Monday, June 30, 2008

Nica/Honduras/El Salvador

Greetings all

Wow, so much has happened in this last short while since entering Nicaragua – we met Stacy and Mike at the second “end of the road” destinations since starting the expedition and we were so amazed and impressed by this out of the way remote resort with the most pristine and beautiful beaches and one of Central America’s largest estuaries that is about 10 “Elsie” miles down the beach – check it out at

Anyone wanting to adventure to such a remote but truly beautiful and comfortable resort and be treated to Stacy and Mike’s spontaneous hospitality, should make the effort to go, just don’t expect to leave in any hurry as time means nothing there.

We worked on them setting up a few tents up there that will be rather unique if they decide to proceed.

This destination is truly also a fisherman’s paradise for those who care to get on the ocean and catch those underwater critters.

After bidding our farewell’s we headed to Honduras where the border crossing was a total nightmare with bribes up the Wahoo.

After just a short distance in Honduras, we were constantly harassed by the cops and fined for the most incredulous things that I started to get a real uneasy feeling in Honduras and by the next morning, I was not at ease and was not able to reach any of our clients that we were to meet in the north of the country that we decided to trust my instincts and get out of the country.

So early the next day we boogied across the border into El Salvador and I was real happy about our decision to do so.

El Salvador has welcomed us and we are happy to be here, so much so that Elsie got her first wash today and is looking better that the two of us for now…..

We are unable to upload images, so they will have to wait for another day - so sorry as they are cool pics.

We expect to be entering Guatemala by the weekend and then onto Belize.

Life is beautiful and then you can marry it and all is good.

Paul and Angelika

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Now Nica...

Now Nicaragua,
We got through the border crossing with much ado about how much 'bucks' each person needed in 'permits' etc. and headed without knowing in the wrong direction to meet a client and spend the night.
Only after chasing Elsie's tail to get there by dark, did we only first realize that we were totally in the wrong part of the country.
The whole atmosphere here is different but the countryside is very beautiful and everyone so far has been really friendly to us.
After arriving here and checking with the cops that no one here knows the people or the resort we were looking for, we found ourselves parked at the beach wondering what next to do as we do not drive at night, when I noticed a small hotel on the beach.
It is not much but we got a cool room with balcony only 15 meters from the beach and a cold shower and they kindly let me park Elsie on the patio amongst the diners because of my concern of leaving her on the road - most unusual looking sight indeed.
After checking in I went to get a local brew and the owners asked where I came from and after telling them I was born and raised in Africa, we all discovered that I was their forst guest from the dark continent.
The next thig all the cell phones were out and I had to do a photo session with everyone here :-)
As soon as we get moving this morning we will be heading to Managua which is not too far from here, so those of you in Managua waiting to meet with us, we will be there today and be calling you from the road.
Sorry we missed you Stacy but you will see us soon and I will try to contact you tonight again
Take care
Paul and Angelika

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Nicaragua here we come!!

Greetings all,
Tonight we find ourselves back in Liberia after visiting the St Elena Peninsula yesterday and camping in our rooftop tent in a little isolated campground on the beach of a very tranquil bay with waves the got to a mere 6" high.
On the way in to the campsite we met up with a few monkeys who did not like our presence and kept chucking sticks and foliage at us from way above in their safe zone.
After watching a very beautiful sunset, we walked back to Elsie to find that a bunch of the cute little raccoon "bastards" had munched on our mango's and took off with our rare multi grain bread but the rest of our goods was secured enough to keep them at bay but they did try all night to get to Angelika's left over soup.
This morning we went to check out the small Junquillal bay north of the peninsula that is just across from Nicaragua.
We had a few ales and made some sandwiches in the rain and and then headed back to Liberia.
I must say that Elsie is finally really running well now and we get the last few things patched up early tomorrow, Nicaragua here we come, the place will never be the same again :-)
Take care
Paul & Angelika

Thursday, June 19, 2008

CR last stops

Greetings once again!
We left Hotelito Si Si Si in Junquillal this morning and drove through "Monkey Trail" arriving at our final destination today in Playa Hermosa. We will go to Playa del Coco tomorrow before heading towards to Liberia to get our last spare parts for Elsie. We plan to cross over to Nicaragua early next week, just after we tour the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Take care
Paul and Angelika

