Looks a lot like adventure.

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Que paso...

Originally uploaded by trackbrad.
Nicaragua is to Costa Rica what Mexico is the United States. It is, according to what we´ve heard, the second poorest country in the western hemisphere after Haiti. Historic colonial areas have been well maintained in Granada and much of the wealth of the country is concentrated in Managua, however the rest of the country is in extreme poverty. Many migrant workers cross the border to Costa Rica to support the tourist industry and work on the pìneapple, coffee and fruit plantations. In Costa Rica, they are treated as a lower class -- and in turn, most Nico´s call Tiko´s (Costa Ricans) ¨dogs.¨ Despite what we hear in the United States, Nicaragua is largely a friendly and safe country, as long as you are smart about it -- not going out after dark and looking after your belongings.

The picture to the right is with our Nico friend Jonathan, who helped us quickly cross the border and get through the multiple layers of bribes, checkpoints and stamps. At every turn, someone took a few Cordobas for their trouble.

Before arriving in Nicaragua, we had toured Volcan Arenal, which is the second most active volcano in the world -- but, as our guide explained, ¨6 nights a month¨ are too cloudy to see lava... three of which were during our stay... but we still had a good time in the touristy town and at the ¨dancing waterfall¨ with Kathleen and Elizabeth, who we spent our last morning in CR with...

We also hiked through the CR rainforest... about ten minutes into the hike, we heard a dull roar approaching, like a semi truck down a highway, getting louder and louder. It wasn´t until it was almost directly overhead and we noticed slight drippings through the thick jungle canopy that we realized it was rain. We walked through the rest of the path and got completely soaked -- which was a really good thing -- since it washed most of the stink out of our clothes. (We´ve decided to go swimming in fresh water every few days to keep our clothes somewhat clean...)

After the rain, they took us to the Volcanic Hot Springs -- and all the backpackers on the tour (about ten of us, some who were planning on traveling around the world for over a year) had to laugh as the whole lot of us, dirty, smelly, hairy -- most covered in tattoos and piercings -- walked into an exclusive resort. We all had a great time swimming in the volcano heated pools... one which was over 150 degrees... it literally scalded your little toe as your stepped in... and we definately didn´t see anyone ¨hanging out¨ in that pool.

As we were sitting in one of the ¨less than boiling¨ pools, a group of men moved by us as we watched the USC game on TV. One of them was from USC and started talking with us -- and a guy from A&M came over as well. The men seemed very interested in both of us, so Red Beard quickly made a comment to the A&M grad about how he watched the t.u./A&M game with his Texas girlfriend... to which he responded, ¨Oh geez, well you need to get rid of her...¨ We then politely excused ourselves and moved to another pool.

We stayed at the Hotel Dorothy in La Fortuna, which was only $10 for a private room for two, cold showers and served hot breakfast for a few dollars. They also were very active in helping us find the best things to do and in getting us out to Nicaragua.

Once across the border, we stopped at Casa Oro in San Juan del Sur and hung out at the beach for the morning. After a few hours of relaxation and hiking, we caught a cab to Rivas and a bus to Granada (which cost about $1.10). We watched as locals occasionally threw trash out the windows of the bus and a 10 year old boy performed songs for tips, keeping a beat with a coke bottle filled with sand. There have been so many great photos along the way that we have not taken... for some reason, taking pictures of the poor doing daily tasks feels like we are violating their privacy... like they´re zoo animals. We´re trying not to be ugly Americans.

Yesterday, we took an incredible zip line tour of the rainforest, which was over a coffee plantation. We met our friend Lee Anne, who decided last minute to hop on the tour with our group.

Today we plan on hiring a boat to take us around the lake Apoyo and then heading to Managua, as our bus for Tegulcigalpa, Honduras leaves at 5am.

We showered today at the hostel, which doesn´t rent towels, so our solution was to use some knee-high security socks our Mom gave us to dry off... which worked really well. Thanks mom!

We´ll try to be more regular with our posts, but its hard to find working internet, time and energy to make worthwhile posts... but we´re having a great time and it is very safe here!

I know it does take time to write such interesting posts! I enjoy all of them. I do wonder who is watching your belongings while the two of you are doing your swimming/bathing in the fresh water? And I'm glad my security socks have found SOME use! Continue to be wonderful Americans. I love that you are using good judgement. Much love...

I'm glad you didn't listen to the guy that said "get rid" of your UT girlfriend.

NO WAY. The girls you hung out with were called KATHLEEN and ELIZABETH?!?! Those are my names!


Kathleen Elizabeth Thorne

P.S. Thanks Tracy... I'm glad Brad got away from them too. :-)

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