Saturday, August 31, 2013

More Costa Rican Wildlife

Just in case you didn't actually click on that link I included the other day, I thought you might be interested in seeing some more of the colorful wildlife I caught shots of.
(Toucan. Duh.)
(Green macaw. I think.)
(Blue butterfly. Please don't ask me to get more specific than that!)
(How it's even possible that I got this shot, I'll never know)
(Big-ass boa constrictor)
(Tiniest frog ever. Oh my god, SO cute.)
(Black and green poison dart frog)
So there ya go. If these caught your eye and now you really do want to go check out the others, here's the link again.

Friday, August 30, 2013


Are you seeing this? Costa Rican money has monkeys on it. And sloths. And sharks.
If that's not the greatest thing ever, well then I just don't know what is. And yes, you're looking at 18 million colónes. Nope, I'm not rich - that's about $36.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Volcano, Coffee, Wildlife, and Waterfalls

I mentioned the other day that I had a lot of activity planned for today and boy did I ever. I don't think I've had as much packed into one day since Semuc Champey. Today's undertaking was completely different from that, but it was still crazy fun and interesting. Let's begin, shall we?
That's a picture of coffee cherries. They are ripe when they turn red, so these clearly aren't ready for the picking yet, but luckily harvest season doesn't begin until November. I'm getting ahead of myself, though. The day began at Doka Coffee Estate, where we got a full tour of the coffee growing, harvesting, and roasting process. Having been to both whisky distilleries and wineries in the past, it was interesting seeing the ways in which they are all similar.

Next up was Parque Nacional Volcán Poás. The main crater, seen below, has a lake of milky blue water with sulfurous fumes wafting all around (yum!). A second, now extinct crater is a lake filled with acid rain water where very few organisms can grow and thrive. The park had a couple of pretty easy, paved trails to get to these two craters with unobtrusive signage along the way, explaining things about the area's foliage or wildlife. One sign cracked me up. It was an "in case of volcanic activity" sign that suggested such things as going back to the visitor center if you feel bad or can't breath, and not staying for a long time if you have asthma or hypertension. Uh...yeah?! What about keeping calm and evacuating quickly, that type of thing? :-) (Don't worry; there were signs that had those warnings, too.) According to our guide, we were very lucky because the volcano was completely clear - sometimes clouds and fog roll in super quickly and when that happens you can't see anything.
Our last stop of the day was La Paz Waterfall Gardens and, to be honest, I thought this would be the least interesting part of the day. My guidebook described the gardens as a "series of self-guided riverside trails linking five waterfalls" which also had a "butterfly observatory, aviary, trout lake, frog exhibit, and serpentarium." My thought was, meh. I've seen waterfalls, butterflys are boring, and trout? Really? 
I'm actually happy to say that I couldn't have been more wrong. That toucan up there wasn't the first one I'd seen (although it was the first chestnut-billed one), but it was certainly the first I'd seen up close and personal. (Can you tell it's freaking me out just a little bit?) The butterflies were pretty (still boring, though. Ha!), I wanted to pet the snakes, and the frogs were AWESOME. There were even jungle cats - cougars and ocelots - that my guidebook hadn't mentioned. (None of the animals were removed from the wild, FYI. They were all rescues, as most had been kept as pets illegally, at least according to our guide.) Even the waterfall was pretty cool because our guide showed us this neat optical illusion. From a viewpoint opposite the waterfall, we stared at the middle of the falls for 10 seconds and then looked to the right of them totally looked like the wall of rock was moving up as the water was flowing down. Neat-o. There are TONS more pictures, if you're interested.

It was also a really good food day, too. :-) Breakfast at Doka was a traditional gallo pinto, huevos rancheros, fruit, and coffee, but it was probably the tastiest gallo pinto I'd had in awhile. Lunch was buffet-style at La Paz and included things like potato and beef hash, frijoles molidos (mashed beans), roasted chicken, beet and potato salad, pasta, pizza, rice pudding, carrots and green beans, and a salad bar, plus other stuff I'm probably forgetting. For dinner this evening I was already back at my hostel, but I walked around the corner to a cevicheria and had a big-ass portion of ceviche that was quite good. It wasn't as good as what I had in Belize, but still pretty good.

