Today I’m thankful for Travel.
We’ve been fortunate to be able to travel to several interesting places.
Some, like Iceland, we just lucked in to. We’d wanted to go to Ireland but the travel agent couldn’t get us in at any time over that summer. She did get us a deal where, if we flew Iceland Air, they’d give us a free week in a hotel in Iceland before flying us to London. Duh! Wonderful trip.
A couple years ago we were in Costa Rica and took a day trip to Nicaragua where we stood at the rim of Masaya, a live volcano.
And a neat train in Alaska (more about this trip here: http://www.cushingsonline.com/Alaska/alaska.htm)
Our bus driver was a very good driver who told us all about the history of Skagway and the surrounding areas. Our first stop was Liarsville (http://www.klondiketours.com/goldcampshow.html), a tent village for gold miners. It was called Liarsville because many newspaper reporters were there publishing tales of how “easy” it was to find gold and become rich. No Way! The locals did a show for us and let us pan for gold. Of course, most everyone found some little gold flakes. A very hard way to make a living!
We made our way up the White Pass on the Klondike Highway to a 3,000 ft waterfall, Dead Horse Gulch (a lot of pack horses couldn’t make it the whole way), the Moore Bridge, Yukon Suspension Bridge at Tutshi Canyon and up over the West White Pass into Fraser British Columbia Canda, the same way that the miners had to walk or go with pack animal and 2,000 pounds of supplies. Much easier by heated bus! It was very scenic and we took lots of pictures.
At the summit of that, in Fraser, British Columbia, we got on the White Pass & Yukon Route (WP&YR) Railroad train.
The WP&YR was originally built to help those miners who were hauling the ton of supplies up the pass but they finished building the railroad a year after the gold rush had ended. There’s more info about this railroad at http://www.wpyr.com We went over trestle bridges, through tunnels, over glaciers. Definitely a worthwhile trip.
WP&YR webcam: http://www.whitepassrailroad.com/multimedia/webcam.html
Here’s a bit of our train trip. Tom took this from the platform between the cars:
A very scary road between Stirling and Kinlochard, Scotland:
A helicopter around Barbados (more about this trip at http://beautiful-barbados.blogspot.com/2008/08/wednesday-week-one-helicopter-day.html)
Edinburgh Tattoo – twice!
Panama Canal. In the volcano image above, I’m wearing the tshirt for the Panama Canal Railway that runs through the jungle.
Costa Rica and the Oh My God bridge. They took this down while we were there – thank goodness!
And the not so good: Fire ants in Hilton Head, Thunderstorm in the Everglades, Africanized Killer Bee in Costa Rica, …
A double cortisone kind of day. Cushies will understand!
The cleaning staff come here on Sunday and Wednesday. They also came here on Friday because they thought we were leaving. Wrong! Each time they leave, we can’t find something or other. They aren’t stealing, they’re just moving things to unexpected places.
Today, Tom couldn’t find the blister-pack pellets for his inhaler. After looking everywhere, we concluded that maybe he’d used them all.
When I was putting in my contact lens, I noticed his bag of cough drops and – low and behold – they were in there! Go figure!
After that, we set out to find an ATM to get the rest of the deposit for the tour company. We found the BAC Bank near the Alto Mercado. My debit card couldn’t be read. Maybe the magnetic strip is gone. Whatever.
We went into the bank and waited in a long line, which about tripled while we were in it. I got to the window and gave the teller my card and passport – he said I had to go to the ATM, it was a cheaper rate. I said I was willing to pay the higher fee, I just wanted the money.
The teller found someone else who went out with me and confirmed that the card wouldn’t work. I also had a Discovercard which didn’t work since I forgot to tell them I was going out of the country.
Tom had left his walled back at the apartment 🙁
I had checks on the first bank and asked if I could cash one with the card and passport. She said sure but we would have to wait in the longer line again.
Tom brought me home and he went back with another CC and got cash, no problem. He took it to the tour place and got receipt.
About 1:30, we went back into town and met up with the tour guy who walked us over to where the boat would pick us up. We saw a motorboat called La Orca, which I thought would be our pickup since it was circling around.
