January 2012: I quit my job, sold my car, bought a one-way to Costa Rica ticket and... Here I am in Latin America exploring the nature wonders and learning to travel solo. I hope you are going to enjoy traveling with me as this is meant to be a voice of my experience.

Here I am … in Costa Rica … third time this year. Why you’d ask? Well, since I thought I would go to Nicaragua to volunteer for three months, I left my backpack with a lot of crap in San Jose and had to go back and get it sorted out. A lesson learned: “Don’t think you will stick to your plan when you travel. You will always meet someone or decide to do something more exciting than you thought you would.” I almost thought the voyage back to Costa Rica was a waste of time and money if not a four-day trip with my dear Mexican friend Mar to La Cruz, salsa en la calle and getting my life a bit organized. So far La Cruz has been a cherry on a cake of Costa ... read more

It was my last week-end, We took our tent and drove to the beach. There had a beer each, played with the wave, and watched a soccer game. At night walked to center eat beans from a blender Rice, salad and fish It was super delish! In the morning woke up and rapidly packed. Hot Springs were the plan, so here we come! The place was unfound It took us an hour We finally reached, bathed till were like a peach. When I got back, Greg created a party for me on the deck. It was my last week-end and Panamanian farewell. *** Just got to Costa Rica and getting my visa for Colombia.... read more
yeah, and that was true
That's how it's sold
River we had to cross

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Chiriquí » David April 20th 2012

There is so much to say about mothers. They are full of strict endless love, passion, understanding, sensibility, and patience. Talking to mom on the phone miraculously makes you feel relieved. So far, in each county I tented to find one of those older women who would make me appreciate more my mom and grandma and make you feel “at home.” In Cuba, it was Dania, in Costa Rica – Catalina, and in Panama, our cleaning lady Ara. Ara was one of those women who would take care of you no matter what. During my first day in Panama, after a hard day of work she took me to the city. “Didn’t she have something better to do?” – I thought. Then she took me to a dentist and was a great support when I had ... read more

After meeting so many people at the hostel, one of the guys who stayed with us asked if I would be interested in going to San Blas for Easter. That was a tough decision… heck yes, I would. His four-wheel drive truck was perfect for a rocky mountain road to get to Carti from where we would take a boat to one of the 365 islands of Kuna people. On Thursday night I took a late bus from David to Santiago. (I just learned that there are 5 Santiagos in the world). In the morning we were supposed to pick up another friend from a gas station on the way to Panama City. Somehow, the other friend had a problem with a bus, we had a problem waking up, and since only one person from the ... read more
Ready to take a boat
You again?
Canal de Panama

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Chiriquí » Volcan April 2nd 2012

When you ask people if they have ever climbed the Volcan Baru, they say “Yes, I am glad I did it but I am not doing it again.” Needless to say, it was the hardest hike I have ever done! After drinking a bottle of Balboa and wrapping my feet tightly in a sport bandage, 6 boys and I left a little town of Boquete close to midnight to go to the highest point of Panama, Volcan Baru. It’s more that 11000ft or 3400 meters high. Due to high elevation we chose to hike at night to get there for the sunrise and see the view of the Caribbean and the Pacific before the clouds come out. The first part of the hike took us about 6 hours of cruel difficult elevation through huge rocks, peach ... read more
Getting the feet ready for a big hike
6 guys and I
Are we there yet?

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Chiriquí » David March 30th 2012

The day starts about like this: 6am Roosters and dogs start a competition “Who is louder” 6:15am Wake up and get dressed 6:17am Go for a run (if and only if there weren’t too many fun people in the hostel and I didn’t have to run a bar) 7am Come back to the hostel after a neighborhood run and talk to our 37 y.o. cleaning lady Ara. 7:15 am Take a shower, make a big pot of coffee for everyone, a huge pan cake with honey for myself, and check computers for any reservations. Then the morning passes by talking and saying goodbyes to travelers who are taking off either to Bouquete, Bocas del Toro or Panama City; getting their e-mails and facebook info to be friends forever and ever… 12pm Lunch time. There are a ... read more
Our Volunteer Crew
That's what you get for $2
My bed

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Chiriquí » David March 25th 2012

I am in Panama!!!! After a day of getting cleaned, unpacked and re-packed after Cuba I took a bus to David, Panama. It was a 6 hour ride to the border with Costa Rica and 2 hours ride to David. On the bus I met a very nice Tica who was going back and force between Costa Rica and Panama for medical treatments. When we got to the border I was shocked. It was the most informal border I have ever seen!!! It looked like a big market place with a lot of fried chicken, fruits and hats. When we went to get a stamp for Panama they didn’t ask me any questions and just stamped my passport. At the luggage claim, we all got into a big room with our bags, laid them on a ... read more
Lets get the stamps!!!!!
Our bus
Bienvenidos a Panama!

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Centro March 25th 2012

CUBAN MONEY: I can’t use my US Debit Card here so I had to bring a big stuck of $20. To exchange dollars there are two options. (Love options!!!!) One is CUC and the other is National Currency or pesos. 0.8 CUC ≈ One Dollar. And 25 Pesos ≈ 1 CUC. So after changing 60 CUC I got a huge pack of Pesos. It’s so confusing that I had also to get another wallet. SHOPPING: When you go to a store or a restaurant you have to ask whether you pay in CUC or pesos. After a few days I could tell based on the place. As a rule of thumb, poorer looking places, old Chevy taxis, buses and all you buy on the street charge in pesos. Better, tourist looking places, and yellow-plate taxis charge ... read more

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Este March 25th 2012

The first day of classes I met a French guy Fabian walking down the stairs from the University. I said I spoke French (not sure if I should have since I don’t really speak it that much anymore). We started talking and ended up getting a sandwich for ¢75 and strolling along random streets and buying bananas on the market. It was funny to know that he also had a blog and carried a little notebook along. His blog was “Where Is Fabian” and mine is “Where is Marina.” I guess I wasn’t that original when I thought of the name. I am thinking of changing it to “Scoop of Rice and Beans.” Any thoughts? He also took two years off because didn’t want to get into a routine, was traveling by himself, and thought that ... read more

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Cienfuegos March 25th 2012

JENETEROS, CIENFUEGOS AND TRINIDAD I don’t think I have ever seen or dealt with so much under-the-table prostitution as in Cuba. I can’t even count how many male prostitutes hit on me and how trapped I felt when I would start talking to or dancing with them. I took a two-day road trip to Trinidad and Cinfuegos during my last weekend in Cuba. Everything went well in Trinidad. I strolled around old stone streets, went dancing, met a few nice and normal Cuban musicians and ate a bunch of ice cream and pizza from local kiosks. On the bus stop to Cinfuegos I met two very nice guys from London and we spoke for a couple hours on the bus. They were heading to a different town and we decided to get a beer in a ... read more

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