Archive for July, 2010

A Vacation from the Vacation

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Well, my blog, to date, has been totally about this wonderful adventure, and not about my political beliefs.

Until now.

Seems the leftists in the media DON’T LIKE THE COMPETITION….we evil bloggers are pre-empting “real” journalism.  The Horror!!!   *cue evil laugh*.

So….naturally, they cry for some sort of government oversight.  Bloody hell!  (emphasis mine)

Phillips wanted to go even further, asking if “there’s going to come a point where something’s going to have to be done legally” about anonymous bloggers.

Hey dummy!  You fakirs are going to have to pry my computer out of my cold, dead hands before I give up the right to say what I want, out here on the internet, where anyone at all can see it.  You liberals don’t have the monopoly on free speech…nor do you have the ability to impinge upon mine.

We are getting into dangerous territory in the U.S.  Be afraid, be very afraid…the leftists are next going to assault our right to free speech.

~ Blonde Gator

In Puerto Escondido

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

And it’s hotter than the hammers of hell, here. 

I don’t know whether it’s just me, or a reaction to the stress of our little caper, but I haven’t been too eager to go walkabout.  Iguana Man, thankfully, has picked up the slack.

We plan to be here for another two weeks or so, I must get my game face back on and get motivated to get out and about.  But it is rather comforting, to be back in “our old room”, in a totally unthreatening place, with internet, and all the comforts of home.  

I guess that little border incident rattled me more than I’d like.  We’ve met quite a few interesting people here, we bid “adieu” to our French neighbors today, the husband a Cordon Bleu trained pastry chef…they’re ultimately headed to Istanbul!

Anyhoo….life is good.  Still working on videos and pictures….some of them should be stellar (I hope).  More later.

~ Blonde Gator

Charmant…..

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

I just happened to notice this linked on Drudge.

Iguana Man has been insistent that we maintain a schedule in regard to applying the OFF (containing DEET at 7% or better)…and after only one or two bites, I agree wholeheartedly. 

Senor Iguana has contracted Dengue once….which, he says, is more than enough for a life time.  Troublesome, though, that it is making its way back to Florida.

We’ve also been vigilent about spraying our room(s) with bug spray to ensure all of the critters are dead (I got my blood sucked almost dry in Honduras on the way down, ish!). 

A word to the wise…..one can’t be too careful!

<edit>  An update….seems Dengue is the real deal…here’s an article to help you with precautions.

~ Blonde Gator

Another New Photo Page in the Works

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Check out my Copan Ruins~Honduras page….it’s taking me a while to do, because there is so much fabulous info on the internet.  But I made a good start at it today.

Altar, Copan Ruins

The MesoAmerican culture is mind boggling…as were the ruins we saw….so please, check it out, and if you can, plan a trip one of these years. 

~ Blonde Gator

I’ve updated our Guatemala Photo Page

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

So you can see what the “mountain” trip looked like….it was truly gorgeous. 

The HD camcorder took these stills…I’m not thrilled with them, I have been having problems with the focus and I don’t care for the size of these pictures.  The videos are amazing (although there are still problems with the anti-shake feature on the camera).  But when I think back to the first “camcorders”….LOL, fifteen pounds of battery slung over one’s shoulder and a camcorder the size of a twelve-pack. 

I’m not James Cameron…but we’ve purchased some software and I hope to have videos available soon.

Next up, Copan Ruins in Honduras.  Amazing stuff.

~ Blonde Gator

P.S.  Sitting in our “office” on the patio outside of our room….the World Cup is obviously on and the cheers from around town are quite amusing.

Screwing “La Systema”

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

Well…it’s been a week ago (yesterday) since I’ve blogged (although I wrote a nifty piece from Granada, Nicaragua, which I couldn’t get to upload)…and do I have news!

We left Costa Rica a week ago, and have had a pretty nice road trip thus far.  We had a bit of a whoopdee at the Costa Rican border, seems we were “missing” a paper (que’lle crap)….which took a hundred dollar+ bribe to fix.  Short letter to follow to Costa Rica Immigration, I have the name of the asshat who jacked us.    I’m convinced 95% of the border cops in Latin America are corrupt.

Before I go on my rant…let me say that my take on Nicaragua changed drastically after seeing the country during the rainy season…it transformed from a drab, dusty, awful place to a beautiful paradise.  On the advice of our friend, we stopped in the colonial town of Granada.  It was fabulous.  Unfortunately, we were once again bitten by the “festival bug”….we had a room in a lovely hotel for one night, but after that…no room to be had at the inn, nor anywhere else in town….some sort of “Eco Festival” was happening.   So, we just didi’d and went to Honduras (I’ll write more later about that).  If you’re dying for a preview, check out COPAN.

We had a bit of an adventure in Guatemala (sarcasm on full throttle)….First, we got lost, and found a nice postman who had a much better map than we did.  He directed us to go the direct route, through the mountains, rather than around.  At about 4,500 feet, and on dirt roads, we only got more lost once (but we did find a great camp ground) we managed to finally (2 hours later) find the road we were looking for.  It was actually pretty fun, but would have been alot more fun if I had been driving…but I digress.  I LOVE MY XTERRA.

As I’ve mentioned before, there is not a great way to “get there from here” in some of these mountainous countries.  On our first pass, we drove through Guatemala City….NOT NICE!  So we decided that was something to be avoided at all costs…which we did, by driving G-7, which was, as we were told, “terra for the first hour…paved after that”.