Another guy came over to collected the rest of the money and said it had to be cash. Luckily, we had the tour guy (David) with us who confirmed that it was supposed to be credit card.
Guy 2 says, no problem, he’ll get his credit card machine working for when we get back. Whatever.
This boat, we only had to wade into the water a little before jumping onto the Vision. Not nearly as muddy as the trip to the rubber dinghy would have been Sunday.
The boat ride in La Orca was pretty good and we reached the Vision fairly quickly. The transfer from La Orca to the Vision was kind of dicey, though. I had to sit on the side of La Orca, swing my legs around to get into a smaller boat with plastic seats that was attached by rope to the Vision, then walk across the smaller boat, climb on a seat, then up the rear stair (no handrail) of the Vision.
Amazingly, I did that!
We seemed to be the only people on the boat until we realized there were folks on the roof part. They offered us lots of fruity drinks, both alcoholic and non. Later, I would be very glad to have gone with the non.
Later, while the crew was fixing a nice lunch, people went snorkeling or swimming with noodles over by a small beach in the Papagayo Gulf. Tom went in but I decided it looked too far to come back and the current was kind of strong. I watched Tom in the water and, for some reason, he decided to come right out.
After I saw him get out, I sat down in my seat. Next thing I knew, my neck was in major pain. Tom took one look and could see a stinger stuck in my neck, about 1/8 of an inch long and curved like a talon. He managed to get that our fairly quickly. He put on cortisone cream and Neosporin. I took an extra cortisone pill and allergy medicine.
My neck got a bit red and swollen and, in a little bit, one of the crew came over and we explained what happened. He washed off all the stuff Tom had put on and put on something else – a 10% solution of something brown and said it would feel better in 20 minutes or so.
After that, we had some of the wonderful food they had been making. My neck still hurt to turn to the left but it seemed to be ok.
We saw a really nice sunset, then it was time to head back. La Orca came for all the “upstairs people”, they we sailed a bit more and it came for us.
The transfer back was awful. It was dark. Those stairs down the back of the catamaran have no railings, no wired, nothing to hold on to…and they were slippery.
I eventually got down there and into the middle boat. I had to stand on a plastic seat to sit on the side of the third boat. As soon as I put my foot on that seat, my foot slide out from under me and my left knee hit the railing of the third boat and my right hit the seat on the second boat. OWEEE!
La Orca got us back close to shore and the crew member joked that he would swim to shore with me on his back. Not amused! We got fairly close to shore, I got off and walked to the beach.
The guy who we owed money for this trip was not there so we have to track him down somehow else. There was a group of homeless people and one woman came begging for money. Tom gave her a small amount and she said she’d pray for him (or someone).
When we were coming back, there was a man by the side of the road with a motorcycle on his leg. Tom asked if he was hurt and he said “Yes” so we agreed to send help. No way were we going to get caught in some kind of ambush. We tried to tell the security guard here what we had seen but he spoke no English. Finally, reinforcements came and people went to help the man, if he was still there.
When we got back, I looked up flying insects in Costa Rica that met the description of the stinger that Tom had removed and came up with African (or Africanized) Killer Bees. It occurred to me thats/he was attracted to my orange shirt and the scent of my sunscreen. Maybe, I made him angry that I wasn’t a flower. Whatever!
From my search: http://www.cupotico.com/info/General/Insects_Costa_Rica.html
African (killer) bees arrived in Costa Rica in 1982, and you would do well to assume that all bee colonies are now Africanized. Keep your distance from hives or swarms. The stings of Africanized bees are no more venomous than those of your garden-variety bee, but these insects are aggressive and attack with less provocation. The cumulative effect of many bee stings is dangerous. If you’re attacked, move in a zigzag motion; you can probably outrun them. Head for water if any is nearby, and cover your head. If someone with you is attacked and cannot move, cover both of you with something light in color and get the person to safety. Remove stingers with a knife or fingernails, being careful not to squeeze more of the stinger’s venom into the bite. Apply ice or cold water, and, if badly bitten, see a doctor.
Early to bed – our bus picks us up tomorrow morning at 5:00 am to go to Nicaragua.