A Travellerspoint blog

Leon, Guatemala to Utila, Honduras

The journey continues... with a few bumps along the way!

rain

Hola from Honduras!

I am currently residing in a pirate island called Utila where I will eventually get round to do some diving, when it stops raining and I stop injuring myself!

Leon - What seems like ages ago now I left Granada for Leon, somewhat smellier than Granada but not without character and it also had a massive great volcano that me and a few others climbed up with 20kgs on our backs for 6 hours... it was tough! But totally worth it to be standing on the edge of an active volcano just before sunset, the smell and the noise were incredible. After setting up camp a safe distance away from the volcano we munched down some dinner and then walked up to the edge again to have a look at the lava in the dark, and pretty soon after that we were all tucked up tight in our sleeping bags secretly hoping we wouldn't have to walk back in the morning with our slightly lighter rucksacks and our ruined bodies!! The morning came (far too quickly!), we took in the sunrise then packed up our stuff and were just about to make for the hills when we were accosted by some volcanologist dude who informed us that we shouldn't have camped by the volcano as its twice as hot as normal and very dangerous, whoops!!!!

Guatemala via El Salvador - After one failed attempt to leave Leon on the bus due to protests on the border, we finally got going the next day, but the journey was not without it's goings on! After a pit stop at burger king (the bus dude phoned ahead to order us burgers, but i think he ordered them about 4 hours before as they were pretty bloody cold!) and an evening snooze, I was startled awake by a big noise and my Australian friend running for her life down the aisle! It turned out one of the windows had been smashed in, God knows by what, and we didn't stop to find out (especially when you hear there are people that like robbing gringos on buses!)

2 nights in a touristy, colonial town called Antigua then I was off to San Pedro La Laguna where Lago Atitlan is situated. I met lots of interesting people in my hostel and is now my second home, love you Dee and Chiquita the mangey dog!! I brushed up on my Spanish for a week, climbed an Indian's nose (a mountain with a view over the lake), won a pool competition, kayaked on the lake, jumped off a 10 metre deck (nearly decapitating Brian in the process) and shared a room with a maniac from the US of A (Brian) who I later ended up travelling with.... I also contracted some sort of stomach parasite which had me bed-ridden for a few days! After 2 weeks of San Pedro it was time to move on, back to Antigua with Aussie Tom, Brian and the lingering parasite for a few days R&R. We went to a place called Earth Lodge up in the mountains above Antigua, such a cool place with great views and total tranquility, apart from Brian losing it when I won trivial pursuit!! What a deutschbag!

Semuc Champey - Bri and I headed on to Semuc to see the famous blue pools. They were pretty awesome and our hostel was situated above the river, which was also awesome.... AWESOME!! We said our goodbyes as Bri was off to some hippy festival and I was off to Rio Dulce, another sodding big lake! On the way there my bag fell off the shuttle bus and smashed quite a few things in my bag, not surprising as we were about to break the land speed record! The town itself was nothing special so I headed up river to an eco lodge called Finca Tatin and spent a few days there relaxing. I did venture to some caves with my pal Fergoose and we saw some bats, I nearly shat myself!

Livingstone - Met up with lots of friends from San Pedro, but that was about all that was good about the place! I lost a wad of cash (or had it stolen), but did go to some water pools with Aussie Kate, which was nice.. apart from the dead dog on the beach that we saw on the way!

Utila So I am in Utila now, the cheapest place to dive in the world! Myself, Swiss Jonas & Kate headed here a week ago. Lots of people from San Pedro were here last week and there were 2 birthdays within the group, both great nights!!
Yesterday, 10 minutes after completing my refresher course, I managed to put a rusty nail through one of my toes; thats what happens when people leave large wooden pallets with nails sticking out of them and I'm not looking! Not mega serious but very painful! Hopefully the bad luck will stop now and I can get on with my diving. To top it all off it's raining a hell of a lot here. But you know what, it's still way better than working!!!!!!!!!!

Will try not to leave it so long for the next blog, missed out loads of stuff... and I will put up some pictures on facebook soon.

