Hello fellow travelers out there on the Pan Am. We’ll be arriving in Panama soon, you know what that means, we’ve got to get around the Darien Gap to continue the expedition into South America.

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Therefore we are hoping to share a 40 foot container from Colon, Panama to Cartagena, Colombia some time in the beginning to middle of October 2017. We have a Toyota Tundra with a pop up truck camper and are 23 feet long. We have not selected a broker as of yet so we are flexible. If interested, please comment or send us a private message to tndancelover@gmail.com. Thanks

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Where do I start? I guess at the beginning, so get a cup of coffee or a beer because this is going to be a long post. Starting with the mornings events and working my way backwards is going to be the best way to bring you up to speed. We woke up to the realization that last night there was an earthquake here at Ostional Beach. ” I thought you were goofing off shaking our camper last night” Scott said jokingly. “No, that wasn’t me!” I retorted. About that time our host Gilbert Araya walked up and asked if we felt the earthquake last night. Honestly Tammy and I hadn’t, must have been asleep, but Angela and Scott certainly did. “It was a 2.8” Gilbert grinned, “A baby” he added. “But it certainly stirred up a lot of howler monkeys in the jungle just across the street,  you could hear them for an hour after the shaking” he added. No damage, so all was okay. Welcome to Costa Rica, earthquakes and tremors are a way of life here.

We were staying at Ostional Beach, the number one beach in the world for nesting sea turtles. We couldn’t miss Ostional as we have participated in turtle conservation in Mexico and Florida, and feel very passionate about sea turtles. The night before we went out on the beach to see many turtles come up to nest. Tammy was overwhelmed by emotion actually getting to witness this. As Gilbert, our guide, we were with the number one sea turtle conservationist in the world, it was a memorable experience and very educational. There’s nothing like watching a mother sea turtle labor up on the beach, dig her nest, lay the eggs and then retreat to the sea. It was magical.

We had only planned to stay at Ostional Beach for one night, but the morning of the second day it rained and stormed all morning. When we got on the road to leave we realized we were trapped by ragging waters on both ends of the town. The day we came to town these now rushing and ragging waters were just a small creek we passed over. Not now, there was no way we were leaving. After telling our new friends Gilbert and his wife our goodbyes, we were back in 20 minutes, setting up camp again.

 

The day prior we stayed at Cabanas y Finca Canas Castilla, which was a great introduction to Costa Rica. Quite magical in it’s own right, we had spider and howler monkeys right over our camper everyday. We also had the opportunity to do some hiking and met a family traveling from California to Argentina. Please follow them, like and share their story http://www.clunkmonkey.com. We were truly inspired by Malia, Tim, Kalia, Wyatt and Carson…..and their little dog too, Max.

We also experienced a power surge from a 220 volt outlet. Thinking it was a 110 outlet, we connected and 10 minutes later “zap”, the damage was done. While we still have power going to all the electronics in our camper, our converter will not charge the 12v battery. So we are working to overcome this issue now. Stuff happens as they say.

I’m sorry I’m leaving out some details, but I promise I will revisit this part of our “Tales on the Pan Am” and update. Just trying to stay ahead of the curve at this point, as we don’t always have the best internet in which to post. Thanks for following.

 

 

 


 

Our trek from Rancho Los Alpes near Leon to Laguna Apoyo was  scenic, easy and uneventful. After saying goodbyes to our new friends, Michele from New Zealand, Axel and his family, Alma and her parents Jim and Gina, we hit the road. Getting a much later start than we anticipated we still made it to Lake Apoyo well before dark. We found a route around the city of Managua, bypassing the traffic which added a little extra time to our travels. Stopping for lunch, getting gas and keeping things moving it didn’t take long before we found ourselves driving higher in elevation. With the temperature dropping and the forest getting thicker, our excitement grew. Suddenly there it was, a huge blue lake surrounded by forest. It was obvious we were in the crater now. Tiny villages dotted our path as we made our way, as children and adults waved eagerly. “Hola” we hollered. Check in at Paradiso Hostel was easy, setting up camp not so much, but as usual we made it work. Meeting many folks from all over the world here is just half the fun. Today we’ll hike up to  Volcano Masaya and peer down into an active volcano. Stay tuned for pictures and thanks for following.

