Tag Archives: Carpe Viam

Random thoughts/ month 14

28 Jun


This month, we:

+ nearly died of heat in Granada and Madera Beach, Nicaragua. We spend one day in each of those areas but could have easily stayed longer had the weather been more pleasant. In Granada, we were sandwiched between two chicken buses.


In Madera beach, even though we had an open ocean view parked between tent campers and some businesses, it was breeze-less, thus incredibly brutal.


+ kicked butt at trivia in Granada, winning 1st place (a bottle of rum!) among 11 teams, each consisting of more than 2 players.


+ opted for a hotel with a/c in our last city in Nicaragua–San Juan del Sur. We just couldn’t handle the heat. Plus, being sticky and cranky doesn’t make for good company or even amicable conversation. The town was full of Americans, thus had an awesome food selection–fab pizza, tasty coffees, fresh seafood and our favorite: chocobananas for .40 each! These ladies live on the main drag and sell chocolate covered frozen bananas out of their house all hours of the day. Just knock, or yell, on their gate and out comes a delicious snack.


+ arrived in Costa Rica on May 31. It’s been 5 years since we’ve been here and are enjoying the comfort of returning to a country we loved so much the first time around. The scenery, the people, the howler monkeys, the towns– everything is just how we remembered it. Even the crazy expensive prices for everything. Toto, we’re not in Mexico anymore.



+ experienced decent weather. It’s definitely cooler in Costa Rica than it was in El Salvador and Nicaragua. But don’t get me wrong, it’s still hot. Just not insanely, can’t breathe or function, sweat dipping from every crevasse kinda hot. And even though it’s the rainy season, the worse rain we’ve seen has been the monsoon that greeted us when we entered the country and lasted almost 12 hours. Otherwise, the overcast days and random sprinkles have been a welcome reprieve from the heat.

+ ate our first meal in Costa Rica at McDonalds. Because sometimes you just need it.

+ reunited with the Chlobys at said McDonalds. We spent 6 glorious days together exploring waterfalls, hot springs and the Lake Arenal area, playing cards and just having a grand ol’ time!

+ had some great beer FINALLY! I’ve been dying for a dark brew, or anything that’s not the generic watery beer produced throughout Central America, and was impressed with the Lake Arenal Brewery.

+ found a free natural hot spring in La Fortuna. The area is known for pricey resort hot springs but we discovered the super secret local spot. We bathed in natural pools of hot water surrounded by lush tropical forests. Prefect activity for a cooler drizzly day. Photos thanks to Chloe who was brave enough to bring her camera 🙂

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+ camped with Toby and Chloe at two different spots around Lake Arenal for a few days. The lake was peaceful and views were spectacular, even with a storm rolling in.

the horse whisperer chloe

the horse whisperer chloe








+ for real parted ways with the Chlobys. In a few days we’re going to be on a different continent for the first time in our 7 months of off and on travel together. They’ve been our besties on the road from Baja to Costa Rica, celebrating holidays, birthdays, the good and the bad and the stuff in between. Though we are jealous they are continuing on to South America, we look forward to reading about their travels and a time in the future when we can adventure together again.


+ forged our first river around Lake Arenal and then our second around Samara. We, well Hani, walked both first to test the ground and just to make sure the water wasn’t too high. The first cross was cool because the water was super clear, calf high and running really fast. It was quite picturesque, with all the lush trees, low clouds and rocky terrain.


The second river cross really freaked me out. Since it’s the rainy season, the water in this river was higher than usual (whatever that means) and completely murky so you had no idea how deep your next step was going to be. Hani was determined to cross this one because half the people we asked said we could do it but the other half were unsure, probably because they didn’t want to get blamed if something happened to Skyhorse. Luckily, a car full of cops arrived and guided us across the lowest points of the river–a crazy zig zag we would have never figured out on our own. Goes to show, just ask a local! And foreign police are nice and helpful!


+ went zip lining in the Monteverde cloud forest. When we came to Costa Rica last time, we did a zip lining trip and loved it, so it was a must do this time around. We took an early morning trip, soaring well above the trees. The last two lines you “fly” in Superman pose and end the trip with a bungie jump/Tarzan swing kinda deal. Awesome!

feeling skeptical before the long Superman zip

feeling skeptical before the long Superman zip

+ began the Nicoya Peninsula, a long stretch of beaches that are even more beautiful than those in Mexico. We started in Playa Potrero, meeting Shannon and Josh and their huge golden Kaleb from The Next Adventures. We had a great night watching sunset and hanging with them and when they left town the next morning, we decided to stay. We parked steps from the ocean behind a fruit and veggie stand, picked up a rouge wifi network, had a German pastry truck deliver sweets twice a week, found fresh fish and unbelievable gelato, and met some phenomenal new friends: Tim and newlyweds Heather and Gaurav. We spent our 9 days exploring the neighboring beaches and communities on the motorcycle, finding a perfectly deserted beach entirely to ourselves and a picturesque white sand, crystal clear water beach the next. We watched sunset on the beach and joined our new friends for some great meals.






