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Literal highs and lows

The Andes are a pain in the arsies

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So it must have been longer than I thought since my last blog post as I was talking about day 48 then and I've now passed 50.

The journey so far

Banos continued to be a great time as I travelled into the Amazon jungle, another tick off the old bucket list, although I hope to go even deeper into there when I visit Peru in a few weeks. The trip was great, although it started off a bit ropey as we went down a river in a boat cut out of a log that had no real business being on the water. As always, like an idiot, I had my wallet on me, so was more worried than I needed to be about falling in as we hit rocks, got stuck in the middle of the river and generally bobbed and swayed like the uncontrolled log we were.

We were lucky not to drown! Luck and the fact the water was about 2 foot deep

Miraculously, we managed to stay afloat and dryish and proceeded an hour further into the jungle to visit the Huaorani tribe in their village. It was pretty touristy, with native dances and demonstrations. We drank some drink, I have no idea what it was, but was told by my guide that before the coronavirus it was made with spit rather than water. Chalk on up to the virus!

We then hiked up through the jungle to a waterfall. After some much tougher hikes, this was a breeze! I'm pretty pleased with my generally improving fitness! At the top everybody jumped into the pool at the bottom of the waterfall. I say everyone, it was everyone apart from the guides and me! It was raining and the water was bloody cold! I did the swimming in the waterfall pool thing in Costa Rica, where it was 35 degrees. I'll give this a miss cheers!


All good things must come to an end though and the next day was my day to travel to Guayaquil. It was a 5.5 hour journey, but I've had worse. Or so I thought! Pretty much the entire journey apart from the last hour was just slaloming down through the Andes mountains. It was terrible. I couldn't read a book, watch a movie or anything because as soon as I looked away from the road I felt sick. I'm usually fine, but this was really hard. I tried to sleep a bit and I could listen to music or a podcast, but I had to keep my eyes on the road the whole time. Fortunately the Ecuadorian landscape is stunning! But it was small consolation to me as the journey went on for 7 hours straight.

Guayaquil Cemetery is pretty bloody incredible!

Guayaquil is going to be a bit of a rest for me, I don't have anything much planned. Today was spent walking around, getting to know the place, with a stop at a square filled with meter long iguanas! It was crazy seeing them all just walking around the park. They didn't care about the people there at all, and the park was filled with them. I hadn't realised how many there actually were until I narrowly avoided being hit by a stream of lizard piss and looked up to see the trees filled with them too! There must have been a hundred there!

Iguanas and turtles and Koi oh my!

Tomorrow is for the football (It's coming home!) and then Monday will likely just be getting ready for the Galapagos, so I may be away a few days, but I thought as I've passed day 50, in fact now day 52, I'd update with some stats:

I have travelled a total of 8,277 miles, through 4 countries if you include the 2 hours I was in Spain on day 1.

I have stayed at 15 hostels, hotels and apartments in 14 different towns and cities so far. The shortest time I stayed in a room was one night (The hostel in La Fortuna filled with kids). The longest I stayed in a place was a week, in Boquete, where I could have stayed even longer.

I have travelled a conservative 64 hours so far by plane, boat, car and oh so many buses. That doesn't include any time waiting for buses or sat in airports etc. I have walked 240 miles so far. Up and down mountains, through rivers, jungle, rainforests, beaches and mangrove swamps. I don't know how much weight I've lost as I can't find any scales, but I'm using a hole in my belt that's never been used before.

I've seen countless new animals, but highlights are Howler Monkeys, Sloths, Hummingbirds and Tapirs!

And this lazy bastard

I have lost or broken very little thankfully. I had a towel stolen on day 3 or so, lost a sock a few weeks in, so tossed the other one, cracked the back of my phone, but that can be fixed and the strap broke on my small bag, so I replaced it with a small rucksack.

I broke a fingernail in half, got dirt stuck up my thumbnail after a slip that hurt a lot more than you'd imagine and of course did something to my back 20 mins before leaving that seriously affected my first few weeks of travel. I've also been bitten by mosquitoes about a million times.

I'm having a fine time, and it's getting better. I missing everyone very much though.

Right, I'm gonna go, some hippy looking guy is doing something weird with a flower covered stick in the hostel and I want to see what's going on!

I can't get enough of hiking through jungles

Posted by cblanc102 05:40 Archived in Ecuador Tagged waterfalls skylines people animals birds planes rainforest wildlife hiking beach travel bus hostels jungle costa_rica aeroplane bugs beauty flights ferry coffee south_america central_america ecuador solo solo_travel coronavirus Comments (0)

This is more like it

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So I'm 48 days into this trip and finally it's starting to feel like it's working right.

