Monthly Archives: October 2012


Halloween candy sales in Central America?

I wonder if all the Halloween candy that doesn’t get sold goes on sale or half price like it does in the US. In El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras that would bring the prices down to what we normally pay in the states. In fact, a huge disappoint for me has been the lack of local brands. It is amazing to me that the cacao grows in these places but there is pretty much no candy bar manufacturing. Instead, the stores sell Hershey’s and Cadbury. In Guatemala there is a local brand, a candy bar the size and shape of the Hershey Bar, but it was more expensive than the Hershey Bar. Go figure. Well, I don’t know if they sell Halloween candy in Honduras and Guatemala, and I won’t be there to see what happens to the candy on the large Halloween displays that were up in San Salvador […]


Cooking fish in Costa Rica

Last night I walked (about a mile) to the supermarket. First stop, the fish counter. Fish has been all too rare in my diet on this trip. They had some very nice looking fillets. One was Tapia, which is too bland for my taste. There was another white fillet that was less money. As I am not traveling with my spice cabinet, I preferred to gamble on the flavor of the other. So here is my mystery fish of choice. These two pieces were 967 colones. At an exchange rate of roughly 500 per dollar, this was a $2 gamble and each piece was $1. I do carry an excellent Spanish/English dictionary (by Ascendo) with me so I could have looked up the name of this fish. I considered doing so, but I wanted to keep the adventure aspect of this shopping trip alive. Plus… I trusted my judgement that […]


Tasty Sour Cream in Costa Rica

If you like American Sour Cream, you might love this sour cream in Cost Rica as well. To me, it was like having either Sour Cream or Cream Cheese, only not as sweet. It was also somewhat reminiscent of the fresh cream I loved so much while living on a working farm in Tasmania, Australia years ago. (I ate that cream out of the tub! The Australians found that rather entertaining.) I actually found this next to a liquid Cheddar Cheese, not beside the plastic tubs. I have seen and enjoyed a plastic container of “American Style Sour Cream” when a friend bought it. That was a creamy sour cream just like we eat in the States, but without sugar. It was also more fresh tasting. This bag is the same – but less costly as it comes in a bag. I have been using it as a pasta sauce, […]


More Bagelmen’s in Costa Rica

Funny how things happen. At 10am I took a walk down the road from the hostel where I spent last night. On that walk, I discovered Bagelmen’s and wrote about it here. At 11am, I checked out of the hostel because I felt the manager’s behavior toward me became uncomfortable for me after I told him I was robbed at one of its owner’s other hostels and I didn’t feel at home there. I was told, I needed to leave exactly at checkout time. No problem. I had been welcomed at Bagelmen’s so I went there and relaxed while I looked online for a new hostel. I found a hostel that had excellent reviews and sounded perfect for me, called, and found my way there (in Spanish via two buses). Feeling at home, relaxed, happy and excited about my new albeit short-term home, I asked my friend of what is […]


Bagelmen’s in Costa Rica

I am at an eatery called Bagelmen’s in San Jose, Costa Rica. I am sitting amidst fantastic smelling bagels that although not as large as NY style, are very tempting looking. There are 6 locations. This owner owns three. curious, I asked and learned the owner isn’t Jewish. I am pretty sure none of the upscale clientele here is either. I knew bagels had come a long way in NY, LA and other US cities, but until today hasn’t realized they’d become so well known or desirable elsewhere.


Turning off iPad so often was a bad idea – no backup

Oops, my iPad hasn’t been backed up since October 7th. Since then, I have been turning it off when not in use, and every night, due to lack of electrical outlets — and that means it doesn’t back up automatically. I have 1.8GBs of audio files for my radio show that are not on iCloud, which means that in event of a system failure (I refuse to put the t word out there), they would not be restored to my Recorder Plus recording app. (I did back them up manually to my own person professional cloud backup as soon as possible though.) But more than that extra iCloud restoration convenience, my contacts and calendar events are not being saved and exchanged with my online info or iPhone. In fact, that lack of ultra-convenient exchange is what Maude’s me realize my lack of backup long before iCloud alerted me. You KNOW […]


Two days without rain

As I have traveled south from Honduras to Costa Rica, I have hit rainy season over and over. I am not sure if I had any 100% rain-free days since mid-May. (Until yesterday.) I was in Guatemala, in the rains, when I told my friend I would arrive in his country in days. Loving Guatemala (specifically my friend Terre and her family), but tired of the rain, I asked how the weather was in San Salvador. The answer — sunny and dry. The day before I arrived it rained there for the first time that season. Then, just as my bus pulled into the bus stop to let us off in San Salvador, the rain came pouring down. We all had to make mad dashes to get our luggage from under the bus and into the small doorway with minimal damages. (Wet boxes, luggage and backpacks are not fun.) I […]


Costa Rican Monkeys

Look who I met as I hiked along the green-lined beach side jungle path of Cahuita National Park. I didn’t being my camera as I was focused on getting back into the Caribben Ocean. These photos were taken by a hostel friend, Daniel Peraza.   First we watched this little guy eat.       Then we noticed this mom and baby.