Love you all!!!!!

Posted by gringosanchez 11:45 Archived in Honduras Comments (0)

Colombia to Nicaragua

Dengue fever, earthquakes and cheeky monkeys

sunny

Hola from Nicaragua!

Its about time I got off my butt and wrote a blog for you all. It´s been a busy 5 weeks or so, I have covered 4 countries and am currently in a colonial town called Granada in Nicaragua in a hostel run by a gay Liverpudlian!
So lets start from the beginning!!

Colombia - I spent just over a week here, going from Medellin to Bogota and on to Cartagena where I took a boat to Panama via the San Blas Islands. To be honest I didnt enjoy it as much as I thought I would, but I did have a great night out in Bogota with a few friends. Cartagena was scorchio and I was lucky to get on board a boat called the Gypsy Moth, luckily someone didnt turn up so I stole their place!

San Blas - Captain Sym (from England) took me and 8 other travellers from New Zealand, UK, Italy, Ireland & Holland to the ideallic San Blas islands, the first 2 days were a bit sketchy for me being out in the ocean in a sail boat, even though it was a smooth crossing it didnt feel smooth at the time! We spent 3 days island hopping, playing volleyball and getting drunk, its a tough life! Sym cooked up a storm in the kitchen and was a great captain, he was more of a kid than us travellers, and he got us to Panama, no problemos!!

Panama - Most of us went together to Panama City for a few days. One of the Dutch guys (Daan) wasnt feeling too great, little did we know he had dengue fever! I didnt do much in Panama City, I didnt even see the canal, to be honest there wasnt that much to do, so me and the dutch boys headed off to a little place called Bocas del Torro on an overnight bus where the air conditioning was outrageously cold but the Junior Bocas baseball team kept us amused for the journey!

Bocas del Torro - what a strange place!!! Lots of little islands with no beaches, and you have to take water taxis to get around. After a few days of Daan moping around we took him to the hospital, well I call it a hospital, I have seen cleaner floors in an outside toilet in Thailand. Taking of toilets, they had one in reception, yes, in reception!!!!!! An actual toilet by the desk, obviously it wasnt attached to anything.... and it had a broom sticking out the top of it. Anyway Daan got his results back after 5 hours of messing about and we all went back to the hostel to celebrate, I mean look after him. My only foray to an island was to do some snorkelling but there were so many jellyfish that we had to abandon the trip and go for a beer, which was just as well because we found a midget selling lobsters and had a lovely dinner!

Costa Rica - Puerto Viejo
By this time my dutch friends had abandoned me and I travelled to Puerto Viejo. A stunning little beach town, where you can cycle around to your hearts content. This is where I experienced my first earthquake!! Luckily the quake was miles away but we felt some tremors in the hostel and we were put on tsunami alert for an hour or so, it was very exciting indeed! Even though I I met up with my Hawaiian friend Nick who I met in Bocas and a Spanish girl, Marta, who is living in Puerto Viejo teaching kids. Highlights of Puerto Viejo included kayaking down a river, where I saw lots of turtles and howler monkeys, more snorkelling in the ocean, visiting an animal refuge, frisbee on the beach, and a big night out which involved some sort of tequila competition, I am pretty sure I lost.... I should also point out that the hostel I stayed in I got loads of free stuff from the owners, coffees, cakes, snacks, etc, I shold also point out that they are very camp, thank God I didnt have to give them anything in return!!!!

Nicaragua
After 2 days of travelling by bus, I arrived in another beach town called San Juan del Sur with 2 Aussie girls in tow, whose Spanish is about as good as my Russian, so I became their translator/guide for the journey. We cleared customs and whizzed on to San Juan in a taxi and arrived to a rousing reception at a hostel run by a lovely Aussie couple which had a great view of San Juan as we were up in the mountains. ( I have never before been high fived on arrival at any hostel). By this time everyone knew my name as I had booked ahead, so the word was out, Michael Jackson was arriving!!! The hostel also has a pet spider monkey called Buzz, whose hobbies include attacking, biting, swinging, scratching its bum and sleeping. But what a cool monkey, You could watch it for hours, it was more entertaining than Michael Mcintyre, which isnt saying much I know... I spent a good few days here relaxing, swimming, tanning and eating good tucker. It was kind of like being on holiday with your family (if you actually like your family), everyone ate together, drank together and had some good banter.
I was very sorry to leave there but am now in Granada, which is a lovely town. Not sure where my next stop is but probably north of Nicaragua, I have been told there is a place where you can throw yourself off a volcano on some sort of board... sounds very cultural!

