Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Patience is necessary....

Hola my people. As always, I let so much time pass that too many things have happened. Typically so much happens in one day that I think or say "I should blog about this" but then that happens 50 million times before I sit down and write out here. Well in a whirlwind turn of events, I am now writing this from South America. After my time in Mono Feliz, Emily and I hit the road south first for the Azuero peninsula to do what I do...search for more surf. We spent a lot of time alone with the animals of Mono Feliz that I soon realized why I loved that so much. First, beyond local police, customs officials and people in general wanting money from me, all back packers seem to have an alterior motive to talking to me when they realize I have my truck. I am pretty numb to this by now which has unfortunately made me unfriendly and very untalkative. I never talk about my travels or having a vehicle but it inevitibly comes up or is just plainly seen....my truck does stick out like a sore thumb. People always see me and think they can hitch a ride to the store, to the surf, out of town, etc. So at this very cool eco lodge in Azuero, I realized that I cant socialize with anyone there because they just leech onto me quickly. One of the beauties about having the car is being able to have food to cook. And their was a communal kitchen at this lodge and rather than giving people rides to the store, which I was asked a bunch of times, we started offering meals for sale that emily was cooking. First it started out with a few for breakfast and then it quickly turned into big dinners serving 7ish people. Worked out nicely for us, it basically paid for the trip out there. To get away from everyone, we split in the car to go explore for waves. We drove and drove offroad, enjoying the truck as always, and saw massive waves breaking over reef so we stopped and walked the beach to check out it. There was NOBODY around until on our return someone came down the beach saying "is that jesse" and it was a guy I met a few weeks earlier that is driving to south america and we had discussed sharing a container to save money since you cant drive through the darien gap. One thing led to another and I jumped on the opportunity and the following day we were headed to panama city to start sorting it all out. The process has been numbing, disorganized, senseless, time consuming and really a test of my patience. First off, dealing with a 3rd person comes at a price and he quickly jumped on my coat tail to lead him thru it all since my spanish is better. A nightmare day in the ghetto of panama getting the police to inspect the cars, a weekend in the city and a nightmare of a day in the slums of Colon to get the cars exited from panama and into a container. The days were FULL days of frustration, spanish improvement, and patience dealing with everyone. The following day, we hopped a flight to Columbia. I decided against shipping the car to Columbia and went straight for Ecuador and because of wanting to see the country and having a week to pass before the car arrived in Ecuador we split for Columbia. Landing in Columbia was a stark contrast from what was in Panama. The people were rich, trendy, good looking with plastic surgery contendable with Orange County. Columbia turned out to be really clean, good streets, cheap, loads of great fresh fruit from street vendors and plenty of great sights. After a 17 hour day on the bus to get to Quito Ecuador I quickly realized I miss my truck and dont think Im much of a backpacker bus taker. I also soon realized I really love traveling at the beach and the cities are cool for a minute but not much longer. So the flights were dirt cheap from quito to guayaquil and time was running out so we opted out of the 12 hour bus trip and took the 45 min flight down. I had some notion that I would be driving my car out of the port on Monday, since the boat had arrived, but that dream has been crushed for 2 days now. This process is crazy beyond belief and I have to pull all the wait and keep things together as my co-container bud spins out of control time and time again, annoying officials in the process. 8 hours at the port today and we were denied, told to return tomorrow. Emily couldnt stand wasting another day away from the beach and staying in hot dirty loud quayaquil so she split on a bus. I am close to at the end of my rope and hope that tomorrow I can get my spanish understanding and communications across to get everything else we need done, done, so that I can get in my car, drive to the coast and go wash the filth of this process, shady people, dirty ports and annoying people off me in the pacific ocean of Ecuador. The ocean is my therapy and I really cant wait for my next session. Hope everyone is happy and healthy at home. Miss, talk and think about you all the time. salud

