Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pico Bonito National Park, Honduras

That one time we had an entire jungle resort to ourselves, and almost got attacked by (not one, but) two scorpions.

For our small handful of photos from Pico Bonito National Park, click HERE.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

We used to joke that our first trip was the “World Destruction Tour”. Everywhere we went, we seemed to narrowly escape major disasters.

The week after we hiked to Machu Picchu, massive storms and landslides trapped hikers without adequate food and water, and several needed to be airlifted to safety. The terrifying 8.8 earthquake in Chile occurred just hours after we passed through its epicenter (which we, frighteningly, experienced at the base of an active volcano a few hundred miles away). Our time in Cairo conveniently wrapped up months before their revolution began. And our visit to Delhi’s Jama Masjid took place, luckily, a few weeks before terrorists staged an attack against tourists there. We arrive to a Christchurch, New Zealand in shambles, two months after their devastating 7.1 earthquake, only to learn about the deadly 6.3 aftershock that shook the city shortly after we returned home.

We wondered if there truly were a disproportionate number of disasters happening all around us, or if we were just more aware than we would be back home. Since we were actually out, experiencing the world. Some major weather in Peru or a car bomb in India aren’t likely to land on our radar on a typical sunny Santa Monica afternoon. In any case, people started to worry that maybe they didn’t want us visiting their town.

If the last trip was dotted with public catastrophes, this trip, by contrast, seems punctuated by personal tragedies. We’ve witnessed a toddler choking, while her father shook her upside-down frantically and her mother screamed in anguish. We’ve watched a legless woman drag herself down the street, with shoes on her hands and a plastic tray protecting her torso as she slid along the pavement. We’ve seen a man lifting the lifeless arms of his unconscious wife after crashing their motorcycle, wailing in desperate despair while waiting for help to arrive. We’ve stood by feeling absolutely helpless, pained by our inability to do anything.

I’ve always believed that everything happens for a reason. That every experience of our first trip shaped us into the people we were when we returned home. More acutely aware of the world around us. More appreciative of every waking moment. So it makes us wonder why we are coming face to face with the things we’re seeing this time around. It seems a magnifying glass is being held up to the fact that life is fleeting and fragile and a gift that can be stripped from us at any moment.

What is the lesson in all of it? Compassion for strangers? Living each day to the fullest? Wearing our seat belts?? We’re unsure. But we do know how very blessed we feel each and every day that we are safe, healthy, and together.

Friday, September 26, 2014

River Lady

I’ve always said that I’m not much of a beach girl. I hate sand. I don’t like salt, or waves. I get tremendously seasick. My attempts at both surfing and scuba diving were short lived.

The other day, while being eaten alive by all sorts of biting and stinging creatures, Reece noted that I’m not a jungle lady. This is true. The humidity makes me cranky. And I am currently covered in approximately 7000 mosquito bites, while Reece is plagued by maybe 4.

This got us wondering, what type of lady am I? A mountain lady? Well, I don’t like the cold. And I’m bad at snowboarding. A city lady? No, that implies I don’t like the outdoors. A desert lady? I don’t think so.

Yesterday, we finally figured it out. I’m a river lady! After a day of white water rafting in the Congrejal River, I’ve decided it’s by far my favorite water sport that I’ve tried. Or any sport, for that matter. Add some jumping off boulders and swimming in rapids, and it was pretty much the most fun day we’ve had in Central America so far.

Towards the end of our journey in a glassy section of the river, we jumped out of the raft for a float through the lush green jungle. I closed my eyes and listened to the sounds of distant wildlife, drifting every so slowly downstream while a warm, light rain fell on my face. One of the most serene and peaceful moments this lady has ever experienced. Far better than an afternoon at the beach any day.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Antigua, Guatemala

It's been a while since we were in Antigua, but there are a few things about it we’ll never forget…

The narrow cobblestone streets and beautiful colonial scenery. Sampling a little too much local mezcal in a not-so-secret tasting room. Getting a panoramic view of the city from under a gigantic wooden cross. Playground fun and a fried chicken dinner date with our favorite local kids. Dancing till we dropped in the packed nightclubs, air thick with sweat and sparkler smoke. Painting our faces for the Independence Day celebrations. Watching a volcano erupt while sipping 50 cent tequila on a rooftop terrace. Some serious hammock time and an open mic at the earth lodge above town. Departing, with heavy hearts, for Honduras.