+ did my own laundry for the first time since Mexico–so what’s that, like 4 months? We’ve been spoiled with dropping our laundry off but Shannon and Josh were sweet enough to let us use their washer before they hit the road. It was nice being the one to handle my own unmentionables.


+ dumped the motorcycle on a rocky hilly climb. We’re ok, just a few bruises and scratches, the prettiest being a purply blue thing on my rear. Made walking around in my bathing suit kinda awkward. So not all days for us are picture perfect.

+ were the victims of our first theft on the road– our flip flops got stolen. In all fairness, we had camped for the night on the public beach in Tamarindo and should not have left them out. I hope they’ve broken on that SOB.

+ discovered a radio station outside Tamarindo that played only Whitney Houston. It was the greatest love of all!

+ realized buying in bulk isn’t cheaper in Costa Rica. For example, a six pack of the crappiest local beer, Bohemia–tastes like water or Miller lite or Coors lite, take your pick–comes out to 514 colones per beer ($1.03). But buy the beers individually and they are 470 each (.94). I do some serious math in the grocery. And that $1.80 I saved by buying 20 individual beers, well, let’s just say it will add up to something good. Maybe. Someday.

+ embraced the country motto Pura Vida!! We’ve camped for free every night in Costa Rica and found some spectacular beaches as we headed further south along the Nicoya in Tamarindo, Samara, Carrillo and Playa Islita.20140627-153625-56185449.jpg




+ returned to Playa Potrero 2 days ago to begin our month long stay in a cute lil house with a sweeeeet backyard. A pool, beach down the street, A/C, wifi, cable, SPACE, friends around the corner–this is going to be a gooooood month!


Random thoughts/ month 9

26 Jan

Sorry this post is so belated. It’s been difficult to get a decent wifi signal  to upload photos and when we have, we’ve been running around towns instead of blogging. It seems like we haven’t traveled very far this past month. I think we are trying to make the most of our time on the road as “the end” is nearing and going even slower than before (is that even possible??).

This month, we:

+ rang in the New Year in Sayulita with Toby and Chloe, our first margaritas of and the rest of the Americans visiting Mexico (who were all congregated in Sayulita). The town was so gringo-fied. We cracked open the bottle of champagne we’ve been hoarding since we left and hit the town for some amazing homemade Italian food and good old Mexican street partying.


+ parted ways with Toby and Chloe after the new year. Probably good timing too because we got sick right after we left them. Parting pains??

+ liberates turtles twice! The first was in La Penita de Jaltemba and the second we stumbled upon during the 24 hours we spent in Puerto Vallarta. It was not nearly as exciting as the first time because they did the release after the sun went down.



+ gave Shae a much needed haircut. She was beginning to look like a muppet and it was so hot for her. And of course, just like last time, the day after we groomed her, the weather got reeeeeally cool.

the blurry before

the blurry before


the trim after

+ walked through a crocodile preserve in the tiny beach town of La Manzanilla. It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen. MASSIVE crocodiles sun themselves right at the bottom of the shoddy chain-linked fence. Cool but Hani thought he was going to get eaten.


+ left the beach and headed inland to the mountain towns of Guadalajara and Guanajuato, where the weather got cooold! Both campsites we stayed at were outside of town so we biked in all bundled up.

+ saw some gorgeous architecture and museums. The 3 days we spent in Guadalajara, we toured a bunch of art museums, government buildings, historic old town, and amazing market. Aside from that downtown area, the city just felt too big for us. The streets were always packed with people and lots of traffic. You walk down the streets and can pretty much buy anything without stepping into a store. From knock-off Toms and watches to socks and underwear, even boutique teacup puppies ($40 for a mini Shae!! I wanted them all!). It made us realize that we do prefer the smaller towns where life is more intimate and simpler.

