Sunday, 22 February 2009

Nica time...

... is much like Africa time, Asia time, or in fact anywhere where time is just a mere concept of when something might happen, or indeed might not happen, depending on the weather, phase of the moon, inclination of the bus driver, etc. But that's why we do it right?

So I arrived in Esteli - an alleged coffee cowboy town in the north of Nicaraguaaa - staarving hungry (owing to a missing, now found, 500 lempira, sort of thing that could happen to anyone, don't really want to talk about it) only to find that apparently 9pm is not the sort of time that food is available. Strange. Anyways took a day wondering around the town generally seeing things (as those with open eyes do) and learning about the civil war at the Sandinista/FSLN gallery of heroes and martyrs - "Que se rinda tu madre! Patria libre o morir!" as Esteli saw a lot of the fighting. Interesting stuff.

And then it was I accidentally managed to hitch a ride along the side of the road (apparently less bumpy than the actual road), the bus dropped me off at a crossroads in the middle of nowhere and who was I to say no to an air conditioned vehicle (with non-murderous looking people inside), my spanish managed to learn that they were married and heading to the beach for V-day (vomit fest). Alas got halfway then jumped onto a bus on the understanding that I would have to change to get to my final destination of Leon. So it wasn't entirely my fault that when the bus pulled into the station I wondered around asking for a bus to Leon, finding it surprising that several buses had Leon written as the destination but that none of them seemed to be heading that way... a few stupid conversations later (my Spanish failed) I was able to determine that I was in fact in Leon. Idiota. TAXI!!

Leon itself was interesting enough, with an enormous cathedral, lots of literary clout (some dude called Ruben Dario who is the best poet in Latin America, apparently, I wouldn't know, it's all Spanish to me) and artistic bonhomie. Some good food too. Alas next stop on the rollercoaster was Granada, another one of those colonial towns which is very gentrified in the centre yet distinctly ungentrified everywhere else, which was infinitely more interesting. From here I spent a day chilling at Laguna de Apoyo which is a lake in the crater of a volcano good for kayaking, floating and sadly sunburning ones nose. The next day was spent swinging through the trees like superman with the monkeys and trotting around the astonishingly cloudy cloud forest of Volcan Mombacho, which was bueno (plus the clouds parted long enough to take a piccie or two).

With a bit more time than I had initially budgeted for I squeezed in a trip down to San Juan del Sur for some surf action amongst the raging, err, surf. A really cool lesson with Alfredo later and I was actually able to surf! Standing up and all!!! AMAAAAZING! This does not mean to say that I didn't wipeout lots and lots and get covered in bruises and more sunburnt noses, but I don't care, I finally AM a surf dude-ish.

Lots of Canadian ice cream later (I don't know why so much) and I was making my way across to Isla de Ometepe, which is I quote: "the sort of place you find in fairytales or fantasy novels; an island formed by twin volcanoes rising out of a lake", sheez it's a hard life... Well, beautiful sunsets aside, it isn't all easy as we took a walk up Volcan Maderas to la cascada, I can confirm that it is hot here, and volcanoes tend to be largely steeply upward in one direction and steeply downward in the other. Lots of improbably sized butterflies and monkeys sighted en route through 'ecological' fruit plantations. Delicious lunch in a nearby comodore and bus ride with the cutest kid who was just dropped off on her own halfway, barely able to walk as the bus driver shouted to the house "chicatina! chicatina!". Apparently a vida pollo costs only 160 cordoba at market... I may be bringing one home (and some flor de cana of course).

Alas it is the mention of home which brings this trip to an end. Cue food poisoning and a long journey (great combination) towards a tired face in work on Wednesday, y'know we're not going to adapt to climate change without me... although I do think a satellite office in C.America could help things along nicely.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

¿Como esta, chica?

Yeehee, don't tell anyone but I've escaped from the rat race for a couple of weeks for un poco viaje a centrale america... First stop on the journey a night in Miami, coinciding with the Superbowl, if only I cared. Anyways, after the slowest most third world bus trip in the world (yes (we can) in the US of A) hopped onto the plane to the palacial surrounds of San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

Knowing what little I know about solo girls and fast latin american cities, I decided that this wasn't the place to spend much time so I hot footed it to the rainforests of La Ceiba where I secluded myself in a jungle camp under the cover of darkness. Daylight broke to reveal a raging river below, which could only mean one thing, white water rafting! Naturally I got soaking wet, and this was before we were even in the damn raft, me and my malco- feet!