 


We tried, walking every street, going in churches, courtyards, stores, restaurants, coffee shops and more. But we found that Leon Nicaragua is just so big, beautiful, vibrant and sprawling that we’ll need more than a few days to discover it all. 20170831_123136.jpg

Leon’s markets are full of colors, smells and merchants that are eager to have you have step inside for a look. The churches are all wonderful in their own unique way, and each zocalo has it’s own flair of people watching and kids playing. We certainly enjoyed Leon and hope to return someday.


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It’s been a super busy week for us, more than we can keep up with. While I’d normally try to post most of our adventures, we’ve had more than a few days without internet. So for now, I’ll just surmise  how our week has been.

 

We left Copan Ruins and headed to D&D Brewery and farm.  From there we crossed the border into Nicaragua and spent two days at Somoto Canyon. We are now at Rancho Los Alpes outside of Leon. We’ll be here for several days. Thanks for following and I’ll be sure to get all of our adventures updated soon. Meanwhile enjoy the pictures.

 

 


By Scott Woodhams @Life all Out

 
We had another absolutely incredible day today in Honduras!
Daniel and Dorothy (@adventurecopan) picked us up early in their Toyota Troopy. This is a coveted vehicle in the States, and even rare here in Central America.
Our trip began on pot holes roads, leading to a dirt road through patures and jungle for miles, back as far as the Troopy would take us. The ground was made up of greasy mud. The kind that will pack your shoes full, and act as like a banana peel, causing you to slip and slide, even on solid ground.
We were joined by the local owner of the property we were exploring. We were told if we were up for the arduous hike, the reward would be pristine, untouched, private caves to explore.


The hike proved to be a challenge, as the mud got slimier, the path more jungle, and the inclines increasingly steeper. We traversed through forests, corn fields, coffee fields, jungle, mud, and finally water falls, before coming to the mouth of the cave.
Just as we were marveling at the site, the land owner, yelled Snake! He grabbed a stick and killed a 5 or 6 foot rattle snake, that seemed to have just eaten, as it’s sides were swollen to the diameter of a baseball bat! Daniel finished it with a crocodile Dundee knife, and all was well!
We started entering the cave, weilding flashlights, knives, and cameras. Almost immediately, we had to start climbing over boulders to move forward. The next area was well worth the work. The view of the river rushing on the floor, the cavern style walls, and stalactites! All of a sudden we were being bombarded from all sides and overhead! We had disturbed the massive army of bats sleeping on the ceiling and in crevices. The wind from their wings, and the chaos of them swarming us took a little getting used to.
They were the size of crows, massive, menacing prehistoric type beasts! One exceptionally large one dive bombed Daniels light causing quite a ruckus as the light failed, wings flapping, and high pitched scream was all I seen and heard. I’m not sure what came from who, but it was pretty eery in there.
Even though we had flashlights, it was still pitch black in most areas. The cave ceiling spanned to 30 feet in sections, boasting massive stalagtites.
We found cracks and crevaces, which served as foot and hand holds as we free climbed deeper into the cave, above the rushing water below.
The rushing river that raced through the floor of the cave was cold and ultimately plummeted out of the mouth of the cave and over the rocks, forming a waterfall, cascading to the rocks below.
As we went deeper, we were able to scale the walls to get closer to the ceiling and get stalagtites for souvenirs ( with the owners permission of course!). What a tremendous experience! One that could not be duplicated in the States, or on a tourist trip.
We went as far back as we could go, to where we had to start wading to our knees. At this point we decided to turn back. We would come again, more prepared next time. Who know what lies at the center or the back of this cave. It is privately owned and difficult to access, so very few feet have trodden where we got to go!
The walk back seemed quick as we relived the unbelievable experience, still surreal in our heads.
The Troopy did a fantastic job at making its way through the mud and hauling us all back to Copan.
Wow! Another lifetime experience! Im starting to believe that adventure doesn’t begin unless you question your sanity for doing what you are about to do. Many adventures have began with just that scenario playing through my head, “what was I thinking?” Enjoy the video.

