Tip of the Iceberg

   Crossing back to Costa from Nicaragua required four buses, and a ferry ride...by 8am Steph and I were holding on for dear life off the back of a chicken bus literally overflowing with bodies headed for the boarder. Somehow they managed to stuff Katie into the 6 inches of cubic space remaining. The locals thought it was absolutely hilarious that the gringas had to hang off the side like regular ol nicas.

Sore from surfing the day before in Playa Maderas, San Juan del Sur, and stiff from almost 12 hours of sitting, we arrived in Montezuma-affectionatly referred to by many as 'Montefuma'. Our days were spent drinking entirely too much strong coffee, climbing waterfalls, jumping off waterfalls, learning slang from the locals and planning our homemade halloween costumes. Lucky for us, Costa Ricas love halloween so we had no trouble finding friends to celebrate with. Best costume award goes to the Cannibal couple.

Late that night the rains came...and didn't stop for 7 days. You can't imagine what a full week without seeing the sun can do to a person. The government declared a state of emergency after a mudslide wiped out an entire village near San Jose. Our hearts go out to the many friends and families who lost their lives. Thankfully we were able to make it down to Playa Hermosa before every road in the country closed and were greeted by a familiar Charleston face whose smile was our sunshine during those long stormy days. With our new Cabinas Las Arenas family, we made the best of the wet times with lots of reading, yoga, guitar sessions, beers, coconuts and again, excessive amounts of coffee. Ah yes, then the water got shut off for three days, and our smells brought us even closer. Que lindo.
   The first day of sunshine was like a new beginning. We greeted the morning with sun salutations then Steph and I set off for a leisurally swim. The water felt amazing and the color was finally turning back to blue after days of looking like a giant mud puddle. We laughed and splashed until we were ready to go in and realized that our swimming was of no avail and we were being sucked out to sea. Some of you may not know this, but asians aren't typically the strongest swimmers, and our little Nay was having quite a tough time keeping herself above water. I managed to save her by dragging her in with a bamboo pole that was floating in the water until I could flag a surfer over to the rescue. We later found out that Hermosa has extremely dangerous rip currents...gracias, would have been good to know before...close call, lesson learned.
   Next, south to Dominical with Matt, cousin Joey, and our new Aussie friend Charlie, where we finally enjoyed our first Pacific sunset. The colors were absolutely stunning- the sky must have changed a hundred different shades of blue, purple, pink, orange, yellow and red before night fell, sillouetting the last of the surfers in the water. The next morning feeling energized and confident after our surf experience in San Juan, we set out early with our freshly rented boards. After a few tips from the guys at the surf shop we were ready for battle...so we thought. Within twenty minutes were getting crushed...waves just absolutely pummeling us. Katie swears she saw me stand up on this beast of water and do some cool trick, but I assure you that what she actually saw was me dropping down the face of that wave staring straight into the doom that awaited me. Perhaps my feet did touch the board at some point but that was only the result of the many flips I was doing as my body was tossed mercilessly by the giant. What a crazy experience it is to be held under the water by such force. You are completely helpless, the only thing to be done is to talk yourself through it- 'stay calm, don't fight, you will come up, you will come up...eventually'. After we repeated this scenario several times each, we reconviened on the beach feeling tired and defeated.
   A friend of ours from Hermosa came out of the water, 'What were you thinking?? You are crazy- way too big for you, way too big'. We were then guided down the beach to play in the white water breaks. Yes yes, this is much more fun. Slowly but surely we are learning our place in the water. Very humbling force this Pacific ocean...
bull riding, Boquette
   Saying goodbye to our American friends and hello once more to the rain, we are offically on the go again, moving at rapid speed through Panama. Public transport here in Panama is obnoxiously loud. The radio is blasted at full volume and usually two or three stations and a cascade of static are fighting for the same air space. The songs are constantly interrupted by numerous air horns and various other noisy sound bites. No matter how high you turn your Ipod, there is no escaping the insesent blaring of mariachi in the background. The bus drivers, friendly as they are, feel the need to greet every passing car, truck, person or animal with several long honks of the horn. Sometimes they honk at nothing at all simply for the love of the honk. Local buses are slow as they must stop every 5 meters to pick up passangers on the side of the road, and dodge potholes the size of small cars. The express buses, though must quicker, are kept at ice box temperature- No amount of clothing can prepare you for the climate change you experience when you step onboard. Nonetheless, travel days are good meditative practice but leave you exhausted, starving and in desperate need of an adult beverage...
monkey..not so cute when attacked

Santa Catalin
 After Dominical we had a few day stopover in Boquette, Panama with a private sing-along jam session at our hostel, random Steamboat encounters, bull riding, monkey cuddling, and hot springs (quite lovely and natural, but  where I may or may not have had tiny red worms bore into my legs after sitting in what we assumed was a spring, but was more like a hot puddle). Then down to Santa Catalina to have another go at the waves. This time the surf was much more suited to our abilities and we had a full day of yoga, sun, surf and coconuts. Such an accomplished feeling to be at one with the waves rather than fighting for your life. We actually might have a chance at getting fairly descent at the sport if we can find a little beach town to settle into. But alas the rains came again and we were forced to move on.

Arrived to Panama City this afternoon, then setting sail to Columbia on Friday where we will be celebrating Steph's 25th birthday sipping rum in the San Blas islands...ah the life!

Seven weeks in and we're just getting our feet wet. I feel this has all just been preparation for the next leg of the journey. There are so many emotional cycles that one experiences on a trip like this... so much time for introspection and self discovery. You are constantly confronting who you are-both positive and negative- and what you stand for...What is your purpose? What motivates you? What scares you? What makes you happy? The most important lesson we can learn on this journey is how to open our hearts, fully and completely, without inhibition or fear, first to ourselves, then to the people and places that surround us. Each day we get a little closer to this goal... with each new encounter we become more aware of the energy that vibrates around us. We are so grateful for the many beautiful people and places, these are days we will never forget... and the best is yet to come...

happy sails, j