Like I said, it was a long day. I had so much fun!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I hadn't really intended to spend any time in Costa Rica's capital, San José, and then I ended up spending two nights there. Well, not spending any time in any of the Central American capitals was the plan all along and then I realized I was going to spend one night in SJ anyway, just as a stopping point before moving on to my next location, Alajuela. But then it looked like literally all of the accommodations in Alajuela were booked for Monday night and I did not want to get there and not have a place to stay. So, two nights in SJ.

And the point of telling all of that? Oh, I don't know. Guess I just wanted to give a reason to explain how two days kind of disappeared with no real activity on my part. 

Moving on...I'm in Alajuela now! It was probably my easiest city-to-city travel thus far - I walked one block, turned right, walked 30 meters, and the exact bus I needed pulled up as I got to the bus stop. Nice! Finding my way to my hostel in (yet another) city with no street signage, in a place where directions are given as distances from landmarks? That's another story, but oh well. I did eventually find it and was anxious to toss my stuff down and go on a search for food. That's when I had a scare that my cash had been stolen out of my backpack. The scare lasted most of the day, actually, until I found it just before dinnertime. I still have no idea what happened as the money was in a pocket where I never would have put it, one which was essentially on the outside of my pack. Since everything seems to have turned out ok, keeping a better eye on my valuables is a good lesson to be reminded of.

After lunch, I had a couple of hours to wander/get lost and explore. I only had a couple of hours and not the whole afternoon because my weather report was predicting rain at 2pm. It was pretty dead-on. It was sprinkling as I reentered my hostel and the sidewalk was completely flooded because of the storms just a short while later. In any case, I got to see Central Park and the cathedral (pictured below), the National Theater, and a couple of other smaller parks, plus a stop at the post office.
(Everything was kind of dark and overcast, so I loved the pop of red back there)
Tomorrow I have a full day of activity to make up for all of the inactivity of the last couple of days, but more on that later...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

"Adventures" To and In La Fortuna

(Most modern church I'd see in all of Central America)
My first stop in Costa Rica was Libería and it was really nothing more than that - a stop. My only full day there was spent contemplating whether a trip to the peninsula for some beach time was worth it (decision: nope) and whether I should have another cold beer (decision: of course). The only picture I took the entire time is featured above. Most of the churches and cathedrals I've seen in Central America up until this point had been very Spanish colonial in style, so this one really stood out.

The first adventure with La Fortuna came with getting there. It seemed like it should be fairly straightforward...and it would have been...had I been aware that there are other places in the area also called La Fortuna. Oops, went to the wrong one. Although it was definitely out of the way, it wasn't such a big deal. I had to take three buses to get back on track...only to find out that the last bus I needed had left a few hours earlier. Oops again. So I was stuck in Tilaran, but the first bus the next morning left at 7am so no sense in crying over spilled milk, right? Besides, I never would've gotten this awesome picture of a very blue bathroom, complete with shampoo in little to-go cups if I hadn't stayed the night in Tilaran:
(Shampoo matches the paint. And the water cup. And the toilet.)
On Saturday, the trip to La Fortuna was actually pretty easy (as easy as it should have been if I'd done it right the first time around, ha!) and I was here by just after 9am. I quickly got a lay of the land, got checked in and showered, had breakfast, and got signed up for a tour from 2-8pm.

The tour consisted of transportation to and from Arenal Volcano, time at the volcano's observatory lodge, a short nature hike to learn about the area's plants and animals, a longer hike to a waterfall including a couple of long, hanging bridges, a small museum of the volcano's history, and - what I think everyone was really looking forward to - a trip to natural hot springs in the area.

