Travelogs & Reflections > Paul's Travelog > Central America

Central America

August 31, 2005

Today we took a 5-hour bus to San Jose.

August 30, 2005

Today we woke up and went to the beach and stayed there all day!!!

August 29, 2005

Today we went to Cahuita and went on a 9 kilometer hike, stopping to go swimming a couple of times at the beach off the trail.



47 monkeys,1 parrot,1 yellow tanager, 1 paca (rodent), and 1 montezuma oropendola!!!!!


August 28, 2005

Today we got up and went to the beach and went swimming at Puerto Viejo.


August 27, 2005

Today we got up and went on a boat to Puerto Limon. On the boat ride we saw lots of birds. When we got to Puerto Limon, we took a minivan to Puerto Viejo and found a hotel. At the hotel there are 3 really cool kittens; we named them The Godfather, D-Dizo, and Stripes.


August 26, 2005

Today we woke up early to go on a canal tour! Right away we saw 5 birds. Then I heard a frog-like noise but the tour guide said it was a toucan and that was what we were looking for! So we went to where the noise was coming from and there were two keel-billed toucans! It was really cool how they glided through the air and their bills were awesome too. The colors of the bird are yellow, black and some red. The keel-bill toucan’s beak is green, orange, red and blue in an awesome design. After we saw the keel-billed toucan, we discovered a chestnut-mandibled toucan hangout, but I could not see them in the tree. Nearby was a group of howler monkeys. Then we continued down another canal and saw another group of monkeys and two spectacled caiman (small alligator) and lastly two more groups of monkeys before we went down another canal. After the tour, our tour guide said we could get into Tortugeuro national park for free and told us to hike in the park around 3 or 4 p.m. to avoid the heat and see more wildlife.  It was only 11 a.m. after our tour, so we walked around the town. We were also going to meet the boat captain at 2 p.m. to see if we could get a special price for our trip to Puerto Limon.  While we waited, we went to see the turtle tracks from the night before and found the tracks of the turtle we had seen and my dad took some pictures of them. We went to meet the captain and we saw a boat decorated like a turtle, because they were celebrating Tortuguero national park’s 25th anniversary. At 3;30 we started walking to the park. We saw two groups of monkeys, one was a group of Howler monkeys and the other was a group of white faced capuchin monkeys. At the end of the trail, my Dad heard something fall. He looked up and saw 4 keel-billed toucans very close to the trail.  I really wanted to see this type of toucan during my visit to Costa Rica and now there I was seeing 4 sitting on a branch very close to me. Dad took some pictures, but we were getting eaten by mosquitoes, so we hurried to the beach for relief.  We followed the beach back to our hotel. We all took showers and put on long sleeve shirts and pants and lots of bug repellent and headed back to the park.  We could no longer see the toucans, but we did hear them eating and squawking in the distance. So we walked the trail backwards, seeing more monkeys along the way. After leaving the park, we headed to a restaurant and had a very good pizza and crepes.


August 25, 2005

Today we traveled to Tortuguero (to see the turtles and toucans!!!). We took a bus and then a boat into Tortuguero. We thought the boat ride would be 3 hours but our driver was a cruiser and we got there in 1 1/2 hours. In the boat ride mom and dad saw a Keel-billed Toucan I was so mad I didn’t see it but I did see a crocodile and other birds too! When we got, we made plans to take a tour from 10-12 at night to see the turtles! So we found a hotel and walked around. At 10 o clock we headed to the beach and saw a huge turtle 5 feet long but it started raining and everybody was cold. Still we waited until the turtle came out of its hole and we saw it go back to the sea and we saw another turtle come up to lay its eggs too!!!!!!!! That was really cool!


August 24, 2005

Today we traveled to San Jose and got a hostel.


August 23, 2005

Today we went to Manuel Antonio National Park. At Manuel Antonio, I spotted a sloth, the first animal we saw!!! We were walking down the path and Mom saw a bird. Peter, Dad and I kept walking and there was this clearing and right through the clearing, I spotted a sloth on a palm tree. Dad immediately started shooting pictures and I ran back to tell Mom we had found a sloth. The sloth climbed down the tree until he was practically at eye level and then climbed into another tree and slowly began climbing up it. I couldn’t believe I had spotted a sloth! They are very hard to see because they move so slowly!


