Thursday, March 24, 2011

Learning about coffee in the hillside town of Boquete

on top of Boquete

Jieun actually petting a dog
About 2.5 hours from the boarder of Costa Rica is the lovely town of Boquete. Afternoons are warm and breezy while the nights of cool and crisp really enjoying this climate and the town is really peaceful and clean very unlike C.A. The town is full of retired americans in their beautiful hillside homes overlooking the town with the Rio Caldera a crystal clear river running through. We stayed Hostel Gaia for $22 both, this hostel is perhaps the best hostel we have stayed in to date. Its clean, fast wifi, good kitchen, living area with Tv to hang out and talk with other travelers plus laundry service for $2 a load. Gaia is not in the lonely planet yet so its still quite.

geisha coffee one of the most expensive and best tasting coffee in the world 
pound of this cost on average $100

old fashion French roaster

beside cafe ruiz, mi jarden es su jarden

nice of someone to make this free for everyone to enjoy
the garden equipped with its own mini church

this gold fish pool sat under the house with a glass floor

We took our first coffee tour to date at Cafe Ruiz, both of us are not avid coffee drinkers but we know a lot about the processes of making it now. While Panama, is not large producer of coffee beans but is recognized world wide as a quality grower. Beside Cafe Ruiz was the garden of Mi Jardin es su Jardin (my garden is your garden) Its free to enter and I think its really someones home garden that they open to the public, its huge with look out tower, gold fish pool, water fountains and even its own church, very nice to visit. 

We will spend 3 nights here and head for Panama city to meet Paul a fellow Canadian that will ship with us to Columbia.  Hope you like the photos courtesy or new Sony tx 5

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Error at the boarder and got a new camera in Panama

Yes! we are Boquete, Panama and things are looking good. First off our last day spent in Costa Rica was total waste of time and money we went to the town of Golfito about 1.5 hour from the Panama boarder. We wanted to check out the duty free zone to look for a camera. We arrived on Monday and the place was closed! Monday can you believe it of all days, lucky a guy out front told us we needed to get a ticket to enter tomorrow to buy stuff because you can't get them for the same day. He said it was for the small town to make money from the tourist. So we had to stay the night we found a hotel right on the water but expensive at $40 usd. it had a kitchen but was kinda of dirty (can't recommended it). Next day we arrived right at 8 am excited to find a new camera but as arrived we saw that same guy from yesterday waving us down as we got out he asked us if he could buy one of our tickets for $20 bucks, we told him he could have it because each ticket has a $1000 usd tax free purchases and we knew our camera wouldn't cost that much. So I got thinking and asked him why he didn't get a ticket yesterday too and he told me he can't because Costa Ricans can only get 1 ticket every 6 months. Now we understood but he told me I would have to wait around until he found people that needed to buy stuff because we have to sign off on the purchase. We walk around looking for a camera but all they had was old models nothing decent and it only took 30 minutes to see the place so we told the guy we can't wait around but he already lined up a buyer that wanted 2 cases of tequila and sure enough the guy went in to pay for the stuff about $250 for 24 bottles of tequila not bad and he might turn around and sell them 20-25 bucks each not a bad days work for these guys. That was our good deed for the day, still early and we set out for the boarder.

As luck would have it after exiting Costa Rica, we drove to the Panama side and we spotted a VW camper with BC plates. I really wanted to find them and ask if they were planning on shipping to S.A. As we waited in the immigration line I ask a few of the people if that was their camper and finally after 3 people I found the couple driving the VW and he was just as happy I found him because he has been looking for someone to ship with too, we exchanged e-mails and talked a little of our trips. I noticed he had hired a young boy to help with the paper work to speed things up, but we decided to do it ourselves as always been doing it at the boarders. We ended up finishing before him and it was looking to good for those guys, the boarder official wanted to search their van or something maybe wanting a bribe? we told him were done and we would meet up with him later in Panama to talk about the shipping. As we left about 10km down the road a check point and I notice the insurance and the permit had the wrong license plate number, the check point guys didn't even notice but I knew if we are going to ship they would notice. We headed back to the boarder to fix the papers went the insurance first closed for lunch. Dam, so I want to the license office to correct the car permit with no problems but had to wait 1 hour for that stupid girl at the insurance office to return because she one that started the snow ball, because all the other offices copied the insurance information. When she finally return we told he she made a mistake could she fix it, with a attitude she told me I had to give back the other error copy that the license office had, this little bitch had me running around for her mistake and over 2 hours of wasted time and gas, and you think she would say sorry! but nothing she even ignored us when we came back to the window because she forgot to return our ownership. Also I notice a guy in line when we first arrived and asked about the BC couple and they told us they were not allowed to cross and would have to spend a night at the boarder hotel for what reason? who knows! Welcome to Panama!