Cooking Plantains in Costa Rica

In San Salvador my friend Frida served sweetened yellow Plantains with each meal she served to me. All through El Salvador, sweetened yellow Plantains were a part of my meals. Later, Oct 19, in Costa Rica… I asked the fabulous Alonzo (he runs a hostel I stayed at) to show me how to cook them. He used a touch of salt instead and I liked them better than chips. So throughout Costa Rica and into Panama, I started cooking slightly salted yellow Plantains as a filling staple part of my meals — and as a favorite snack. They are also easy on a traveler’s budget in Central America. These are some of my first. I didn’t have the slicing down well yet.    


Costs Rica preserves wildlife by outlawing hunting

Yesterday I interviewed a wildlife guide in Monte Verde and as we spoke about seeing Jaguars and Such here, he told me that 3 weeks ago Costa Rica made hunting illegal. He said that as man kills off the wildlife these animals eat, these animals are forced to come into towns or farms seeking food. Hopefully now that won’t happen and man and animals can coexist.


Small things, so helpful

When packing to travel for an extended period with just one bag, regular sized containers of stuff are out of the question. My toiletry pack included one 1-ounce sized facial scrub. I used it sparingly, only when my face really cried out for it. And now, after over 7 months, it was nearly gone. Tonight (Oct 21, 2012) I asked a very, very nice gal from Los Angeles if she had any on her, as she is traveling for just a week. She did! And without a word, she simply handed her full-sized, 6-ounce tube to me. I asked if I could have enough to refill my tube and she said, sure, she has enough. So now I have perhaps an ounce again – the amount that fit comfortably in the tube and then squeezes into my toiletry container. I passed her tube back with money to go toward her […]


Costa Rica: La Fortuna to Monte Verdi

Time to take the “Jeep-Boat-Jeep” from La Fortuna to Santa Elena (aka Monte Verdi). The bus arrives at my hotel gate for me. Yep, the “Jeep” is a mini-bus, just like my hostel companion Sebastian guessed it would be. The first bus is 20 minutes to the lake. Flat boat. Flat water. Beautiful scenery. Man made lake after 1968 Volcano. Then 1.5 hours on stone and dirt narrow roads as we climb toward the clouds. We are going to the Cloud Forest. Here it doesn’t rain so much. The views cannot be caught in a single frame photo. We all comment on the beauty of the rolling green hills and many levels of mountains and fields and textures. We pass some small home or farms, some cows locked in pens and some out grazing. At 11:05 after about 30 minutes from where we packed up the 4 american horse riders […]


Costa Rica: La Fortuna to Santa Elena

Time to take the “Jeep-Boat-Jeep” from La Fortuna to Santa Elena (aka Monte Verdi). The bus arrives. Yep, the “Jeep” is a mini-bus, just like my hostel companion Sebastian guessed it would be. The first bus is 20 minutes to the lake. Flat boat. Flat water. Beautiful scenery. Man made lake after 1968 Volcano. Then 1.5 hours on stone and dirt narrow roads as we climb toward the clouds. We are going to the Cloud Forest. Here it doesn’t rain so much. The views cannot be caught in a single frame photo. We all comment on the beauty of the rolling green hills and many levels of mountains and fields and textures. We pass some small home or farms, some cows locked in pens and some out grazing. At 11:05 after about 30 minutes from where we packed up the 4 American horse riders we are in the clouds. The […]


Waterfall in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Today a fellow traveler and I took a cab (that typically costs $8) then paid $10 admission, and walked down about 700 steps to see a beautiful waterfall that everyone raves about. It was nice. But the waterfalls in Juayua, El Salvador were nicer and more fun to swim in. And they were free to get to, with an easy hike or a $3 tuk-tuk ride. Photos of both to be added when I have time.


White Water Rafting in Costa Rica’s Balsa River

  I LOVED white water rafting with Kern River Tours on the Kern river near Bakersfield, CA and always wanted to go again. so when a couple of people I was with in San Jose, Costa Rica were going rafting out of La Fortuna, Costa Rica I was IN! My first (only, so far) white water rafting in Costa Rica was on its Balsa River – one of the many rivers commercially rated in Costa Rica. It isn’t THE river here but heck, it was rafting! This trip with Costa Rica Descents was Class III and IV, both the upper and lower Balsa. The water was warm so the spray and getting walls of water in my face or on my body was enjoyable. The price I paid, with the help of a local connection, Christian of Sabor Tico, was good. I know many others pay up to $90 for […]


