Monday, May 11, 2009

Addicted to the feeling

So since the last blog I had an amazing random adventure to Panama. This spur of the moment run to an unknown destination turned out to possibly be the most amazing adventure exploration on my trip. I've explored a lot of remote areas for surf on this trip but this one certainly sits near the top of them. Last week Ricardo started talking about wanting to leave the country to get a renewed stamp on his passport so he can stay legal while they're processing his citizenship here. On Thursday he convinced me to go to Panama with him. I really didn't want to travel like this, fast short long distance trips because they're not economical & I have to time to travel slowly. I'm not working so I'm on a totally different pace. But I figured I would go, see about renewing my 3 month temporary import of my car into the country & search for surf. We had been to Santa Catalina in Panama on a previous trip but that was far for a 3 day weekend so we looked at the map for a beach close to the border. We found a small fishermans town on the map named Puerto Armuelles & decided we would aim for that. So we wake up at 3am on Friday morning & hit the road. By traveling at this hour we can blaze fast through the dirt roads with no traffic, never have to stop at the one way bridges & make it to the border in nearly half the time as mid day. We arrive at the border & I find out some news that will alter my direction. I was under the impression that I could come back into the country for another 90 days so long as I left the country for 3 days. This is true for me but not true for my truck. My truck has to exit the country for 90 days to be able to reenter again. And my truck's importation is set to expire on May 23rd. So now I am happy I came on this trip because I was planning on going to Nicaragua for a few weeks & then returning to Costa Rica to hang out with Rob & Cheryl when they're here. I would have found out at the border that I couldn't return which wouldn't have been cool. The borders are always a bit of chaos & even though I've been through this border before it doesn't make it that much easier to deal with. Always harassed for money & people pretending to be officials to "help" me get through the border. The guy who inspects my car just flat out asks for some money to buy a drink before he stamps my papers, the usual really. The first interesting thing upon entering panama is that the main highway is blocked from driving, there is some sort of peoples protest going on. Our original plan was to start asking people about Puerto Armuelles but maybe if that didn't work out go somewhere else. Now the only road open was the one to Puerto Armuelles so we're going there or back to Costa Rica. As we drive in we begin to ask people about surfing there & there is little hopeful response. The only thing we found on the internet was boats and offshore islands but more for fishing. Per the usual we are stopping every so often and asking people the same questions, how to get to the beach, do people surf there, etc. We arrive to the beach only to see no waves but we keep asking locals & they keep pointing us to drive north, telling us to pass through a restricted oil area & keep driving on the beach for an hour or so. And they say you can only pass on the beach during low tide which luckily it is low tide at this time but also means if we go on this drive, we can't return until another low tide. So we decide to hop on the beach & start driving on sand & reef. It's something like I've never driven on before. We pass off the beach onto a horrible "road" beside the beach & come upon an older local guy & he asks for a lift. He tells us there is a place to stay if we keep driving on the beach for a while, until you can't drive any further. Come to find out we get to spots that we think you can't drive any further but there are no places so we're forced to try to pass which we do. Eventually we land in a beautiful tropical jungle on the beach area and there are 4 cabinas & a camping area. At this point we're thinking we've been quite an adventure to get here but we're still not real hopeful on surf based on what we've been seeing. The camping is right above the beach & directly in front of us is an island. It's hard to say the distance but we decide we're going to paddle to this island & see if there are waves on the other side. Packing food would be ideal as it looks like a far paddle & maybe we'll be out on this island for a while. But we can't really come up with a solution for that so we pack a knife as the island is covered with palm trees & we're going to get coconuts for drink & food. We paddle across open water ocean in an odd zone of currents as swell that wraps around both sides of the