Monday, July 6, 2009

Coco Loco

Buen Dia familia y amigos! Well it's been a while since I've last written in this thing but it hasn't been because I'm putting it off or anything, it's because of the last 30ish days I've been without electricity for about 25 of those days. We decided after seeing some beaches and some 'normal' spots on the travelers path here in panama that we just loved mono feliz & would go back there & explore more around that remote jungle on the beach area. We negotiated our way into a cabina this time, no more camping! The cabina is similar to camping but much better with all the rain & really nice to have a porch to relax & read on, daily. Having no electricity was something we hardly realized, you just wake up with the sun, go to bed at night & we're out and about all day. Maybe the only time we even thought about electricity, was the nightly cold shower. But really it's a nice way to live but does prove challenging when you have no chilling element to your food. We built ourselves an outdoor kitchen area which made for some amazing camping food, regardless of having nothing that could be refridgerated. The food is something we really focused on & it turned out to be pretty amazing meals. We lucked out on getting some fresh caught fish a few times, Emily made homemade dough & I tossed a pizza that was cooked over a fire, we have the most amazing fruits & fresh veggies and these meals were better than I would eat out of a real kitchen. Our pizza's over a fire turned out to be amazing & spurred a lot of talk of opening a pizza place in Costa Rica. Anyways dreams aside and food aside ( you can tell I'm hungry while writing this) we had some adventures, as always. The first adventure was arriving back to Mono Feliz, the tide was low but rising and we were trying to get all the food/etc done and get back out there and we pushed the LIMIT on this low tide drive. The tide had risen a bit too much, we were long on the beach driving when we realized it was maybe too late but there's no turning back. In some scary river mouth passes on the beach I had to drive in a few feet of ocean water, really tense moments thinking my car my get stuck or might not pass and then what? The tide's just rising more and the beach is about to disappear. It's not fun to drive your vehicle in the ocean but 'trust the truck' made it, again. Then came the extremely deep "puddle's" after the beach section which get deeper & deeper as rainy season pours. These are about bottom of the door deep but you don't know until you're in it, scary again. My truck has survived a lot of abuse to arrive at mono feliz, its a beating on her. So coco loco comes from a scary moment. Another lovely day and we're sitting on the porch in our chairs, emily is eating a coconut that I've just drank & opened. It's one of those amazing days instantly turned into a nightmare. I hear a scream & look over and emily has a volcanic-like eruption of blood coming from her hand & panic sets in on here. These coconuts are really hard to get out of the shell & on one side they also have a little hole where you drink from. Well she was using a skinny knife I have (had) and it stabbed right through the coconut, into the front of her hand & out of the back of her hand! I popped up, tried to calm her down & had her put pressure on it while I looked for my first aid stuff. She immediately went into shock, which I really didn't know what to do and that spurs another thing I want to learn - better first aid skills. She lost a HUGE amount of blood and then started sweating profusely and then got really white, I mean ghostly white. Her face was white, lips were white & she was passing out which all looked really scary. I didn't really know what to do, I kept talking to her and trying to keep her awake & and all but I couldn't. The scary reality set in that we are so far off the beaten path that there is no help or hospital near by. To make things worse, it's late in the afternoon and the tide is too high to drive out so I know we're stuck for atleast 12 hours until the next morning. It was a bit unnerving to realize this but no time to worry, it was time to figure something out. So I ran up and got 'mama-Luz' who is the local lady who has been my pseudo mom; she's helped me with kidney stone remedies, digestion/hiccup problems (another story), rashes and other jungle related problems. In this case I ran to get her, we ran back and when we returned Emily looked dead and mama-Luz freaked out. She grabbed some alcohol and woke Emily up. Then she made some soup & hand feed her and we cleaned her up and she started to come to & be a little better. The next morning we hit the road and went to the hospital, 2 hours away. She was actually really lucky that it was a clean cut and no major damage appears to have been done. So the scare is over & back to our place to try to have relax again. Funny how quickly everything can go from amazing to disaster in an instant. So back to the adventures in punta Barica, we spent one amazing day with Miron (local kid who lives where we're staying) walking to Costa Rica over beach, rocks & slippery reef. We hiked, at low tide, for 2 hours into costa Rica to surf this surf spot called Punta Mangle. It was quite an adventure to get there & pretty cool to hike into another country though at the end of it all the waves weren't that good. But I did get some quality time in with Miron who was teaching me how to get into coconuts much easier. It took Emily & I about 40 minutes to get into the one we were working on & then he comes up and does it in 2 minutes. Another skill I learned, been learning some good useful skills on this trip with Miron, a kid grown up there living off the land. We ate a lot of coconuts, though emily was banned from doing anything but eating them, and we walked and found mangos, got starfruits, mamon(sp?) and lots of good fresh fruit. Mama-luz would give us avocado's from their tree & lots of little fruits and things here & there. Miron would bring me a fish, cleaned and ready to cook, and generally they were so nice to us. It was really nice to work on spanish & spend time with the true locals to this area. I really connected with them, helped miron with his surfing and spent time getting to know mama-luz. She nearly cried when I left, I think she kissed me 10 times all over my face & made me promise to return & write a letter when I felt better from the kidney ailment. OTher than that I was learning more than opening coconuts, I was having to be creative to do just the most 'normal' thing stateside. I bought some coffee as a gift to send back to the states from Costa Rica but I never got to sending it. And on a rainy day I decided I wanted to drink coffee but it's hole bean and I have no grinder plus is/was a present. But after some brainstorming I decided to break into the stash (sorry sully, will send you something else), dump the beans in a half coconut & smash them with a shell. Fun way to earn my coffee, plus I didn't have a coffee maker so I had to use this 'sock' like filter that mama-Luz had and she said her mom always used it. Just one of the many times of getting creative to get a quick addictive fix! All in all it was an amazing time spent in Mono Feliz, more trips to the island and surfing my wave, exploring other reefs, reading, more reading and loads and loads of amazing food with fresh ingredients. We even had dogs the entire time. Now it's southbound to explore some new areas. Going to hit the road & see if we can find and explore the Azuero Peninsula and then after that leg, probably onto the canal & panama city. Happy 4th of july, we celebrated with what I thought was sparklers but when I lit them turned out to be incense :) Hope everyone is having an amazing summer. Pura vida!