Further down the beach, we saw a whole family of monkeys feeding in a fruit tree and watched them gorge on fruit and play in the trees.


Over the course of the day, we saw 5 sloths, about 8-9 white faced monkeys, coati, raccon, lizards, a crawdad, iguana, butterflies, a grasshopper (blue and orange), a large rodent, and my dad got good pictures of most of these.


August 22, 2005

Today we got up and took a bus to Quepos, near Manuel Antonio Parque Nacional. We got a hotel for $25 US per night so we just hung out.

August 21, 2005

Today I got up and we went to the beach and Peter and I caught crabs and tried to race them but it didn’t work so we went swimming. There was some great bodysurfing waves and it felt good to swim in the cool ocean, especially the cool currents. We saw parakeets and more leaf-cutting ants. We were full of salt and sand so came back for a shower and lunch. Mom took a nap and I typed my journal. Then we went to get Dos Pinos and went back to the beach for a sunset and played racing the waves as they crashed right up to the edge of the land. We came back for dinner, played in the hammocks and went to bed.


August 20, 2005

Today mom and I got up late so Peter and Dad went to the beach while we were eating breakfast and said they would be back by the time we were done with breakfast BUT no they didn’t and we had to find a bank or we wouldn’t have money for the weekend so me and mom had to go and find a bank. It was about 1Km away but we got some bikes and went off. It was really hot the whole way but in the bank they had air-conditioning! When we got back we went to the beach at Uvita. We went swimming and walked along the beach past a river and came to a city of crabs! There were red crabs everywhere and they were FAST and I and Peter tried to catch them. The tide started coming and we headed back and sat at the edge of the land and we discovered a parade of leaf cutter ants. We found one that was carrying a piece of aluminum foil and named him Aluminum Foil and then found anther and named him Aluminum Foil Jr., then another, Aluminum Foil III and another, Aluminum Foil IV. We tracked the progress of all four ants. Aluminum Foil Jr. cruised past all the ants and ended up beating the original Aluminum which was amazing because he was way behind. Then, even Aluminum Foil III passed the original Aluminum and that was just insane! And then even Aluminum Foil IV passes the original Aluminum which was just out of this world! I think Aluminum Foil is in bad shape. When we got back we had lunch and after lunch Peter and I played with the hammocks. Peter would swing me and I could touch the roof, which was fun! I touched the roof with my hand and foot (see above and below this entry!) Me, peter and dad went to look for a Dos Pinos ice cream bar and found one and then went to the beach to watch the sunset and came back, had dinner and played cards.

























August 19, 2005

We got up early to go out to look for Quetzals. We saw many other birds and avocados with scratches but no Quetzals. When we got back we had to pack but when my mom and dad came, they said we could do another tour with another group so we did. Still no quetzals so we’ll have to come back some time after our trip. Jorge says that you can sometimes see 20 quetzals on a grove of trees in December through May. When we got back I packed and we went to the bus stop and caught the bus to Uvita. It was a 4 hour bus ride down the mountain to the sea at Uvita. We got to Uvita and found a hotel.


August 18, 2005

Today was our first day out of San Jose. We got picked up by some friends and went to a volcano. It was really cool. There was a green lake made of sulfur and Peter said that if we threw a rock that was made of sulfur into the cauldron, it would blow up! I tried throwing a rock into the cauldron and just once we heard the splash. I had to clear a huge cliff. Our friends took us to their farm for a little bit and then went to the taxi stop to go to a place where we might see Quetzals. So we got a taxi and went there and this place it was really in the mountains and it was fun!!!! Jorge Jr. said he would take us on a hike and look for birds. We went looking for birds and found about 20 different species. We came to a waterfall and Jorge Jr.  painted our face with silt from the river. On the way back, it was really tiring because the whole way was uphill and it was getting dark. We heard owls! When we got back, we ate dinner, fish from the river!


August 17, 2005

Today is hopefully our last day in San Jose! Mom went back to the clinic for another test and so Peter, Dad and I went to the zoo. At the zoo we saw many animals of Costa Rica, like scarlet macaws, great green macaws, jaguars, keel billed toucans, collared aracaris, chestnut-mandibled toucans, ocelots, coati, white-faced capuchin monkeys, and spider monkeys!!!!! When we got home we had lunch and waited for mom to get back. When mom got back we started packing and waited for the soccer game to start. Costa Rica lost 2-0 to Mexico in the preliminaries of the World Cup.