The volcano's most recent eruption was in 1968 and it spewed lava every day for more than 40 years after that. I guess I should've come to Costa Rica a couple of years ago! I didn't see any lava, but it was still pretty cool seeing the two faces of the volcano - the green face where everything is growing and pretty, and the black face that's been covered in ash and lava for the last few decades.

At the beginning of the day, things were looking like this:
(View from my accommodations. That's a fire station in the foreground.)
 But a few hours later, at about the time we were fully entrenched in our hike, it looked like this:
(Rain starting to come in)
Yep, right around the time we got to the waterfall portion of the tour, the rain started coming down. It was a regular downpour and there wasn't a whole lot we could do about it, so in pretty short order we were soaked to the bone. It hadn't been too hot when we started and it didn't take long for us to be cold and fairly miserable. Most of us were keeping our spirits up, though, because there's not really much you can do when it comes to the weather (and weather in rainforest jungles in the rainy season, specifically). 

And, of course, as soon as we were back to the observatory and the hike was over, the rain stopped. But the timing was perfect because it was about the time when a family of sloths decided to make their move. Oh my god, all I really wanted during that tour was to see a sloth and I saw not one, but three! Including a baby! It was awesome. I don't have pictures - didn't even try because I knew with the lighting and the angle of the shot it wouldn't come out right, and I was more interested in actually seeing the sloths. I also didn't get pictures of toucans, howler monkeys, and a red-eyed tree frog for the same reasons. The tree frog was right up close, actually, and was so freaking cute and awesome.

Finally, it was time for the hot springs that we'd all been waiting for, especially now that we were cold and wet from the rain. We stripped down to our bathing suits and walked down a rocky path, reaching a large, flat rock that had water gushing over it to form a small waterfall. We were instructed to sit down and kind of slide jump into the pool below. We'd been told that these waters used to be cold and then they were boiling (enough to cook a chicken!) after the 1968 eruption, but now they are a comfortable 100 degrees. If you sat or kneeled in the pool, the water was up to your neck. Once we were all situated, the guides started handing out beverages - the national liquor guaro, made from sugar cane, mixed with Fresca. Then they came around with this lava mud that they spread on our faces to make masks. Even the guys were lining up for their spa treatments! It really was like a spa, too, because then I positioned myself under the waterfall and the water beating onto my neck, shoulders, and back was a really great massage. Adult beverage, mud mask, and thermal waters massage - quite the spa day, one that I hadn't even anticipated! There was also a cool little cavern similar to the one I saw at Semuc Champey. When our guide and two British girls broke out into song in that enclosed, echo-y space, I had to laugh.

It was a long day, one that got a little rough in the middle, but it ended on a really great note.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Arrived in Costa Rica

Nothing really to report except that I have finally arrived in Costa Rica! It was a long time coming and there were many days when I said to myself, "Tomorrow is the day I head for the border." And...then...I just didn't. I talked to a couple of friends about the reasoning behind that, but I'm not sure if I ever officially mentioned it here. Basically, I was having difficulty figuring out the logistics of transportation between places I wanted to visit here and since Costa Rica is more expensive, I figured I could soak up some more of the cheapness in Nica while I figured it out. I don't know that I've actually figured it out yet (still), but with only three weeks left before I head back to the States, it was time to get a move on.

And now a cool picture of windmills that I took from a moving bus. Cloud covered volcanoes in the background - of course - because they're everywhere here. :-)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Playa Madera