Guatemala was such an unexpected treat, one that greeted us with opens arms. We loved every moment we spent, every person we met, and would recommend it highly to anyone.

For photos of our Antigua experience, click HERE.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Volcán de Pacaya

Pacaya, doin' what it does best.

I f*cking love volcanos. Of all the natural disasters in the world, I think a volcanic eruption is by far the coolest. It’s just about impossible for me to wrap my mind around the fact that they actually occur, like, in present times. To me, they are some crazy prehistoric phenomenon that only dinosaurs have witnessed. I mean, molten hot lava spewing out of mountain tops from the depths of our planet?! Come on. You can’t make this sh*t up. If that doesn’t blow your mind, you need to think about it a little harder. I will go on record saying that I would gladly die in a volcano eruption, if it meant I could watch the miraculous event happen.

It’s probably a good thing I didn’t make that statement before hiking to the top of Pacaya, one of Guatemala’s most active volcanoes. The last time it erupted was in March. Of THIS YEAR. And before, that? January. In other words, like 0.0000000002 seconds ago in earth history terms.

So the bad news is, there is a relatively decent chance we could have died a molten lava death. But the good news is, we got to roast marshmallows over still-scalding hot steamy lava rocks! As long as we moved quickly, so the soles of our shoes didn’t melt. The lucky folks who did the hike a few months ago actually got to poke at rivers of lava with sticks. We just got to walk through dense sulfuric fog and hold hot lava rocks, for a moment, before they burned our hands.

The night before our hike, were able to witness another nearby volcano actually erupting from an Antigua rooftop terrace bar. What appeared to be a blood-red moon obscured by clouds turned out to be an eruption. And as the sky cleared, we could literally watch streams of lava flowing in the distance. This is apparently such a common occurrence, that the local promotion is 50 cent tequila shots during an eruption. I could die happy here.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

It is currently October 30, 2014.

I am writing about events that happened six weeks ago.

I don’t know what it was about our last trip, but it used to be so easy to keep up with our adventures. So many once-in-a-lifetime experiences, so much that I wanted to say. I used lie awake at night, mulling over every detail that I would write the next morning. But this time, it’s a little different. Significantly less down time to tell our stories. Fewer moments that I feel are “blog-worthy”. And a whole lot less people following along. The motivation is weak, to say the least, and the distractions are many.

That said, I really want to catch up. The blogs from our first big trip in 2010 are the best gifts we could have ever given to our future selves. Back home, in the years that followed, we’d read excerpts to one another and reminisce from the comfort of our fluffy bed. It was hard to imaging that the people on those virtual pages were the same ones living the lives that we had cultivated in Venice. Yet, it was such an indescribable treat to re-live the times we’d had.

So, every day I think to myself, “Today is the day I will get caught up! No more putting off until tomorrow a story I should tell today.” Fast forward at least 40 days. Not a word. I’ve even had a few friends ask why I haven’t written lately, which is indescribably humbling and flattering and also a reminder of my perpetual slacking. So now it's 11:30pm on a random Tuesday night in Spain, after an amazing evening of Pintxo Pote (more on that later). And I am determined to get caught up. Irish-folk sleeping beside me. The streets below a flurry of wine-fueled action. And the hostel a dull buzz of holiday-ing Europeans. This is where I will (at least attempt to) get caught up on our trip(s). Here goes nothing…

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Paredon Surf House

We hadn’t planned on visiting the Pacific coast of Guatemala, but when our local friend Karla suggested a road trip to the beach, we were IN.