August 16, 2005

Today we went to look for a hotel with a private bathroom and shower so we got a taxi and the taxi guy couldn’t find the place but then he found it but it was full so we found a very nice hotel around the corner and we stayed there all day.


August 15, 2005

Today we went to a different hotel called Hotel Elvis. For dinner, we ate a Papa Johns pizza. And then I watch the Stealers vs. the Eagles and the Stealers won!!!!! After the game, mom had to go to the hospital and we fall asleep there but then went back to the hotel.


August 14, 2005

Today we awoke in San Salvador at 3 in the morning to catch the bus for a 16 hour bus ride to San Jose.  We went through Honduras, Nicaragua and then COSTA RICA and got a hotel and now, with eight more stamps in our passport (leaving Guatemala, entering El Salvador, leaving El Salvador, leaving and entering Honduras, entering and leaving Nicaragua, and entering Costa Rica) we are done with the longest bus ride of our whole trip!


August 13, 2005

Today was our last day in Antigua so we said goodbye to our friends and went to Guatemala City to catch the bus to San Salvador, El Salvador. We got to San Salvador and mom was sick but we still caught the bus the next day.


August 12, 2005

The history of Guatemala is very interesting if you learn what the people have gone through. Guatemala has gone through a civil war that lasted 50 years, many earthquakes, corrupt government, and desperate conditions for most of the people. Some of the presidents of Guatemala have stolen millions of dollars out of the country and then fled to other countries when they got caught. One bought an island and an airplane and now lives in Mexico but his Visa is running out so they're hoping to catch him and get some of the money back for the people of Guatemala. Two others fled to Panama but they are protected there.

Military dictatorships controlled Guatemala until 1944. From 1945-1982, leaders tried to cure some of Guatemala's social problems but full democracy still has not been achieved. Peace Accords were signed in 1996 but violence is still common, especially in the capital, Guatemala City. In November 1999, Guatemala held its first peace-time elections in nearly 40 years but still Guatemala has not had a president who is truly with the people.

August 11, 2005

This week I´m taking Spanish classes. It goes from 8 a.m. to 12 noon. We study for two hours and then go on a walk around the town for the last half. On the first day, we started studying greetings, names of family members, months of the year, days of the week, and body parts. On the second day, I started learning verbs and had a test on the words I got yesterday. On the third day, I learned some foods and we played Scrabble for about 3 hours with Peter and his teacher. Me and my teacher won both times! Here are some of the words we used: "nuve" (snow), "ron" (rum), "lujo" (luxury), "brazo" (arm--I found this one!!), "voz" (voice), and "traer" (to bring). Today, we learned more verbs and I wrote some sentences in Spanish because I got those words wrong on the test. Here are some examples:

  • Yo bebo leche de mantequilla. (I drink buttermilk.)
  • Yo como legumbres de pimienta. (I eat vegetables with pepper.)
  • Mi una del pie es conectar a mi dedo de pie. (My toe nail is connected to my toe.)

After I wrote my sentences, me and my teacher walked through the market and came back and played Scrabble and I won! I´ve had to study my words every afternoon and check e-mail and write this journal. But I like learning a different language and talking with our friends at our homestay.


My Spanish teacher and I went on many walks throughout Antigua. On the first day, we went to the most famous church in Guatemala. In it, it had the most well-known statue of Jesus carrying the cross in all of Guatemala. The whole statue was made out of silver and gold. Another statue of Mary and the baby Jesus was blocked off because there was so much gold and silver in it. My teacher said that Mary is teaching Jesus the rosary but he grew tired and fell asleep! I took my brother and parents back to this church while we were exploring the churches and ruins of Antigua one afternoon, and I was the tour guide!


