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Florida road trip of a lifetime

 

Mustang Jo now baby

We’d been talking sometime about a road-trip across the States. The usual had come up: the north to south California coast road; east to west coast; and the infamous Route 66. Too predictable, too far, too obvious. If we were going to go to the States, we wanted to just make our own journey. And I wanted some nature, the great outdoors. Plus some of that musical Hispanic culture of Cuban dissidents and Latino immigrants. My partner requested roller coasters, shower facilities and the occasional cold beer.

The good life in Costa Rica’s blue zone

 

This time last year my boyfriend and I were sitting on a beach in Costa Rica. It was just coming to the end of the rainy season and subsequently there were still relatively few tourists around. Those that were there were surfers, typically North Americans or Europeans, who had rented a room for six months to take advantage of the cheap long-term ‘green season’ rates, the epic waves and the empty beaches. We were also coming to the end of our own six-month trip, during which I’d been working as a freelance travel writer in Ecuador and Guatemala. And Santa Teresa, on the Nicoya peninsular, was the perfect place to stop, re-group and take it all in.

Holidaying along the Ruta del Sol

 
Yorkshire pack horse - with style

Yorkshire pack horse - with style

We left peaceful Finca Punta Ayampe yesterday and headed to Montañita, hedonistic surfer town, for some fun fun fun. Last night we had a big night out, hitting up cocktail row – a lane full of wooden stall after wooden stall, a line of about 20 on each side, serving up delicious fresh fruit strong liquor refreshment. It’s a place with a single high-end hotel but it’s great for backpackers’ hostels with hammocks on the beach, cheerful bars and tasty cheap seafood. I ate five plates of king prawns in less than two days.

So better than Baños

 
Playing with fire

Playing with fire

Known as Mass of Fire in Quechua and depicted in many Tigua paintings due its cultural significance, Cotopaxi holds a special place in the heart of most serranos (Ecuadorians from the sierra). And after having just gazed at the peak of Cotopaxi for almost 3 months from the comfort of my terrace, it was truly life-reaffirming to be tearing up the flanks of Ecuador’s second highest volcano at 5789m above sea level (19,347 ft), last eruption in 1940.

From rainforest to cloudforest

 

Miguel, flying like a butterfly

Miguel, flying like a butterfly

Yesterday we got up at 6am, after arriving back home from the east about midnight, and went to Mindo, a two-hour drive north-west of Quito. There we sampled the delights of the cloudforest, where a high occurance of low-level clouds, resulting in fog drip, creates a wet, cool and very green terrain with an abundance of mosses, orchids and even hummingbirds. It was very beautiful, and a pleasant contrast to the rainforest we’d just come from.

Ecuador 2, Argentina 0!

 
Painted faces but no bikinis

Painted faces, but no bikinis

We got there at 1pm, even though the game didn’t start until 4pm. More time to soak up the atmosphere, I thought. The un-assigned seating system in the generales section (actually 4/5 of the stadium) means you have to fight for and guard with your life any little square of hard concrete you find to perch on.