Hello again fine and dandies,

I trust that everyone back home and beyond is healthy and happy and grabbing life by the huevos, guiding it to meet all your earthly and spiritual needs. Cus we sure are! Except, of course, for the little mishap we had on our bus to Quito, where a group of professional thieves crawled under the seats in front of us, ever so delicately slashed our bags open, and made off with our cameras and my cell phone which was actually just our alarm clock. Thus we now fear sleeping in for something important. The loss of the cameras is small beans, Jocelyn has already replaced her analogue SLR and we still have all of the film she shot (which is AMAZING- we are so thankful they left that in her bag). But it is the little digital camera, Cameratito (aka Tito), that we mourn daily. We had nothing backed up, and lost a memory card full of super fun photos and  video clips we had big plans of editing down into a short film. We miss Tito everyday, and I would like to share some of our favorite moments on him now:

  • A video of Jocelyn doing a MAJOR wipeout while we were sandboarding in Huccachina. She seriusly rolled down the hill.
  • A photo of me lounging next to a sea lion, and we are in the exact same pose. Kindred spirits.
  • A video of Jocelyn playing with a baby sea lion in the ocean. It was so cute, he kept swimming up to her face, then diving back under to try make her chase him.
  • A video of quinoa dancing to Rihanna in a club (a pot of boiling water). Just one in a series of personifed food dramas as we cooked dinner.
  • A stop motion animation of a little car that came out of my Easter egg driving around our ceviche table.
  • Miniature Machu Picchu photos.
  • Photos and videos of a really intense game of darts in Cusco. Jocelyn is a natural.
  • A great video of Jocelyn running into the surf in Mancora.
  • Many photos of us jumping in front of things and sunsets.  And clouds.

Dear Tito, we miss you and the thousands of photos and videos you hold captive. We like to think you are in a better place, and that the money earned in selling you went to feed a starving baby and not to gambling. We will always see your halo.

Ok, back to the good stuff. And I hope you are feeling up for a long read since I can’t fall back on the photos like usual. We did get a bunch of Jocelyn’s film developed, and took a few pictures of them on the webcam so we can show you SOMETHING. Consider it  a little taste of what you’ll see when we get home… in webcam quality.

cusco

Crazy markets all over town, rain or shine.

We spent our Easter weekend in Cusco, Peru, a city designed by the Incas that was torn down and rebuilt by the Spanish, and is now crawling with tourists heading to and from Machu Picchu. We did manage to find parts of the city that gave off a more authentic Peruvian feel than the center, which is full of Starbucks’ and KFCs. The markets are packed full of used electrical cords, artisanal crafts, people eating $1 lunches, and is where a woman made me buy a cute pair of black shoes for $4. Because it was Easter weekend we spent most of our time eating and drinking pop, and one festive night of too much beer and darts. Just some preparation for our trek up to Mach Picchu.

machu picchu

The power of Machu Picchu compels you!

If one is organized, you can book a year in advance and hike the Inca Trail. And if one is less organized, you can opt for the last minute Jungle trail, which gets you there all the same, is just as scenic, and only a fraction of the cost but still crazy expensive. But if one spent far too much time in Colombia and Bolivia respectively, there is a one day power-trek that eats up the week´s budget. We obviously did the latter, waking up at 4am to catch a train to Aguas Calientes where a  bus drove us right to the entrance. It is no 4-day hike like we had originally wanted, but time is impatient and we are on a schedule. Machu Picchu is stunning, and I wish you didn’t have to wait until we get home to see the photos Jocelyn took on film. We hiked around the mountain of Mach Picchu, visiting the Inca Bridge which you are not allowed to walk accross anymore and it looked like for good reason. We found it a little difficult to revel in all the beauty, as we were constantly surrounded by tourists (like ourselves). You can still walk around most of the ancient city, and getting a photo without a bunch of other people in it was impossible. Plus a coffee was like $3! But suddenly, and what I can only think of as an act of the heavens, the clouds crashed together and poured, chasing everyone away, and then abruptly clearing and leaving us virtually alone running around the ruins, taking photos and videos, and drinking the fresh mountain water that still runs through the irrigation systems that the Incas set up. The Inca knack for city planning is amazing. All the important buildings are built with stones carved to fit perfectly like puzzle pieces and without cement (perfect for withstanding earthquakes). They have all these large stone contraptions which are used for telling the date and controlling the harvest, as well as a huge sports field complete with fan stands.

My favorite new Inca fact: They loved their dead ones like they were alive. Everyone gets mummified and pulled out of their tombs for parties and holidays. If you have to move towns, you simply take your dead with you. So although there are many graves at Machu Picchu, the town was abandoned during the Spanish conquests and everyone took their gold and dead with them. Imagine the baggage!

Feeling cold, as we usually do in high altitudes, we decided that it was time to go to the coast again. We headed to a small oaisis town in the desert, just outside of Ica, called Huccachina. The population of 200 people surrounds a lagoon that sits amidst giant sand dunes. The thing to do here is go sandboarding, which is just like snowboarding but on sand. We got into a dunebuggy that flew over rolling sand hills, making me feel like we were going to flip over, and dropping us off at the tops of hills. We strapped ourselves onto boards and tumbled down the dunes with no grace or balance. The other option is to lie down on the board and use it like a taboggan. It was so fun and some of the hills were so crazy big that it was hard not to get to the bottom of the hill in hysterical giggles.

Sand dune! Surprisingly hard to walk up.

It was also in Huaccachina that we had our first drama. Not with each other, obviously. Tony, who worked at the hostel, invited us to the Pisco harvest festival. Pisco: a very strong alcohol made from grapes. We went to the party, drank a bunch of pisco, danced, and had fun until one of the other dudes that worked at the hostel told us why he and Tony are not friends. This made Tony into a very pouty baby, so we all left. In the cab he kept accusing us of believing his enemy, and I thought he might cry. Jocelyn tried to give him words of encouragement, but this resulted in Tony saying some very mean things about my friend Jocelyn, which resulted in me yelling and waving my hand in his face and screaming “NO HABLAR!” Details are fuzzy, but things blew over after about 10 minutes and we all decided to go out dancing some more. At da club Tony got handsy with Jocelyn, so she hid in the bathroom, where I found her and pretended she was being sick and we had to go home. Tony did not buy this, accused Jocelyn of hiding from him and then some terrible things again, so we stormed home in an angry fire with Tony on our heels yelling, then apologizing, then yelling, then crying then yelling. Sick of it! We wanted to go to bed, but Tony stood in our doorway, not letting us shut it in his face, not going away and saying very mean things. It was scary! I thought he was going to push his way into our room! SOOOOO I grabbed my knife and stood in the doorway talking as sternly as I could, ready to stab at any moment. I was totally ready. We did manage to use our words, and Jocelyn and I were safe in our room with the door locked where we cried ourselves to sleep. The next morning, as we began packing, Tony knocked on our door. He apologized to us with the offer of free breakfast. We accepted and tah dah- friends again. We are so easily bought. Apparently pisco can make you crazy.