islands & collides with itself in the middle on our side. The paddle turns out to be 30 mins long, the landing is on reef & rock which makes walking around the island another difficult task. 45 minutes later & we're on the back side of the island with sites of massive rocks sticking out of the waver & big glassy waves breaking all along this side. For me excitement kicks in immediately, for Ricardo he seems to be more concerned about the ability to surf with all these rocks sticking out of the water. We continue hiking around to look at all the spots & we see what I think looks like a rideable section of surf. There are rocks showing in the inside but it appears the outside is makeable. The fact that we're on this deserted island of extreme tropical lushness & looking at what looks like incredible surf I can't wait any longer and decide to give it a go. Ricardo opts to watch for now as he's not convinced it's safe which is true, the walk over rocks & reef isn't fun to get out & the site of dry rock while surfing an unknown spot definitely keeps you on edge. And for me surfing alone in what felt like so far from anything or anyone was a bit scary & exciting. It felt like what I would imagine somewhere in Indonesia might feel like. As I paddle out I realize the size and power is bigger than I anticipated which is typically the case in surfing, it always looks easier from shore than when you're getting smashed on the head by sets & too nervous about rocks to duck dive properly to get below the waves. A bit of struggle & I'm beyond the break. I finally paddle into a steep, glassy wave and have an amazing ride all the way into the rocky inside section & jump off the back of the wave unscathed. That's when the feeling of realizing all the travel, adventure, patience, fear, & exercise it took to arrive to this spot was worth it & I was truly living a dream. It's one thing to follow the rainbow but it's amazing feeling to find a pot of gold at the end of it. I'm overly excited & paddling like a madman to get back out & catch another, though really that was unnecessary as the waves were nonstop & there was nobody out. After 20 mins or so, Ricardo joins me & we trade off some amazing waves pushing ourselves wave after wave. We are in complete disbelief & have huge smiles painted on our faces. I guess this may seem like a bunch of surf chatter but really it was just an amazing adventure to arrive to a deserted island & find fairly uncharted territory. Surfing is so dynamic that it's really hard to find good surf. You have to have the right swell direction, right tide, right wind & these are ever changing things. So we were over the moon that it had all worked out for us. After surfing we collected thatched palm leaves to lay on top of the rocks to create a space to lay & rest. We hunted for Coconuts as we need to rehydrate. Finding good coconuts proves to be tough, Ricardo spends a lot of time fighting coconuts off the trees with a long stick. We fight to get in them & end up drinking coconut after coconut and eating the meat as well. Sitting on this island, opening coconuts I began to wonder what my friends and family were doing. It would have been nice to share this with everyone & I was certainly reflecting on what an amazing group of friends & family I have and how I do miss everyone. I was able to get a little bit of video footage of most of the adventure. It turned out, as always, to be hard to get good surf footage of us as sitting on the inside with my camera meant you dealt with rocks underneath and massive waves in the head. And we weren't typically surfing alone with the other filming. After surfing we have to paddle back to the mainland which is not so fun after surfing until exhaustion. That night camping there was a full moon (pictured) that lit up the beach & our camp, amazing night to go along with the amazing day. We had a sloth perched up on a tree above our tent & walking to the bathrooms I spotted an anteater, which is a first for me. Waking up the following morning to the intrusive sounds of howler monkeys & we're ready to do it all over again. Another paddle, though we're both fairly sore from the day before, another hike & hopes for another fun day of surf. The surf got bigger & we had another day of euphoria on a deserted island. The trip was short lived, we camped 2 nights & we were back in the car retracing our steps driving on the beach for an hour or so & heading for the border. Double check at the border that I have to leave which is a firm yes so now I'm back in Jaco at Ricardo's and sorting out what I'm going to do next. It looks like I'll probably be heading to Panama & I'm excited about getting back into the adrenaline of traveling in foreign land, I'm addicted to this feeling right now.