It took me practically a week, but I finally got to one of the beaches of SJDS. I went to a hostel that I knew didn't have a minimum number of passengers requirement to go to Playa Madera. Unfortunately, that shuttle was full and I almost just decided to head to the pool at Pelican Eyes again instead. But I popped into a nearby surf shop to see if they had any shuttles going and, as it turned out, they had one leaving in 10 minutes. I'm kind of glad the hostel shuttle was full because it would have been a 25 minute, wooden bench, un-air-conditioned, super bumpy ride. The shuttle with the surf shop was in a proper SUV, air-conditioned, and took less time because we could go (a little) faster. Isn't it nice when things work out?
It was high tide when I arrived, so there was just a little rocky spit of beach. I got maybe a hair more sun than I was planning on getting the day before, though, so I was pretty happy to see the one sandy section of beach covered in shade. (It was kind of on a slight hill, too, but oh well. Beggars can't be choosers.) I watched the surfers and read and dozed and swam and dozed some more before deciding to move out of the sun entirely. This little beach-side bar gouged you with their beer prices ($1.70/beer? What?), but at least it had a view:
The sunset was lovely, but I just couldn't wait to get back to my hostel. I desperately wanted a cold shower to wash off the salt and sand...and two slices of pizza. (Hey! The heart wants what the heart wants!) Two full days of sun have left me browner and sleepier and I think I'm finally ready to move on to Costa Rica ready to go to Costa Rica on Wednesday.

** I realized too late today that I forgot my camera, so all of today's pictures were taken with my phone. They still turned out pretty nice, but the sunset ones could have been better, I think.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Slice of life

(Party like a Nica, tip like a gringo!)
I sent an email to a friend the other day that I thought was a pretty good story, so I decided to share it here as well. This actually happened on Friday night, not "last night," but it was written on Saturday, so.
Yeah, so, last night all of the electricity in the entire town went out (although I didn't know that at first and thought it was just my block). I was just kinda gonna wait it out and see if it came back on, but I realized the battery on the computer I was using to play solitaire would only last so long, so maybe a beer was in order.

That's when I found out electricity was out all over because it was DARK walking down those streets. Most places were closed, but there was a small generator here and there providing a wee bit of light. I ended up going into a bar I walked into the other night and the owner, Mandy, even remembered my name (I *love* that). She introduced me to the gang of regulars and we all sat around drinking and playing Family Feud on her phone (not sure how that worked without an internet connection, actually, but whatever). Mandy was trying really hard to keep the refrigerators as cold as possible and was loathe to open it for just one beer, so she'd yell at the whole bar (probably a dozen of us in all) to give her their orders. Cracked me up because every single time there was a guy who didn't want a beer and then one and half minutes later he did and Mandy would curse up a storm. 

After a few hours, all of the lights and fans came whirring back on and everyone cheered. We were all looking forward to being able to go home and sleep in relative comfort with the help of our trusty fans.

I got back to my hostel and had to ring a bell to be let back in. (A couple of the bar patrons had said it sucked for my hosts to have to be woken by a bell late at night and I said if they didn't want me to ring the bell, then they shouldn't have let me leave! Ha.) Just a quick ring, not too disturbing, wait a minute or two, no response. Did that a couple of times and was inching into seven minutes of waiting for the door to be unlocked when I just let the bell rip. Did the trick, but the gal seemed stunned. I guess I would be too if a fire alarm sounding bell yanked me out of sleep and a gringa was there at the door, smiling sheepishly to be let back in.

[What's really funny is that my hosts just gave me a key to the front door. I've been here for four days already and just now got the key. I guess they don't want me to ring the bell after all!]

*     *     *     *     *

As cheap as beer is here (usually less than a dollar; an "expensive" beer is still less than $1.50), you just really don't want to drink it all day long. Lucky for me, I found this awesome smoothie place and have made it part of my daily routine to go there for a smoothie and some Duolingo practice. So far I've tried dragonfruit/strawberry/mint, pineapple/celery/lemon, carrot/orange/mint, and cucumber/ginger/orange. That last one is my favorite and now I don't have to try any other iterations. :-)

*     *     *     *     *

A lot of the kids here have those toys that were popular in the 80s in the U.S. You know the ones with the two ball, rock-like things attached by a string or hard piece of plastic that when you move your hand in such a way they clank together over and over again? Yeah, those. At times the sound is annoying as all get out, but it's also kind of amusing seeing little kids as entertained by a toy that I was entertained with nearly 30 years ago. Aw, the 80s have finally found Nicaragua! 

