wheel bearing and fashioned wheel caps out of aluminum and only charged us $150.
WHAT A YEAR!
I wonder what is in store for year #2?
We had our solar panels re-installed in Barranquilla. I found a lighting store online that installs solar panels. When we got to the store we discovered they don’t install panels they just sell them. Luckily the guy behind the counter knew a guy who could do the job.
We drove north to Santa Marta in the hopes of finding a tour to Punta Gallinas, the northern most spot in South America. We didn’t have any luck so we pushed on to Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona.
We went primarily due to the fact that I had seen a gorgeous picture in the Lonely Planet guide to Colombia. PNN Tayrona’s a big place. The photo I saw was somewhere else than where we ended up. It was a nice bay – Bahia Concha – but nothing like the photo I remembered. We thought we might stay a couple of nights, but during the first night our camper was inundated with mosquitoes even though we had the door and windows closed. Then and there we made the decision to leave the heat and humidity lowlands and head for the mountains. Just like we did in Campeche, Mexico.
The drive to Santa Elena – in the mountains above Medellin – took 3 days with a stop along the way. We found out that most Colombian highways are toll roads. The average toll is between $2 and $4. The tolls add up after a few days. Unlike the toll roads in Mexico there are no toll-free alternate routes.
We stopped for a night to climb the Piedra del Peñol aka The Rock. The climb took us a half hour but the view from the top was spectacular.
On the way to the rock we saw a waterfall. We backtracked to it and not only got good photos of the waterfall, but a good photo of a hang glider in front of the waterfall. We spent the night in the parking lot of a restaurant.
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