Sorry to have droned on but I could have said a hell of a lot more, this was really just to let people know where I am, I will post photos on facebook later on.

And just to let you know, Daan is back in Holland and recovering well! Hooray!

See you soon amigos

Posted by gringosanchez 10:24 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (0)

Valledupar to Inglaterra!

Heading back to reality!

Welcome one and all to the last instalment of my South American blog.. I am writing this from the comfort of my parent's house where I am eating 3 meals a day and sleeping in my own bed and best of all no more bus journeys from hell!!!!

Valledupar - Not many travellers come here, but its a pretty big city with a lot to offer - friendly people, nice attractions, and rum!! I am never going to drink Old Parr rum again, it's the devil I tell ya! I passed out in my friend Juan's car at 1am while the others continued to get smashed. I spent the next few days in a hungover haze, I also made the decision to extend my visa and spend the last month being irresponsible in Colombia!!

San Andres - Next stop island paradise! I caught a bus to Cartagena, spent a couple of days mooching around then took a flight to San Andres via Bogota. Its an island closer to Nicaragua than Colombia if you really wanted to know! Not many hostals here and not many travellers either, mainly Colombian holiday makers, hence it was a bit of an expensive trip. I tried not to spend too much money here so sunbathing and eating 2 meals a day was the agenda for a week!! Main highlights were cycling round the entire island (37km) on a crap bike, doing my 1st open water scuba dive in crystal clear waters (great experience but developed a bit of mask squeeze and had a headache for the next 2 weeks!!), and trying to sleep in unbearable heat with a tiny ceiling fan!

Palomino - Back to Cartagena for a night then zoomed off to Palomino for more beach time! Again, not many travellers come here.... Or are people now getting forewarned of where I am going to be!! Had a great time in Palomino and the hostal was awesome too, even though I had to sleep in a hammock (money was tight), and ward off killer chickens in the night... well maybe not "killer" but really annoying and one of them actually tried to jump in my hammock with me in it, I nearly strangled the sodding thing!! 1st night in Palomino was a hoot with some stoner Austrians, we played poker and smoked cigars... travelling can be very hard sometimes! I made friends with the owner Chris, who is even more chilled than me, met a lovely Irish girl Called Paula, read a few books, swam in the sea, and watched some amazing storms!

Minca - On the way to Minca my bus started going back to Palomino, hence a relatively short trip was made a lot longer because of some retarded bint who sold me the wrong ticket... I have had it with buses!!!! The owner of the hostal in Minca was actually born in the same hospital as me, which is bizarre!! The hostal itself overlooked Santa Marta, a popular city in Northern Colombia, and met some very nice people there, and visited a very nice waterfall. Got attacked by more sandflies, another thing I won't miss from South America!

Santa Marta - Couple of nights here in a mega hostal "La Brisa Loca" which means "crazy breeze". Paula worked in the bar here so, obviously I got trashed!! Went to the beach the next day for my last dose of sun!!!

Girardot - Stayed with my friend Nini for a few days... again, no travellers come here. This is good actually, you get to see parts of Colombia off the normal Gringo trail and you have to speak Spanish, which again is a good thing!! Nini was a great host, she showed me around town and was introduced to her lovely family, we spent a very nice couple of days together before I headed back to Medellin for one final party!!!

Last bus journey!!! - I saved the best journey until last... a routine 5 hour trip ended up taking 10 hours, I was not a happy bunny upon arriving in Medellin!!