Traveling again: in Costa Rica

This morning starts the third day since I left San Salvador. You may notice I say San Salvador, not El Salvador — and that is a big part of the difference in what I am feeling today and yesterday. I landed in San Salvador as a traveler and a bit of a tourist, but I quickly came to more be living there. San Salvador became home. I had a phone number, a permanent (for three months) address, and I had many friends. People who live there called me and invited me out. I called them. I went to the beach, swimming, out to lunch and dinner, etc with my friends there, not with other travelers. I lived there — an everyday life participating in the everyday lives of my friends. Now I am back on the road again — a traveler. This hit me as I waited for the bus […]


For phone charging

I saw this in a bookstore in San Jose, Costa Rica. It is made by a New York company. I love it for all the travelers who now balance their phones on their wall chargers in hostels. It takes up a bunch of room in a backpack though – depending on packing. I didn’t get one to try it though, so this is not an endorsement. By DRIINN – driinn.com, New York. It comes in several colors.


Ended 3 months in El Salvador

I arrived in El Salvador — specifically San Salvador — on July 4th, with a plan to spend one week and two weekends there. By mid-week I had decided to stay another week. Then another… I didn’t leave until my already-extended CA4 visa was ending so I had to leave. I LOVED Cumbres de Volcan, the hostel in Escalon that my CouchSurfing friend had heard about. It easily became home.  It was easy to stay. The neighborhood I was in. It was perfectly safe to walk around in. To walk to beautiful supermarkets and malls, to go out to nice places, to walk all the way downtown… All fear of San Salvador was easily questioned by my Tica bus seat-mate as we arrived in the city. My fears somewhat melted away the first days but I remained diligent. No city is perfectly safe, but as with all cities, if you […]


Photos of a top hostel – Cumbres del Volcan, San Salvador

I have stayed in several hostels a I travelled this past year (2012) and have been lucky enough to find three charms – 3 hostels I absolutely recommend. Cumbres del Volcan is certainly in my top three hostel recommendations. Here are some photos that I took during my stay. (The Cumbres del Volcan Facebook page) These photos are not edited. I did not special cleaning before taking them. The only difficult thing was to wait until there were not people in my shots. Note: This was actually composed at the close of 2012 but I am dating it to coincide with my travel timeline. ; ;


Typical breakfast in San Salvador

My last days in San Salvador I was thrilled to be a guest of friends. Having breakfast alone as they were out on errands or work, I read their newspaper. (I got much but not all and used my dictionary.) This was my breakfast – a typical breakfast in the homes of my Salvadorian friends. The toast is white bread. The whole wheat breads that have become common in the US are not commonly found there. The beans are what we in the US call refried beans. The egg… I don’t know if most Salvadorian families have eggs. This was how their housekeeper automatically made my egg for me and it happens to be how I like eggs. The cup always contained Chocolate. Hot Chocolate, that is. In El Salvador it is made with water. My plate doesn’t have Salvadorian cheese on it, which is common. It looks like Feta cheese. I […]


Life in San Salvador

Tonight I am watching TNT with a friend. We are sitting at her outdoor dinner table, a part of her home that’s comprised of a tile floor as is the rest of her home and a sloped ceiling that also matches the rest of her home and is replete with a ceiling fan. But the online walls are the ones that comprise her living room, kitchen and indoor dining room. The other two sides are open. The ceiling is steeply sloped because several months here, from approximately May to November, are known as the rainy season and at this time it rains pretty much daily. Oh, the movie we are watching — (He’s Just Not That Into You). I have wanted to see this film since it came out but never got to. Now I am following it — in Espanyol. Following it, but not fully “getting” it. I recognize […]


Mattresses are HARD in Central America

One thing I have noticed so far in Mexico’s Yucatan and Quinta Roo, in Honduras, in Guatemala, and in El Salvador is that bed mattresses have been quite hard. Of course, this is from the perspective of an American that longed for a memory foam or latex mattress, so bear that in mind. I love a mattresses that, although it gives me support, I can relax into and melt to sleep. So, if you are like me, just be prepared for different sleep. When a hammock is available to try, opt for it and give it a try. If you have room in your bag consider a foam pad. (I sure wish I had that kind of room.) There may be exceptions, of course. High end hotels that cater to Americans, perhaps. But I have not seen anything I call pillow top or soft. Some hostel or low end beds […]


Favorite Salvadorian food near Hostal Cumbres del Volcan, San Salvador

One of the great things about Hostal Cumbres del Volcan, THE hostel and B&B I recommend for your stay in San Salvador, whether you are a single backpacker, a traveler seeking a nice private room but interaction with others, or a couple or family seeking a private room — is that it is in an upscale neighborhood but there is no shortage of excellent. true local Salvadorian food. (And I do mean at Salvadorian prices.) There is also high-end food on every level, but the true finds are the homes turned restaurant or tienda. As I dig up my photos and my friends’ photos of these places, I will be sharing them here. This street, behind the hostel is called 87 Avenida Norte. It is also the street that runs along the Plaza Futura and Torre Futura. While the Plaza offeres upscale dining, this street and the small side streets […]