Splette's Travel Blog
  • Adventure
  • April28th

    Hmm, I wonder what this cute sign means...

    Cute warning sign

    During my short beach trip to Samara in Guanecaste (on the Costa Rican Pacific coast) with Gabriel and his friend Steven we came across this cute self-made warning sign. It was near a bridge across a small creek leading into the ocean, just about 100 or 200 meters away from the main beach where people (including us the next day) went swimming. Could it be that crocodiles inhabit this creek so close to the beach and with plenty of cars passing by? I presumed they might prefer a more quiet habitat. In all that time I had spent in Costa Rica I never saw a crocodile, although I heard stories. I was wondering if the warning sign was put there just in case but the last actual sighting of a crocodile was perhaps years ago.

    Fishing for wild crocodiles

    Fishing for wild crocodiles

    We tried to catch a glimpse of a crocodile by peeking through the branches from different angles. But the water was dark and absolute quiet. No movement was to be seen in the water or the thick bushes on both sides. As I wandered around I noticed a long stick with a thin rope and a noose at the end. It was just a few meters from the bridge, hanging in one of the bushes. Someone seemed to have placed it there on purpose. It almost looked like a fishing rod. That gave me some idea… Why not put a stone in the noose and lower it from the top of the bridge to make a few splashes in the water. Perhaps this might get some attention? The instant I let the stone on the rope splash into the water the large head of a crocodile surfaced right below me. Wow, I didn’t expect that. It must have been waiting there at the bottom of the creek all along. Although I love reptiles, to be surprised by a grown up crocodile in the wild, just two meters below me had a rather chilling effect. Others seem to care less. I made a few more splashes until the stone fell off but the animal wasn’t fooled by it any longer and would not show up again.
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  • September5th

    Sunset in San Juan del Sur

    Peaceful sunset the day before

    I’m in the Pacific beach town of San Juan del Sur, not far from the border to Costa Rica. This morning I was woken up by a fairly strong earthquake. It turned to be a quake of magnitude 7.6 in the North-West of Costa Rica, about 150 km from here (and about 150 km from San José). It turns out that this is the strongest earthquale in Costa Rica since 1991. Everyone in the hostel got up and out of their rooms but there was no damage. The video in this article was taken in La Sabana, San José where I used to live until recently. What I was more concerned about was the chance for a tsunami because my hostel was right at the beach. But the locals didn’t seem to be too concerned. So, I turned to twitter for some real-time updates and learned that indeed a tsunami warning was issued. About 20 min later there was word that the Army is going to evacuate the beach town (ha, even German tabloid Bild got that covered). We packed out stuff but the Army never came. Instead, the Costa Rican authorities canceled their tsunami warnings and eventually a truck with loudspeakers drove through San Juan del Sur letting us know that everything is okay…

    USGS website

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  • August9th

    Splette on a cable. A great way to see the nature from above.One of those fun things I always wanted to do here in Central America but never did (despite living here for a year) is ziplining (or canopy how it’s sometimes called).
    Essentially, it’s a bunch of steel cables spanned across high standing trees. With a pulley you are attached to the cable and can glide from platform to platform. I was lucky, as my friend D’Angelo was able to get me a free ticket at the Vista Arenal tour operator. I was told there are over 120 places in Costa Rica to do this kind of activity. In the place I went to there were 12 zip lines in total, the longest one was 800m.

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  • July1st

    The flight lesson took place at a small airport just North of BerlinIn a lot of ways flying, to me, symbolizes freedom. And as you might know, freedom is something I deeply care about. Now, I’ve been flying quite a bit in the past – in commercial airliner to get from one country to another. What I haven’t done until now is to fly an airplane myself. Thanks to Anja & Benoit this dream has now become a reality.


    I’ve always wanted to know how it feels to fly a plane. In part, I can blame the Australian TV series ‘The Flying Doctors‘ which I watched religiously when I was a kid. But I didn’t expect to ever fly a plane myself since flight lessons are expensive and I have no ambitions to get a pilot’s license. What I didn’t know is that you can take a single flight lesson consisting of 30 minutes of introduction and 30 minutes of flying. The pilot lets you do most things by yourself as long as you don’t screw up. anja and Benoit gifted me such a flight lesson for the graduation of my PhD. Thanks a lot!