Last night in Medellin - I spent the day buying souvenirs and went out with the hostals resident party organiser Felipe - just to mention Felipe doesn't work at the hostal, he just likes getting smashed with travellers in Parque Lleras!! Needless to say I got very drunk with my old friend Aguardiente with assorted travellers and had a cracking night. Upon returning to the hostal me and the receptionist had a drunken smooch ( I was drunk, she was not!)... I had fancied her for some time so it was a great end to the trip!!

The journey home - Arrived drunk at the airport and had to perform various tasks which were not easy during an Aguardiente-fuelled hangover. I had a good laugh with an airport worker while we tried to fill out a form I needed as I had no idea what I was doing/saying!! I slept all the way to Miami, watched american football in the airport for 5 hours, then endured the slowly encroaching depression of returning to English soil!!

So that's it, journey over, had a blast. Big hello to all the lovely traveller people/hostal staff/stray dogs I met in South America. I hope to meet you all again some day... maybe not the stray dogs though.....

Things learnt during 7 months - I can now communicate in Spanish, endure horrendously long journeys and sleep in a hammock!!

Also, hope you have enjoyed the blog.

Mike

Posted by gringosanchez 06:23 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Todo es possible en Colombia!!!

Cali to San Gil via Medellin

Hi everybody!!

Sorry its been a while since the last blog, but I have been having a blast in Colombia and havent had any spare time, and I am notoriously lazy!

Quito - After arriving in Quito with my French pal Julian, we decided to head on up to Cali in Colombia as it was too blooming cold and we needed some hot weather, sorry Quito!

Cool Cali (the Salsa Capital of Colombia) - We stayed in the best hostel in town, made some great friends, and had the pleasure of meeting Sergio, an absolute hoot/hypocondriac/mentalist!! We went to an amazing pool party and spent the rest of the time drinking coffee... how cultural! The week after I went to stay with my friend Chris (who I met in Buenos Aires at the beginning of the trip) who happens to have a very pimp apartment. We had a cool camping weekend away with some fellow couchsurfers, eat a lot of mango and watched La Copa America!!

Stunning Salento - I met up with crazy Paula (from Bolivia) in Cali and we headed off to Salento for some relaxing times in the coffee region... yes more coffee!!! I rode a horse through a stunning valley, learnt about how coffee was made, learnt how to play the stockmarket (its well easy), played lots of backgammon and drank my bodyweight in coffee!!!!

Mega Medellin - Lovely lovely Medellin!!!! Spent a few days here with my assorted crew of travelling companions visiting the Botanical Gardens, taking the cable car up through the poor district, partying in El Poblado and discovering a new drink called Aguardiente which is pretty lethal stuff and pretty cheap too... BONUS!! I also met the love of my life on countless occasions whilst wandering the streets, there are a hell of a lot of beautiful women here, cold showers are a must!!

Colonial Cartagena - Bloody hot!!!!!! Impossible to do anything here as you need medical attention if you walk more than 2 blocks!! Went to a mud volcano and got covered in mud, it was a waste of time, even the mud was hot. Visited the beautiful Playa Blanca for a few days, snorkelling, lobster and Backgammon was the order of the day here. I also bumped into Henrik The Swede who I randomly met at a party in Cali!!

Toilet Taganga - Too many hippies, crap beaches, massive Israeli hostal complex...... However, my hostal did have table tennis and there was a Michelin rated chef working down the road, so it wasnt all bad!

Mega storm and flood - Arriving back in Cartagena from Taganga there was flooding all over the streets and I very nearly missed my connecting bus to Medellin, luckily the taxi driver was related to Juan Pablo Montoya (but slightly faster in the wet) and we made it just in time! The storm itself was incredible, sheet lightning and thunderous thunder, I nearly pooped my pants...