If you've made it this far & you have a few more minutes, check out some footage from panama -->

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Hola todo del mundo. SO I've been slow at the blog thing because I haven't been doing as much traveling. I suppose that when I'm not mobile, less crazy stories happen. But all the same I've still been meeting people from all over the world, surfing, reading, eating rice, beans & fried plaintains and enjoying the healthy lifestyle. One of the refreshing things about meeting travelers is that everyone lives on the bare minimum budget. Nobody is shopping just to shop or spending money frivolously. You buy food, you find budget accommodations, travel by bus, etc. It's good to be around that kind of financial mindset as I've been guitly of spending too much on things that I don't need. The funny thing now is I'm living on so much less than I ever have but I'm having a trip of a lifetime. I'm also reading instead of watching TV. I have no clue what's on TV, never watching any depressing news & really can't believe how many books I've read. Probably more on this trip than over the past couple of years & it's been enjoyable. What else has happened, oh I went from not eating tomatoes to eating tomotoes. When I started this trip, I didn't like tomatoes. But everytime I ordered something "sin tomate" people must have thought my spanish was wrong because they always gave it to me with tomatoes. And no matter how many times I told Fish or Ricardo on the road that I wasn't into tomatoes, when they cooked I somehow always was served tomatoes. Eventually I just gave up & started eating them and now I find myself slicing tomatoes for my sandwiches, go figure. Well since my last blog some changes, inevitably on this trip, have happened. I was suppose to start house sitting but it seems to have fallen through which I found out the day I was moving to the house. I'm quite sure what happened but something between the owner & the contractor who's getting paid to stay there so I've been in Jaco. I did do a trip down to Dominical with a friend I made who only had a few days left on her trip. It was sort of soured because the Dominical I described to her was ruined by a fiesta of sorts built in this chill town to promote a paved road being built in it. Instead of stars on the beach, it was discoteque on the beach. Plus I was again fighting kidney stone pains which I've been trying get to pass thru a variety of natural 'remedies'. However, The waves were really fun & we found a chill waterfall spot to spend a low tide morning. That and my aussie friend made me laugh a lot during my pain to help. It was interesting on this little trip because I never felt like I had such an accent until I spent time chatting with this girl from England both days in the lineup & then with my Aussie friend the rest of the time. They made me repeat what I said about as much as I make people repeat themselves who talk to me in spanish. I never thought my english was difficult to understand but apparently it is to some. Also Tania, my aussie friend, couldn't help but repeat/mock almost everything I said because of my √°ccent. The English surfer girl literally asked me to repeat everything I said but she was so cute it didn't bother me :) So the day before Dominical we & another girl from the school of the world did a day trip to manuel antonio national park to hike; we saw 2 types of monkeys up close, some other strange animal that is a cross between a deer & a rat and saw some really nice tropical beaches hiking along. Since then it's been back to Jaco & back to a somewhat normal routine with Ricardo. I did just got an email from an old boss who is now a VP at a nonprofit public healthcare facility. He said he has a Director position that he'd love to talk to me about. For someone jobless and being that I've never held a position quite that high up in my field, it's a great offer. But here I sit enjoying my days and thinking about jumping out of this for that is a tough thought. On one hand I could take the job, live like I live now on very little and truly save up some money. However I've yet to volunteer and I still have a long way to go on my spanish & want to travel more. Ricardo's advice today was "look you put all this effort into wrestling and you were successful at that. Then you put all this effort into this career and you made that happen successfully. Now you're putting your mind into getting better at surfing & you're improving. So don't worry about money, when you want to put your mind on making money you'll make it." I had also just read a quote from Dj's facebook that said "we do the things we HAVE to do so we can do the things we WANT to do". This made me think a little too, right now I'm not doing anything I have to really but I know at some point I will. It's strange right now, I don't have a cell phone, don't watch TV and am really leading a different healthier lifestyle and it would seem odd to get sucked back into something less natural. I've also been told by more & more people that my stories "should be a book". ~Seems to be what I've heard a lot. Maybe I should be putting energy into that or something along the lines of that with Hurley, Chevy(suggestion from someone), adventure mag, etc. A guy just left here saying he has some background & contacts in writing and gave me his card. Though it seems a bit egocentric to think that my story would be of that much interest. Quien sabe? As for now I don't know my next step since the house sitting gig seems to be just about totally under water. Salud, Yyyesssii (somehow my name is turned into yesse since Jesse is a really hard name to pronounce apparently)