We wanted drama, we got drama. But had enough, and set off for Lima. I wish I had more to tell you about Lima, but we were only there for 30 hours, and spent most of it eating. I now know that one can possibly eat too much ceviche (but it was soso good). Other than that, we had a giant plate of deep fried sea food, tuna fish sandwiches, and drank a bunch of juice. On to our next stop!

Mancora is everything one wants a beach town to be. Super cheap, full of hammocks, clear blue water, white sand, and hot hot sun. We spent two days tanning, swimming in the ocean and drinking beer on the beach. We had a close call with some animal danger as our toes were in the surf, Jocelyn flew her hands in the air to tell me how great the world is when a 5 foot long (at least) pelican flew by her. I’m not sure whether she almost took the bird out or it almost smacked her across the head, but we thankfully did not have to find out. Still, biggest bird I have ever seen!

From Mancora, we crossed into Ecuador and headed up to Guayaquil for a brief evening before our early flight to the Galapagos Islands. Going to the land that ispired evolution was a dream come true for both of us, and it was so much more than we could have imagined! We ignored all advice claiming we needed to book ourselves a tour on a cruise, and listened to the few rumours about being able to get day tours from the islands Santa Cruz and Isabella. Good thing those whispers were right! And according to one of our guides the boat cruises are doing a lot of damage to the underwater reserve. The noise scares away the animals and the gas from the engines pollutes thier water. Island hopping is the new sustainable way to travel in Galapagos, and they are hoping to cut the number of boats by half over the next few years.

galapagos

Jocelyn sending you some lovin’ from under water in the Galapagos.

Our first day trip was to Isla San Cristobal for a big day of snorkelling! The lack of predators in the Galapagos means that the animals have no fear of humans, and don’t really care when you enter their space (unless they have a baby with them cus they’ll snarl at you). Decked out in the latest gear, and with an underwater camera in hand, we walked backwards into a little bay where giant tortises love to hang. Swimming with them was an almost spiritual experience. Catching currents with the 400lbs creatures and swimming next to them we felt so included, they seemed perfectly happy to have us join them for a drift. And although Galapagos rules clearly forbid anyone from touching the animals, I clearly saw Jocelyn’s hand reach out and graze the back of one’s shell. I won’t tell if you don’t. A young sea lion pup took a particular liking to Jocelyn and a 6 year old girl on the tour with us, swimming around them in cirles, popping up out of the water to look them in their faces, and jumping back under to swim around them again. It was so cute watching them play together. Next, we went to Kicker rock, which is just a large rock that popped up in the middle of the ocean where sharks love to roam. We did not get to see any sharks because the visibility was unfortunately bad, but it did not interfere with the humbling experience of swimming in the middle of the ocean. It is so big and deep and scary looking down there, I would make a miserable diver. Our final stop brought us to the unoccupied island, Santa Fe. As Jocelyn and I were busy watching fish feed off some rocks, two sea lions jumped into the water and spiraled right towards us. They are such playful creatures in the water, the dogs of the sea, and I appreciate that they thought we looked playful too.

SEALS

It is hard to see, but those are sea lions lounging on some steps.

The next day we had a two day trip scheduled for Isla Isabella. Our boat was set to leave at 2pm, so we decided to go to Tortuga Bay in the morning. And feeling out of shape, we decided to run there, which would have not been a bad idea had we picked a better hour to do it at. The 11am sun at the equator (equator-ecuador, get it?!) is crazy powerful, and our 25 minute run felt more like a 2 hour crawl across a desert. Our dip in the beautiful turquoise water felt very much deserved. Walking back took a lot longer and we were happy to find out that when you are late for your boat, everyone waits for you! When we got to Isabella we checked out some flamingos, walked along the beach and drank beer with our tour group- Nadine (France), Henry and Will (New Zealand), America (USA), and Mike (Toronto!)- who were all totally cool dudes. The next morning we hiked up Vòlacan Chico, where we again experienced the power of the hot equator noonday sun. It was no easy five hour hike, and my dear 6 year old hiking boots saw their last walk as they pretty much melted off my feet from the heat of the volcanic rock. But the view was amazing and being in a volcano is totally out of this world. It felt like we were walking on a moon where cactus grow. The day would not be complete without some snorkelling though, so we hopped in a boat and went to chill with some penguins. After dinner we all decided that such a long day cannot simply end there, and we must go out on the town (to the one bar) for some dancing. Despite our 5am boat we knew we had to catch in the morning, we were having too good of a time to stop, and at 3am we found ourselves skinny dippin’ in the ocean with our buddies. And the only thing better than skinny dippin’ late at night is doing it in the Galapagos. We were just lovin’ life so hard!

Totally completely and utterly exhusted, we spent our last day in the Galapagos on Tortuga Bay tanning and swimming. I wish we had more time to visit all the islands, and to stay a week on each. It was a true tropical paradise, and I doubt playing with the animals would ever get old. Alas, we are in the last month of our trip and there is just no more time for doddelling. We flew back to Guayaquil only to catch a bus to the town of Baños, know for its hot springs and spas. Fearing impetigo infection, I decided we were skipping the hot springs, and we agreed to go white water rafting down part of the Amazon basin instead. Suited up in helmets and life jackets, we joined two other tourists and two guides into a big blow up boat for our first rafting expreience. We spent two hours going down class 3 and 4 rapids, as our guide tried everything he could to make us fall in. I am happy to report that Jocelyn and I only fell in once each and there were no snakes in the water. Naturals!

From Baños, we wanted to head up to Otavalo which is not only next to the Colombian boarder, but also has the biggest and best Saturday market in South America. We wanted to skip Quito because everyone told us that everyone gets robbed in Quito, but there was no way around it, we had to go there to catch any bus north. We were only there 10 minutes before we got our bags slashed, so it is true, everyone gets robbed in Quito. We arrived at 7:30pm, and a ticket agency sold us a ticket for an 8pm bus that never showed up. When we went to inquire, the booth was closed, and we are pretty sure she swindled us for $4. So we got another ticket for 11:30pm and arrived in Otavalo at the convieniant hour of 3am. The market was amazing. It seemed to sprawl the whole city, selling everything you could think of except replacement cameras (or our cameras, as we secretly hoped). We had some good ‘ol fashioned shop therapy, and it kind of worked. What also helped ease our troubled hearts was the bottle of whiskey we bought, drinking and singing Beyonce songs in memory of Tito.