A few garifuna-cohol shots later and I was a full jungle being, well I had no choice because luck would have it, the rainy season continues and no boats running to the islands for another day. A couple of jungle hikes later (I did not fall on my muddy ass, much) and the boat was on - TO THE ISLAND! Cheez, that boat was a bumpy ride... Sadly the caribbean sea never quite lived up to the ideal of blue skies and flat water, but who cares about rain when you're underwater - there it's all wet. The diving was absolutely AMAZING, the best coral I've ever seen and some pretty cool creatures (giant crabs, turtles, cute fishies, a whale in a wet suit - too big and ugly for a shark to eat apparently, thanks).

So apres dive it was flor de caña o'clock - yummy, I will be trying to smuggle some of this home, time flies when you're having rum... a couple of random impromtu trips to various places followed, a local kareoke bar where I was so graciously serenaded, Pedro's birthday party (I don't think anyone actually knew who Pedro was...), the sea, the hammocks. Alas, one cannot have rumfun forever and it was time to leave the island behind and see some sights.

First on the agenda, Copan Ruinas, an ancient city which was the capital of the Mayan empire at some time or another until they got too big for their boots and ate all the food there was, used all the resources there were and ran out of people to kill (¿lesson for the future perhaps?). Took a morning wandering around the ruins sneaking in on other peoples tour guides to cadge some waffle information. Being only so much 'this is what used to be here' one can take in a day I took a chicken bus (so called because locals will take anything on with them) through the gorgeous highlands (with some less than gorgeous latin music soundtrack as accompaniment) to a town called Gracias a Dios (Thanks to God).

A nice chilled out day or so there wondering around the pretty typical town and wondering whether the locals would feel affronted if I, a colonial descendant, were to purchase the fort on the top of the hill (as it had amazing views) built by the conquistadors (I just love that word, hides all manner of spanish sins). Popped into some hot springs to relax after the hectic hike there (ok, so we inadvertantly hitched a ride, but we did intend to walk).

This is all from Honduras, other than a leeeeeegnthy bus journey down to Nicaraguaaaaa. More on that later...

P.S. although some pretty bad news. It turns out I was sooo prepared I remembered everything, except my most useful companion, my frisbee :-(

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Well my pretty cherubs, I have had little need over the past year to update on 'where Jo is' because Jo has mostly been nowhere. Obviously I have been somewhere. To maintain a prescence nowhere would have enters realms of difficulty which I (short of particle collider machine), am ill equipped to deal with. Somewhere has mostly been between here (London) and there (Ramsbury). Yes, I am one step further to becoming a grown-up. I have a job. A real one. Depressing though this thought is, it comes with one major benefit: dubloons. Who knew?

Naturally, in accordance with the universal truths of the world, as everyone knows when you start a new job, the first thing you do is book time off. February to be exact. What to do in all this time? I hear Central America calling me, more precisely, I hear Honduras calling me, I hear Nicaragua calling me. I can't understand it because I have 1 month to learn Spanish, but I hear it's cry. I also have one month to buy a raincoat, obtain anti-malarials, remove the post-Christmas blubber (note to self: giving up chocolate beforehand in no way served me any favours)

Sunday, 25 May 2008

"Ain't no sunshine when she's gone...

...and she's always gone too long." But rest assured, the virtual me is back! Cue image of glorious sunshine. Given that I haven't been to anywhere particularly exotic, or indeed intriguing in the last few months I am destined to wax lyrical about the more mundane, the everyday, yet equally remarkable happenings of this crazy world which surrounds me.

First up I guess I should brief you as to where Jo is, seeing as it's the title of this page. Well I am back in the Shire, nestling in the cosseted country surroundings of Ramsbury in the bosom of my family. A land of uninterrupted vistas protected by popular opinion (wind turbine - not in this backyard), where post offices are allowed to remain open, snow falls in spring, marathons are 5 miles long, the US army of the 1940's is always welcome, 2 cars a traffic problem is and a week of sunshine in May does a summer make.

Alas, all is by no means lost. I am using my vastly underemployed time to work on my entries for the next photography competition which includes a short film category I'm quite keen on (time to charge the batteries - watch this space), and remembering the morning I woke up early join the laughing club only to discover it was humour's day off.

Well I'm off to bake an amazing chocolate cake that will make exercise even more of a necessity to survival (Bear Grylls, literally eat your heart out). I have added some more pictures to the intermeweb of Africa and Sri Lanka/India/Nepal. For now fact facts I will leave you with this for a bit of thinking: there are 86,400 seconds in a day, if a goldfish has a memory of 3 seconds, how many times will it think 'fishy, I'm a little fishy' each day?!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Should I stay or should I go...?