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+ got our first ticket! In Guadalajara, we were told to park our motorcycle in such a way where it can be chained to a post (on the sidewalk). So when we went to Guanajuato, we did the same. When we saw the ticket, we slickly rode away, laughing how we weren’t going to pay it. Then we realized the joke was on us. They TAKE your license plate to ensure you pay! How smart! After a little bit of sweet talking, Hani worked our parking ticket down to $12.

all the other unfortunate souls subjected to traffic infractions

all the other unfortunate souls subjected to traffic infractions

+ loved Guanajuato. The city center is a bunch of windy cobblestoned tiny roads that open up into green squares and impressive churches. The houses are painted all colors of the rainbow and the view from above is spectacular! Again, we did the historic building and museum trek through town, even visiting the mummy museum. Apparently, because of the elevation, bodies decompose in a way where they become mummified. And then those bodies are placed in a museum. Yes, it’s as gross as it sounds, but at the same time kinda cool.



+ fell into the black hole known as San Miguel de Allende. We spent almost 2 weeks there, mainly on the mend, and aimlessly wandering the town. It’s the longest we’ve spent in any one spot since we left. It’s oddly familiar here– cool artists and galleries, loads of Americans, and delicious international food. Very different from all the other Mexican cities we’ve visited. And a welcomed one since my stomach can’t take another gordita or taco for a while. We had some amazing French pastries, Lebanese food, Thai soups, homemade pastas, delicious organics, authentic Italian sausages and Argentinian steaks. We enjoyed both the gringo’s organic market and the local’s market (where I almost bought a pet bunny) and felt at home parked on the street between a school and soccer field.


street art

street art

SM from a rooftop bar

SM from a rooftop bar


+ met some great new friends in San Miguel. We connected with an old co-worker’s friend, Anthony, who joined us for drinks and then invited us to his homemade sausage tasting party the following day. The party was at his friend Roger’s beautiful home that overlooked the entire city. We also met up with Brenden, who spotted us parked on the beach at Punta Perula a few weeks earlier. We walked the organics market with Brenden and Jimena, drove out to a 500 year old massive tree, wiggled down the Mexican Lumbard street and shared a fabulous meal. Finally, we spent some time with Robert and Patricia. Robert had spied Skyhorse while we were parked at the artist studios and left a note for us to call him. Robert has been traveling for the past 7 years and had recently rooted himself in San Miguel. We enjoyed his company, his generosity, and his experienced vision on extended travel.

view form Roger's house

view form Roger’s house

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+ have grown addicted to street vendors for meals and snacks. Along with the typical taco stands that carry a ton of freshly diced toppings, throughout any city, carts are set up selling fruit, ice cream, fresh made churros and chips, pastries, and my favorite, fresh squeezed juice. Our day isn’t complete until we’ve had our 24 oz orange juice that never costs more than $1.50.

+ paid $365 in medical care. That was 6 visits, a minor procedure, and a LOT of different meds and creams. Not horrible. Probably would have been over $5,000 in the states.

+ reunited with Erica and Sam of Song of the Road in San Miguel. We first met them in Fairbanks when they were at the beginning of their trip. It was fun to see them months later and laugh about how travel ideals have changed. A week later, we reunited with Toby and Chloe and Richard and Ashley of Desk to Glory who we met in Yellowstone. Even though our life is anything but normal, it’s feels nice to see “old” friends again along the way.

+ started to think about the end of our trip, which turned into stuffing our faces with French pastries and making a loooong list of the places we still need to visit before we head out. Maybe the end isn’t so close after all.

Turtle release party

30 Dec

As we travel south along the pacific coast of Mexico, we’ve stopped in some interesting little towns. After leaving Mazatlan, we spent a few days in San Blas, leaving mainly because the mosquitos. We drove through the lush green coast passing shrimping villages, ones known for mangoes and coconuts and others known for their bananas.

We arrived outside the town of La Peñita de Jaltemba to boondock on the beach and landed next to a turtle rescue. Red Tortuguera finds turtle eggs laid along the beach, collects them and reburies them in a safe place away from predators. The eggs are monitored daily. When the eggs hatch, the newborn turtles are collected and released with the help of a crowd of people. Locals find out about the releases through their Facebook page. We just happened to be lucky in choosing our camping spot and not shy in inserting ourselves into others activities.

The twenty or so people all received a baby turtle and we went to the shore to line up.

We were all instructed to put our turtles down right before a big wave came in and encourage their slow movement out to sea. They scurried and swam towards the water, all eventually making it. The ocean shore line was dotted with adorable little black heads until they disappeared in the distance. It was an absolutely amazing experience!


Random thoughts/ month 8

26 Dec

About this time last year, the Key West Citizen, our daily newspaper, published an article about our upcoming travels (https://adventuresinskyhorse.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/article-in-the-citizen/).  It’s hard to believe that now, one year later, we are 8 months into our adventure.