Crossing into Colombia again was like being greeted by an old friend. Once we got on a bus on the other side of the boarder, we made friends with a young girl, who wanted to chat and exchange stories. As women, we find it very easy to make friends with men in South America, although they often have another idea of what our friendship means, but other women never really want anything to do with Gringas. This is just not the case in Colombia, and it is so refreshing to talk and joke with people on a genuine level. And everyone is so sad about our cameras, but all happy we are safe. When we got to Popayan, we found a film camera almost exactly like the one Jocelyn lost. The owner of the shop sold it to us for a very resonable price, and when it didn’t work he took it to the repair shop. But when it still didn’t work, he went all over town hunting down a camera we could use. We are so grateful for his effort, he really wanted us to have a camera again. Colombia has captured our hearts, and the thought of leaving pains us. We’ll be coming back… again.

us

HI! we miss you!

We still think of you all everyday, but we’ll be home before you know it. Less than a month! It feels insane just how fast the last four months have gone by, and although we are by no means ready to go home, the thought of seeing everyone we love and spending our summer together makes us smile from the heart. That is a photo of us thinking about you! Better be prepared, we have big plans for the island, parks and patios.

Love you all and miss you a million!

Hannah & jocelyn

xoxo

hi, everyone we love!

good grief.  it’s been a while, hey?  that thing where we were having too much fun to sit down & write a blog post happened again.  real sorry about that.  (but not too sorry, because then we wouldn’t have nearly as many stories to share with you.)  so, here’s the scoop:

after freckling our way through chile at a snail’s pace, we embarked on a whirlwind tour of argentina.  in no way were we prepared for the number of hours of bus time required to travel across the world’s eighth largest country, but we managed to survive!  survived & thrived, thanks to the tasty grapes of mendoza, wine captial of latin america.  following some poolside lounging and mandatory meat consumption (the latter on my behalf only, as it proved impossible to convince hannah to take just one bite) we were cycling through the argentian countryside on our bikes & wines tour.  (best pairing ever conceived, right?)

tucking into my first slab of meat in argentina - a five hundred gram steak

at the three bodegas we hit, there were homemade tapenades, liqueurs, chocolate, and wine.  oh so much wine.  at our favourite winery, a small family-run joint we opted to visit instead of one the larger industrial-sized factories, we were free to roam through the vineyard and sample as many grapes as our little hearts desired.  needless to say the bike ride back to town was the most fun of rides, and of course the most safe as well.

following our first in a series of twenty-something-hour bus rides, we were in buenos aires with our beautiful pals ana & nata gettin’ cultured ‘n whateva.  our first evening in the city there was even more meat, for everyone but hannah.  she ordered quesadillas, or grazed on grass in the local parks.  or something like that.  i was too busy going carnivore to monitor her non-meat consumption.

over the course of the next four (five?) days in BA (we just can’t be bothered to keep track of dates any longer) we left no cultural stone unturned.  guys, we FINALLY made it to a formal art institute!  and our visit to the museo de arte moderno was glorious.  i was sneaking as many forbidden photos as i could, of course, as any truly obnoxious tourist would & should do.

our next daytime excursion was to the neighbourhood of la boca, an astoundingly colourful pedestrian neighbourhood overflowing with tango merchandise.  this field trip gave us a real taste of just how effing enormous the city of buenos aires is, considering our transit time was over an hour and a half.  it also made obvious the fact that it is nearly impossible to find coins, like, EVER, even though all of the buses only accept change.  a major pain in the bum.  people hold on to that shit like golden tickets to the wonka chocolate factory.

so much cool graffiti & another meat sandwich later, we were taking in a tango show at cafe tortoni with ana.  it was theatrical, it was striking, and it was provocative, with many a high heel, bar fights, and slick hairdos.  which was all pretty exciting since hannah & i have had absolutely zero drama between us for the past four months.  (we’re constantly sending our friends messages begging for bits of stray gossip.  anything’ll do pals, really.)

ana & nata were so profoundly good to us that they made it really, really hard to leave buenos aires.  as we boarded our bus to puerto iguazu hannah & i began experiencing the first pangs of separation anxiety, since we’d grown quite attached to these two in spite of the short time we’d been able to spend together.  it was just too easy to connect with such easygoing, open-hearted gals.  (they’re colombian, of course!)  we’re still missing them, and reminiscing big time about the wild night when we tore up the floor at da club.  we’ll see you in canada, girlfriends.

smiling big with our overwhelmingly hospitable & superbly wonderful hosts ana & nata in buenos aires

yet another twenty-odd hours later, freckles & i arrived in puerto iguazu right pooped.  (you always think you’re gonna be able to pass out on the overnight bus, but the one hundred & fifty degree inclination of the semi-cama seat just doesn’t provide the level of comfort required for a good night’s sleep.  that’s science right there, friends.)  after wandering the rust-coloured earthy town streets & consuming a disgustingly sweet bottle of red wine, we hit the hay early in order to get a head start on our adventure to iguazu falls the next day (read: the snooze button on the alarm was hit no less than six times, our now-daily ritual).

hannah & i thought we’d seen waterfalls, you know?  but it turns out that, no, we hadn’t really seen waterfalls until we were standing in the mist of iguazu, one of the longest cataratas in the world, being shared by both brazil AND argentina.  legend has it that the view from brazilian side is just spectacular, but from the argentinian side you live the falls.  that we did, and proceeded to spend the remainder of the day floating through waterfall heaven on a dreamy natural high, hannah documenting all the flora & fauna we encountered along the way.  (she’s become an expert wildlife photographer!)  weary from much bouncing around for cameratito’s self-timer & hiding from a torrential downpour, we caught the return bus to puerto iguazu.

self-timer failure at parque nacional iguazu

back at the hostel, hannah & i quickly became deep in conversation with two lovely women from misiones, argentina, betty & maria laura.  over the course of a few hours we discussed the cultural differences between our two countries, from work ethic to spirituality to relationships to family dynamics.  for ladies we had met only that morning, these two so warmly considered us their old buddies.  betty & maria laura extended to hannah & i the very humbling invitation to share mate with them, an exceptionally important cultural tradition in argentina.  to share mate with someone is to share your friendship.  naturally, we were really touched.

from iguazu we bused overnight to tucuman, a small discount-shopping heavy urban centre close to the argentina-bolivia border.  we have little documentation of this stay, save for a handful of photos demonstrating the merchants’ uncanny ability to organize large-scale handbag & baby shoe displays according to colour.  after a brief one-night stopover & a very long wait in the tucuman bus terminal, we were off to villazon, bolivia, a small dusty border town with an eerie church-adjacent square.  every hour the sound of bells would play not from the actual bells themselves, but from a scratchy old record player located in the uppermost tower.  chills down the spine!

i got to know this curious little place quite well, as hannah was struck hard with altitude sickness during our international bus ride.  we just barely made it over the border in spite of the fact that it was close enough for us to touch.  over three hours later, we had barely walked one kilometer.  luckily an incredibly kind man offered us some coca leaves to chew to calm the soroche, easing hannah’s crippling nausea just long enough for us to find lodging for the next few days.  the kindness of strangers really is a heartwarming phenomenon to experience.

in the category of 'best clouds of south america' we decided that bolivia takes the cake

watch out, unsuspecting bolivian woman! dinosaurs in all their plastic glory are terrorizing the hills of sucre!