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Elsie again

Greetings again,
We have had quite a few calls and e-mail wanting to know what we have been up to in these last few days and why there have been no recent blog entries….
As mentioned in a previous entry, we met up last week with family who flew in from Atlanta to be with us and share in a bit of the expedition and yea, Elsie has tested us to the limits again.
We had a fantastic time with the family, Russ and Jax, who treated us to a rare but unique experience of booking us into to the active Arenal volcano observatory lodge.
Before we could get there Elsie had shut down the alternator, so our second day comprised of hanging out at a workshop for a full day having the alternator rebuilt.
The volcano is an intense experience to behold (when not enshrouded in cloud) because it cranks up almost constantly with lateral emissions that come billowing out in huge cloud formations and also almost close to the summit is this red glowing vent that chunks out molten rocks the size of Elsie and larger that come hurtling and pounding down the mountain slope with the of the like of the sound of a herd of elephant bashing through the bush hell for leather – this all visible with a naked eye.
The sound affects are also so spectacular and the brief moment we saw the summit in the dark it was like a fireworks display.
We had such a good time together and then came Elsie, with brakes pulling so dangerously to the left that we pulled into a gas station in the sleepy town of Arenal to ask where we could find a mechanic.
The fellow stood up and said to us that he was our man, so we found ourselves in yet another workshop with a dirt floor and the rain pouring down incessantly making mud everywhere.
Our mechanic dude, Jason found a leak in the one brake drum and then one thing lead to replacing the cross members of the universal joints and another thing lead to another thing when we found that the gearbox and transfer box had gear damage and the bearings were shot – so out comes this entire gear assembly, crashing to the bottom of the pit because Jason had no pro equipment at all.
We spent all Saturday from 9am to 5am Sunday getting the gear box and transfer case assembled and had to manhandle it back in position without the gadgets one normally uses and it was a job I do not care to remember for the rest of my life.
Angelika held out stoically as our “spanner girl” until 2qm and when I got back I showered for a half an hour and slept for an our before we got up and headed with haste to the coast to meet with a client in Garza Beach.
Not long after we left Elsie started to make this vibrating sound that sounded like it was related to the gear boxes and drive train so we drove slowly not wanting to cause more damage.
After our meeting we headed to Samara for a meeting the next morning (Monday 16th) and we took this cool road through the forest until we hit this nice river crossing that looked pretty ok to cross in a diagonal path.
Even though it was pretty deep all went well until I hit a sand bar and Elsie put her butt right down on the bed of the river and refused to budge even an inch.
The exhaust was totally underwater so I bailed out and Angelika kept the rev’s up as water poured into the vehicle.
The heck with the croc’s, I grabbed the winch cable and was grateful that we just had enough cable to reach the closest tree that was only about 6 inches across and secured the cable to it and hoped it would hold and headed back to the intrepid Angelika as the rain cam pouring down.
Back at Elsie, when I got back in the vehicle, the river was flowing through her with brake fluid and other containers floating around.
As soon as the winch started to pull Elsie, she leaped up on the river bed as if to say “screw the winch”.
Back on the bank of the river, we were so happy, we left Elsie on a gradient to drain the water off and we went back to swim in the river and cool off in the rain.
So we pulled into Samara sopping wet, checked into a hotel but we were still worried about what to do in this small village with Elsie’s problems.
We met with a really nice client the next morning (also got a ton of laundry done) who suggested we go back to San Jose to get the job done right but I was not prepared to risk the distance and cause more damage in so doing so we decided to head the next morning (today) to the slightly larger town of Nicoya and try to get the help we needed.
After arriving here we went from one work shop to another getting turned away because they were all to busy but finally we found one just out of town who was willing to help us.
In no time he found the problem in the rear diff with some more worn parts that we got in town and he replaced for us.
This left us with one last mission, trying one last time to get the brakes working right, so back into town we went to find someone who would work on the brakes for us – By 4.30 we had this job done but would still have to work on the hand brake in the next week before heading to Nicaragua because we could not find the parts we needed here.
As it stands today, we will be heading tomorrow to Guiones Beach and head north to meet our appointments along the way, hopefully with no more hassles from Elsie.
We will be updating more regularly again from now on so long as we do not find ourselves in more workshops.
Take care and stay well
Paul and Angelika

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Northern Costa Rica

Greetings from the town of Liberia.
This will be a brief post, we will be in the Arenal volcano area for the next few days with family who have come to visit us and also to see a few clients.
By the weekend we will be heading back to the Northern part of the Nicoya Peninsula to finish up in Costa Rica and will then be heading to Nicaragua.
Yesterday we got good news from Panama that we got the green light and are to go ahead with a 5-star fishing camp in the Pearl Islands.
We also found a few more parts falling off Elsie, first the welding gave way on the water reservoir for the radiator (we seem to have stopped the reservoir leak now) and got that repaired - we also managed to find some screws to refit the window guides that had come loose and fallen off.
The snorkel had also come loose but this we secured very well with strips of inner tube.
More stories and pis later
Take care
Paul and Angelika

