MaRen

MaRs BaRs

MaRen

This is a blog of the adventures of two sisters on a quest to see the world.



North America » United States » Louisiana December 23rd 2017

This morning, Renata and I headed over to Louis Armstrong Park for the start of our Voodoo tour with Free Tours by Foot. We did not know much about Voodoo, except that it was misrepresented in the media. Our guide, Robi, a Plantation Voodoo Priest is very passionate about advocating and providing awareness to correct misconceptions about his religion. He was very entertaining, and also involved the group in a typical Voodoo Ritual. Like Christianity, Voodoo has one God, and saints like spirits called Ioa (intermediaries). In a Voodoo Ritual, the whole community gets involved. I was the second mama in command. I organized the meeting and made sure all the supplies were available. The ritual involved drumming, dancing and drinking (rum for the papa, for spirit possession). Spirit possession is believed to have occurred when ... read more
Antoine's
Antoine's
Antoine's

North America » United States » Louisiana » New Orleans December 22nd 2017

Today, Renata and I are heading out to a swamp and plantation with Cajun Pride tours. Our first stop was the swamp tour where Renata and I saw various alligators, turtles, birds and raccoons. We even got to hold a baby alligator! After the swamp tour, Renata and I headed to Oak Valley Plantation. Known for its beautiful alley of Oak Trees, Oak Alley Plantation was previously a sugar plantation; now a historical site. During our visit to Oak Alley Plantation, Renata and I learned about the history of the plantation and visited the slave quarters. We also tried a delicious non-alcoholic mint julep while exploring the grounds. A lot of film productions have been filmed at Oak Alley plantation, including a scene from the movie Interview with the Vampire. After the plantation tour, we headed ... read more
Swamp Tour
Swamp Tour
Swamp Tour

North America » United States » Louisiana » New Orleans December 21st 2017

Mardi Gras, the famous carnival celebration that occurs in New Orleans takes place on the Tuesday before Lent; or so Renata and I thought. Actually, Marti Gras is a month long celebration that starts just after New Year’s and ends before the beginning of Lent. Renata and I learned this news when we visited Mardi Gras World. Mardi Gras World is a working facility that makes over 500 floats per year for the Mardi Gras season. On the Mardi Gras World tour, Renata and I learned about the history of Mardi Gras. There are no corporate sponsorships or media involved in Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans. The money involved in making the various floats come from membership fees from the various Krewe members. Krewes are organizations that host Mardi Gras balls, ride on parade floats ... read more
Mardi Gras World
Mardi Gras World
Mardi Gras World

North America » United States » Louisiana » New Orleans December 20th 2017

New Orleans, a melting pot of French, American and African culture, is known for its decadent cuisine, vibrant live music and party atmosphere. New Orleans is also home to the famous and colourful Mardi Gras Festival. Renata and I spent a few days during the Christmas holidays exploring this incredible city. We arrived in New Orleans early evening and checked into our hotel, the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. After settling into our rooms, Renata and I headed over to Drago’s seafood restaurant, located in front lobby of our hotel. We had our first taste of New Orleans cuisine, charbroiled oysters and fried gator bites. Delicious! Then it was time to check out the Christmas scenery! New Orleans during the Christmas season was breathtaking. There were dancing alligators and (a “Who Dat?” sign) a slogan for the ... read more
Fried Gator Bites
Christmas Who Dat?
Christmas Alligators


On our last day in Costa Rica, we headed over to the local supermarket to buy a couple of snacks and souvenirs for the plane ride back to Toronto. We also bought some Salsa Lizano, to try our hands at making Gallo Pinto at home. When we walked out of the supermarket, we were surprised to see a parade of people marching down the street. We asked our hotel concierge, what the parade was all about. Apparently, today was Juan Santamaria Day, a National Holiday in Costa Rica. Juan Santamaria, was a poor drummer boy from Alajuela who helped prevent the U.S citizen William Walker and his mercenary army from turning Central America into a slave-trade empire. After Walker conquered Nicaragua, Costa Rica sent troops to Nicaragua to fight the growing threat. The battle, turned in ... read more


Today, we are traveling from Manuel Antonio to Alajuela to relax before our flight tomorrow afternoon. We learned yesterday, that the bus that goes to San Jose from Quepos stops at the Juan Santamaria International Airport in Alajuela. This was great news, as we didn’t have to take an expensive shuttle to Alajuela. We reached Alajuela in the afternoon. After storing our luggage at our Hotel, Hostel Cala, we headed off to one of the many cafes for lunch. Alajuela, felt more laid back than the busy capital city of San Jose. In the center of Alajuela is a grand church and a lush green park to relax. There are also a lot of interesting architectural buildings, statues, and smaller parks around. After chilling around downtown, Alajuela we headed back to our hotel for the night. ... read more
Alajuela
Alajuela
Alajuela


Today, Renata and I are going surfing with Dante’s Surf School. I always thought it would be cool to learn how to surf. However, I never realized just how difficult it would be. While trying to surf, I fell off my board numerous times, bruised my knee and twisted my ankle. I am glad, Renata and I decided to leave surfing as our last excursion in Costa Rica. I would not want to be walking around with a twisted ankle for the majority of our trip. Although, I had great difficulty learning to surf, Renata had better luck. She able to stand up on the surf board for about 30 seconds. I really applaud her determination with learning to surf. She never gave up and looked like she was thoroughly enjoying herself. I, on the other ... read more


In the afternoon, we headed to the Damas Mangroves for our Kayak tour with Tucanes Tours. We drove past huge African Palm trees on our way to the Mangrove. Palm oil is one of the many exports of Costa Rica. When we finally reached the Damas Mangroves, we were given life jackets and paddles. After a brief safety demonstration, we were off. On the tour, we learned about the different mangroves. The main three mangroves are the black, red and white mangroves. There were also mangroves that we saw that looked sort of like pineapples. Although, Renata and I had difficulty maneuvering the kayak to avoid mangroves, we always seemed to escape tight situations. It was an amazing experience and I would definitely do it again. For dinner, we headed over to the local Falafel Bar ... read more


Today, Renata and I headed on a guided tour of Manuel Antonio National Park with Costa Rican Jade Tours. Out of all the national parks we’ve been to in Costa Rica, I found Manuel Antonio National Park to be the best park to spot wildlife. We saw sloths, various monkeys, birds and insects. The park also has a beautiful beach to relax. However, at the beach, we had to be careful of our belongings. The white face capuchin monkeys and raccoons are known to steal from unsuspecting tourist. As the day grew hotter, we headed back to our hotel to cool off. In the late afternoon, we headed to the local beach and watched parasailers in the distance and the beautiful sunset on the horizon. For dinner we headed to La Cantina, where we enjoyed some ... read more
Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park


After breakfast, we headed to the Balsa River for some white-water rafting with Desafio Adventures. Our bus guide, made an impromptu stop at a road side grocery store where we learned about the different tropical fruits of Costa Rica and had our first taste of Coconut Water. Delicious! By the time we reached the Balsa River, our river guides had everything prepared for our white-water rafting excursion. We were provided with a helmet and paddle and after a quick safety demonstration, we were off on our white-water rafting adventure. The Rio Balsa is a class II and class III River that is regulated by daily dam releases. It is perfect for first timers like my sister, Renata. We steered our way pass various rocky rapid and enjoyed a relaxing float down the river. The rapids were ... read more
Whitewater Rafting
Whitewater Rafting
Crocodile Sighting




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