once hannah’s insides were semi-functional once again we were off to sucre, where we stayed in a palace for twenty dollars a night.  i’m talking kitchen, living room, private bathroom, the works!  (the monthly rent woulda been at least a grand had we been in toronto, easy.)  we were simply filled with delight, in spite of the fact that our fingertips & lips were still purple from the lack of oxygen at the still-high altitude.  with its gorgeous whitewashed buildings, captivating contemporary art museum, dinosaur footprinted cement quarry, welcoming art-filled cafes & abundant supply of easter chocolate, our days there breezed by.

i present to you miniature copacabana! (brought to you by one of the many fun effects functions on our camera, which we discovered only three months into our trip)

our final destination in bolivia was copacabana, a small community on the shore of lake titicaca.  once again, bolivia did not fail to bewilder us with its natural beauty.  as we cruised by paddle boat across the world’s highest altitude lake, we giggled ourselves delirious at the sight of the shimmering water.  it glistened, it sparkled, it twinkled, making us glow from the inside out.  our faces were sore from all of the smiling, which is just the best kind of hurt imaginable.

like most, if not all, south american countries, bolivians love putting everything in plastic bags - including mocochinchi, a mouth-watering peach sugar blast!

the paddleboat captain freckling on lake titicaca

a sunshine afternoon on the unconditionally stunning lake titicaca

still not a day goes by where either hannah & i don’t speak of you all so warmly, from every corner of our hearts, wishing we could share all of the beauty of this world with you in the flesh.  the blog will just have to serve as a very poor substitute for that, for the time being.  we’re home so soon!  (too soon?)  before long we’ll be catching up on all the hugs we’ve missed over the past four months, and weaving complex & thrilling narratives of our travels for whoever’s ears are open.  until then, we’re thinking of you often, missing you buckets & loving you the most.

biggest hugs,
joce & Hannah

 

Hello again loves of our lives!

I know it has again been too long since we have posted a blog entry, but I just gotta tell you that time is literally slipping away from us. Perhaps its the altitude, or the lack of responsibilites we have now, or maybe it is a cosmic force that is bigger than us all and I for one am not going to try and control it. Don’t worry though, we have been having only the best time ever and took too many photos of it all and I won’t be mad if you skim over the words and just look at the pictures.

sorata sunset

the sunset as we drove into Sorata, Bolivia

Bolivia is hard to describe in words, as the beauty of the landscape often left us breathless with shit-eating (in the best way) grins on our faces. La Paz is a busy, bustling city full of super cheap alpaca sweaters, quinoa and stairs instead of sidewalks, which at an altitude of 4000 meters means we were constantly trying to catch our breath. It is a surprisingly difficult thing to try and slow down.

After a few breathless days, we decided that we needed to move somewhere a little warmer and headed to Sorata, a town nestled in between mountains that just beg to be hiked on. Our bus drove us into the sunset, and as we leaned out the windows to take a million photos, the gentleman beside me asked, puzzled, “do you not have mountains in Canada?” Oh, the idea that one could get used to it baffles me still.

sorata river

the view from our hike. seeing it in daylight made us happy we didn´t try to cross it at night.

We were dropped off in the town square, which according to our map and guidebook is a stone’s throw from our hostel. So we tried walking, naturally. As we trekked along an unlit path through the woods, I kept assuring Jocelyn that all we had to do was cross the river and we would be there, no sweat. But sweat. As we scaled down the muddy path, the river began to sound more and more looming, and Jocelyn, getting hungry, began sounding like the river. When we got to the bridge I made the executive decision to turn around and look for a taxi- not only did the river look unforgiving, but the path winding up over the hill on the other side made me nervous just looking at it. When we finally got to the hostel, the receptionist thought it a little crazy that we thought we could walk it. I have learned a new lesson about believing anything on a panflet. And about Jocelyn needing to eat. I will never forget to feed you again, Jocelyn. I promise.

more waterfalls

we just cannot stop getting excited at the sight of waterfalls! makes us crazy!

After putting some food in our bellies, having a warm shower, and passing out like two tired puppies, we were able to experience the hills of Sorata from the safety of daylight. The views were breathtaking from everywhere, including our window from Altai Oasis, which was more like a private cottage than a hostel. It was so fun trekking through the mud in search of caves, having picnic lunches over cliffs, and stumbling on waterfalls. And as we walked back, a woman farming her land (because all the farmers in Bolivia are ladies) stopped us to give us flowers. She spoke an indigenous language we could not understand, but kept pointing at our faces and laughing hysterically. We are just sooo funny and I am glad that she can appreciate this about us.

From Sorata we headed back for 4 hours to La Paz to pick up our backpacks before catching our bus to Uyuni, a small town in Potosi full of dead trains and tour companies that take tourists like ourselves on four day Jeep tours of the salt flats – The Salar de Uyuni.

train to nowhere

band photo. our first single: train to nowhere (working title)

Our tour was nothing short of AMAZING–in all capitals! Apparently altitude can change your perception and make you dreamy-eyed, which may have been a thing, but I think that maybe we had a healthy case of breathtaking-overload.

salar de uyuni

salt!

The Salar is a huge bed of salt covered in an inch of water as far as the eye can see. People rake up salt piles, bag it, and sell it all over the continent. And maybe even the world. Please take this moment to read the back of your salt package.

salar, together

we are literally at the edge of the world. believe it.

Dancing around on salt was super fun, but surprisingly hard on the feet. And although it was by no means warm, we still got sunburnt, disregarding any lesson we have learned about having a healthy fear of the sun. It is just really hard to get back into the Jeep while having TMF (too much fun).

zen on salt

Jocelyn chillin´ on some salt

We visited a hotel on the salt flats that was made entirely out of salt. Seriously, salt everywhere. The hotel is no longer in use because they do not dispose of their waste properly, emptying their trash bins and sewage into the Salar. You can still go walk around inside, where we were disappointed to be offered a room for the night, meaning they do not consider themselves to be as shut-down as they are supposed to be. Black market salt rooms are not to be supported.

my puppet

taking my pet jocelyn out of my pocket for a dance

The flats may not make a good sewage system, but it does make for great photos. We did not take our photos naked like many of the other tourists. Not totally sure we made the right decision, but alas we are clothed and there is no use dwelling.

fire

a sunset in Potosi, or the apocalypse

Being so high up made for some amazing sunsets, but also for some cold sleeps. Each night we stayed in a different town, each one smaller than the next, in living quarters that reminded me of a convent, and ate super salty food, naturally. And every night we fell asleep at the all too reasonable hour of 9pm.

presenting a mountian

tah-dah!