August 7, 2005

We got up at 7 a.m. to catch the bus to Chichi. The bus was very full because everybody was heading to Chichi. It was a really bouncy ride because when we went over a bump everybody would bounce and there were very steep mountains and we would take many sharp turns and everybody would slip from one side the other. When we got the Chichi, we were all amazed how big the market was. We walked in and found the church, San Tomas. in the front of the church, there was all kinds of incense and a ton of flowers all over. In the church, the priest spoke Spanish and mom was trying to tell me what he was saying. But, then after, there was an American priest who spoke English and I was able to understand what he was saying. After church, we went in search of a blanket for me and Peter and mom and Dad wanted to get a wall-hanging and gifts for friends. When we got to a market stand, me and Peter both saw a Mayan blanket we wanted. At first, they said that it cost $300 Quetzals a piece. We tried to negotiate a lower price and got it down to $200 Quetzals a piece but they said that was the lowest price. We went in search of other blankets at other stalls but returned to the original stall. The instant we returned they dropped the price another 25 Quetzals but then they knew we were interested. When we started to walk away, they would drop the price another 25 Quetzals, so we finally got the price down to 130 Quetzals a piece. So me and Peter decided that was a good deal and bought them. Now, we went looking for Mom and Dad´s purchases. In the beginning, we saw a booth that we liked so we went back there. We liked this one blanket that was big and it was 300 Quetzals. We got it down to 225 Quetzals and we started walking away but the saleswoman kept following us, talking to Dad who was in the back of the line and Dad was getting really annoyed. Finally, when we were quite far away from her booth, we finally stopped and she asked what we would pay and we said 150. she said 175 and we said 150 and she countered with 160. And so we walked all the way back to her booth to pay and decided we were done! We caught the chicken bus back to Antigua and we went in search of our homestay for the week. We arrived at our homestay and met two other families that are staying there also.


August 6, 2005

We woke up and ate a nice breakfast of fruit and pancakes on the rooftop patio and after breakfast, we waited downstairs to catch our minibus. We picked up more people who were going to Lake Atitlan and one of them was a guy from Texas who was studying salsa dancing here in Antigua. when we got to Lake Atitlan, we went to a really good cafe with really good bagels. And, once again, we went in search of another hotel. We found one, stored our stuff and went out to walk around the town. We were looking for a church and a bus to Chichicastenango the next day and found out that there is a church in Chichi and a direct bus at 7 a.m. the next day. We went on a boat ride to another little town and we explored it for 30 minutes and then started coming back. I was at the top of the boat and when he went fast, I felt like I was bouncing on the water.


August 5, 2005

Today, we arrived at Antigua at about 7:30 in the morning. we looked in our Lonely Planet book to find some hotels. We found the Yellow House that serves breakfast and was a pretty good deal. We got another dormitory room and went in search of breakfast. After breakfast, we went looking to catch a bus to Lake Atitlan and Dad found one to go the next morning. We also walked all over the city looking for a Spanish school and found one of those too!


August 4, 2005

Today we woke up at 5:00 to catch the 6:00 bus to Tikal! The drive was about 1 hour and a half. When we got to Tikal we got a map and Peter was our tour guide. We arrived at complex Q; it had twin ruins and several small steles (upright stone tablets) and alters (round stone tablets). Near one of the small ruins there was a group of howler monkeys Dad got some nice pics of them it was the first animal we saw at Tikal! Next was complex P that had some sacrifice altars .on our way to north zone Peter got a people in shoe so we stop and there were a family of spider monkeys. Dad got some good pics again!  When we arrived at north zone (the two temple we climbed) it was so much fun climbing up the stairs and looking at the awesome view. Then we walked a 15 min walk we saw another spider monkey family and arrived at templo 4 the tallest temple in Tikal they had really step stairs and ladders you could see al the other temple form temple 4 (temple 4 was about 61 meters high)!!!! Next we went to templo III, you couldn’t see templo III except for the top. Next we went to the grand plaza with templo I (Jaguar temple) and II they built stairs up II but you couldn’t claim up Jaguar temple because two people had fallen to their death. All of us started to get hungry so we went to a restaurant. Next on our plan was to go to Mundo Perdido (Lost World). It had a lot of temples. We climbed two high ones on the higher one there was a good breeze so it felt good be cause it was so hot!!! Then it started raining (the weather changes so quickly) next our final temple was V but we couldn’t climb because it was wet. So we went to catch 4:00 bus back. When we got back we went to dinner and caught the bus to Antigua.


