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// MY NAME IS DANIELAnd after years of dreaming I've sold everything I own and set off on the open road. I've made this site as a sort of photo journal of my travels. The map shows where I've been (red), where I've stayed a month or more (yellow), and where I plan to go (white). And so, armed with little more than a backpack, a camera, and a dream, I now take the road less traveled by. So it goes.


SAN JOSE Entering Costa Rica from Nicaragua was like entering another universe. I'd been riding in the brightly-painted converted school bus (known as a 'chicken bus' and used as public transportation ubiquitously throughout Central America) to the border. I was stamped out of Nicaragua and then walked across the familiar no-man's land to Costa Rica and where I was stamped in. But instead of another brightly-painted ancient death trap of a bus waiting for me, with the bench seats and cracked windows, there was a modern bus there, with Air Conditioning, reclining seats, and even LCD screens displaying the names of the stops. Where was I? The highways we took were immaculate. The stop lights in towns were functioning. Well as it turns out, Costa Rica is one of the most stable (and longest running) democracies in Latin America. It spends well above the global average on things like Education and Health Care, while having disbanded its military 70 years ago (probably a wise move as most of the rest of Latin America was plagued by military coups and army dictatorships for much of that time.) It's also one of the few countries in the world to get more than 90% of its power from renewable energy. San Jose, seen here, is the capital and largest city, with several pleasant pedestrian zones (note the outdoor public art displayed on the main street), an interesting little Chinatown, and some impressive architecture.
ARENAL CLOUD FOREST LA FORTUNA Near the town of La Fortuna is the cloud forest covering the Arenal Volcano. You should be able to see the volcano in the first three photos below, but it's covered in clouds (go figure). Next to Arenal, is a second volcano known as Chato. I spent an entire day hiking up Chato, to the lagoon lake in its center, and then back down. More than a hike, it was a near vertical climb, pulling oneself up by roots and trees, as constant rains turned the ground to mud (and sometimes sheer torrents of water), clouds made visibility next to impossible, and tropical animals of all sorts slithered along, some (like the yellow eyelash viper pictured below) more dangerous than others (like the red-eyed tree frog, also pictured below). Perhaps I was lucky to be able to make the hike at all. I read on wikipedia that the government has shut down hikes up the volcano in 2017, just a few months after I was there, and that most of the tour companies that made a living guiding groups up the volcano have had to sell their businesses. In the last few photos you can see some of the small towns around central Costa Rica (all of which have an iconic catholic church at their center) as well as the house I stayed and the amazing views it had.
CAHUITA LIMON PROVINCE I boarded a bus in San Jose for the coastal city of Limon, where I switched to a smaller bus to the tiny town of Cahuita on the Atlantic Coast, near the Panama Border. In many Central America countries the Atlantic Coast is populated with towns descended from Caribbean and African immigrants. Cahuita is one such town, and many of the residents speak Limonese Creole, an English-Creole descended from Jamaica, where many of the townspeople's ancestors originated from (note the Afro-Caribbean museum pictured below, next to Miss Edith's Restaurant). You'll also notice some choppy water. When I boarded the bus in San Jose, it was nearly empty, and a local news crew was asking passengers why they were going to the coast. I thought it was an odd question, until I learned that rising ocean temperatures are pushing hurricanes further and further south, and Costa Rica was about to get hit by the first hurricane in its recorded history (though this would be the second for me personally on the trip so far, so there's that). Fortunately I survived. Lastly, the awesome steel bridge below was the old bridge connecting Costa Rica to Panama, though now there's a modern, less awesome one, next to it.