These early nights were totally necessary for our long days of running around lagoons, over lava rock piles and in between mountains. You cannot explore the Salar de Uyuni without a guide, and for good reason as we often felt like we were in a car commercial, driving across roadless deserts into snow-capped mountains. We thought we were going to be spending four days looking at salt, silly us, but our drive took us all around the western part of Potosi, Bolivia’s highest region. And if you need some perspective on altitudes, Toronto rests at about 77meters above sea level and the peak of Mount Everest at 8848 meters, while we were at 5000 meters.

joce mountain 

Jocelyn skipping on sludge piles in a lagoon full of flamingos (flamingos not pictured)

One of our favorite things about Potosi imagery is the clouds. We took too many cloud photos, but cannot figure out which ones are the best. At points we could look over the side of a hill and see clouds below us. It’s a different world up there.

alien landing

gravity escapes one in high altitudes

We found it difficult not to fly away sometimes. You could just be lifted right off the ground and carried away with the wind…

highest five

total self-timer success

We spent hours jumping in front of the camera, which led itself to hours of uncontrollable giggles. Luckily everyone in our bus thought us more charming than annoying, and they also let us sing along to some really great radio tunes, such as Gangster’s Paradise, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and Thriller.

rock tree

when volcanos sneeze they sometimes make rock trees, like this one.

Most of the land around The Salar de Uyuni is made up of former volcanos and the messes that they made. We ended up spending most of our time climbing up giant volcanic rocks that are scattered throughout the desert. The Rock Tree, pictured above, is just one of the many funny formations. We also saw The Rock Uterus, but you’ll have to pay us to see that one.

blowing smoke

just blowing off some steam at 5000 meters

At 5am on our last morning, our driver Waldo raced our Jeep up a volcano in order to catch the geysers before the sunrise. After that we wouldn’t be able to see anything but a bunch of smoke. I thought we were racing to catch the sunrise, and I really felt the pressure of the minutes as light crept over the mountain tops, preparing to decide who in the car would win the bet of when the sunrises.

uyuni sunrise

we finally made it to a sunrise, so we thought it best to meet above the clouds

It was very exciting to make our first sunrise! We have a few failed attempts under our belt, so we felt really proud that we made it to such a good one. Afterwards we drove down to a hot spring where we let nature humbly present us with more of its luxuries. And for the first time in days we felt warm, how we missed it so.

Our jeep dropped us off at what Waldo called The Frontier. It is the border where Bolivia meets Chile and Argentina, so every direction you turn you are looking at a different country. Here we hopped on a bus that drove us 3000 meters down to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. Although we could always see the mountain that we had just come from, the heat of the desert made us feel so far away.

San Pedro de Atacama is a lovely town that Madonna likes to do yoga in, which has been plagued by its own tourist industry. There are restaurants everywhere, all serving hearty expensive food, but as far as we can tell they all meet up at a secret location where tourists aren’t allowed in order to buy their fruits and vegetables. Thanks Madonna.

moon

if you stick your camera in a telescope you can photograph the moon!

Besides the high prices, the town has a magic to it blown in from the desert. One evening we went on an astrological tour in the Valle de la Luna, a desert full of moon-like craters. We were so excited to do this tour, because we have spent the last two months staring at the night sky trying our best to decode it. The guide was a very patient astronomer who had two telescopes set up and fed us wine and pisco sours. He showed us Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn (we saw the rings!) and the moon, which blinded us temporarily when we looked at it through the telescope. He also answered all our questions, such as “What’s that? Is that a constellation? Can you tell us another one? What about that? And that? Is that a thing?” The answers being, in case you are curious, “A nexus. Yes, it’s the Southern Cross. Leo. Cancer. Pieces. Yes, it’s Andromeda.”

From San Pedro we headed down the coast to a town called La Serena, where we discovered that sometimes all the hostels in a town fill up. Go figure. We wandered the streets unfazed, feeling that the universe was still on our side. Minutes later a man named Andres approached us, claiming to be the son of one of the town’s most infamous hostel owners, Maria, and invited us into his home to rent out his spare room. Here we got this distinct taste for normal life. We had music, an apartment, keys, rode the bus to the beach. We felt so normal we forgot to take any photos.

After a few days we headed to Santiago, where we stayed with my uncle Peter. The normal feeling only grew. Now we had a metro system and the internet to add to our normalcy. We would sleep in, chat with our friends, hang out in the park, do yoga and go out for vegetarian meals. Peter said it best, it was our vacation from travelling.

peter

our gracious Santiago host, my uncle Peter

Even more normal, we had friends in Santiago! We were making plans with people! Cat and Andrea are two friends of mine from Toronto who just happened to be in Santiago at the time. We went to the beach in Vina del Mar with Cat and her cousin, where it was clear that all people from Toronto dress the same. We went out in Bella Vista with Andrea, where we drank giant bottles of beer and danced up a storm. Normal! All that was missing from our lives was some texting.

twinsies

secret twins

Our time in Santiago felt so refreshing, but we had to hit the road again. We went back to the coast, to the art-filled town of Valparaiso. Jocelyn and I both decided that we could live in Valparaiso. Every park is covered in mosaiac, every house and store has a mural on it, the street walls lined with the most colourful and intricate graffiti.

arty stairs

there is art EVERYWHERE in Valparaiso, Chile

The town was inspiring, and it made us want to share it with everyone back home. Maybe it was having a normal life, or just that we have reached the halfway point of our trip, but we are feeling particularly homesick. How does everyone feel about picking up and moving to Valparaiso together? We can all live on the same street, buy some wonderful Spanish colonial properties, start up a few grassroots organizations and shops and spend most of our time doing whatever our little hearts desire. Good? Great!

group jump

flying away with our friends Sascha and Gianna

We miss you guys still, even as we jump through the atmosphere, landing in parks and mountains. I hope you really understand just what I mean when I say we talk about you all the time. Because we talk about you ALL THE TIME. Now so many people all over the world know just how amazing the people we know are, and just how much we miss them.

I hope you are keeping it real and staying golden, although I’m sure you are.

We miss you and love you and think you are amazing xoxoxoxoxo

Love,

Hannah and jocelyn

to all of our warm winter loves,

alright, i admit it: it’s been waaaay too long since a blog entry has been written and it is one hundred percent my fault.  the more awesome that kept happening to us, the more the act of writing about it became more & more daunting.  but now that we’ve flown to an entirely new country, bolivia, i can’t put off storytelling any longer.  that, and hannah gave me a strict deadline that i was incapable of escaping.  so, this one is for her.

after spending a few days wandering the beautiful streets of cartagena, sipping sunset cocktails at the cafe del mar, and accidentally agreeing to a dancing double-date with our friend diego from hotel holiday, hannah & i were feeling a little restless.  i couldn’t really conceive of why exactly i was feeling frustrated, but it was there and i just couldn’t seem to shake it.  since the hostel provided free storage, we decided that what we had to do was ditch our backpacks and go on a mini-journey.  so with that overwhelming desire to explore, along with our little daypacks, we headed eight hours south to the town of mompos.