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  • March4th

    Indigenous people blocked the only East-West highway in Panama with tree branches. We had no idea how long the blockade would last.
    The great thing about living on a tourist visa in Costa Rica is that you have to travel to another country every 90 days. I decided to visit Panama City for a week. I stayed at the amazing Hostel Mamallena again and visited my friend Rychy. Besides that, the week in Panama wasn’t very eventful. Unlike the trip home.
    Because I am travel cheap, I decided for a long bus ride rather than a flight. Then again, I am not that cheap and like to travel with a little bit of comfort, so I booked a bus ticket in the clasa ejecutiva (business class). Including the border crossing the trip was supposed to take 14-15h. The bus was half empty, so I got the seat next to me for myself. Great. Soon after we take off we got served a hot meal: Steak. It was surprisingly good. Only, the fact that we were provided with a plastic fork but no knife made me feel like a caveman gnawing on a chunk of meat.
    Next on the menu was the obligatory movie. In Latin American long-distance buses it’s usually one of the following categories: Action movie American style (Stallone, Schwarzenegger, etc.), Action movie Asian style (Jacky Chan, etc.) or Comedy with black American actors (Eddie Murphy, etc.). Since I paid $10 extra for the ‘business class’ I was hoping for some better movie. Well, I ended up watching ‘2012: Ice Age‘. It’s kind of a bad remake of The Day After Tomorrow (as if that wasn’t bad enough). In the movie the climate goes crazy and a glacier is approaching New York City with 200 miles per hour. No kidding. This is the worst movie I have seen in full (unlike the cinema, I couldn’t just walk out) in a long time. IMDB gives it a whooping 2.3/10. Here is the trailer, just to give you some idea of how bad it is. One last fun fact: The boy (I don’t dare to call him an actor) who plays the son of the main characters has the second longest tongue in the world. Exactly, WTF…

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  • September18th

    Sensation seeking anno 2001. I found this monitor lizard and let him bite in my hand in order to test the strength of his jaws

    Lizard-bite sensation, Australia 2001

    Some people say what I do is dangerous (hello mother). Is it really necessary to travel to countries like Honduras (highest murder rate in the world) or Colombia? In fact, why travel at all when home is a safe, convenient and rich country like Germany? I get this question a lot. There are many reasons for why I travel. It makes me very happy. But it’s also exciting. There is always something new to discover, new experiences to be made. I always saw myself as an explorer type of person.
    Recently, my clinical travel psychologist Dipl.-Psych. R. Voegler introduced me to the concept of ‘sensation seeking’. Apparently, people that fall into that category have a tendency to pursue sensory pleasure and excitement. It’s the trait of people who go after novelty, complexity, and intense sensations, who love experience for its own sake. Sensation seekers are easily bored without high levels of stimulation and therefore seek thrills.
    I instantly liked the concept. It’s certainly something I can identify myself with. Sometimes it’s nice to fit so well into a category that gives some explanation of why I do the things I do.
    What is your opinion about all this? Many of you, my faithful blog readers, know me well. Do you believe that I am seeking the thrill?


    Am I a sensation seeker?

    • Yep (80%, 8 Votes)
    • No, you are just weird (20%, 2 Votes)
    • Not sure (0%, 0 Votes)

    Total Voters: 10

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    And what about you? Are you a sensation seeker? Here is a test with 20 questions (of which I answered 16 with ‘yes’) that might give some indication.

  • September9th

    This figure depicts the two ends of a sausage

    Fig. 1: Sausage with two ends

    As we say in Germany: “Alles hat ein Ende nur die Wurst hat zwei“. Literally: Everything has an end, only the sausage has two. (If this doesn’t make much sense to you, check out this educational video about German sausage culture and humor.)

    Until now, this journey was open-ended, only limited by my motivation and bank account balance. This has changed a few days ago when I decided to attend (and bought the ticket for) the creative arts festival OFFF in Barcelona in May 2012. It would be too expensive to fly from South America to Barcelona just for the three days of the festival. Therefore, I decided that this will mark the end of my trip. Time- and location-wise, I am about halfway there. My upcoming (and ever-changing) plans include two days in Panama, a month in Colombia (incl. a Spanish course) and four weeks of traveling through Ecuador and Peru with my temporary travel companion Wolle from Germany. After that I might continue to Bolivia and Chile, possibly fly home to Germany for Christmas via Mexico (which I skipped on my way down here) and return to South America on January to visit Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and finally Brazil. After the journey I plan to move back to Germany for the foreseeable future and concentrate on my freelance business. I haven’t decided where, though.

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  • September4th

    On the rope I descentI am in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, a small town close to volcán Arenal. While the active volcano is hidden in clouds most of the time and too dangerous to climb, there are plenty of other outdoor activities. I went on a waterfall rappelling tour (or ‘abseiling’ how the New Zealanders would call it). You trek along a small river through the forrest with several waterfalls that you climb down on a rope.

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