This month we:

+ spent practically the entire month with fellow travelers Toby and Chloe and their dog Tia. After we met them on the streets in Guerrero Negro, we all just meshed so well and have been traveling together since. It’s been great experiencing this bizarre lifestyle with other Americans our age and sharing in the highs (and the lows) of life on the road.

+ were in San Roque for Thanksgiving and the days leading up to it.  While we were camped at Jack’s Baja property, we met Ken. Ken told us we must visit Bahia Asuncion and look up his friend Shari. We found Shari at her B&B who generously gave us a mountain of fresh fish and allowed us to camp on her San Roque property. San Roque is a teeny tiny village that offered gorgeous views and sunsets and extremely friendly locals (who gifted us lobster on Thanksgiving!).


Looking down on San Roque


Swarms of pelicans


Thanksgiving dinner, plus the unpictured “Thanksgiving miracle” pumpkin Dutch Oven cake

+ braved a horrible 11 mile washboard road at night to awaken in gorgeous Punta Chivato. Although the water was chilly, we had miles of beach and shells to ourselves. I was in shelling heaven!

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Saving the starfish

+ well, Hani really, has become a fire-building master. Since meeting up with Toby and Chloe, they have taught Hani their skill of creating and keeping the perfect campfire. We have had a LOT of awesome fires in the past month.

gathering firewood

gathering firewood


+ celebrated our first wedding anniversary on December 1st. Coincidently, that was also the day of our first blow out. Luckily, we had a new full spare and Toby was there to help. We spent the day walking around Mulege, changing the tire off the side of the road and Toby and Chloe cooked us a delicious dinner. It was definitely a first anniversary we will never forget!


+ relaxed in Bahia Conception for 5 days. The campground that had been recommended by other travelers was really packed so Toby and Chloe scoped out this fab free private beach for us all to camp. We kayaked a lot (mainly in search of firewood on other islands), explored the surrounding beaches, and swam/kayaked with a pod of dolphin.



Moby and Skyhorse down below


+ will never forget San Lopez Mateo. (See 13 hours post if you don’t know what I’m talking about)

+ stayed at Chloe’s family friend’s house in El Cardinol for a while. The dogs all had a ball lounging around the house and we loved sleeping indoors, cooking in a REAL kitchen and taking nice long hot showers. Thank you Susie and Mark!


+ snorkeled off Los Frailes beach in Cabo Pulmo, another free picturesque beach but with an aquarium below the surface. I snorkeled 3 times one day. It wasn’t Key West-lighthouse quality snorkleing, but pretty darn beautiful.


+ found the Walmart in La Paz. It. Was. Fabulous. 🙂

+ blew through Los Cabos (so touristy) to get to San Pedrito, an awesome surfer’s haven between El Pescadero and Todos Santos. We could have easily spent weeks there but we had already reserved our ferry ticket so all we got was a few days. The beach had such a great vibe between the people, sunshine and waves. I think this was my favorite beach in Baja.

ocean dotted with surfers just after sunrise

ocean dotted with surfers just after sunrise



+ ferried from La Paz, Baja to Mazatlan in mainland Mexico on the 21st. To board the 16 hour ferry, we had to drive in reverse up a narrow ramp and wedge ourselves between huge trucks. It was quite a feat and totally impressive that the workers are able to fit all the vehicles in perfectly with just enough room to squeeze by. These guys would kick my butt in Tetris.

Where's Skyhorse?

Where’s Skyhorse?

+ have been in Mazatlan for 4 days, including Christmas. The city is pretty big and packed with tourists. We stayed at our first legit RV park and that’s been expensive interesting. The antithesis of our beach spot in San Pedrito, the RV park is filled with giant RVs that haven’t moved in at least a month and will stay that way for the next 5. Our first night in town, we saw Catching Fire (the 2nd movie in the Hunger Games series) and had a fantastic experience! Not only were tickets $2 each in a comfy massive theatre, they sold freshly popped carmel corn–YUM! Christmas Eve was a different story. We thought that since Mazatlan was a big city, there would be a lot of events going on for the holiday. The old market, street food, and oysters fresh from the ocean (the guy was literally walking out of the water with a bag) were great but we wanted a cultural blowout for Christmas. That didn’t happen. We walked the streets for several hours looking for something–anything! We caught the end of the totally packed Christmas Eve mass, a lame street fair, and loads of silence. Dejected, we headed home and stopped in at a bar that looked fun, but ended up being weird and American. Ha! Not what we had in mind, but nevertheless, an experience. Christmas day we all went to Stone Island and soaked in the perfect weather.