August 3, 2005

Today, we´re on our way to Guatemala! we got to the border in about 10 minutes and got all of our stamps to get out of Belize and all of our stamps to get into Guatemala in our passports. During that transition, we met a couple from England and got a minibus to Flores, which is near Tikal. We arrived in Flores and went to Los Amigos, a hostel that friends at the Trek Stop recommended to us. We stayed in the dormitory there with other travelers. in the afternoon, we were laying in the hammocks. There were two parrots that kept fighting each other and one of them fell off the edge of the roof and was like stunned and staggering around on the ground. It was really funny watching their antics! One of the parrots would squawk loudly when you would come up to him, and the managers of the hostel gave me and peter food to feed him. We would put it into his mouth and he would eat it.


August 2, 2005

We were supposed to go to Guatemala today, but when we woke up, mom had a bad cold and needed to rest before taking the trip to Guatemala. So, Peter, Dad and I played six rounds of disc golf. I tied the record with Peter for the 12 and under age group and Dad beat the record for the 41 and over group!


We talked to John, who owns Trek Stop, and found out that there were ruins that used to be Mayan houses around the property and we could find pieces of Mayan pottery. There were about four clusters of houses on his property. You could find them by looking for a hill and a flat area on the top.  John said there would be about three houses on each hill but the really cool part was that you could find pieces of Mayan pots buried in the ground around the area. John found some that were painted. It's cool because you know when you hold them that you are holding something that has been there for at least 2,000 years and was used by the ancient Mayan people. On one of the hills there is a brick that if you stand on it, you can see the big temple, Xunantunich, directly to the east. Maybe some of the relatives of the king, who ruled this area, lived near our hostel! Maybe they stored some of the pots and gold from the temple here in case the temple was robbed! I think the brick was a landmark for directions so that they knew where they were, and these little villages were where the king’s servants lived and they cooked for the royal family in some of the Mayan pottery we found!


August 1, 2005

The next day we woke up at 6:00 a.m. and got a bus to San Ignacio that is close to the Guatemalan border. We got off the bus and went to find a hotel. We found a hotel and were going to stay there 3 days but when we went to dinner we found a place 20 minutes outside of San Ignacio on a river so we stayed a night at the place in San Ignacio, left the city the next morning and took a bus to a hostel in the jungle called the Trek Stop. They have disc golf course so me and Peter played it 3 times. It is very hard because the holes wind through the jungle forest. The next day we got up early to go to the ruins. It was a mile hike up hill to get to them and it was HOT, but, when we got there, it was one of the coolest things I've ever seen. Peter and I "claimed" all the ruins! It was so much fun. My mom kept getting scared  because it was so high. When we got back, we went inner tubing on the Mopan River. It was really fun too, especially when we would go through the rapids. When we got to our destination, we got picked up by the owner of our hotel and went back . Peter and I play darts and watched a movie and went to bed. The next day we went to Barton creek cave. We went through a cave on a canoe. It was really cool; there were bats and crystal formations. After the cave tour, we went on a rope swing into a pool at the creek. It was so fun to swing out and plunge into the water. When we got back to Trek Stop, we played some disc golf. 


July 27, 2005

The next day we were going to go on a bus to Gales Point in Belize so we got some food and got on the bus. The bus drive was about 6 hours long. Finally we got there and met a woman who had a place for rent so we went with her. The next day we walked around town and met some people and we arranged to go fishing the next day. The next day we got up at 8:00 a.m. and went fishing. Peter caught two jacks and a barracuda and mom caught a jack. That evening it was time for us to go so we got a bus at 6:00 p.m. and went to Dangriga. When we got to Dangriga we found a hotel. The next day we got a bus to Placencia; the drive was about 2 hours. When we got there we found a hotel right on the beach so we chose that hotel. At the hotel there is an awesome pug and my dad is afraid of it because he thinks it’s going to pee on him but I think he’s awesome. The next day we walked around and stayed at the beach and met a guy fishing and he gave us some bait to go fishing the next day. On our way back, I discovered this gecko (see above). The next day we wanted to go snorkeling but it was too windy to go so we stayed at the beach and Dad and I built a small ruin out of sand and seaweed!





