Sarah Mebane


Sarah Mebane

Time is flying by so fast, but I’m still on summer vacation. So, there is pretty much no excuse to have gone this long without writing the final post from my trip. Maybe I just don’t want it to really be over… After six amazing weeks in Central America – during which time I explored 5 different countries, unpacked and re-packed my backpack to move 16 times, stayed in 14 places (including the homes of 2 different families), met countless people (many I can now call friends), took thousands of pictures, and made more memories than I could have imagined – ended in a whirlwind. The itinerary for my last couple of days was packed. After 3 nights in El Salvador, we were going to travel to Honduras (through Guatemala, so 2 border crossings) where ... read more

The drive from Suchitoto, El Salvador to Conception Ataco, El Salvador was the only completely uneventful trip. It was only a few hours. We left Suchitoto early afternoon and we arrived in Ataco early afternoon. Although the cities were very different, they had some similarities. For example, they were both very quiet – where things (including restaurants) close down very early. They are both completely the opposite of touristy. We were in Suchitoto for 1 night and Ataco for 3 – those three nights in El Salvador were the most “back road” of our whole trip. Lots of people looked at us with curiosity, but the energy was friendly. Our first night in Ataco was one of our quietest nights. We toured the town, which took about 15 minutes. We walked along peaceful cobblestone streets, taking ... read more

It feels a little weird to write a blog entry (or 4) more than a week after I returned. But, I’m too much of a perfectionist to stop the blog in the middle. So, I’m operating on the “better late than never” philosophy. Fortunately, I left little breadcrumbs of photographs and notes to retrace my steps into my memory. Some of the notes make total sense – like “church made from egg whites, manure, and soup bowls” reminded me of the creative building materials used for the main church in Suchitoto, and “old lady machete” reminded me of this super old woman on the side of the road walking with a machete. But, some of them are already lost in the backroads of my brain – like “when she’s flirting, she’s 87” or “santa lucia cut ... read more

The chicken bus experience from our stay in Ometepe to Granada was great. I got exposed to a new, different way of traveling that was both cheap (I think, I didn't actually pay) and entertaining (in the form of people watching). I didn't do an official poll, but it seemed like those that I talked to were glad to have tried it. However, when we were presented with the following two options: 1) take three different chicken buses from town to town in Nicaragua; or, 2) pay 3 USD more per person to take a private van, the response was unanimous. Off we were in an air conditioned private van! With less to observe inside the transportation, my eyes were again drawn to the landscape. There is so much to see, from people selling iguanas on ... read more

When I am in a new situation or meeting new people, there is always a moment when everything sort of clicks together in a way that was different and better than before. I often describe myself as a “feather in the wind”. That is, for the most part, I am lucky that I have a personality where I can have a good time in virtually any situation. So, I am not surprised that I have been having a blast from day one of this trip. I’ve enjoyed the activities, and I think that the group is great. But, there was a moment when everything went from fun to really clicking – a new level. And, for me, that moment was in Granada. I loved Granada. As is typical at this point, I can’t skip talking about ... read more

Fortunately I had been told what to expect on our “travel day” from Costa Rica to Nicaragua, because it was much better to be mentally prepared. It was a really long day. We drove 5 hours in a private van, during which we had to stop twice at police inspection points. They were no big deal – in the second one a police officer came in and glanced at all of our passports but it was very relaxed. After the drive, we crossed the border by foot. After we exited Costa Rica, there’s a 500 meter walk through a “dead zone” that isn’t owned by either country. We had a really long wait while we were trying to get into Nicaragua, which was ok but hot (although several people told us that we were lucky because ... read more

PR agents for Monteverde would describe the travel experience as a free “butt massage”, which is the best possible way to describe the bumpy, curvy, unpaved road that gets you there. While I was looking forward to seeing it again, I was definitely NOT looking forward to the drive. Fortunately, traveling to Monteverde from La Fortuna had an exciting surprise. We get there by ferry. You still get the free butt massage, but before hand you carry your luggage down to this small boat which takes you over Lake Arenal to the other side. It was a beautiful bonus… There are 3 major things to do in Monteverde, Costa Rica – zip-lining, a coffee tour, and a night time walking tour. The first two I was able to check off with my family, so upon arrival ... read more

For the remainder of my time in Central America, I booked a tour through G Adventures called “Backroads of Central America”. Over 17 days, the tour takes myself and 15 other young people (18-40) north through Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. It’s essentially backpacking but more organized – we stay in very basic accommodations – and it is definitely marketed as an adventurous trip. I have never officially done anything like this, although my weeklong South Africa safari week was similar. I had such a blast on that trip that I decide to give this type of traveling a go. There were a few things that I was worried about for this trip (e.g., losing my bags upon arrival, arriving in Costa Rica to discover that the whole program was a scam, not ... read more

When I planned my trip to Central America, I had a window of about 5 days between the end of my volunteer project and the start of my backpacking group trip. Initially, I didn't really have a plan so I was thinking that I would wing it and figure out the best option when I arrived in San Jose. BUT, my fantastic family (mom, my aunt Carol and her boyfriend Chris, my aunt Susan and uncle Rusty, and my cousin Katy) decided to join me for a vacation during my window, which was the best possible way it would have worked out. We rented a beach house in Samara the closest beach town to my volunteer project. The house was awesome (as was the double head hot shower and diet coke that awaited me there), the ... read more

In about 24 hours, my family will be picking me up from Cameronal, which will mark the end of this chapter of my Central American vacation. So, I am writing this entry as a (most likely) final reflection on my time volunteering with the turtles. This volunteer project has been unlike any other experience of my life. Bits and pieces are recognizable, of course, but I really feel like I have spent the last two weeks transplanted in another world. Unlike some other travel and volunteering, working with the turtles involves a LOT of downtime. The experience of downtime is heightened by being in a remote location, virtually disconnected from the rest of the world. Because of that, the work and the play have both defined my time here. The work has been a little unlike ... read more

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