Thursday, March 29, 2007

I'm alive, but just barely...

Yes, I'm alive. I've been traveling throughout the Caribbean side of Costa Rica and (crossed over to Panama as well) for the last 2 weeks. Tortuguero, Cahuita, Puerto Viejo and Bocas Del Toro Islands in Panama. I survived a bike wreck, vicious spider monkeys (For God's sake, don´t feed them. Take it from a guy who fed them!), buses breaking down, and no running water for 3 days (Can you say "stinky"?)

Details to follow, be patient.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Running of the Dogs!

This picture isn't the best but will get the idea. In Heredia, I used to run at about 5:45 in the morning because the weather was incredible (eternal Spring) and there weren't many cars on the road yet (less exhaust.) I would make a loop or two around the soccer field next to the church. Little did I know that once or twice a week, this field becomes a feeding frenzy. The lady above apparently feeds these stray dogs raw chicken. Stray dogs are literally everyone in Costa Rica and they have never been a problem for me. But I've never seen them in packs before either. On this day, however, the entire city of stray, homeless, hungry dogs gather together jovially to feast on a small unfulfilling banquet of raw chicken. I think you see where this is going.

I jogged by them after the banquet was over but didn't think anything of it. No big deal right.

Well, one small and I mean small dog (1 ft long, 6 inches tall, a dog you can just throw against a wall) starts chasing me as I jog by. I ignore him because of his size which was a mistake. In dog speak, he asks the rest of the dog congregation to follow suit. Included in this group is a band of some larger canines, all of which, are very unhappy about my presence.

Within seconds, I'm running at full speed from a pack of rabbi's infested, grub hungry dogs down the streets in Heredia. I honestly didn't know what to do and it's difficult to think when you can hear dogs barking and biting directly behind you.

Well, as I turned the corner, I turned around and saw a large dog behind me barking. As soon as I turned back around, I felt my shorts pull back as he attempted to bite me. Without thought, I quickly stopped, turned around and yelled at the top of my lungs. Nothing comprehensible, just a loud roar. I don't know what I expected to accomplish but I was just mad. That dog crossed a line and since flight wasn't working, it was time to fight. What's funny is that all of the dogs scattered except the little dog that had caused the trouble in the first place. I was so angry! I ran after him hoping to kick him about 50 yards but he scurried away.

Imagine watching a foreigner outside of your window getting chased by dogs and then yelling to the top of his lungs at 6:00 in the morning. That's a funny site.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Interesting Tidbits about Costa Rica

Tidbit #1:

There are no water heaters in Costa Rica. The hot water (warm water, hot water would be an overstatement) for your shower is generated from the shower head contraption itself (see above). It's a little scary at first because you have electric wires (I've even seen bare wires) running to your shower head. These little contraptions are far from dependable and you usually have to play with them for about 30 to 45 seconds before you'll actually feel anything warm.

Tidbit #2:

The sewer systems in Costa Rica are not setup to flush toilet paper down the commodes. All toilet paper must go in the waste basket. If you're down here, you've got to break yourself of the habit.

Tidbit #3:

They really don't have street names down here. San Jose is the only place where I've seen some type of system. The other places are "300 meters north of the church,..."

Tidbit #4:

Each town in Costa Rica has 3 things: Church, School & (you guessed it) Soccer Field. The rest our optional but you will always find these things.

Tidbit #5:

You really do eat rice & beans everyday for every meal. You certainly don't have to but it is very common here. And after a while, its actually pretty good. The food is very different from Mexican food and to imply it is offensive to Ticans (Costa Ricans).

The one thing they have here is incredibly cheap fruit. They make great fruit drinks with milk. When I get back to the States, I will definitely be eating more fruits.

My Travels

I bet you're wondering, "Frank, where did you get such a clear map and beautiful artwork?" Well, I'm on a budget. That's all I can say. My email access has been limited so I wanted to try to catch everyone up on my travels while I'm in San Jose (and the Internet access is plentiful) for the night.