Ello blogfans! I know I know I know, it's been a while since I last reported on my misadventures. But lets get the obvious out of the way first - Merry (how depends on consumption levels) Christmas and Happy New Year: rock on 2008! So for a brief update... I finally landed in Perth after l o n g e s t smelliest mineriest bus journey ever and arrived in the rain at casa del Saul who generously offered me a floor to crash on (yikes 2 months later and I'm still crashing on that floor, whoops - and quite literally because Big W just DOESN'T sell airbeds that remain inflated for the duration of a night). Work's good - busy and scary sometimes - and they love me so much I was almost going to be here forever... if anyone knows anyone dodgy in immigration please pass on their contact details to them?

Perth remains to be Perth. The smallest city furthest away from anyway and VERY warm. Much time has been spent attempting to crawl into the freezer (it's not as big as I might have hoped) and oscillating with my number 1 fan (I wish to hear no words from the air-con endowed population - needless to say after a Boxing Day in what was the hottest city in the world at 44 deg, I was a tad relieved to enter the climate controlled comfort of the office). What have I been up to? well I think it all went wrong from the time I crashed an IT party, a few guitar hero sessions later (rock juice gives you all kinds of ideas of coolness and grandeur that are nothing more than illusary) and I may well be a geek. Few trips to the beach and the burning hot sand and freezing cold (aahhhhhhhhhhhhh) water), the usual.

What does one get up to for Christmas in Australia? firstly it feels nothing like Christmas because I'm walking about town in shorts and looking at bizarrely decorated window dressings with snowmen in - just doesn't fit somehow... Well shock horror, one has a barbeque (delicious prawns pictured) and a cocktail party (with ones flatmates, thus not really a party, more just a lot of mojitos)! Yum yum in MY (slightly inflated) tum! And for New Years? One has (surprise surprise) a BARBEQUE!!! These Ozzies have it simple, but why change a formula that includes lots of sun, scrumptious food and a plethora of drink (not that I constantly think of my stomach)...

Oh and blogfans - don't think I'm taking this poll lightly, I have turned over my decision making authority (cos I can't make up my own mind) to the opinion of the majority (it could be interesting should there be a late surge for secret option d) because not even I know where that is...) Should you deem it really necessary to view pictures of some of my Perth people then your kicks are available from here.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Taking the l o n g way home...

Hey Blogfans, how rocks life? So, I rather left you on a cliffhanger last time on my way to the city (town/street) of doom. Oh Katherine Katherine Katherine. But would you believe it this time when I saw Steve (grumpiest man alive) the mechanic he was actually able to hold a conversation without punctuating it with uncomprehensible grunts, he even smiled! Whether that had anything to do with the beer in his hand and giant wodge of cash I had just given him I wouldn't like to judge. And so 1 gearbox (possibly minus 5th gear) and 2 new tyres later ARNIE WAS BACK ON THE ROAD!!! Not wanting to miss the delights of Katherine I went to Woolies and bought some bread, apples and water (all the food groups represented there) and left. YEEHA!!!

The next 3 days pretty much went like this: drive, sleep, eat, sleep, drive, eat, drive, sleep, eat... Broome was some distance away, I was too lazy to put up the tent, there were no showers, you get the idea... I STANK!! And then when I got to Broome and ran into the camp bathroom for a shower imagine my delight as the electricity cut out. NNAAARRRRGGGHHHH! Spent 3 days chilling out on the beach of sunsetty delights and recovering from the road (and mourning the death of the kangeroos I roadkilled - what if they were the last remaining breeding pair in Australia??? Oh the guilt! Actually one so wasn't my fault, I slowed down to drive past it and it continued to run into the side of the car - stupid animal).

At this point I recruited some new drive companions in the form of Eric and Frank. Given that they were from Taiwan I suspect that these aren't their real names. I told them my name was Juanita Gonzales (ok I didn't cos I came up with the idea 2 weeks too late, but you get the idea). Alas with no money in our pockets it was drive time. Drive drive (camp in most fly infested place in world with resident enormous cow looking on) drive drive stop. Yes, STOP. FOR EVER. In the middle of NOWHERE (not really a surprise given that about 99% of WA is officially nowhere). Spent some time on the side of the road in 44 deg heat. That was nice. Chatted to a few miners on their way past who all wanted to help soooo much with the car situation by saying "hmmmmm, it's buggered mate". Thanks. Managed to hitch a tow from a lovely bearded man to the nearest roadhouse. And I thought Katherine was bad. Entertainment in this place involved cockroach contraception (it's less dodgy than it sounds, involves throwing rocks at the copulating little minxes), eating raw noodles, hats (see pic, dismayed face included) and time delay photos (100's in fact), because the bus was 4 HOURS late (Benno - no worries man, the bus is just a few minutes late dude!). I had to get the bus to Perth. THE BUS!!!! The indignity. Members of the public and all. Tch.