mompos cloudscape over the magdalena

as soon as we had stepped one foot off that bus, every little trouble instantly melted away.  i no longer felt lost in a sea of tourists, but finally felt like a traveler.  i later told hannah that it seemed as if we’d unlocked the next level.  we were finally travelling the way i wanted to all along, and i was all smiles, outside & underneath.  and it was in this blissful state that we met our very first (and very  best) friend in mompos, la generalita, an impossibly tiny recently-pregnant black mutt that led us everywhere.

our perro, our guide, our friend forever: la generalita

in spite of the fact that we refused to feed her for hours, the generalita followed us around town all day, escorting us through the crowded sidewalks, along the river, and waited patiently for us any time we popped into a shop to pick up necessary items (bug spray, popsicles, cookies).  she was so loyal to us, to the point that she camped out in front of the hostel overnight the evening we left, crawling out from underneath a parked car at five-thirty in the morning just to see us off.  that broke our hearts to pieces.  we miss her every day, and still wonder out loud as to what she’s up to.

sunset over the magdalena river

the momposians welcomed us warmly, every passerby wanting to wish us an excellent stay, each tour guide stopping us in the middle of the street to share their knowledge of the island with us (“i can show you a church with the highest ceiling in mompos!”), restaurant owners offering to demonstrate how to cut our fish properly (thank you, mary!).  it warmed my heart that the locals were so proud their culture, and genuinely wanted us to enjoy the good they experience in their daily lives.

the coolest mango tree ever, of all time

hannah & i spent much of our time in mompos reading & writing, as the midday heat was incapacitating and the town shut down completely at ten every night, but we still made time to explore every day.  one afternoon was devoted to a riverboat tour along the magdalena & through one of mompos’ rural neighbourhoods, during which we ate fresh nispero (a colombian fruit) off of a tree in some family’s yard and hannnah tamed a parrot, and another was spent in the town’s botanical garden, where an elderly gardener described the use & properties of each & every plant, tree, and flower surrounding us.  our time in mompos was special, and it felt like the start of something new.

boating off into the sunset... ride on

after grabbing our packs from cartagena, it was off to santa marta.  after a couple of nights at the dreamer hostel, where hannah & i made a bunch of cool new pals, we once again crammed some gear into our daypacks with our sights set on minca, a quaint mountain village famous for its various coffee farms.  our original plan was to stay in minca only briefly as we wanted to make our way to parque tayrona, but following an afternoon of playing just a bit too long in a chilly waterfall (some things never get old), hannah & i caught colds.  and so we stayed put, which, in hindsight, was a great choice.  the extra time gave us the opportunity to hike up to a coffee plantation, finca la victoria, and tour the farm.

a self-timer success during our hike up to finca la victoria

it was just the neatest to learn about the entire process, from the picking to the bean selection to the cleaning to the roasting, and to see it all operate on water from the mountains and on machinery from the nineteenth century!  it ruled.  we bought only a pound, and it is amazingly delicious, smooth & fine & full of love.

they literally have children handpicking coffee beans on the plantation

the farm consisted of a small community of coffee bean pickers that traveled colombia throughout the year to pick the finest beans, which were then transported back to the plantation & sorted through manually by individuals like this nine-year-old boy.  we were not concerned for his living situation, as it seemed like this was more of a chore for him than an actual occupation.

this tiny contraption roasts -all- off the coffee beans on the farm

there were a lot of beans on that farm, and this little guy pictured above did all the roasting.  roasting in small batches, our guide jorge informed us, ensured that the quality of the beans was the finest it could be.  yum.  all of the grade-a beans were shipped to the states and germany, while the colombians were allowed to keep the rest.  this shipping of the best goods outside of the country is an unfortunate trend we continue to experience throughout our travels.  hannah & i are really missing fruits& veggies, and are hurtin’ for a good salad.

here we are in our festive headpieces, covered in corn powder (not cocaine)

from minca, we traveled to barranquilla for carnaval.  we had heard that this was a party not to miss, but we were in no way prepared for the magnitude of the fiesta – it is, without a doubt, the biggest party that either of us has ever been to.  music blasted in the streets at all hours of the day & night for four straight days, everyone coming from all across the country to dance in the streets interminably and get as much sinning in as they possibly can before giving it all up for lent.  it was WILD.

party!!!! parade!!!! there is the carnaval queen dancing on a float with confetti shooting all around! so much fun everywhere always!

every minute of the day was a party – there always seemed to be some extravagant parade or bumpin’ street party happening on every block, and we partied as hard as we could for as long as humanly possible. every night we returned home covered in corn powder or espuma, or both, our bodies sore from all of the dancing.  hannah & i discussed the benefits of stretching before heading out at night, but instead we chose to take siestas & drink aguila lights (a beer pretty much equivalent to water, and thus very refreshing).

the colombians we met were kind, curious to learn about us, and super fun.  one of our favourite encounters was with a group of young students, who asked us dozens of questions about our life back in canada, and hung onto our every word.  i met my colombian counterpart, jocelyn, and hannah danced the night away with the adorable carlos, who was amazed that hannah “had the rhythm” like no gringa he had ever met.  we had the best time that night, and we miss our buddies.

our best friends in colombia, jocelyn (!) & carlos

none of this would have been possible without the hospitality and welcoming heart of our dear hostess martha, who took us under her wing for the duration of our stay in barranquilla.  she told us where all the happenin’ stuff was going on, made sure that we started our days off right with a shot of aguardiente (a colombian anise-flavoured liquor) and never allowed us to not party.  she & her mother pretty much adopted us, calling hannah & i her daughters, and we are so overwhelming grateful for being able to stay with her in barranquilla.  it’s a good thing we’re coming back to colombia on our way back up the continent, since we both miss it dearly already.

our beautiful hostesses in barranquilla

our people, we miss you every day and talk about it all the time, but we are living the life and are smiling big and are happy & light in our hearts and couldn’t ask for better fun.  another blog post will come sooner than this one, since i seriously slacked off & we want to share all of these amazing & meaningful experiences with you since it makes them even more wonderful when we can say them out loud.  stay warm, stay golden, we’re sending you every hug we’ve got and we love you infinity!

during carnaval everyone sprays one another with a silly foam, 'espuma'

all love,
hannah & joce

Well hello again my darlings, dearests, sweetnesses, and adorables.

First of all, Jocelyn and I miss everyone so much and we talk about it all the time. Travelling lends itself to time to think, and our thoughts are full of the people we love. When our brains are free of the stresses of leading stable lives, it seems they embrace the opportunity to load up on the funny things that make you people funny, the wonderful things that make you all so wonderful, and the day dreaming fantasies of a future with all said glorious humans. Can you tell I´m in a good mood?

One of the many deserted islands in San Blas

We rushed ourselves from Bocas del Toro to Panama City in order to arrange ourselves a sailing trip through the San Blas Islands and across open water to Cartagena, Colombia. Little did we know that this would mean staying put in one place for a whole week. Panama City, for all its wonder and charm, can get pretty boring after a few days. The canal is worth looking at for its engineering genius, but looking is about all there is to do. Luckily our hostel housed some of the world´s best personalities and the town´s best bar.