Enter Paredon Surf House. Two hours from Antigua. Miles down a dirt road with nothing in any direction but grass and happy cows. Bamboo huts on stilts surrounding a pool, beside which we eat dinner together under twinkling lights and the stars. Perched on the edge of a black sand beach and home to some tiny newborn adorable kittens. It was just the vacation we needed from our vacation J

Friday, September 12, 2014


I’ve said before that the main reason we travel is freedom. That special kind of freedom that we've only ever attained through long term travel. Well, I may have been mistaken. It struck me, late one evening in a small cantina Antigua, that the real thing we're probably after is JOY. The pure, unadulterated joy you experience a few salty margaritas in, when you are linked arm in arm with the folks you met in another town, that you loved so much you couldn’t bear to leave, so now you’re all singing along with the quirky guitar player in the corner to Green Day’s “I hope you had the time of your life”, while the owner brings out a fresh plate of tacos and pours another round of tequilas, and you feel so far away from home but so close to everybody in that bar, and the light is warm and the candles are flickering and it’s raining outside and you feel like you might burst from the sheer joy of it all. And you know that it might not sound like much, yet you feel like nobody is as content and connected as you are at this moment, in this bar, on this cobblestone street in the middle of this old colonial city in Guatemala. And you feel overwhelmed by the thought of it and your eyes actually brim with tears for a brief moment as you recall yes, this. This is why we travel.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Lago de Atitlán, Guatemala

After two magical weeks, we finally tore ourselves away from Lake Atitlán. A collective year and a half of travels, and it’s the first time I’ve ever cried when leaving a place. If the two of us ever disappear, I’ll tell you right now, the Iguana Perdida is the first place you should look.

For photos of what is quite possibly our favorite place that we’ve ever been, click HERE.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Boozing on a Budget

It's not wine, but it's Clos.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Underwater Vision

For hundreds of years, Lake Atitlán’s waters have risen and fallen in predictable cycles. However, after 2010’s tropical storm Agatha, lakewater rose a staggering 15 feet in just a year and a half. Lakefront hotels and restaurants flooded, premium property was destroyed, and thousands of residents have suffered the consequences. At this time, water levels seem to have stabilized. But some believe that landsides caused by Agatha have blocked underwater channels, and the situation could continue to get worse. So visit the lake while you still can!!

Your stroll along what was once beachfront will look like this:

Not safe drunk.

 A sort of surreal, sad, yet increasingly mystifying place to be.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Lady in Red

Every Saturday night at the Iguana Perdida is cross-dressing night. Why?? Why not!

I've never seen a group of straight men get SO much joy from dressing up like slutty women. Cheers ladies!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

I don’t know why it’s taken us this long to realize it, but the way to a kid’s heart is through some balls. No, not like that you pervert. Pelotas!

One of our favorite activities has become buying a handful of inflatable balls and taking them to the local park to give away. We instantly become the most popular folks in town, and playing with the kids is such a fun and entertaining way to spend an afternoon.

We stumbled upon this realization like most, accidentally. After spending an entire afternoon eating ice cream and watching some hilarious kids play soccer in the street, their ball popped and ruined the fun for everyone. We decided to go buy them a replacement, but by the time we returned they were gone. So we scoured the streets for another child to give the ball to. And when we did, he was SO excited. And so grateful. It was so touching, we vowed to do it again any chance we got.

In the tiny town of Santa Cruz, nestled in the hills overlooking the lake, we came across some kids playing in a puddle with two toy boats. One boat was made out of a smashed 2-liter bottle of Pepsi. The other, out of a Styrofoam to-go tray. They trudged through the puddles quietly with their makeshift toys. These kids needed some balls. As luck would have it, the tienda around the corner had a half dozen of them hanging in the corner. We’ll take ‘em!

