Bowling and Beers in Beecher

Yesterday evening we went with my sister, Meredith, and her boyfriend, Matt, bowling in Beecher. Beecher, for those who don’t know (which is everyone reading this except for my mother), is a small town about 45 minutes south of Chicago. There is one main road in and out of here. Meredith and Matt came out and we were going to do something outside but it was raining. So we ended up heading to the local bowling alley to get our butts beat pretty bad. More me than Sebastien. Then we headed to the local party which the towns bank puts on every year. A day filled with bowling and beers in Beecher. Good times.


Midwest- Here we come!

Tomorrow (August 5th, 2009) we  head to Chicago land area to visit my family.  We will be in Beecher, Il. (nowwhere’sville) for a few days and then heading up to Door County Wisc.with my mom, step dad, step brother, his wife and their adorable 1 year old daughter.  I am not sure what there is to do in Door county but I hear that it is beautiful!  After the Door County trip we will visit a few friends in Chicago before  drive up to Michigan (Wolf Lake) to visit with my dad for a week.  Three weeks of Midwest  family and fun!!!

Australia, Here We Come… November 3rd


We finally scheduled our departure for the first leg of our year-long trip and we’ll be leaving from Los Angeles to Brisbane, Australia on November 3rd. We found some pretty inexpensive flights on Qantas for about $1,200 for both of us. We were looking into buying one-way tickets but turns out one-way tickets were more expensive than round-trip tickets.

It’s the first time we’ll fly Qantas and I’m really excited because it’s said to be a good airline. Plus, it’s a direct flight from LA to Brisbane so we won’t have to worry about running around to catch connecting flights. The flight is about 16 hours I think. It’s going to be awful so I’ll make sure to make a stop at the drug store before leaving in order to make this flight more enjoyable, if you know what I mean 😉

We wanted to go to New Zealand first but we heard from several sources that NZ can be cold at this time of the year. We don’t want cold. We want sun, beach, and surf. Maybe we’ll change our mind once we get to Australia.

Next step is figuring out where we’re going to stay. I want to be on the Gold Coast, right by Surfers Paradise. We’re looking into several options like renting an apartment or house sitting for other people. We’ll see how it goes…

Dinners at Bejia

Dinners at Bejia Flor were convienent and the food was good.  The best part was that we didn’t have to walk very far or think to much.  We ended up spending three dinners at Bejia and by doing that we got to know the people there a little better.  (Kinda like Christmas on Royal Carribean Cruises– that is an inside joke among the Fraggos clan).  I’m going to let Sebastien talk about the people there but here are some pictures from those nights.

This picture was after dinner and sitting outside on our porch.  Sebastien was a little tipsy…  He is so cute when he gets tipsy.  It doesn’t take much but when it starts he starts becoming a social butterfly.

I think that this was our last night at Bejia.   Sebastien had cut his little toe that day so you can see his little puffin toe wrapped up in toilet paper.   Poor Puffin.

The Long Walk

When we woke up the following day our plan was to rent a scooter to get around.  That way we could visit Anne, Kirk, and Cory and also go into town when we wanted.  We discussed that 20 dollars a day was what we were comfortable paying and that we could get one for three days.  Everyone out here rides around on quads or ATV’s (Alison- remember our camping trip in Pismo).  I have seen up to 5 people (mostly families with small children) on one quad.  ATV’s are pretty perfect for a place where the roads are really bumpy, narrow, and dirt is flying everywhere.  Actually that part of the roads make riding on one of these vehicles awful because you breathe in all that dirt.   But we wanted to experience Mal Pais as the locals do so we went out to acquire one of these vehicle.

We took a cab into town and went back to our old last hotel because the owner of that hotel also rented out quads.   We had seen a little scooter there and hoped that it would fit what we were looking for.  However, the cost to rent the scooter was 40 dollars a day.  Which I think is ridiculous.  We tell him that we would like it for two days but we could not afford this.  He sits and looks at the numbers for awhile and says that he could let us have it for 46.  This is much better!  The problem now is that we need to give him one of our passports, which we didn’t bring, to rent the scooter.  Thankfully the owner said that one of his guys could take Sebastien back to the hotel to get his passport.  So that is what Seb did while I sat and chatted with our old neighbor.  When Sebastien returned the owner started to fill out the paperwork and put the total to be 76 dollars.  WOW!  Sebastien told him that this was too much and that we were under the impression that he said it was going to be 46.  The owner said “no” and we told him that we didn’t have that much money in which he replied, “Don’t come here if you don’t have money.”  We obviously left after that.  I found it pretty amazing that people actually rent these out on a daily basis.  The quads were $70 a day.  When a car is $80 a day I just don’t get it.  We found out later that a bike was $20 a day.  Though you could find some for $7 a day.  Crazy!