Hani’s new toy: a spiderman parachute-kite

+ are continuing down the coast of Mexico to hopefully catch some more wonderful weather and surf just in time for 2014! 

13 hours

9 Dec

13 full hours. That’s how long it took to get Skyhorse out of the mud. That plus 2 friends, 3 cops, 7 locals, a front loader, a Dodge Dakota, a garbage truck and a semi wrecker. Oh and $533.

After being in the Sea of Cortez in Bahia Concepcion for a while, we wanted to quickly visit the Pacific Coast one last time before heading to the big cities in southern Baja (La Paz, Los Cabos). There are a few small fishing towns on the Pacific side off the stretch of highway between Loreto and La Paz, one of them being Puerto Lopez Mateos. There’s practically no information about this small village in any of our books but we decided to go anyway.

Caravanning with Toby and Chloe, we arrived in the town around 1pm and started looking for a beach to camp at. We had boondocking suggestions, but one was a nonexistent beach and the other was a rundown old parking lot. Feeling adventurous and craving a sunny beach day (it wasn’t sunny by the way), we followed a road we shouldn’t have in search of a beach to camp. There was no beach. Neither Skyhorse nor Moby (Carpe Viam vehicle) had any problem going out to this secluded muddy area but coming back was when shit hit the fan.

We were following Moby and saw them get stuck in the mud so Hani maneuvered Skyhorse down a different set of muddy tracks. Next thing we knew, we lost traction and slide off the path and sunk in muck.

That was around 2pm. The four of us spent an hour pointlessly attempting to free both vehicles. There was nothing around to give us traction as we slipped and slided in the mud. Not a soul was in sight either. Hani ended up dropping the motorcycle and, armed with a Spanish dictionary and photos of the truck and our location, we headed to town to the police station. They were BEYOND helpful and got a front loader (co-driven by a 10 year old) out to Skyhorse and Moby right away.

Moby was freed pretty fast.


Skyhorse was a totally different story. Not only were we so wedged in, we landed in the softest part of the muck.


The front loader kept getting stuck and had to be pulled out while completely tearing up what was left of the dry road. Before we knew it, we were all ankle deep in muddy water, completely filthy and freezing. With every teeny tiny step forward in freeing Skyhorse, we were set back ten fold by some dumb move on the part of all these cops and locals trying to run the show.




By nightfall, the garbage truck arrived (after approval from the town hefe) only to get immediately stuck in the mud.


I think at this point, the local guys realized they needed reinforcements. Since it was Saturday well after 5, there was no one else in town that could help. The other front loader’s driver had left for the night and taken the keys with him. Somewhere. It was either wait for him to return on Monday or drive to neighboring towns with a local guy Felipe until we found someone to help us.

At 9pm, Toby and I rode with Felipe down narrow dirt backroads in the blackness to 2 neighboring towns hoping the town bosses/front loader owners would have pity on us and come to our rescue. One guy made up some lame excuses and the other few weren’t home. We ended up driving an hour to Cuidad Constitucion, a bustling city. Felipe’s uncle, Rafael was our hero that night. He promised to meet us with his giant semi wrecker in Lopez Mateo. Toby, Felipe, and I picked up dinner (at 11pm) and made our way back, with a detour thanks to the lovely cops of Cuidad Insurgencia. We were thisclose to having our driver Felipe thrown in jail. Apparently it’s ok in Lopez Mateo to drive around with busted taillights and no license but not so much elsewhere. That would have just been the icing.

Surprisingly, we beat the wrecker back to the scene and waited another 30 minutes. As soon as the wrecker arrived and hit the soft mud, it got stuck. Now we had to wait for the front loader to come back and get the wrecker out. No joke. At 1:30am, the freed wrecker was finally hooking up its winches to Skyhorse.

Thus began the painfully slow process of pulling Skyhorse out of the mud. It took until 3am but it happened! And amazingly with no damage. The joy of our freedom was swiftly crushed when everyone and their mother started asking for money. We ended up paying $500 for the tow and $33 to Felipe for gas. Toby took care of the front loader and gave some more to Felipe because that guy was seriously the man. He drove us all over the place and he really didn’t have to. I think we all now need to name our first born Felipe.

The next morning (well, afternoon), we cleaned off the layers of caked on mud and plant-life as best as we could and returned to the scene of the incident. This area is completely impassible. I am shocked the police didn’t fine us for tearing apart their land. Thank god it wasn’t a preserve or anything but it was left pretty horrible shape.




So that was our Saturday. How was yours??