The kids rushed us when they saw us coming, shouting cries of “Pelotas!” and leaping in the air ecstatically. I seriously almost got tackled. A fierce game of keep-away and general soccer-type mayhem ensued.

Before we left, each and every kid came up to us, individually, unprompted, to thank us. And if that wasn’t enough to melt our hearts, they treated us to their best soccer-team pose.

"Everyone say BALLS!"

Friday, September 5, 2014

Iguana Perdida

When we listen to the universe, it rarely steers us in the wrong direction. On the day I finally felt well enough to leave Panajachel, we’d planned to take a boat to another lakeside town of San Marcos. It promised eco-lodges and yoga and organic restaurants and holistic healing, just the kind of hippy-dippy place to recover and regain my health. We hoped the afternoon rains would hold off long enough for us to find a place to stay once we’d arrived. They didn’t.

It started POURING while we were en route. Our bags were getting drenched and we were hanging on tight while rough seas tossed us about violently. As waves splashed into the boat, we both silently began developing our plan of action should the thing sink. I contemplated the reliability of the life vests tied to the roof, and wondered if I could swim all the way to shore.

At the first stop along the route, I noticed a hostel/dive shop right off the dock whose name sounded familiar. Iguana Perdida... I think I read that place is nice. Should we just get off here? We didn’t want to walk around San Marcos in the downpour looking for a place to stay, and were happy for the opportunity to get back on solid ground. We made a swift decision and grabbed our bags and jumped off the boat before it sped off towards its next destination, hastily paying the guy more than necessary on accident in a rush to find shelter from the storm.

Since our arrival all we can say is - Thank God for that rain. We are absolutely in love with this place, and are going to have a really hard time tearing ourselves away. Our initial plan was to spend a few nights each in a few different towns around the lake. Now we figure, eh, we can see everything via a daytrip from the Iganua. Or, not see anything at all. Other than the INCREDIBLE view from the many couches and hammocks dotted about the property. We’re staying in a tiny little private room overlooking the water for $12 a night. Well, $8 when you consider every 3rd night is free.

The vibe here is indescribable. It’s low season, so there are about a dozen of us here (including staff), giving us the opportunity to grow tremendously close in the few short days since we’ve checked in. The owners have refrained from providing wifi, to promote the bonds we’ve so quickly been forming. In fact, electricity was only installed a handful of years ago. A small restaurant and tiny convenience store share the lakefront location, and beyond that it’s a 30-minute walk up the mountainside to the nearest village. So, we have lots of quality time together.

By day we float in innertubes. Or walk into town for lunch at the local culinary school. Or take a boat to an amazing wine and cheese restaurant in Santa Cruz. Or hike to the infinity pool in Jaibalito. Or gorge ourselves at the awesome weekend BBQ in Panajachel. By night we sit together at a long table and share family-style dinners while lightening storms illuminate the volcanoes surrounding us. We watch movies. Play games. Sit on the floor around a cluster of candles, taking turns telling jokes, singing songs, swigging from the tequila bottle. When the moon is full, we strip down and jump off the dock together after being doused in beer during a cross dressing party. But that’s a story for another blog.

The staff here are all volunteers, working in exchange for free room and board. If this were after the holidays when our travel is open-ended, I could definitely see us enjoying that arrangement. But alas, there is more of Guatemala and Honduras to see in the five weeks we have left. So, we’ll eventually be moving on. Just don’t ask us when…

Monday, September 1, 2014


- Our first stop on the amazing Lake Atitlán (as it'one of the only lakeside towns accessible by road).

- Where we intended to stay 1-2 nights, but got stuck for 5 while I recovered from the worst food poisoning I’ve ever had.

- Luckily, also where we got an amazing deal on the nicest hotel we’ve stayed in since leaving home. A spotless private bathroom and satellite TV were just what the doctor ordered.

- Home to a parrot that may have been in love with me, and tried to kill Reece on several occasions.

Knock knock. Who's there? Asshole Parrot!!