Thursday, 23 May 2013

Jumping Manta Rays... who knew?

We had to get up earlier today (sigh) to catch the low tide... 
Our hour long boat ride beside the coast took us by something unbelievably amazing! 

Have you ever heard of or seen giant Manta Rays jumping out of the water??

OMG they were so crazy funny to watch

They would launch out of the water, flap a few times like they really wanted to fly, then belly flopped back into the water. 
The COOLEST thing I have seen, EVER. 
We were all so awestruck that no one got a video haha, so here is a clip done by BBC about the jumping manta ray ----> Click HERE

Soooo the reason we had to get up early was so we could see this amazing place called the "Lava Tunnels". Back in the day when the molten lava hit the coast and ran into the water, it made these amazing formations... and we get to snorkel through them today !
BUT, we had to arrive when the tide was low, otherwise the tunnels will get flooded for the day.

The boating adventure on GETTING to the location was fantastic, hehehe. The Captains had to strategically time the waves. The swells were so big that they had to wait, wait, wait, then they gunned it in between the HUGE swells. ER MUH GERD it was a crazy experience!!!!! Hahaha. 

Then, it was over and silence of the lava tunnels surrounded us. <3 <3 <3
No one around but the boobies and the sea turtles :P

The blue footed boobie "love dance"

I guess the female wants nothing to do with him lol

Grabbing our snorkel gear, we swam in, under and around the tunnels. It was pretty much like caving, lots of adrenaline pumping going from air bubble to air bubble.

The tide was coming up, so some spots weren't as accessible as they would have been an hour earlier. But it was still so beautiful... As Pablo would say "Ahhhh-mazing!" 

Please check out my YouTube video ^_^
Watch to the very end, since leaving the Lava Tunnels was pretty crazy and entertaining haha ----> Click HERE

(The sharks that are in the video were shot at the second snorkel location we went to after the Lava Tunnels)

The few boats we met up with later had said that they could not access the site due to the waves being too difficult to navigate through... he he he, suckers. Thats what you get for sleeping in :P

The afternoon was "free time".
Tom, Tanya, and I took off adventuring into town to do some 'People Photography'. We were even able to find our "guide-in-training" Cristian and take pictures in his surfer 'hangover' house!

Enjoy all the pictures from the rest of our day, go all the way to the end of the post to read about another member of our group =D

The bar owners cat did NOT let go of me. He purred and purred and purred! haha 

We stopped at a soccer practice, and the kids had no problem with us hanging around

I guess some one wasn't allowed to play

My absolute favourite

Pablo's son Kian wanted to play with the boys so bad that he took off to join the game lol

Kian is a hard workin soccer player !

Happiness is not something you postpone for the future;
it is something you design for the present. 
- Jim Rohn

We befriended a family doing construction on their house,
 their young son was smitten with Tanya and gave some pretty awesome kisses ^_^

This little boy loved playing dress up with Tom's stuff :P

Lots of dogs around, this little lady was too beautiful

Speed... rope?

Cristian's artwork on the front of his house

His beautiful puppy "Nyky"

Before you go, I would like you to meet Pablo Valladares.
Hands down, the greatest guide any one of us has ever had in our worldly experiences.

He has such passion for his country, culture, and life that it is infectious... it makes you want to be better, do better, or see things in a different light.
You don't meet people like that every day... The world needs more like you Pablo !!

Some little bits about this smiley 39 year old...

-Surfing saved his life (got him away from all the bad stuff)

-Married a UK girl named Laura and has a little boy named Kian

-Wanted to be in the military (had 3 generations of fathers who joined) 
but his father new Pablo to be such a great free spirit, that he told his son not to pursue it

Pablo and his son Kian

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Volcán walk

Only one activity today, and that is to hike a Volcano and learn about all the eruptions that have happened over the last century and see the changes in landscape.

Lol, and even tho these early morning wake-ups seem terrible, it seems the recent shutdown at work got me into the groove of walking up early and not hating the world.

We arrived at the trail head for Vulcán Sierra Negro/Chicho around 830am and proceeded on a 16km round trip hike into the mist.

Along the way, we saw a spotless lady bug, a Land Iguana, lots of lava lizards, and lots of OLD lava.

Nerding out on a spotless ladybug

A Carpenter Bee going hard on getting some pollen out of a cactus flower

Tom working on his theme

Local garb vs. Tourist garb while hiking along the rim of a Volcano

Cristian and Pablo recounted their stories of the days after Vulcán Sierra Negra erupted.
This volcano erupted in 2005
and the big things they remember are burnt vegetation & farm animals, sulphur and how the earth trembled.

Old lava flows from the 2005 eruption

"It is not a crater, but a caldera"
-as Tanya put it, kinda like a volcanic sink hole-

Along the way to the Lava Fields, the landscape changed so rapidly from lush forest, to shrub like trees, then to nothing but lava. Notice in the next few pictures how the differences in 'Lava age' makes the landscape change so much.

This land iguana is quite special.
During our walk, Pablo was telling us how he has only ever seen them ONCE in this area before.
And not, a minute later... BAM
Pablo spots this beauty. You have no idea how excited he was to see it.
LOL, the next 1/2 hour was spend photographing the iguana :P
This eruption happened in the 70's

The darker lava is from a more recent eruption than the reddish coloured one.
Also, there are cactus's growing on the redder lava, next to nothing on the darker "younger" lava

Lava layers

Getting our learn on !!

Tom, overlooking the Lava Flow.
We all rested here for a few minutes in silence. It was very very beautiful <3 <3

Our #1 guide - Pablo



Pete being a rebel :P

Heading back
Left - Vulcan Sierra Negra
Right - the Pacific Ocean (what I thought was a lake before the mist cleared hahahahaha)

Our total hike time was 8 hours for a 16km hike. LOL, we were about 2 hours slower than average. But considering we stopped a LOT to talk photos, we did ok.
The walk back was very cool. Most of it in the mist, which made for some fun photo opportunities!

"Pablo in the Mist"

"Pablo, outta the mist" -lol

Once back in town, we were on our own for dinner.
Tom, Barb, Tanya and I found a fun spot to eat at, and also made Cristian come with us for dinner.
To communicate better with him, I had a couple spanish iPhone apps that we used -as well as Tanya's "large" vocabulary of Spanish-
It ended up being a hilarious evening! And the word "chévere" (cheh-beh-reh) was born into our Spanish vocabulary.
Means "cool" and they use it ALL the time.

Since he was on our walk to the volcano today, we invited him to our  evening "photo critique" since we took many pictures of him. He really enjoyed it :P

The newest "guide-in-training"

The trekker of the day is 71 year old former Canadian Pete Brackett
He is married to Kathy (also on this trip), is a serial entrepreneur, loves his rum, and his friends call him "Mr Encyclopaedia" 
He quit high school in grade 10, but eventually got a PhD. Whoot! Go Pete!