*     *     *     *     *

As you may have guessed by now, I'm still in Nicaragua. I was going to leave on Sunday and then I was going to leave on Monday. But at some point on Sunday I realized that a Monday departure just wasn't going to happen. I'm not exactly looking forward to the greater expense of Costa Rica and Panama. (For comparison purposes, my daily budget in Nica is $20-50, but I've never come close to $50 and there have been quite a few days that were below $20. The range for Costa Rica and Panama is closer to $35-75/day and it seems like it will be pretty easy to be within that range on a regular basis.) Plus, I haven't exactly figured out my route through C.R. and it looks like transportation could be difficult. Yeah. So. Not exactly in a hurry to leave the ease of San Juan behind. Maybe Tuesday... 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Shopping and swimming

San Juan del Sur is mostly on the map because of the surfing (which I don't do), but it's a pleasant enough place to while away a few days before heading to the more expensive countries of Costa Rica and Panama. For sure, it's one of the more gringo-tastic places I've been to in Central America. On the one hand, that's bad because prices tend to be more inflated than they should be (a room advertised online for $6/night was actually $15); on the other hand, communication tends to be a little easier because more of the locals speak English. Give and take, right?
I've done a little bit of souvenir shopping over the past couple of days and have been reminded, as I was when I was doing the same thing in SE Asia, that sizes are a little bit different here than in the States. I bought a shirt for myself that fits long as it doesn't shrink in the's an XL. At home, all of my shirts are either small or medium. And no, I didn't accidentally buy a child-size shirt because I asked if it was for women! :-) It's a good thing I don't have any hangups about the letters on the tag, huh?
I wanted to go to one of the local beaches either today or tomorrow (or both). The beach in SJDS proper is just a couple of blocks away, but it's not the nicest for swimming or hanging out so most people go to Playa Hermosa or Playa Maderas, both about 30-40 minutes away. The most common way to get to the beach is by colectivo or shuttle (which also typically has a requirement for minimum number of people). So, I again find myself in the situation where it's quite expensive to be a solo traveler. I ended up deciding to go back to Pelican Eyes Resort (where all of today's posts' pictures were taken) instead, because it's such a chill spot. The resort is built on a hill and there are three different levels, all with infinity pools overlooking the Pacific. I went last night and had a pretty decent sunset (nothing like in Ometepe!), but tonight's was overcast and cloudy and looks like more of the same for tomorrow (I guess I'm glad I didn't go to the beach after all). Actually, as a matter of fact, torrential downpours have just started as I'm writing this...
My current plan is to get some errands and other shopping done tomorrow, and then head to Costa Rica on Sunday. What are your plans for the weekend?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Naked Tiger Hostel

I've been in San Juan del Sur for the past couple days and I'm staying at The Naked Tiger Hostel. Go check out my full review HERE.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Ojo de Agua

I'd mentioned having a plan and indeed I had one. Yesterday, Sunday, I wandered the town, stopping for the occasional pic and beer and reading breaks, but that was the extent of my energy expenditure. One of my dorm mates crammed his day full - volcano hike from 6a-12p followed by a guided tour of the island til almost 6p, then he walked around a bit, had dinner and didn't get back to the room until after 8. It made me tired just hearing about his day!
(Believe it or not, there's actually a pretty big volcano behind that church)
Since I wasn't really interested in paying $45 to go on a tour-guided motorbike to a gray sand beach called Playa Santo Domingo on the other side of the island, today I took the "direct" bus there instead. (I laugh in the face of whoever called it direct. It is a chicken bus, after all, so the 25km ride took nearly an hour and a half and, in reality, had a lot of stops. Oh well, it was pleasant enough.)
Upon arrival at the beach, I found that the water was...less than nice for swimming. It wasn't the Ganges River or anything, but it looked a little squicky along the water's edge. Rather than spend a few hours there as I expected, I found a place to grab a juice and read for a bit before I set back out. This time my destination was Ojo de Agua, two thermal spring water fed swimming pools in the middle of the forest. 