Yes boys and girls I'm back in Perth, oh city of all Perthliness. 4 days later and I'm back at work (I'm on the Northern Development Taskforce apparently). YAY!!!! Actual yay because I am BROKE (I hate that car, the car is the bain of my existence, never buy a car, car sucks, rrrrubbish). The 'keep Jo's belly and bum sizable fund' is now open, chose your avenue of donation here... Oh and join me in sorting out my life and directing me where I should go next on the poll over here----> pick the right answer please! On that note I think it's time I had a drink. a big juicy cold beer. Adios!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

on the 'other' side

G'day blogfans! How goes life? So the East Coast adventure has continued... Said a goodbye to Julia who had to fly back to Germany (ha ha unlucky) after a last night in Cairns in which I brutally mocked and laughed excessively at lots of slightly downbeaten fans of the Wallabies, HA HA HA (they've taken to blaming the rules of the game as the reason they lost). Then I got to experience one of my favourite travelling things - an overnight bus journey!!! YAY - how I've missed them... not.

Next stop Airlie Beach, the jump-off point for a trip around the Whitsunday islands. At which point I jumped off onto a maxi yacht thingy (I may pretend but I know nothing about boats...) which was apparently very fast and successful in its day (I suspect that now is not 'its day'). So we set off cruising around the lovely islands, chilling in the breeze and sleeping up on deck (the beds had a 'space' isssue, in that there wasn't any) under the stars. Hit another travelling top 10 moment as I got to steer the boat into the sunset (aaaaaahhhhh - though the picture doesn't do it justice, I was concentrating on driving) while the skipper laughed at my slightly unorthodox style (apparently writing my name in the water with the boat isn't what he meant by 'straight line')... Landed at 2nd best beach in the world (Australians, only 2nd best? astonishing), t'was a bit cloudy (of course, why wouldn't it be) so I took the opportunity to go for a 14km run on the 2nd best sand in the world with the sea licking at my feet (now why wasn't it like this for the marathon thingy) and GOT THE FRISBEE OUT!!!! Squeezed into my sexy stinger suit (damn this poisonous ocean) for a quick snorkel about more of the reef and generally cruised about. n.i.c.e.

Another joyful overnight journey took me to Hervey Bay, the jumping off point for Fraser Island the land of sand. Not surprisingly I got covered in sand. Everywhere. 22 of us piled into 2 jeeps (do not ask me how we fit in, we didn't) that we weren't allowed to get sandy or wet or risk losing at least a million $$$'s - damn car hire, I miss Arnie!!! Alas first thing we did on the ISLAND MADE ENTIRELY OF SAND was get the car covered in sand, and then a little saltwater, who'da thought that possible??? Anyways, much beach driving and track driving and there's a big bruise on my shoulder to demonstrate how smooth the roads were. A little rainforest action, a little lake action (no swimming in the sea, yes it has sharks that will kill you just by looking at you and jellyfish galore), a little floating action, a little beach olympics, a bizarre pet dinosaur and lots of bizarre things that I cannot for the life of me remember at this particular juncture (probably best left on the island I think)...

Beautiful stuff, plus I finally drank the bottle of wine that I've been carrying around since Perth, not surprisingly since it has been heated up and frozen and cooked and chilled about a million times it did not taste worthy of the effort put into carrying it. But enough of that. Went whale watching the next morning which was AWESOME, one even waved at me! In fact it was totally brilliant fantastic awesome mega cool. Fact fans: Did you know that a baby whale puts on 45-60kgs each day - that's like a whole me every day... sure makes me feel small... CRIKEY!!!! I went to Australia Zoo - home of Steve Irwin & co. An awesome day out as I got to pat a koala, feed kangeroo's, fortunately not feed crocs (they are BIG - up 7m! - and mean, especially when hungry), stalk emu's (ugliest bird in the world) and all kinds of other animal related things.

More photos of all things East to be found here (or again, and you wouldnt believe my cunning, but follow the link entitled East Coast Pictures ---->)...
Right, I'm off to hell (Katherine) now - IT SUCKS, adios.