So after that fiasco we ended up walking to Santa Teresa.  This felt like miles!  We luckily did this walk on the beach instead of the smelly dusty street.  I felt exhausted and crabby about 20 minutes into this walk.  Every step felt like I was dragging a 10lbs. weight behind me. But here are some pictures of that hell…

When we finally got to Esencia, where Anne, Kirk, and Cory where staying they were not there.  So guess what… we walked around to find them… We finally found them surfing.  Anne was coming in when we got there and so I took her board out just to cleanse myself from all the crabby energy I had been accumulating.  The good thing that came out of that session was that I found my next surf board.  Anne rides this fun 5 something fish that she rides.

So we finally spent sometime visiting with with Anne, Kirk, and Cory at their place.  Which was a little house fully equipped with kitchen supplies and had a nice home feel to it.  After eating some amazing guacamole, that Cory had made, we all called a cab and headed back to the break near our hotel.  Here is a picture of that beach.  Unfortunately we didn’t take any pictures of this break when it was breaking but maybe Anne did so I will check into that and post them if she did.

When we got back to this beach Sebastien and I went and grabbed our boards and headed out to surf.  I had a few fun left rides but I also  had a intimate relationship with a few jelly fish.  The jelly fish in this area are pretty small and clear.  So you don’t really see them and one of them (maybe more) got into my swim suite bottoms.  Luckily peeing helps the stinging go away.

Beija Flor

So after leaving our comfortable, cute, clean place in Playa Carmen we headed to our reserved Beija Flor Resort/Yoga place which I reserved months ago.  The day before today I started to wonder if Beija Flor was going to be near the beach.  Sebastien had also asked me about the location, which I just responded it’s close to here.  He knew right away that I had no idea.  I had been bragging about how “my” week was going to be so great.  I was beginning to hope that it was going to be “ok” at least.

I already know at this point that Sebastien is going to write a post about planning vs. nonplanning.  I am not completely sure what it is all about but I feel the need to tell the readers about my “planning” issues.  It is not so much the process of planning that I NEED to do.  It is more of just the process that I go through to expend the excited energy I have about going on a trip.  When I know I am going on a trip I get all this excited energy.  When I was younger, when my family use to go on cruises every Christmas, I used to pack a month before and then I would repack several times until we actually left.  Now, instead of expending my excited energy packing, I plan.

Back to Beija Flor, after packing and asking the owner of Cabinas Blancas to get us a cab, we were on our way to find our next hotel.  As we traveled farther and farther away from town Sebastien got quieter and quieter.  When we got to the hotel we checked in and learned that Anne, Kirk, and Cory had been there 5 minutes before looking for us.  They had left a message stating that they were going to surf in front of the restaurant across the way.  YEA!!!  Friends!  Another bonus was that the owner (which we find out later) said that he wasn’t sure if our room was ready so he would and see if there was an upgraded room available.  SWEET!

This is a picture of our bed.  The bedroom was really big and it had netting over it to keep the bugs out at night.

So we quickly unpacked our stuff and went down to see if we could find our friends.  Unfortunately, we didn’t and we noticed that the only surf break was this jagged rock reef that with a peaky break.  Again, Seb was pretty quite.  It definitely looked pretty sketchy.  Maybe that is why Anne, Kirk, and Cory were not there.

Seb and I wanted to go surfing so we ended up getting a cab and heading back to Playa Carmen (200 meters from our old, cheaper hotel).  As soon as the cab pulled up to the beach we saw that it was closed out and shitty.  So we do what we do best.  Walked.  It is how we spent our first hours together so we enjoy every step of it.  A few miles later we reach the beach near Beija Flor.  At this point I am feening for waves and so I head out to the rocky unknown and catch a few.

Later that evening I take a yoga class which I enjoyed.  There were several children and families practicing.  There is something very different about doing yoga in an open air, bamboo made, space in nature.  Following class I walked back to find that Anne, Kirk, and Cory were sitting talking to Sebastien.  That evening we all went out for a nice dinner.  It has been nice to go out to dinner every evening.  Though, and I can’t believe that I am saying this, I miss cooking.  When they dropped us off that evening we made plans to meet up with them at their place the next day.

Yoga Pictures

So one of the things I wanted to do while we were visiting this beautiful paradise of a place was to take my yoga shots.  I have been working on my RYT hours through Yogawell for well over a year.  I pretty much have my hours done but need to get it all organized and turn my information in.  As well as, take pictures of 25 poses and describe a bunch of stuff.  That is what we did a few days ago and Sebastien did a wonderful job at helping me get into poses.  I still need a few more shots but here are some that we took on the beach of Playa Carmen.  So here are a few of the pictures that Seb took and then a few of just us.