Well….”dirt” was about 5,000 feet, mountain roads, and the recent storms were apparent, with rockfalls and dirtfalls and washed out roads everywhere.  The scenery was awesomely beautiful…but it was a scary trip in the right seat.  Iguana Man deserves a Purple Heart for surviving my screaming.   I promise to post some pics and video (when I figure out how to do that)….you’ll not believe it at all.  I still can’t. 

Okay, back to my original point.  GOVERNMENTAL INCOMPETENCE IS EVERYWHERE!

When we tried to leave Guatemala on Wednesday, we were told that our car was not in their “systema” as having ever left Guatemala.  Never mind we had our paperwork with the exit stamp from Agua Caliente (Hot Water…I should have known!!!).   Further evidence of our car being out of the country would be like….entry Visa into Honduras (in my passport….I wrote about this earlier with the sisterly solidarity of the female immigration officer insisting the car be on my passport), Nicaragua papers, Costa Rican papers….and reverse the trip….CR, Nico, Honduras.

BUT NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Iguana Man tells me there is a basic bureaucrat mindset (I think he’s correct, BTW)….a simple “yes or no” answer from a paper pusher has drastic consequences.  I was furious (!!!), but Iguana Man’s experience prevailed (thankfully)….and he didn’t go ballistic as I’d have done…and the Aduana (cop) let us leave the border with our car.

You see, in Latin America, they use “Napoleonic Law”….which means, mas o menos (more or less)….lock ’em up now, and sort it out later. 

SOOOO….even though, we had transmigrated Guatemala the first time, correctly, and had all of the appropriate stamps, paperwork, etc…..some moron didn’t enter us into their computer system.  And the poor little government drone knew that, but didn’t have the authority to fix it…all he could do was say “NO….can’t leave”….and we found the one honest guy in the country.  Actually, he was very nice, as I said about the Napoleonic laws here, he could have impounded our car and been done with it…and sorry, American Tourist…you must pay 50% of the Blue Book value of your car to get it back…if you can find it?

SOOOO….we turned around, and went back to HueHue (I know, great name!!!).  We checked into a nice hotel I saw on the way out of town (after we’d earlier spent a night in a cute little hotel downtown, $12, but the water wasn’t turned on due to “issues”…LOL, it was just a fine place, more later). 

We called the American Embassy, got some advice (note to travellers, Embassy staff aren’t ALL morons, but most of them are).  We were referred to a tax guy, rather than an abrogado (shyster).  He was such a nice man, as was the fellow at the hotel who helped translate, a man who is married to a Nebraskan, but is properly waiting out his two years to get his green card, God Bless legal immigrants!!!). 

After two days of trying to get the paperwork fixed, our “fixer” suggested another way out….ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION!

So, this morning, we hotfooted across the Guatemal/Mexico border, down a back dirt road, where there were numerous trucks and cars coming and going.  Needless to say, I was scared out of my wits.

We got into Mexico…and with the good sense of our “tax advisor”….we were about 3 KM from a town with customs…where we presented our paperwork, and became legal once again. 

So….I suppose the moral of the story is never panic, never be rude (the Guatemalan customs guy was just as captured by his “systema” as we were).  NEVER BE RUDE.  If it had been me, talking to the customs guy, I’m sure he’d have impounded the car, because I’d have gone ballistic at the stupidity.  But the Iguana Man finessed the situation, and we are now in Mexico (did I mention it feels like coming home?  Because it does…the US media deserves to be shot over their coverage of Mexico…alas, I digress again).

Actually, it was kind of fun (and lots of scary) running the border.  But, when all is said and done, I feel like I just shot a huge bird at bureaucrats everywhere.  We’ll never be allowed to bring another car into Guatemala (like I care)….although I have to think their “systema” sucks so badly that it doesn’t matter one iota.  I have to give them a hat tip for trying to rip me off for $10 grand….but so solly, estupidos!

After all is said and done, I have to think, SCREW THE SYSTEMA is the right tack to take….sometimes it’s a little more scary than not, and sometimes, it just is what it is.  It’s been a pretty fine life lesson.  Do you hear me, Obama…and you stupid democrat Critters? 

~ Blonde Gator

Alas…Packing Day is Here

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

We pull up stakes tomorrow and head north.    The XTerra is all clean, as are most of the clothes (hoping for a sunny day today as I’ve become a big fan of line drying….particularly for sheets…yet something else to do when I get home, but I digress). 

It’s going to be a shocker to get back on the road again, although road tripping is alot of fun.  I’m going to Dominic and Maria the most, and of course we’ll miss the rent-a-dog, who arrived at 6:00 a.m. this morning, and Igs (the young male iguana) who keeps us  constantly amused.  We’ve settled into a very cozy existence here in Costa Rica, I’m wishing we could stay forever, but as Blonde Mom says “tomorrow’s another day, Scarlette”. 

We’ve revised our packing methodology for the trip back.  (Note to self, next time, bring fewer clothes).  We’ve divested ourselves of some “stuff” (printer, DVD player, beach chairs), which should help….and didn’t really collect too much replacement “stuff”, although I am bringing home my bottle of Costa Rican honey.  We’re once again going to have the “go rats” box, w/the electric kettle and french press, fig newtons and other munchies.   I’m reserving judgement on the “new packing” until we’re actually done with it, though.

I’ve (kind of) learned how to use the video camera, although with the HD format, it will require some software and some time at home before I can post them here in a usable format.  I have enough video of the iguanas for a short which I shall title “Leapin’ Lizards”.   The camera takes stills as well, but I’m just not as good at it with the HD as I was with my camera (which we will replace in Houston when we get there)….so bear w/me on the photo stuff. 

Pura Vida.

~ Blonde Gator