On Jan 21, I flew into San Jose and was taken to my host family in Heredia (only a 15 minute drive.) I studied in Heredia at a school called CPI ( They have 3 different campuses: Heredia, Monteverde & Playa Flamingo. I studied with CPI for a total of 5 weeks: 3 in Heredia and 2 in Playa Flamingo. During my stay, I visited:

-Manual Antonio National Park (1 weekend)
-Puntarenas & Montezuma (1 weekend)
-Playa Tamarindo (my first try at surfing, NICE!)
-Playa Conchal (a beach made of shells instead of sand)

After Playa Flamingo, I've been studying at a school called Montana Linda ( It's in the very small town of Orosi but it is wonderful. The people are very friendly and helpful. Besides being a great place to live, surrounded on all sides by mountains, rivers & waterfalls, the school & hostel are extremely affordable ($480/month). Even with a homestay (2 meals/day & laundry), it's still only $680/month. You can't beat it anywhere in Costa Rica.

Last weekend, a group of us went to Volcan Irazu and afterward to the town of Turriabla for white water rafting on the Rio Pacuare (#5 Best Rafting River in the world). I didn't bring my camera during the trip because I was afraid it would find it's way back in the river but I wish I had taken a disposable camera. The views of the valleys and the rain forest were unreal, absolutely incredible! Amazing!

Tonight, I'm staying in San Jose to catch the bus to Puerto Viejo (on the Carribean) in the morning and then to the islands of Bocas del Toro in Panama next week.

From there, I'm not sure. I would like to continue learning Spanish but I would also like to continue travel as well. We'll see.

Canon cameras are the best!

Just a side note. My camera mysteriously recovered from the dip in the river. The day I was going to take it to the camera repair shop, I turned it on & it worked like a charm. Happy Day!

Volcan Irazu

I love this photo. I was at Volcan Irazu, near Orosi in the Central Valley. I see a path around the other side of the crater that has "Do Not Enter" & "Danger" signs posted but a path has clearly been made. As the clouds start to move in, I take off down the steep hill to explore the other side. I felt like I was in an episode of Star-Trek on another planet: completely surrounded with white mist, a dead silence and desolate landscape void of all life. Incredible!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Surfer Dude!

I've had a couple people express deep concerns that I would not surf during my time in Costa Rica. I'm here to dismiss this rumor once and for all and I have a picture to prove it. During my stay in Playo Flamingo, we took a bus

to Playa Tamarindo for an afternoon of surfing. It was challenging but really fun. I even stood up on my first actual wave. My roomate had been surfing since he was 12 so he gave me the low down. I plan to find another beach soon for about a week of it. Maybe on the Carribean side this time but I'm not sure. I've heard Malpais & Santa Teresa are nice.

Pura Vida!

Me gusta leche de gato!

Last night, my mama tica prepared a fruit drink for me. Fruit drinks are very popular here and they are very good ( & nutritious!) As I was lifting the glass to take a drink, I asked her what kind of milk it was. At that moment, here daughter's cat ran under the kitchen table and she responded "cat." I spit the milk back in the glass and set it down because I thought I was drinking cat's milk. She laughed for about 10 minutes at the expression on my face. It was only milk blended with canteloupe.

Since then, I ask for "leche de gato" for every meal.

Monday, March 5, 2007


Since I'm starting off my first post without a picture, I thought it would be appropriate to start off by saying that I don't have a camera. Correction, I don't have a functioning camera.

I was hopping from rock to rock (more like boulders) in the Rio Macho in (Orosi, Costa Rica) trying to find a nice rock to relax on and do some homework. When I landed on one of the boulders, it shifted, causing me to fly forward. Both of my flip-flops ripped off and I busted up my big toe as I scrambled to stop myself from eating the next rock. After my heart started beating again, I heard something splash in the river. I noticed that my water bottle in my backpack was missing. And soon after, I noticed that it was starting to flow down stream. I quickly rushed out to grab it. Ecstatic, I went back ashore to repair my destroyed sandals and tend to my bleeding toe. It wasn't then until I realized that my camera was in the same pocket as my water bottle. Indeed, it had fell in the river but sank comfortably to the bottom of the shallow part of the river. I recovered it and after letting it dry. It works but the lenses and the LCD are fogged up. I'll see if I can get someone to overcharge me to fix it this week.

Pura Vida!