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Saturday, October 19, 2013

PLOTTING NICARAGUA TO COLOMBIA

FERRY TICKETS

Rolled up to the ticket counter to buy a ticket for the ferry and had a Jim Galford moment.  (Note:  For those who don't know, Jim Galford is an author friend of mine who has been cursed by the gods to deal with amazingly inept people.  He writes about these incidents on Facebook.  Be sure to follow his page for many amusing stories which could - and perhaps should - be made into a sitcom.)

Logan:  "I'd like to buy a ticket for the ferry for tomorrow please."

Lady:  "We can't sell you a ticket."

Logan:  "Er?  Why not?  You're here, I'm here, you are obviously open."

Lady:  "It's not two o'clock!  We can't sell tickets for the ferry for tomorrow until after two!"  (She looked at Logan as though he'd just punted a cat after molesting it.)

"Ah.  It's four minutes until two."

Lady:  (After badmouthing Americans a bit in Spanish thinking I don't understand)  "After two!"

Logan:  "Why don't I go have a cigarette."

Cut to....2:01 PM!

Logan walks up to the counter.  The lady looks at him as though she'd never seen him before.

Lady:  "Yes?"

Logan:  (Scrolls through his mind like the Terminator, examining various statements and discarding the 'fun' ones as this lady may represent the only way off this money sucking island of unbelievable heat and shitty wifi.)  "I'd like to buy a ticket for tomorrows ferry."

Lady:  "Passport."

Logan:   "Shit.  I'll be back."



SCHEMING

TJ came up with a chipper idea of 'well screw Colombia if they want proof of onward transit.  This would normally be a good idea but other countries look about as bad down there.

Once I can 'break into' south America I should be OK for such things as border crossings and such, thanks to good advice from my personal travel mentor.

It's looking like I may be forced into taking a leisurely four day small boat ride through the waters of the Caribbean to get around the 'no road bandit infested you'd have to be mad to come here' area between Panama and Colombia overland route.  Curse my bad luck.

It's looking like it will be expensive weighing in at about $500.  This does look cheaper than the plane rides I've found which seem to route through the USA.  Presumably, nobody in Central America has any real interest in visiting anyone in South America.

Perhaps they don't get along.

Perhaps the gorillas act as a 'great wall' between Central and South.

Not really sure but it is certainly looking more expensive than a $50 bus ride.  Sure, more adventurous as well.  Boats occasionally go down.  Don't think we're going to be invaded by pirates because it's my understanding they pack the boat so full of people there won't be any room for them.

Doesn't appear that it is possible to catch a boat from anywhere other than Panama.

Sad.

If anyone has any ideas or wishes to contribute any information I'm grateful.



QUOTES

"I'd rather live a dangerous life than none at all trying to stay 'safe'." - Logan Horsford


Owner of the hostel after I came back from a long walk covered in sweat:  "You're melting!"
Logan:  "Yet the fat remains."

Later,

Logan:  "Hey man, do you want this pizza?  I bought it today, ate the other half and it's made me very sick."
Owner of the hostel:  "I'll give it to Roberto (the cleaning guy).  He eats anything."



TRAVELER'S LORE

Don't use the money exchangers to get local currency within Central America.  The local populace sees US dollars as more stable and reliable and give better rates than that band of pirates.  Note that denominations larger than $20's may be difficult for many places to exchange.  Here, as in Asia you often come upon merchants who keep no change handy as they apparently weren't expecting to do any business.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

UTILA AND SCUBA DIVING...THE REAL COSTS

SCUBA DIVING

I'd heard that 'Honduras is the cheapest place in the world to get certified in SCUBA diving.'

This may be true but the costs people have run by me in the past are wildly off.  Lets break down what the actual costs are and how much you're going to need to get involved with this hobby.


The basic cost to get certified in 'open water' (as opposed to someone's swimming pool I suppose) is about $300 (give or take 10%).  The course lasts for four days.

In addition, the dormitory room is thrown in for free.

That didn't sound too bad until I saw a couple of them...And smelled them.

If you don't mind staying in a filthy room that smells strongly of ass, this is a good option.


Should you wish to upgrade to a private room, the cheapest I could find here (at the Captain Morgan's dive center) adds $30 per day or $120 for the four day course.

This ups your cost to about $420 if you'd like to sweat your ass off in a private room instead.


