Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Back to reality

We are back in the Netherlands for a week! And things are already starting to get back to normal..

Our 3-month trip has been amazing. Travelling allowed us to experience that materialism is not the source of happiness, we experienced the warm welcome from family and friends of our friends (mi casa es tu casa), we saw how the environment is being destroyed in rapid pace (most countries) yet also kept clean and beautiful (Costa Rica).

From corruption, to high crime and poverty rates: this area of the world has a lot to suffer. Yet, you can see lots of hope and courage in their people. Many environmentally friendly and green energy initiatives are starting up everywhere.

We brought home better Spanish and an Open water diving certificate, a new playlist in Spotify called “Trinidad Carnival - Soca Music 2014” and an ambition to keep on kiteboarding... And travelling!

Last but definitely not least, we would like to thank Alvaro, Mario and Ayisha and their families and friends for the great hospitality. The welcome and friendliness has been amazing in their home countries.

This is the last blog of our trip. Thanks for reading and following us!

Some interesting figures from our 3 months:
No. of country visited: 8 (Mexico, Belize for ½ day - transit only, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Curacao, Trinidad&Tobago)
No. of volcanoes climbed: 3 (2 in Guatemala and 1 in Costa Rica)
Hottest Place: Quepos in Costa Rica
Coldest Place: Monteverde in Costa Rica
Highest Point: Quetzal Trail in Panama (2500m)
Southest Point: David, Panama
Best experience: swimming through natural pools in gorgeous Semuc Champey, Guatemala (see picture above :) ) 
The worst experience: being rejected to enter Nicaragua while having the proper visa
Best Hotel: Quinta de Las Flores in Antigua, Guatemala
Biggest rip off: a shitty hotel in Puerto San Jose, Guatemala (they charged us EUR 60 during a holiday weekend, while it normally costs EUR 10). Luckily a free Steve Aoki concert made up for it :)
Best city: Antigua, Guatemala
Worst city: La Ceiba, Honduras
Best Party: a tie between Carnival in Trinidad and the Hardwell concert in Guatemala City
Favorite drink: For Kendy – Mango Batido; for Daniel: Angostura – rum from Trinidad.. and of course the coffee!!
Best meal: Grilled self-caught fish in Progreso, Mexico
Coolest animals we've seen: hard to make a selection between... Tapir, Agouti, Coati, Peccary, Sloth, Howler monkey, Squirrel monkey, Spider monkey, White-faced monkey, Toucan, Quetzal, Scarlet Macaw, Humming Bird, crazy colored Frogs, Crocodile, Iguana, Snake, Turtle, lots of coral fishes... Too many!

Our favorite meal & drink :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Big People Party!! @ Trinidad Carnival

On the last lap of our trip we celebrated one of the world's biggest festivals in Trinidad & Tobago. Carnival is a huge thing on this side of the world, celebrated on nearly every Caribbean island and in many Latin countries, and Trinidad is always listed as one of the top destinations to celebrate it. So when our friends Ayisha & Mirthe told us they would go here to celebrate it this year, we decided to take a detour from Central America and join them :) 

Colorful for sure!

After arriving on Thursday evening, we had the Friday to ourselves in a house that we shared with 5 other friends of friends: Ana from Portugal and James, Abid, Coleman and Andy from US. The house was nice with a shared pool, but we quickly learned that outside Carnival, there's not much to do in Trinidad. We were warned about safety issues, especially for women; even taking a taxi was not recommended.

On Saturday, we went to a 'Fete': an outdoor party with Soca music. These Fetes are fantastic all-inclusive parties that serve unlimited alcohol and food and are organized between January 1 and carnival, to warm up the people for what's coming. We quickly learned that two of the main Soca carnival songs of the year were Big people party and Forget about it

On Sunday, we chilled at a beach (Maracas Bay) and had the local dish Bake&Shark which is shark meat on a piece of bread with some salad. 

MUD ME!!!!
Then on Monday, it all started. We woke up at 3am and headed to the capital Port of Spain to attend j'ouvert, which is a French term for 'day opening'. This 4-hour parade is the first parade of the 2-day festival. It started at 4am till the sun rise.The tradition in this parade is to cover yourself and people around you in paint and mud and dancing with soca music. After j'ouvert, everyone goes home and wash it off and the shower is also part of the fun. A few hours later people went back to the city for the next parade :) 

After j'ouvert 
Coleman, James, Abid, Andy and Daniel - in full paint

After washing ourselves at home, taking a much needed nap and a coffee, we headed back to the city. Our friends also attended the carnival parade (Trinidad term: play mas) on Monday afternoon and Tuesday full day (you better be in a very good shape when you get here) but we were happy to just chill and walk around on the streets full of partying people. It was amazing to see all the colors, dancing&wining and countless trucks with loud Soca music coming by! 

And a video at night to show how crazy the crowd goes:

Saturday, March 1, 2014

From the 3rd world to the 1st world in an hour

On our way to Trinidad & Tobago, where we were going to celebrate Carnaval, we made a 2-night stopover in Curacao. What a change! 

We almost got used to the chaos of giant holes in the road, cold water showers and extremely loud traffic. But in Curacao, although only an hour from Central America, it's a completely different story: the roads are in perfect condition; there are female bus drivers; everything in our bathroom was working and you can flush the toilet paper; the paint jobs on the houses are picturesque; and no more street dogs walking and barking around. Its Dutch influence was very clear, from the blue road signs to stores that close at 18:00 sharp. If you walk around at night, you might think you’re in a quiet Dutch town on a hot summer night.

During our 2½ days here ,we went for a nice dive with a guy who set up a dive shop with his twin brother, called twin divers. The bay we went diving was called “Directors’ bay”, the name is because the queen has swim there before. The most amazing part of the dive is we saw hundreds of blue fish swimming around us. After the dive, we visited some beaches, walked around and had a delicious kroket on the street J