Hesam Tavakoli


Hesam Tavakoli

Hi everyone, thanks for checking out my blog! As many of you know, I will be starting Med school @ St. George's University in Grenada this Fall. In order to get there, I have decided to go on a backpacking adventure to the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent. I have booked a flight to Guatemala City on July 5th (it's gonna be a rough flight) and a flight from Panama City to St. George, Grenada on August 12th where I will stay till Christmas.

What will happen in those 38 days and how I will get from Guatemala to Panama is yet to be determined. My ideal itinerary is to travel north from Guatemala to Belize (try to get scuba certified!) and hitchike/chicken-bus my way south. To give you an idea, here is my proposed route: Guatemala to Belize to Honduras to El Salvador to Nicaragua to Costa Rica to Panama to Grenada!

Made it to Panama City! My last stop in central America. I'm staying in Casco Viejo, which is the "old town" region across the bay over looking the city's skyline. I was very surprised when I first saw this city. I don't feel like I am in Central America. It feels more like Miami with large skyscrapers, fancy shops, people from all over the world, and super nice houses & cars. Not to mention its hot and humid here. It's a very nice and lively big city where you can go out to clubs any night of the week and still get away with having meals for under $3. I've stayed a total of 5 nights in this city. Probably more than I have in any other city thus far. I'm staying at a place called ... read more
day time 2
casco viejo
the canal

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Chiriquí » David August 10th 2012

We left Bocas Del Toro heading south towards David. It's a 4 and half hour drive. 2/3 of the way into it, we saw the sign for "Lost & Found Lodge" and asked to be dropped off along the road. I heard about this place from my Dutch friends back in Nicaragua, it was their favorite part of Panama so I wanted to check it out. I was a bit sketched out at first not being in a real city and just off the side of the highway. We followed the trail up the mountain and 20 minutes later we had found "The Lost & Found". My writing and pictures can not do this place justice. It was absolutely gorgeous! Way up in the cloud forest, this jungle lodge had breathtaking views of green rolling hills ... read more
the 3 story dormatory
view from the room
treasure hunt

Finally made it to Monte Verde! I arrived early afternoon and stayed at Pension Santa Elena. It's a nice little place owned by a couple from Austin, TX. I tried to book a horse back riding tour to the cloud forest but everything was booked. Instead I went zip lining through the cloud forest. So awesome! The canopy tour in Costa Rica was much more exciting than the one I did in Nicaragua. At one point it started to rain while zip lining through a canyon. I could feel the top of the rain drops hitting my face, it felt like I was going through a cloud of needles. Later that night I did night hike to the cloud forest where we got to see many nocturnal animals and insects. We saw monkeys, sloths, exotic birds ... read more
road blocks on the way to Monte Verde
humming birds outside the zip lining office
the night hike

The last day in Nicaragua, we hiked up to the giant Jesus statue over looking San Juan Del Sur and stayed till sunset. The view from top was absolutely gorgeous! All I could see were endless coves, bays, beaches, and jungle in all direction. Jesus definitely has some prime real estate on top of that mountain. We finished the night off with some local rum and by morning, my new Dutch friends went north and I parted south to the Costarican border via a chicken bus completely packed with Ticos and Nicas. Of course, as soon as I get off the bus to walk the ~1km across the border it starts to rain. By the time I reached Costa Rica I was completely drenched. With the help of some locals, I was able to find a ... read more
I will miss Nicaragua
found jesus
the day ends

The first day on Ometepe, I rented a kayak for the day and kayaked to San Ramon. From there, it's about a 4km hike to San Ramon waterfall. A 60 meter waterfall halfway up the volcano with the water coming out of the crater-lake made from rain water. It was pretty awesome to shower in the waterfall after a long hike! Later that day we kayaked to the isthmus connecting the two volcanoes. It's a very shallow swamp and the only way to access it is via kayak. There were numerous species of birds and monkeys around the swamp. After 2 days on the island, I left the hostel and walked to Oje de Agua (natural springs) about 4 hours away from the hostel. The walk was amazing and I hitchhiked on the back of a ... read more
Hike to the waterfall
San Ramon waterfall
A quick shower before the hike down

Six hours later and covered in salt, we arrived in Puerto Cortez, Hunduros. I decided not to spend much time in this country and pass through it as quickly as possible. In Central American time, it translates to two days. From the port, Georg and I took a minibus to San Pedro Sulu, a major bus terminal, to catch a bus to Nicaragua. This was no ordinary minibus, from what I understood it is part of an underground street racing team. It consists of two crew members, the driver and the co-pilot. The driver manages to navigate this 2 ton machine through traffic and dirt roads near super sonic speeds and the co-pilot somehow pushes passangers in and out without the viehcle ever stopping. Surprisingly, I've only witnessed minor injuries. Once we got to San Pedro ... read more
Cero Negro
Hiked up to the top!
one way down

Made it to Belize! This country is so different than Guatemala in both language and culture. It's probably the most laid back place I have ever been. After arriving in Belize city, I took a water taxi to Caye Caulker. This is a tiny reef island about an hour off the coast. The island has only three dirt roads: front st, middle st, and back st. You can walk anywhere you want in less than 20min, there are no cars just golf carts. The three of us found a beach front hotel for $10/person. Surprisingly, this is the first place I've stayed at that has hot and cold water. After exploring the island a bit, we walked up to the north side of the island where a hurricane back in the 60's or 70's split the ... read more
Beach bar at the north split
Going snorkeling

Samuc Champey! This town well exceeded my expectations. It was a bit difficult to get to, specially driving there at night in a middle of a storm, so instead I spent the first night in Lanquin which is about 10km away. I took the first shuttle in the morning to Samuc Champey and stayed at a place called El Portal Hostel. This place was literally in the middle of nowhere, in order to get there I had to ride in the back of a pickup truck for about 45minutes through dense jungle and mountain trails on a dirt road. Once there, I signed up for the Samuc Champey tour which consisted of a decent hike to get a panoramic view of the 16 famous turquoise pools, then hiking back down and swimming in them, followed by ... read more
Random things in the jungle
the ride to el portal hostel
The bridge to El Portal Hostel

After a long delayed flight from LA, I finally made it to Guatemala City. Exhausted and not sure what to do, I decided to take everyones advice (including the taxi driver's) and got the hell out of there. Trying to communicate with my less than impressive Spanish, I was able to get a ride to Antigua (50km away). Antigua is a beautiful colonial town just outside Guatemala city, everything from its cobblestone roads, to majestic views of three volcanoes, to its bight orange and yellow colored homes give it a unique character not present in many cites. Its also a big backpacking destination and I have met many great travelers. With the help of the taxi driver, I was able to find a hostel for the night and rest. Today, I hiked up to Cerro de ... read more
Carre de Cruz
Yellow House Hostel

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