We chose our boat carefully, picking one off the hostel´s white board and looking up its website. It seemed too good to be true, so we booked two spaces on the Buon Vento in a flash. Over the next few days we heard only horror story after horror story of the sailing trip to Cartagena and the overcrowding of boats, drunk captains, rough waters and small boats. We continously assured ourselves and those around us that we would be riding on a catamaran, and the website looks great, thus everything would be fine. Perfect even. And if I can tell you anything, it is that confidence pays off!

Meet our Capitàn, Edoardo Turatti- Sailor of many seas, drinker of only a responsible amount of alcohol, and looks like my uncle Frank!

Edoardo our captain!

Our boat was not overcrowded in the slightest. We sailed with two of Edoardo´s friends, Maria and Maoro; Nicolino the cook; Nathalie and Valentin, a Swiss couple in the middle of a 4 year adventure driving around North and South America; and Theresia and Vroni, two friends from Germany we met at Luna´s Castle hostel in Panama who we convinced that our boat choice was the best boat choice. Good thing we were right. We spent two days sailing leisurely around the San Blas Islands, snorkelling in clear blue waters, diving for conch shells, swimming onto sandy shores, tanning in the new feared Carribean sun (refer to previous blog post re: sun fears), catching our own meals and having the four star chef prepare them. I have never felt so rich in my life – and on such a budget too! Needless to say, our cheeks hurt from smiling so much.

Our cook, Nicolino, with the fish he caught and prepared on board

Our first morning on board, we were woken up with battle sounds. A shark decided that we were no good, and tried to head butt us out of her territory. I would think this would be a good time to respect the ocean, but it is in fact a better time to teach a shark a lesson. Nicolino caught the shark on a line, and we all took photos without asking her, and then hung her from the side of the boat. I was a little worried we were going to eat shark for dinner, and everything was happening in Italian so I was a little confused. Out came the large fishing tools, and just as I was ready to close my eyes, they pulled the hook out of her mouth and set her free. As the relief set in, I suddenly turned my attention to Maoro who was swimming on the once shark-free side of the boat. But what we had done, if I understand correctly, was establish our territory. Therefore, Maoro was our dinner and the shark knew to back off. Or maybe we are all just lucky ducks with horseshoes up our butts. So, we went swimming!

A Shark wants to come aboard the Buon Vento

I do not have the words to describe the San Blas Isands, so you are going to have to make due with the picture. The islands are owned by the native Kuna people, who paddle between the deserted white sand beach and palm trees by canoe. They have huts set up on each one for private use, many of them unoccupied, but welcome all visitors who pay the entrance fee. When we reached our first island destination, we were greeted by some Kuna people in their canoe, who sold us fresh caught fish and hand beaded anklets. They wrap them around your calf, and can go all the way up to your knee. I have a theory that it is practicle jewlery for preventing bug bites, but have found nothing in print to back this up. Our ankles look great though. And so do our tans! (Jocelyn feels a little insecure about some tan lines she has on her shoulders, but she looks great. But you can´t see that here).

A photo of an island in San Blas that our heads popped into (we are squinting majorly because the beautiful sun is hurting our delicate North American eyeballs)

On our third day, we hit the open waters for 32 hours of sailing destined for Cartagena. It is on these open waters that I discovered I get sea sick. But in my defense, Edoardo said the waters were particularly rough. With no land in sight… anywhere… the only thing they eye likes to look at is the large 15ft waves that our boat bounced over. Up and down and up and down and something inside me assumes it will stop eventually, but it doesn´t and it keeps happening and my stomach turns and looks in my brain for guidance, but my brain can´t tell if I am floating in air or space or time, and eventually my body is so fed up it purges of its insides, just looking for attention. But really, I puked before we hit open waters. It´s like being car sick but you don´t want to close your eyes. I am SO thankful Jocelyn felt ok (excluding the night when it sounded like we were at war with the ocean from inside our cabin). She held my hair back, cleaned me up, fed me crackers, rubbed my back and cuddled me the whole time. I have never felt so happy to have such an amazing travel buddy and friend by my side. She´s the best :)

Guess which one of us got sea sick

After a long, sleepless night, the day was not so bad. My body gave up trying to establish equilibrium, and then ocean´s temper tantrum calmed a little. We ate salad and crackers and kept liquids to a minimum. We arrived in Cartagena just in time for one of its famous sunsets, a perfect omen for a perfect (minus the sick) trip. We went out for a pizza dinner in the old town, which is surrounded by Las Murallas walls, built in the 16th century in order to protect it. The colonial presence is strong, and I can´t help but feel like Fermina Daza, or one of Gabriel García Márquez´other characters, wandering around the arcades and plazas of the Carribean mainland. Another place to ripen the day dreaming fruit in my head.

Worth it!

We plan to stay here for a few days, as the streets are inviting and lively, and the people are open and welcoming. They are so quick to offer directions and advice, and treat tourists as guests as opposed to money (but we´ll talk about that one later). It feels good to be on land, solid feet on solid ground. And although we couldn´t have picked a better place to land in, I would hop right back on that boat in a heartbeat.

Love you all and miss you so much times a million!

Love,

Hannah and jocelyn

Playa Brazilito

Where our 40k bike ride with Dan & Jaime took us. Worth it!

The view from our room at Vista Pacifico

Juliana and James upgraded us to what can only be the best room in the villa. We had a door that opened to the jungle, our own private balcony, and this view from every window!

Jaco Sunset

If you look really closely, you can see one star. Hey little guy!

Looking out over Jaco

One of many amazing views on the hike guided by Juliana and James. Are they the best or what?!

But not the Armadillo

This wall followed the road on our hike in Jaco, decorating it with depictions of animals, foliage, and what one can only assume was the evolution of humankind. Or the creations of a woman driven mad by love. Or whatever.

A wooden bridge to somewhere

When we got to the other side of the Costa Rica – Panama border, we waited in line for 2 hours before entering the immigration office, where a six year old girl took our passports. She looked at them, looked at us, back at the passports, then charged us three dollars each, put a sticker in them and sent us on our way. True story.

 

Nursing our sunburns

After too much fun in the Caribbean sun on the gorgeous island of Bocas del Toro, we covered ourselves in aloe and lay still in a dark room watching bad tv for an entire afternoon. Why do people watch Two and a Half Men?  (Probably as punishment for not wearing any sunscreen.)

The next morning, on our water taxi ride from Bocas del Toro to Almirante, we met George, the owner of The Pickled Parrot, and his pal Marty.  They offered us a ride in their Delorean (which was actually a pick-up truck with a trailer attached, housing four empty coolers that could potentially have stored our harvested organs, but not actually since we knew that they were totally safe & nice) to the town of David, where we stayed overnight in a treehouse amidst a twilight dog barking showdown.  We knew that these dudes were legit after they joked, “It’s not like we’re going to take you into the jungle and rape you!”  And we knew it was a joke because they didn’t, and we are here captioning this photo.  Sorry, Mom & Dad (-jocelyn). Hi Mom and Dad (-Hannah).