Air conditioning?  You thought that price included air conditioning?  No.  Electricity on islands is expensive.  Add ten dollars a day.  We're now at $460.  Believe me, even in the slightly sometimes it's cooler rainy season, you want electricity.

Now you're going to need to eat and drink while you are here.  It always makes me want to punch tourists that say "This is cheap compared to back home!"

Because everything you eat and buy is imported to the island, it costs more than the mainland.

The average meal seems to cost about 150L.  Lets say either three meals a day or two and some beverages.  Maybe even a bit of alcohol.  We could go with $22 per day but the reality will be closer to $30 per day.  Don't forget that the government here smelled extra profit to be made and stuck a hefty VAT (value added tax though it is unclear what the 'value' part is) onto things and the merchants pass that directly on to the consumer.  At $30 per day we're up to $580.

If you want to buy knickknacks and small gifts for people you'll have to budget for that.  I think planning on $20 per person you are buying for is safe but I don't buy knickknacks so that's just an educated guess.

After you get certified, you're going to want to do 'fun dives'.  These are $25 each but they sell them in pairs (the boat thing) so call them $50 and you get two 45 minute dives.

This doesn't include incidentals like actually getting to the island (nearly 500L) and away again, doing extra excursions while on the island and so on.

No clue how many of these you'll want to indulge in but it would make sense to get some experience and see a bunch of natural beauty after going through all the trouble to qualify for it.

For me, this seems a bit too expensive of hobby to indulge in.  Not sure if for the call it $700 to $1000 I'd blow through in a week it would be worth it to sit around for several months in cheap digs trying not to do anything but suck down on water bottles to have a bit of fun like that.

Honestly, I thought the price would be half of what it is.   I'm sure there are plenty of people who would argue (rightly) that they did it for a lot less than the costs I've computed.  Honestly though, if you are going to do something like this you want to have a good time and not worry about penny pinching everything.

End recommendation, take a grand with you to blow through and have fun.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

COPAN RUINAS AND ON TO LA CEIBA

THE PLAN THUS FAR

Current thinking:

Monday, go buy a ticket to Le Ceiba.  Tuesday, go there.  Arriving on the weekends to a new place is not great.

If I can find a comfortable and very cheap place in La Ceiba, loiter there for a bit.  Otherwise, get on to Utilia and check out their scuba diving.  After that, Nicaragua.

Gotta get to Costa Rica before the extremely short visa they give for the four countries in the middle of central America runs out.  After there and possibly Panama it's on to south America.



HAPPINESS IS

When traveling,

Happiness is:

Being able to fart without fear it will be like soft serve ice cream delivered with a high pressure air hose.



LAUNDRY

Back when I was living in the states and a single person would tell me "I have to stay home and do the laundry today." I would take it for granted that meant either: "I have found something better to do." or "I just want to putter around my house today." I just got done doing laundry. With a washboard. Different story when I say "I've got to do the laundry." That means I'll be splashing around in stagnant water rubbing soap the size and shape of a can of coke (or pepsi if you prefer) over clothing and using them on the washboard for a bit.



CLEANING STAFF

Never mess with the cleaning staff.  Been my motto for years.   I try to be polite and considerate of them.

Why?

1.  Cleaning up other peoples crap for lousy pay is a hard job.
2.  They have full access to my room.  Don't want them to slip a snake into my bed or something.



LA CEIBA

Well, I am in La Saba (Honduras). It is a grim and depressing city that is extremely dangerous.

A couple of expats I spoke with at the bus station told me it was too dangerous to walk around anywhere - even in the day time.

After getting a taxi to my one night hotel (also grim and depressing) the owner felt the need to stand outside with me on the street while I smoked to make sure I didn't get rolled.

So happy I am out of here tomorrow.

Compared to Copan, this place is also crazy expensive.  Twenty USD seems the cheapest one can get a hotel room.  I'm staying at a place called 'The Stadium' - don't recommend it though they want me to write a review on it.

Be careful what you wish for.

The choices in town seem to be this place, a more expensive hotel or one outside of town that appeals to the 'lets go to the jungle' crowd.  I've been in enough jungles for awhile.



VIDEO

Copan Ruinas 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7



COSTS

Hotel room - very basic in Copan normally 15 USD, haggled down to 10 for long term.  In La Ceiba, 20 USD.

Food in La Ceiba, about 200 L plus 40-50 per drink.  Bit on the 'fuck you' side of costs for me.  Food was decent but I just had a burger and fries.

PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia | Michigan | Illinois | Colorado |

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