The water was COLD, but after a nearly 3km, mostly unshaded walk, it was a welcome relief. It wasn't too crowded, so it was a relaxing place to chill out for a while and listen to the monkeys above us in the trees...until it started pouring rain, that is. Even the monkeys were annoyed and were howling their protests. Oh well. It had been a long enough day, anyway. Plus, I knew that by the time I got back to town and showered, I'd be *starving* and *way* ready for dinner. Guess what time it is now? ;-)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Caught it!

 My general rule is that I like to see a place with my eyes for a day or so before trying to capture it through a lens. So when I arrived on Isla de Ometepe a little after 4pm today, I left my camera in my room with the rest of my things before setting out to see more of the town of Moyogalpa.
I wandered a bit before stopping at a colorful, cheery looking place for a beer. My beer was just about finished when I happened to look up...and saw some crazy pink clouds. I looked in the other direction, saw more of the same, and got excited - THIS was going to be a good sunset! I practically sprinted back to my hostel to grab my camera (I can break my own rules!) and then kept sprinting to get to the dock for optimal viewing.
I said a couple of weeks back that I'd been on a glorious sunset mission and, well, let's consider it mission accomplished. I can't even believe how intense this sunset was. I also can't believe that besides me, a couple, and a guy playing guitar, there were no other people hanging around to see it.
The only other thing I've done since being here is check out some options for things to do. Although there are two volcanoes on this island that can be climbed - Concepción at 1610m and Maderas at 1394m - I...won't be doing that. It's 6-10 hours of steep, hot climbing and I just can't be bothered! But I've also found that nothing is exactly cheap here, either. Sixty dollars for a taxi to the waterfall on the other side of the island or for an afternoon of horseback riding; forty-five dollars by moto to a beach and nearby fresh water pools? I realize those are not super large numbers, but keep in mind that my daily budget is $30 and that's supposed to cover everything including accommodations and food. Sure, I occasionally go over (because there are days I'm well under, so it balances out), but I'm not sure either of those activities will be worth it.

Don't worry. I have a plan...

Friday, August 9, 2013

More Granada

Granada definitely has me under its spell. I'd initially planned to leave yesterday, but only because I'd wanted to take the ferry from Granada to Isla de Ometepe and it only leaves twice a week. Then I realized that I could take the ferry from San Jorge instead and not only would it be faster and cheaper, but it's also more frequent. The plan, then, was to leave today. However...I woke up and my very first thought was, "oh, I'll stay just one more day."

Ever since my walk past the Convent of San Francisco the other day, I'd been wanting to get back to see if I could get better pictures, ones that weren't being shot directly into the sun. I don't know if my timing was much better today, but it was a pretty morning and there's a good breakfast place across the street from the convent so it gave me a good reason to go there.
After breakfast it was still pretty early (and also not too hot yet), so I took advantage by doing a bit of shopping for a few essentials I needed. I took a bunch of random pictures along the way (as evidenced here) and had to laugh when a guy stopped me and asked "Are you just taking pictures of doorways or what?" Hey, buddy, are you the picture police? Let me take pictures of randomness and pretty colors if I feel like it! :-D
Other than that, it's pretty quiet around here. I've been hanging out in the courtyard of my hostel, enjoying the cool, shady breezy and the crazy intense smell of the guavas that keep dropping from the trees all around me, occasionally taking breaks to get another refresco, or water, or beer. I do intend to leave tomorrow, but let's see how I feel when I wake up...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Yesterday I alluded to fun plans for today and if you're paying attention (and read the title!), you've figured out by now that those plans were to do a canopy tour and go ziplining. My friends over at LaAventura Project had told me how much fun they'd had doing it, so I set out to find a tour company practically upon arrival in Granada. 