A photo by a lake in the Panamanian mountains

During the drive to David, George stopped at Lake Fortuna so we could take some photos.  At a mere 4000ft above sea level, we overlooked the beautiful lake and mountain peaks. We asked someone to take our photo next to it all, so naturally he took a photo with us by a wall. What a view.

God

By the hammer of Thor! Or, Lake Fortuna.  (maybe i will attempt to photoshop us into this photo at a later date.  signed, jocelyn.)

 

A conflicted sense of urban identity

Every building in Panama city is attached to rubble, slums and/or sheet metal shanties.  The view from our hostel has both the president’s house, Casco Viejo, and crumbling, impoverished ruins where children play in piles of garbage.  Naturally, Hannah got impetigo.  THANK YOU HELEN FOR MAKING JOCELYN PACK FUCIDIN (-Hannah).  don’t worry everyone, it has not affected hannah’s freckles in any way. still as cute as ever (-jocelyn).

 

Gossiping Ladies

Just on our way to a Jazz Fest.  Within this conflicted, dichotomized space, street art still thrives. Hannah says that it seems that maybe we have witnessed a glimpse of the population feeling a social responsibility to reappropriate their environment and beautify their neighbourhoods in whatever way they can.
so those are all the photos for now, pals!  believe it or not, it actually took us over an hour to upload, caption & describe these gems to you.  we’ll do our best to keep posting every so often, even if it takes us twenty minutes per photo.  so you’ll really be seeing the best of the best.

we love you & miss you much!!!!

more love,
jocelyn & Hannah

hi guys & gals!!!!

i can’t believe i only have fourty-four minutes to describe the past nine days to you.  with all of the almost indescribable beauty that hannah & i have been experiencing on a daily basis, it seems nearly impossible.  but for you, i’m gonna try.

from tamarindo, we traveled by luxurious air-conditioned shuttle to the town of jaco in costa rica.  it was a bumpy ride, but hannah still managed to take a nap.  we were still way tuckered out from the fourty kilometer bike ride we had done with our pals jaime & dan a few days previously, but i forced myself to stay awake so i could absorb as much of the scenery as i could.  grace coddington once quoted a friend, saying that you should always be looking out the window when you’re traveling.  i’m really feeling that every day.  i don’t want to miss a single moment of anything.

upon our arrival in jaco, we were greeted by the smiling face of james, our wonderful pal juliana’s partner.  from the minute he start chauffering us to the vista pacifico aparthotel, we were spoiled rotten.  the four of us took an afternoon dip in the pool with some refreshing guanabanana cocktails, then made one of a series of delicious tilapia-heavy meals, as hannah & i had accidentally purchased eight filets not knowing how much was in a kilo.  i think it worked out pretty well for us in the end, really.  and hannah learned that she’s quite the star when it comes to bbqing fish and pineapple.  you go, girlfriend.

once juliana & james had their one day off for the week, which they so deserve for doing an amazing, amazing job running the vista pacifico residence, we all took a hike into the rainforest.  we walked up & up & up for a few hours, apologizing to all the gigantic spiders whose webs we had to destroy along the way, and following the ant highway.  guys, ants are actually the COOLEST.  did you know?  they had dug out tons of paths around the mountain, with two-lane traffic going.  they seriously know what’s up.

and that wasn’t even the best part!  on our adventure, we stumbled upon a breath-taking abandoned property, with whitewashed walls & ocean views like i’ve never seen before.  we were all positively giddy, and reluctant to leave.  but we had to go drink beers by the ocean and eat the sandwiches we had packed for lunch, so we were on our way.  driving with the windows down and breezing past each clearing, catching brief glimpses of the vastness of the water with the sun sparkling across it as far as i could see, i was humbled & i was overwhelmingly happy.  my face hurt so much from smiling.

after frolicking in the surf for what seemed like not enough time, it never seems like enough time, we raced up the mountain to watch the sunset from the rooftop patio of another lovely hotel, treated to smart drinks by juliana & james.  we owed them so much already for showing us the time of our lives, but still they wanted to take care of us.  guys, we so appreciate it.  we are super grateful for your hospitality, and are so happy to have totally owned that day together!  nailed it.

the next day, we traveled across the country (so wild that you can do that in just a day!) to puerto viejo de talamanca.  and during the bus ride from san jose to puerto viejo, since we found ourselves at a higher altitude, we drove right through a cloud.  i have no idea how to even begin explaining what the forest looked like in that atmosphere, though hannah & i agreed it was very reminiscent of fern gully.  what a sight, guys.  i wish you coulda seen it too.

after hopping off the bus in puerto viejo, okay maybe not literally hopping off this time around but usually you have to just hop off the bus since they don’t stop completely but only slow down enough for you to jump onto the curb, we started walking to a hostel called rocking j’s, where you can rent a hammock for six bucks a night, but were solicited along the way by a group of buddies doing a round of shots at their hostel.  they shouted, “hey, stay here instead!  it’s much more chill!” and as hannah & i approached rocking j’s and the bumping club bangers, we knew what we had to do.  we marched right back to la residencia caribe, swearing “only to stay two nights” and now we’ve been here ever since.

apparently this is one of the blessings & the curses of staying in puerto viejo – it’s so chill, you never want to leave, and are somewhat incapable after some time.  the people are so kind & the vibe is so warm that some people just get stuck here forever.  like, actually.  dani & dave are the super down-to-earth couple running the hostel, with temporary assistance from dave’s cousin dan, and the other locals & travelers we’ve met, among them jay, mata & brynn, we’ve ended up staying two nights longer than we intended to.  and have loved every minute of it.

and all of this has led up to this particular afternoon, with mata taking a group of us to share the experience of the local waterfalls.  it was really, really something.  fresh water from the mountains falls into the jungle, creating a really powerful force that you can swim up to, stand under, and feel the water rushing through your fingers.  the might (thanks for the synonym, hannah) you witness is absolutely exhilarating.  it’s so much that you become a little short of breath.  literally a breathtaking experience.

i don’t know if i’ve ever been happier.  the sights, the sounds, the smells, the up & go, the meeting such open hearts & minds, the dirt under my fingernails, the salt in my eyebrows, there’s just so much that’s happening all of the time and i’m always trying to digest it.  but one of the most heartwarming parts of it all is seeing everything with my own eyes, looking over at my buddy, and sharing this happiness together.  it just rules.

we both miss you all so much, but don’t worry, we are carpe diem’ing the shit out of this trip.  pretty much every night we’re able to look at one another and say “good day.”  we hope that you’re all having so many good days of your own.

affectionately,
joce & hannah

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