Oh we pick up a camera in the city of David, about 1hr south of the boarder the Sony DSC TX5 its waterproof, shock and sand proof I guess we will find out. We put it to a test if we go rafting or hiking in the wet mountains the coming days.

ours is silver

Monday, March 21, 2011

A broken camera and watching Forrest gump in Costa Rica

leaving Nicaragua was just crazy had to get 5 different signatures to cancel the car permit

1 of the 3 selling liquors, perfumes and chocolates 
Costa Rica side was a little better only 3 buildings to visit

and 1 fumigation cost $5usd
While no new pictures update for a while, our Canon G11 stop taking pictures just as we climb up a 500m hillside to view took the last 3 pictures and the next photo was just all white. When we got to the capital we found a Canon repair shop that told us we need to replace the lens and would take a month because they had to order the lens plus it would cost $410 usd, so we will buy a new camera. Any suggestions?

On our first day in Costa rica we spent at the Rincon de la vieja national park lonely planet calls it the Yellow stone of central america.

camped out at this cute Dutch owned place just 15km outside the park they charge $25 for this wood tent
we camped in our van for $7 each

enjoying the cool river behind our camp

arrived just as this group was leaving had the pools to ourselves
2 hr hike to the parks thermal baths 
500 meters straight up overlooking Costa Rica and Nicaragua
last picture from our canon g11
San Jose the capital of Costa Rica was full of young people and loads of interesting museums, attractions and stores. I also enjoyed the cool temperature of this high city reminded me of a nice autumn day back home. We stayed in the city core in a hotel that rented rooms by the hour, so our nights where full of moaning cries. The hotel itself was clean, good location and had a secure parking lot across the street overall was good for $24 a night.

We drove from San Jose though the mountains to Uvita, on the west coast and the sandy beaches here to never end. The drive though cloudy mountains, was very spooky we couldn't see past 10 feet with hair pin turns, wet and cold first time on our trip we used the heat in the van. Probably will stay a few more days in Costa Rica and start organizing our shipping of the car in Panama to Columbia hope we find a person to share with. cross your fingers for us.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Intresting stories from Granada

just a few blocks from the market rough part of town
We arrived in Granada on a quite Saturday afternoon we thought nothing about finding a decent place to say. Our first stop was a few blocks from the town market we saw a beautiful home with a sign rooms for rent, I stayed in the van while Jieun went in to ask details but was too scared to enter because the owner had 2 large dogs so I went to get the info. the owner spoke english, but too bad the home was full and when I return back to the van Jieun told me someone had tried to steel our bikes. She was in the van and notice the van shaking and looked back and notice the bikes where moving but didn't see anyone as she got out to look back to discover a young boy his head just reaching the window pulling at our bikes trying to free them from the locks. She asked him what he was doing and he looked at Jieun and stood there and after a while he finally left because Jieun stayed outside watching him.
our apartment in Granada good size and entertaining neighbors
After searching for more than 3 hours almost all the hostels and hotels where full and all had no secure parking we finally found this auto hotel in town that had these apartment units but most important secure parking. We meet an semiretired American guy that had been living there for 5 years. This old guy was living la vida loca, first his apartment was custom from a unique wood front door to the double roof a/c units and a huge screen tv in the living room. He told me he had 5 kids in town with 5 different mothers and he supports them all but none live with him. Plus he had extra 3 or 4 girlfriends on the side no older than 25 years old. I sat out side our apartment and I must have saw 4 young different girls on a given day visit him and even had them cleaning his apartment windows, floor and all. Next day he told me one of the girls got jealous and tried to kill him she walked in the bedroom and saw him with another girl and with knife in hand slashed at him missing his leg and cutting the foot of the bed he took me in his room to show the evidence. He seems really happy with his life and I wish him the best.  

On our last day in Granada we visit the Mombacho Volcano park its about 30mins south when we arrived we got in at the local price $6 that included entry and the ride up. We came right after a group of local Korean ministers and their families meeting about once every 2 months. We really lucked out must have thought we're with the group and Jieun started talking with the group and they invited us to join their picnic. It was amazing kimbap, kimchi, and korean side dishes was just like Korea. After they all prayed for us to have a safe trip, really interesting to meet all those Koreans and eat this food in Nicaragua.
the big truck the drove half way up the volcano
see how happy Jieun is, I was even more happy to see all that korean food
God bless you all and thank you