Medellin again - I arrived back in Medellin for the start of the Under 20 World Cup and the very famous Fiesta del Flores. I wished I had missed Englands 1st game against Korea, apart from my very cool face paint it was a pretty awful game. Highlights of the next 10 days in Medellin was a mixture of football, Aguardiente, attempts at salsa, a 10 minute version of the birdie song at an outdoor fiesta, more Aguardiente, more Salsa, swimming in a freshwater lake and climbing up a big stone in Guatape (very cool), and la piece de resistance was the Sunday festival where all the neighbouring villages of Medellin come down with massive flower arrangements on their back!! Of course I forgot to take my camera as I had an Aguardiente shaped hangover, sorry!! My last day in Medellin I went to the Velodrome and cycled around for an hour, cool experience and it was free!!

Bonjour Bogota - I stayed with my French friend Eli in Bogta and his hilarious flatmate Francois Drelon who has developed the same taste for Aguardiente as me!! Met some very cool people, went to a Mexican girls birthday party (who I had met on the bus going to Quito), had a cool night out with Francois, note to self dont drink tequila after aguardiente.... Unfortunately, Bogota was too cold for little old me, so I went in search of sunshine!

Villa de Leyva - Lovely part of Colombia, spent a nice couple of days there cycling around, visited an ostrich farm, watched more Under 20s World Cup.

Manizales - Did nothing for 2 days apart from watch DVDs, might have had something to do with excess Aguardiente in my system.

San Gil - After a brief stop off in Medellin (again), I find myself in San Gil. Yesterday I abseiled down a waterfall, and today I Hydrosped down some rapids (its a floaty board and you get flippers) which was very cool indeed!!!!

I really need the toilet now, I have been typing for quite a while!!

Hope you enjoy reading it, as there will probably only be one more in this extremely interesting, edge of the seat, yet informative cultural study of South America......

Hasta luego!!!!!!

A big kiss to all the lovely people I have met in Colombia and all those at home that I miss (except you Danny B!!!!)

Posted by gringosanchez 12:33 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Huacachina, Huanchaco and Montañita

Beach bum

Hola chicos!!

Last time I wrote I was in the sand dunes in Huacachina in Peru sandboarding, buggying, and even getting mega cultural by doing some wine tasting which turned into a very messy night!!!

Bus to Trujillo - I took a bus to Trujillo in the north of Peru in search of sunshine and beaches. I would just like to mention now that my name is a source of hilarity amongst most South Americans. I showed my passport to the ticket guy to board the bus and he said to the lady behind me "I present to you Michael Jackson... he is not dead!" It pretty much happens everyhwere I go... the best one was the taxi driver we had from Chile to Peru who just kept cracking up every time he looked at me!!!!!!

Trujillo to Huanchaco - I met a nice Chileno guy, Christian, off the bus and we stayed in a crazy hostel for a week in Huanchaco with 2 very loud parrots, and some very lazy hostel workers... I think I did more work than them and I was laid up in bed for a few days with a dodgy stomach!! I did a couple of days of surfing, and played football with the locals, but unfortunately I missed out on the hostel party because I was so ill, and had to move to a different hostel for some peace and quiet and more importantly a private toilet!!!!

Montañita - Overnight bus to Montañita in Ecuador with Christian. Unfortunately lost (or had stolen) my Ipod and dictionary on the bus, 2 of the most important things I own!!! Stayed a week in a beautiful hostal on the beach. Mostly partying, playing cards and lying in a hammock here as it is cloudy every day. Met some great people and some very strange people too and it really is Hippy Central here, no I do not want to buy any sodding jewellery, bugger off!!

Gay - My 2 gay friends from England, Matija and Stewart showed up for a few days, we hung out with Cartoon Josh and went to a Reggae party on the beach. I learnt how to play a didgeridoo from a Chilean girl who could play it just as badly as I could! Also, the food here is good which is a bonus as the weather sucks!!

Tonight I am off to the capital Quito where I will stay for a few days before heading off to Cali in Colombia!!! I´m on my own again as Christian went off in search of more parties in Mancora....

I have just read this back and it is really boring, sorry!!!! That is what happens when you are beach bumming it, every day is the same!!!

I promise to do some more interesting things but in the meantime I have to psyche myself up for my 12 hour bus trip to Quito tonight!!

Suerte!!!

Sanchez

Posted by gringosanchez 12:49 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

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