It wasn't easy, though. After deciding to use Leo Tours (because it's 100% Nica owned and operated, and because Leo was so awesome), I had to make multiple trips back to their office. You see, there was a two person minimum and clearly I'm only one person. I put my name on a list with Leo and checked back with him three times over two days to see whether any other groups had come along that I could join. Finally, yesterday he told me that he'd arrange for me to go today, even if it was just me, and it would be the same price. Awesome! Guess who's getting a five star review from me on TripAdvisor? :-)
This morning it was a short drive to the foot of the Mombacho Volcano and the Cutirre coffee plantation. The staff were really great about getting us safely strapped into the gear and explaining how the ziplines worked. The cables were up to 100 feet above the ground, with 17 platforms that had ziplines and bridges connecting them. The platforms give you pretty good views all around. I saw a baby falcon and a family of howler monkeys (who stared at us and seemed very curious about what exactly we were doing).

The guides take pictures with your camera so you can take it all in (and brake when necessary). You also have options to travel the ziplines in different ways:
(The "wonderwoman")

(The "monkey")
But most of the time, you're just right side up and zipping along. I don't know how fast you go, but you really move!
In that video, the guide just told me to keep looking at him (which is why I kind of look like a goon)...this is why I crashed into the other guide at the end of the line! You can hear me laughing as I say sorry. Whoops!

The last cable was probably the most fun, I think. It was the longest of all the cables and one guide was at the end, rocking the cables. This meant that I got bounced all around, swinging and swaying like crazy. It was really fun. :-)

It's pretty warm right now, so I'm lying low and taking it easy. But in a couple of hours I have a massage scheduled at Seeing Hands. Seeing Hands is one of those initiatives that trains blind Nicaraguans to give them a way to support themselves. I did this once before and really enjoyed it, so I figured I'd give it another try. Plus, why not? Massage. Who needs an excuse for that?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Balm and a Salve

Granada. Granada is my balm and salve right now. Yes, I know those two words essentially mean the same thing, but I needed a lot of healing after the last few days so I'm using both.

I'd been looking forward to Granada since way back when, so I was bound and determined to shake off the last bit of funk that was hanging on. I added my two favorite albums to a playlist and that cheered me immediately, but as if that wasn't enough - air conditioning on BOTH of my buses! So unusual and such a treat, I couldn't help but be happy! Then...I first laid eyes on the cathedral at Central Park and I just could.not.stop.grinning. 

I spent today wandering around contentedly, taking pictures, drinking refrescos (cold drinks made from everything ranging from grains and seeds to fruits - I had dragonfruit and a variety of passion fruit), and making plans for tomorrow (how's that for foreshadowing?). I'll share some of my pics, but I apologize in advance for the quality - first it was overcast/cloudy and then I shot into the sun later.
(The aforementioned cathedral, built in 1712)
I took a bunch of pictures at Iglesia La Merced which I'd heard and read had a tower that you could climb for awesome views of the city (and for only C$20, i.e. <$1).
(A close up of the outside of the church)

(Coral loves Granada, too!)

(Selfie shot that took some *amazing* maneuvering) 
After meandering for most of the morning and early afternoon, I ended up back at my hostel to rest a bit and it was around 3pm that I realized I hadn't eaten yet today. Whoops! The heat dulls my appetite, I think. The last few days I've been eating one meal a day, usually around 4 or 5pm. I got gallo pinto con cerdo (gallo pinto translates as painted rooster, but really it's rice and beans, with pork) and another refresco. Then it was back to the hostel for more resting and blogging and chatting, and the plan for later is a drink with some of my dorm mates.

Finally, how about a couple of my favorite shots from today, however random they may be?
(Convent of San Francisco - I like the light and dark colors with the telephone wires coming from all over)

(Just a man in a doorway with his bike...but I like it!)

(Random stairway to nowhere behind bars in the stairwell up the tower of Iglesia La Merced - I was digging how the shadows and lines were playing together)
Happy Tuesday, everyone!