Where Mal Pais meets Santa Teresa

After securing our place at Cabina Areanas Blancas we carried our luggage down the main street from TB to our new cuarto. Sebastien took the suitcase and used the backpack feature (which is convenient for short walks) and we took the boardbag and put it on our heads and walked down the street. It really wasn’t that bad but towards the end I just wanted it to be done. As soon as we got settled we went out, finally, for a surf.

The waves were big and fast. It was a struggle to get out there and I feel a few times trying to stabilize myself after I had caught a wave. There were also a few really big sets that scared us both. Seb went in first and I was out there waiting for the “perfect” on to take in. Two ticos started talking to me in Spanish which makes me nervous. The one guy thought I was a tica and was explaining to me why he thought that when I see a huge wave lining up right behind him. I pointed it out and figured that this was my chance to go in. I turned to go for the wave when this Tico cuts in front of me and snaked me out of the wave. But I was already to far inside to paddle out for the next one so I did my usual and ditched the board and swam underneath the next wave. When I didn’t feel my board drag I started to freak out. The little black tie thing unknotted and my board was heading in without me. The tico asked if I was ok which just pissed me off because I would have been if he wouldn’t have stolen that last wave. So for the next 5 minutes I swam feverishly towards the shore hoping that my board didn’t hurt anyone on shore nor get busted. When I got on shore I asked a few people in the water if they had seen it and one guy had thought he did. I looked for Seb and thought that I saw him with a board but when I ran up to him I realized that it wasn’t him. I panicked a little at this point. Seb ended up finding it in the hands of some old guy who had made some remark about being glad that I was alive. I was fine and so was my board. Thank Jesus!

After that craziness we returned to our rooms and rested for a while. After gathering our composer we headed back to la playa to rest and enjoy our vacation. We looked for a spot that was partly shaded. There were a lot of people in the area where we sat. After a few minutes of settling in we were asked by a tico if we wanted a beer. “Cool” responded Sebastien. This guy in his early 50’s sat down and offered both of us a beer and started taking to us. At first this was all very cool and Sebastien kept saying, “wow this is really nice.” More so because, like I said earlier, we hadn’t been able to get alcohol because of Semana Santa. So we kindly accepted and tried our best to communicate to Christian. Even without knowing what he was saying it was pretty obvious that he was drunk. Not only was he drunk he was also very drawn to me and even when I was trying to read I could feel him look at me and want to tell me something. I engaged him for a while and then would go back to my reading. At one time his friends came and when he was introducing them to us one of his friends gestured that he was loco. Great. Now I know why he is being drawn to me. Christian then pulled out a bottle of whiskey and kinda forced Sebastien to take a shot. And then he pulled out the Vodka. NO way was I doing any of this! Christian then came and sat next to me. He started talking closer and closer to me and I swear he was asking me if I thought he was ok. I asked him, “Estas bien?” Which he looked at me strangly. I looked back at him strangely and then he touched the scar on my stomach. Sebastien sat up and gestured to him not to do that anymore but he did and we got out of there. It was pretty sketchy. when his friends where there I also think that they were explaining to me that he had Electric Shock Treatments. I will never tell others that I am a Therapist again!

We ended up surfing again that evening. We had a much better session. There were a few girls out in the water and its wasn’t as closed or fast. For dinner we ended up eating at this open grilled place which served me a fish with its head and skin still in tacked. This time Seb liked his meal while I was not happy about mine.

Anything But Tranquilo

Our taxi ride to Mal Pais reminded me of my solo drive up to Monteverde.  But not half as bad.  The road had its dipps and was very narrow but we made it to the main drag.  We didn’t know where to go (which I don’t like) so we told the taxi guy to stop at the one place we did know of… Tranquilo Backpackers (TB).

As soon as we pulled up into this place I thought Merry Beth would love it.  Sebastien asked about a room and we were in luck plus they had internet which sold Sebastien. I told him I was going to walk down and see if there were other things.  But nothing was very convenient so we figured we could handle one night at Tranquilo Backpackers. After dragging our stuff up a huge flight of stairs and taking in all the commotion that this place had to offer we ended up walking down the street to see what else there was in town.  I also wanted to see if we could find the place where Anne, Kirk, and Corey were staying.  We didn’t find them (though we walked about two miles, we did find a clean and cute cabinas place that may have a room for us the following night. With relief we checked la playa y las olas.