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by Tammy Barbour
Alas, we will be packing up to leave Copan Ruinas on Friday. We have done so many incredible things while here. We’ve explored all over the lovely town, climbed the vast Mayan Ruins Copan, hiked a private waterfall deep in the mountains, and learned all about the bird rehabilitation at Macaw Mountain. We’ve held Macaws, and today we had a local take us on a very rugged, mountainous, muddy hike to another amazing waterfall and to explore this ginormous cave system that is not a tourist place in the least. What I am most grateful for though is meeting and spending quality time with Daniel and Dorothy Kent and their 2 adorable children. They are stuck with us now. On Friday we start trekking across Honduras to the Nicaragua border so of course stay tuned for more adventures.

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We’re enjoying our time here in the small quaint town of Copan. Tuk tuks speed by everywhere and are always readily available, taking you anywhere around town for less than a dollar. The Zocalo (central park) is aways full of  food vendors, and people watching seems to be the greatest past time event. Near our camp site at El Bosque we’ve grown accustomed to watching a soccer game anytime. Currently we’re paying less than $5.00 a night to camp, and that includes wifi, and the use of the hotel bathrooms. It’s just a slow way of life here, no rush, no fuss. We’ve spent our days touring the town, the famous Copan Ruins and plan to do some volunteer work. We’ve also visited Macaw Mountain,  explored a cave and waterfall, more on that later. Did we say we’re enjoying Honduras? We are!

 

We’ve also had the pleasure of meeting up with a great family whom we’ve talked with over five years on Facebook, Dorothy and Daniel Kent and their boy and girl, Daniel Jr and Pepper. They actually came to the border to meet us as we were crossing over from Guatemala, they’re fantastic host. Giving us the grand tour of Copan and it’s surroundings, introducing us to locals and making us feel right at home, we appreciate the hospitality.

 

We’ve learned a lot, for one, it’s very inexpensive to live here. For instance, renting a nice home can be as low as $300. a month, lunch or breakfast for two can be had under $6.00, and shopping for fresh food at the local market, you can get a weeks worth of food for under $25.00, making us think we’ll certainly want to visit Honduras again.

 

So far our summary of Honduras is, it’s beautiful, inexpensive  and certainly worth further exploration. Stay tuned as we do just that, and thanks for following.

 


Macaw Mountain, aimed at saving Central and South American Macaws and other parrot species, we found this sanctuary absolutely amazing. We’ve never seen so many beautiful birds in one place and all being meticulously cared for. There are many of them here, along with toucans, parrots, kingfishers and orioles, all flying around in spacious, humanely constructed cages. Many were pets that were no longer wanted, injured birds, and some are free that come and visit. They are being rehabbed, breed and conserved, as well as used for educational purposes. Some birds are released back into the wild upon recovery. In the ‘Encounter Center’ uncaged birds fly onto your shoulders or hands and you can pose with them. There’s also a gift and coffee shop. A great place to visit while you’re in Copan for sure. Macaw Mountain

Honestly, we were taken by surprise, the beauty of the surroundings, the flora and fauna. The cost was only $10.00 and you are allowed to come back for three days. We’d certainly go back again. Our guide Carlos was superb and enthusiastic. If you’re traveling over to see the ruins, make Macaw Mountain a must see.


by Tammy Barbour

Have you given much thought to the art of handling cash when visiting multiple countries? I call it an art because you want to have enough local currency to get you through to the current country you are exploring with some left over to convert to the next country’s currency as well. Each country has its own currency, and Mexico and Central America are cash centric societies so cash is king.

We plan on getting local currency in every country from an ATM using our Schwab debit card because we are reimbursed for all ATM fees, and there are no foreign transaction fees. The problem is calculating currency exchanges in your head to make sure we get enough. Today for instance, we took L2,300 (Honduran Lempiras) from an ATM, and it sounds like so much to me. In reality it is about $100US.

Often times there are no banks or ATMs at border crossings, but cash is necessary at the crossings in order to pay for visas and temporary vehicle importation. Luckily there are “Money Guys” who come around and exchange the currency for you. It is not the best rate, but we get just enough to get through the border and then locate an ATM for the new country.

 

It can get difficult to balance too much with too little cash as some times even gas stations are cash only. At the border crossing between Guatemala and Honduras today, I had to exchange quetzales to lempiras and make sure I was getting all I was supposed to be getting.

Now however, I have a purse with Mexican Pesos, Belize Dollars, US Dollars, Guatemalan Quetzales, and Honduran Lempiras. At this rate I won’t have room for anything else by the time we get to Argentina. All part of the wonderful journey we are on.

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