Splette's Travel Blog
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  • November4th

    my travel photos on flickrI decided to join Flickr and host my photos there. They store the photos at a higher quality (and variable size, depending on your screen resolution), you can search pictures by tags or keywords and leave a comment on individual photos.

    Today, I finally uploaded the last pics of my two-year journey. The photostream of my trip now contains 563 items. Check them out now!

    PS. The photo gallery on this blog is incomplete.

  • October18th

    I haven’t kept you in the loop about my current travel plans, really. My time in Costa Rica has come to an end and I am slowly making my way home to Germany. Of course not without visiting a couple of countries along the way. I definitely had to see Gonzalo in Mexico so he would stop bitching about what an awful friend I am.

    Because air travel within Latin America is not so cheap I take the bus. Who doesn’t enjoy 20 hour long bus rides across several countries? My first stop was Managua, Nicaragua where I spent a couple of days. Next is Guatemala City which is as dangerous as ever (I am being told) and taxi drivers still manage to rip me off while at the same time telling me how much they admire the German people and how intelligent we are. Ha, apparently not!

    Now I am on the way to the Mexican border. Should be there in 6 or 7 hours if all goes well and then switch to a bus to Mexico City which takes another 17 hours.

    After 10 days in Mexico my last stop on the way to Berlin will be Chicago for Halloween. Expect me to be back in Germany by November 2.

  • October17th

    I know what insect that is... a fat bedbug


    It’s been a while since I saw one of those little fellows. Over a year actually. And I spotted this one in a rather unusual location. I was on a 20-hour bus ride from Nicaragua to Guatemala. These can get a little boring with time. Surprisingly, the movie of the bus driver’s choice was not “Rambo” but “Avatar”. It’s fun to hear the Na’vi speak Spanish (was that a Mexican accent?) and the plot is simple enough that even I understood some.

    So, as I am sitting there watching the movie, I suddenly notice an insect. It’s also just sitting there, on the white seat cover of the seat in front of me. The characteristic shape of its body made it easy to identify: a bedbug! Yikes. Then again, interesting. For a moment I was considering to keep it as a pet as I have done with other insects (cockroaches) and millipedes before. I’d call the little blood sucker Cristian. But then I changed my mind and squished it. It left a large red blood stain on the white seat cover. It must have just feasted on someone’s blood and I wholeheartedly hope that somebody was not me.

    Can you spot the bed bug?

    What’s wrong with this picture?

    It left a large blood stain. Hope this is not my blood.

    Squashed bedbug

    In my mind I was already phrasing this blog entry when after about 5 min this squished little insect began moving again. Zombie bedbug! These things are inextinguishable (if that is an English word). It managed to crawl another 20 cm or so before I let it drop on the floor and squished it with my foot. Not even a zombie bedbug survives the force of my 80-something kilogram body…

  • September8th

    One of the beaches near Tamarindo. No people. Almost paradise.It was the day of the 7.6 magnitude earthquake when we returned from Nicaragua to Costa Rica. We would spend a few more days in Tamarindo, which is a small surfer town in Guanecaste (North West Costa Rica). Tamarindo is much closer to the epicenter of the earthquake than where we were at that time. So, it wasn’t a big surprise to see some damage in the holiday home of Gabo’s grandmother where we would be staying.

    A surfer at sunset at Tamarindo beach, Costa Rica

    A surfer at sunset

    After some cleaning up we headed out to the town in the old Toyota pickup truck of Gabo’s dad. Tamarindo is more expensive than it’s Nicaraguan counterpart San Juan del Sur. There are good hotels, shops, surf schools and many bars. The beach in the town is surprisingly nice (unlike San Juan or Puerto Viejo). And just a long walk or short drive away there are some really amazing beaches with almost no people. No comparison to the crowds of people you see in Europe at any half-way descent beach in summer…

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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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  • September4th

    A street in the colonial town of Granada, photographed from a church tower.

    A street in the colonial town of Granada.

    Ahhh Granada. If you are planning to visit Central America for its stunning architecture – think again. The sad true is that most of the architecture here is rather forgettable, not to say outright ugly. But there are exceptions. Granada, on the shores of lake Nicaragua is one of them. Built in 1524 by the evil Spanish conquistadores (just kidding José) it is reportedly the first European city in mainland America. The colonial style of the buildings has been well preserved throughout the city.
    We spent only one night here, so I’ll just leave you with the Wikipedia article on Granada and some photos.

    The street of our hostel in Granada, Nicaragua Hmm, yummy: some meat on a market in Granada. I'm so hungry now. Just for the tourists...
    One of the church towers are open to the public and offer a great view above the town. Took this pic from the tower of a church. Pretty church. There is no lack of those in Latin America.
  • September3rd

    My travel mates Ernesto and Gabriel

    Erno & Gabo

    Living in Costa Rica on a tourist visa means having to leave the country every 90 days. This time, I chose to spend a week in Nicaragua. And I wasn’t going by myself. Two Tico friends from San José had never been to Nicaragua, so we did this trip together.

    The Ticabus from San José ($38) was leaving at 3 am in the morning, so I didn’t get to sleep much. We were traveling ejecutivo (first class) which included breakfast. Or should I say ‘breakfast’? It turned out to be an apple pie from Burger King.

    Morning mist in Guanecaste, Costa Rica

    Morning mist in Guanecaste

    As the sun came up, the bus drove through Guanecaste, a part in North West Costa Rica that I hadn’t visited so far. For the first time I saw some wind mills in Central America. Funny, because I strongly associate those with Germany as you see those in many places there. Crossing the border to Nicaragua was hassle-free. They simply collected the passports of all bus passengers and stamped them collectively. Yeah, no annoying questions about proof of onward travel (I didn’t have a return ticket).

    A few hours later we arrived in Managua. Once more, I realized what a strange place this is. For various reasons, it doesn’t feel like a capital at all. We arrived at the bus station and checked in at a nearby hostel (‘San Felipe’) which was the nicest place for that price I have seen in Nicaragua, despite the fact that their WiFi ended about one meter before my bed. Well, this is the age of technology, even for travelers, and so our first trip into the city was to a mall to get a nicaragüense SIM card for our cell phones.

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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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  • August6th

    One of the few iguanas that wasn't sleeping

    As you may know, I am into reptiles and in particular I love iguanas. I had a green iguana for many years (may he rest in peace).
    Today, I went with my La Fortuna friends here to a place that is great for watching green iguanas. They were quite big (and fat), much larger than any others I had seen in the wild. They were also extremely lazy and sleepy. They did not seem to appreciate my excitement about them.

    One sleepy iguana

    Sleepy iguana

    Is this iguana not afraid of heights? Or suicidal? DON'T JUMP! You have every reason to live!

    Not afraid of heights

    Two lazy iguanas

    Two lazy iguanas

  • August5th

    Waterfall at sunset

    The waterfall near La FortunaI’m again visiting my American friend D’Angelo in La Fortuna, the cute little town by volcán Arenal.
    There is plenty of activities to do around Fortuna and some of the scenery here is pretty spectacular. Today I went to the nearby waterfall Catarata la Fortuna. We went swimming in the pool beneath the waterfall.The waterfall drops about 70 meters and is located at the base of a dormant volcano. At the bottom of the waterfall is a small pool in which you can swim. Considering the fact that this is a river, the water temperature was surprisingly pleasant. I tried to swim to the center but there was too much water coming down, pushing you away as you try to get too close. What a shame. I would have loved to know how this kind of shower feels like.

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