The first thing that stands out is the smell when walking on the road in Mal Pais. I don’t know if I can accurately describe it but its a combination of dirt dust, sewer, and rotten eggs.

We didn’t end up unpacking our surfboard the first night in Mal Pais because it looked pretty crappy.  We ended up eating at this vegetarian style place which had lots of American kids running around naked and families whom seem to know each other.  I though it was very good but Sebastien just thought it was ok.  During our meal a man with fire sticks man put on a show throwing these light fire sticks around.  It was pretty entertaining.  So were the kids and families.  After dinner we headed back to TB.

You would think that a place with the word Tranquilo in it would be calm and tranquil.  Oh no.  Not this place.  It was Spring Break 2009 and these kids were celebrating.  Nothing to crazy but it was just not what we were in the mood for.  OH and let me just add that it was/is Semana Santa and during this week on Wednesday and Thursday no one sells alcohol.  However, Lonely Planet didn’t include this their book so we were the ONLY people who did not have any alcohol for the next two day/nights.  Great.  Stuck in Spring Break without any alcohol.  I ended up putting my IPOD headphones on and turning on some nature/mantra music and falling asleep.  Sebastien didn’t sleep well and when the howler monkeys started at 4 am he was ready to beat them up.  I have to add that the night before Sebastien got up and reached for the IPHONE to use this application which creates a really annoying noise to scare or piss off animals.  I told him I didn’t think that the monkeys would like that very much and that I really didn’t want some howler monkeys to bust through the window and steal his IPHONE.  I kinda fell asleep after saying this so when I asked Sebastien if it worked the night before he said he ended up not using it.  I feel back to sleep again.  The next morning we quickly got up and headed down to check the status of the cabinas place.

Our Adventure to Mal Pais

We we got up pretty early to make sure that we had enough time to finish packing and poop before our transportation arrived.  After all that was settled I went to pay for our following nights dinners.  While we where asking our Piscis man how much we owed a van showed up with a man wearing a Cubs shirt.  I knew right away that this was our guy.  I (Tina) got so excited that I gave the man a high 5 and my fears about the next leg of our trip ceased and my excitement resumed.  It took about 10 minutes to load up and head down south to Jaco.

Our driver didn’t speak much but when we got into the town of Playa Hermosa he light up and started telling us (in Spanish) how beautiful this beach was and how it was different from Manuel Antonio and Jaco and how there was a restaurant that light up the beach at night so that we could surf.  I didn’t understand that part but that is what Sebastien understood and translated for me.  Once we got into Jaco (which is exactly as I remembered populated, dirty, and American/Commercialized they even have a KFC) we picked up a few other passengers (two girls from Norway) and headed down to the boat site.

The pick up site was right on the beach which was basically a bay where tons of people hang out at with all their children and relatives.  Our Cubs guy told us that the boats will be coming soon and we will need to wait on the beach for them.  The pictures on the web of the boat appeared like a passenger vehicles but in reality they were just small fishing/speed boats that could hold about 8-10 people.

When I saw these little boats I was nervous about Sebastien getting sea sick and just hoped for the best.  When we finally got our paperwork settled and luggage put into plastic bags we got to “aboard” and made our way to Montezuma.

I was so excited to be taking a boat and the whole trip reminded me of my dad.  I totally though that he would love to taxing people from one place to another in a boat.  I don’t know why but I really thought he would like it.  The first 10 minutes we sat in about 20 feet of water waiting for the other boat to drop off people. Sebastien seemed fine but commented that he hope that we didn’t sit like this forever.  Then he would go into his little song, “Cows the size of schnauzers but they are cattle.)  Which is from a Jack in the Box commercial.  He has been saying it the whole time and has just gone into song again.

Finally we are off to sea and I can see where we are going so I think that it should take to long.  But then 25 minutes later I look behind us and where we came from still looks closer than where we were headed.  Sebastien seemed to feeling fine, which was a relief, so we both sat back and enjoyed the ride.  There were a few times that the boat driver slowed the boat and would troll for a second to point out a……… a………… sea turtle… we saw a few of these and one of them had a bird standing on it.  It was pretty cool.  I would have taken pictures but my camera was in one of the plastic bags. The other thing that the driver pointed out where a school of dolphins.  They seemed smaller than our San Diego friends.

When we landed in Montezuma we had to get off quick because the tide  was breaking right on the shore and the boat would have flipped.  One of the Norway ladies didn’t pay attention and nearly got herself killed.

The first thing that did on land was eat.  We hadn’t had anything all day and it was about 1 pm.  After that cheaper meal we hailed a taxi and headed to Mal Pais.