In the evening, we decided to go fishing. We went out to the point and started cutting the bait that my fisherman friend gave me the night before and throwing out the line. Then we sat around and waited. In about 1/2 hour, we checked the bait to see if it had seaweed in it and it was tangled in coral. We discovered that we didn’t have thick enough line. But, the lady who owns the snorkeling tour place asked how we had done fishing and said she would give us line to try again. But when we went out it was to dark so we went back.


The next day we woke up and discovered that the sea wasn’t as rough and that we could go to Laughing Bird Caye. We got our mask and flippers and headed out to Laughing Bird Caye. It was VERY rough but that was fun because we would go bouncy, bouncy, bouncy on the waves and get soaking WET!!! When we got there, we were all anxious to go snorkeling so we set out and saw some pretty cool stuff and our tour guide found a sea cucumber that I got to touch. It was squishy! After our first excursion, we went back on land and had this really good barbequed chicken, pineapple and fruit juices for lunch. After that I snorkeled around the shore and then we went on another little snorkeling tour at a different part of the island and again saw some pretty cool fish. After the tour, I was snorkeling around the shore and my Dad kept poking me and I was wondering what he was doing. Our boat was leaving so I got all my gear and hopped on the boat and off we went! It was another bumpy ride back and we were racing another boat and our driver would go super fast and we beat them so easily!


Do you want to know some of my favorite things to do in the ocean? #3: letting waves slam into me and being shot back. My record is about 10-15 feet for being shot back by a wave! #2: snorkeling. #1: FISHING!!! I hope to catch some tonight at the point with my line and hook.


July 21, 2005 - Chetumal, Mexico

Today we had to move rooms because someone had already booked our room so we moved to a different room with four beds $26 per night. Peter and I went to the pool and stayed there for a little bit. Afterwards, I had to do math problems. We’re going to dinner now.


July 19, 2005 

When we got to playa del Carmen, we went looking for a hotel and found one for 50 dollars per night. When we went to the beach it was very warm and there were nice waves for body surfing. That night we went back to the hotel and had a good sleep. The next day we went to the Mayan place and had breakfast and a tour then came back to playa and went to the beach then back to the hotel. The next day we went on a 40 min bus ride to Tulum and found a hotel and went to the beach and had lots of fun and looked for a hotel on the beach for the next day and found one we were going to rent but we would have to come back the next day. The next day mom found out that there was a hurricane coming so we didn’t get the house so we stayed at the beach all day then went back to the hotel. The next day we went to the Xeh-ha, a marine park, and snorkeled all day and in one tunnel there were like 50 fish swimming ad they were really big. There was also a really fun rope swing into a deep water pool. When we went back to Tulum, we were going on a bus the next day  because of the hurricane but the buses were booked so we got a taxi at 10 PM and went to chetumal and got there at 1:30 in the morning. When we woke up the next day Peter and I were sick and throwing up so we moved to a different hotel. That night Peter and mom went to the hospital because Peter was very sick but I didn’t have to go because I got better. They stayed there until 8 PM the next day. When they were at the hospital dad and I watched TV and walked around the whole day. The next day was Peter’s birthday but he was in bed all day so me and mom walked around but at the end of the day we tried to go to dinner with Peter, but Peter got weak and dad and I got the dinner and took it back to them and we ate it at the hotel. The next day we decided to get a new hotel so we got a new hotel and it had a pool and I went swimming for a long time.


July 13, 2005

At 12:00 pm at the bus station we met Bill Clark so then we went into his awesome Cadillac. Then we went to his house. When we got there we saw a pool and his 4 story house with three cats and a widescreen TV. then we went to the ocean and swam in it. it was a lot warmer then in Eugene. That night we went to dinner at Downtown Disney and I saw a escalade with spinners. at the rain forest cafe I had king crab legs. After dinner, we went to ESPN zone and the Disney story and then we went home and went to bed. The next day my dad had to go to urgent care. Peter, bill and I went to krispy kreme and then we went swimming at the pool. We went to black olive for dinner, and Peter and I watched Big Daddy and then went to bed. The next day we got up at 6 o clock am and went to the kettle for breakfast then to the airport but we missed our flight. So we stayed at the airport and then had to call Bill and when we got home we went swimming. The next day we got to  the airport and didn’t miss our flight and had a quick flight to Phoenix and then had a 4-hour flight to Cancun and took a bus to Playa del Carmen.