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Made Montezuma

Greetings from another beautiful morning on Nicoya
We had a fun day getting here yesterday and might have to spend another night here tonight.
It was truly a fun day trying to get here, we were turned back by two rivers but persevered through many other rivers, some in 4-wheel drive and others not but Elsie did just fine to be sure.
We are at the very beautiful Ylang Ylang resort and it is really cool how one gets here, traveling the last short distance along the beach.
Sorry this is so short but we have to get ready for this mornings meeting.
Take care and we will be back here soon
Paul & Angelika

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Nicoya or bust

We made Samara yesterday afternoon which is on the Pacific side of the Nicoya Peninsula. After waiting on an exit permit in San Jose that we will need to exit Costa Rica to Nicaragua, we headed towards Nicoya.
There was so much traffic backed up on the road with slow moving trucks, breakdowns and clearing mudslides that is was slow going and came to long stops at times.
At one point the passing lane road was merging to a single lane road and we merged into the single lane in front of an 18 wheel truck who was not at all happy he had to slow down to let us merge – a the first opportunity he came tearing passed us very close to Elsie and I said to Angelika he is going to ride us off the road at the same time it started to be come evident that this is exactly what he was attempting.
I tried to hold Ellie steady as I moved to the shoulder of the road and when it was getting serious I hit the brakes and the truck roared off ahead still pulling his truck all the way over to the side.
Had we not taken this defensive move we most likely would have been gonners today.
We are heading to Montezuma Malpais today along the coast and from what we are hearing we have quite a tricky road ahead with a number of large river mouths to cross.
We also have to stop before noon to call in on the satellite to Dave Mason’s radio show in the USA.
Wish us well and we will make contact from the ‘other side’
Paul and Angelika

Thursday, June 5, 2008

next stop Guanacaste

hi all, we leave San Jose tomorrow morning (Friday) for Guanacaste - to contact us call our US Intl Mobile phone +1-520-465-7078
Paul and Angelika

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Back in Costa Rica

Greetings on another soggy Central American day.

Apologies for the delayed postings to the blog but with this incessant rain it is not always possible to get online and we do not want to use the satellite unit in the rain either.

Much has happened in the last few days but tonight we find ourselves back in San Jose for a few days.

Backing up a bit, on Sunday we took the first day off since we started the expedition and drove up the one side of the island and found this beach with no undertow and spent hours just swimming and relaxing by the ocean.

We had a good trip back on the ferry on Monday afternoon and drove till dusk to a small border town and crashed for the night.

Early the next morning we got to the Panama Costa Rica border and had to go through the normal under the table shenanigans to get through, though this time it was a little less expensive, it cost us two bus tickets.

The bridge crossing back to Costa Rica was also an experience unto itself because the bridge is an old railroad bridge with old planks and the railroad tracks still intact and in place that one has to keep the wheels centered between the wheels – it was quite the experience for the first time…

Back in Costa Rica we headed down the coast past Puerto Jiminez to Manzinillo where we camped out on Elsie on the beach for the night.

It rained a bit and was a little steamy but it was awesome going to sleep with the sound of the ocean and rain on the rooftop tent.

Leaving this morning we decided to head back to San Jose as we had some recent issues with Elsie to deal with once again – she is no cheap date to be sure.

Apart from still nursing the wipers along my blood ran cold on Tuesday morning when inspecting Elsie, I discovered that the nut on the rear left shackle bolt had worked loose and fallen off and the bolt had started to come free – all I can say is that I am so grateful to have spotted this as it could have meant a total disaster for us if it had in fact come free.

Also yesterday we were on some soft beach sand and started to bog down when I decided for the first time to engage the 4-wheel drive only to discover that the linkages to the transfer case had broken loose. It was only my past experience in 4-wheeling that got us out of the situation.

So that is the other reason we are back in San Jose a little earlier, to fix up Elsie and we also went to meet an attorney here who is a not only a gentleman but also someone I would highly recommend him to anyone looking for excellent representation in Costa Rica and he is also totally fluent in English.

For those of you in Guanacaste, we will start heading there on Friday if things go well tomorrow.

After a discussion with a client in Thailand and experiencing the same intense lateral rain that prevails in these high rainfall regions, we have come up with a method of covering the zippers to prevent the little water leakage that sometimes occurs.

Lastly we would like to thank everyone we have met so far for the kind welcome, hospitality and friendship you have all shown us, this has been truly appreciated.

We hope to get back on the blog by the weekend again.

Take care

Paul and Angelika