Ecuador has been consistently great, I know I'm only 5 days in, but usually that's long enough for me to mess things up in some way! I've got the next 3 weeks planned and starting to get an idea about the next couple after that, but things are a lot easier to plan when you're not having to rush them. Importantly as well, things are a lot cheaper here which has opened up the whole trip for me.

Volcanoes everywhere you look here

For instance. In Costa Rica, on average I paid around £8 per night for a room in a hostel, and around £12 for my own room. In Quito it was £3.50 for my own room and I'm currently paying £4 for a whole apartment in Banos!

£4 a night, free coffee too!

In La Fortuna, Costa Rica, white water rafting cost over £70, today I paid just £20. I'm going on a tour on Friday that's around the same price but lasts 13 hours!


The food here is cheap too, there's loads of street food at $1 all over the place, but last night I splashed out and had a massive burger and chips for £3. There's also a really cheap enormous supermarket next door for anything I need.

It was huge!

I was never short of money here, but I put things off in Costa Rica and Panama because of how expensive they were, hoping they'd be cheaper here or knowing they are cheaper in Asia when I get back there. I had wondered before when I was feeling a bit down here what was different during the last trip and it's finally hit me, I did what I liked.

I didn't worry about money or anything really. Bangkok was super cheap, I did my PADI on Koh Tao, slept in a floating village and trekked through jungle at Kao Sok. And I stayed in hotels all the time because they cost next to nothing. Ecuador actually feels like that and it's made it far easier to pay out on the big things like the Galapagos when the smaller things don't cost an arm and a leg.

Is this a thing in the UK?? A KFC 'pizza' with chicken breasts as a base? There's your heart attack right there!

Which brings me to Banos (pronounced ban-yos), a small town in Central Ecuador in the shadow of a volcano (like everywhere here) that seems far more touristy than it would be just because of it's adventure sports and proximity to the Amazon Rainforest. At first sight, the place looks a bit of a dump, with nearly all buildings either hostels, restaurants, souvenir shops or places selling adventure tours. I should also give a special shout out to barber shops and online gaming places of which there seems to be far too many of. But it has a charm to it, the people are great, there's a waterfall about every 100 meters and if you're looking up rather than down or ahead the place is stunningly beautiful.

It's also surrounded by thermal baths, which use the hot water from the volcano nearby. The one I went to tonight had three pools at increasing temperatures, going from 'warm' to 'bastard hot!' I lasted about 2 mins in the latter. I may try a different one tomorrow morning as I'm sure to be achy after the white water rafting I did today!

They light the waterfall at night next to the baths. Very nice

To say I had an amazing day is an understatement. A six hour trip, including about 90 mins of actual rafting time and a really nice lunch after all for £20 was fantastic. I can't believe I've never done it before and am looking forward to doing it again in Peru next month. It's just pure fun! For anyone who's been to Orlando, it's like being on the Popeye ride, but it lasts over an hour and you're working constantly to not fall out the boat.


I ended my day after the rafting and baths by taking a walk around the town to make my 30 miles walked this week as I almost didn't make it after barricading myself in my hotel room for two days in Colon, Panama and then spending a day travelling to Ecuador to escape. I made it though, and after 7 weeks, I've now walked 217 miles! pretty good I think!


And on that note, I'm going to bed. I have an easy day tomorrow doing little and waiting for the England match at 2pm (here). As always Come on England!

I shall be back in a few days with hopefully some amazing pics!

Posted by cblanc102 04:58 Archived in Ecuador Tagged waterfalls mountains night boats food rainforest hiking travel volcano thailand drink hostels jungle weather costa_rica beauty coffee journey south_america central_america latin_america ecuador solo solo_travel Comments (0)

Border Time - Feel like I'm going to lose my mind

I finally left a country!

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What a crazy day!!!

I woke up at 6 am raring to go! Excited to be leaving to go to Panama. Not that I was happy to leave Costa Rica, It's a beautiful country, filled with amazing animals, stunning landscapes and lovely people. I would have stayed a bit longer, but to go anywhere new would have meant travelling about 11 hours back through San Jose to visit the Caribbean side of the country and I just didn't have it in me. Especially as many of the things I still wanted to see, like more volcanoes, tapirs, the aforementioned Caribbean Sea, are also in Panama. Decision made!

Goodbye Costa Rica, you were Pura Vida for sure!

I had my shower, breakfast and coffees, sorted out my rucksack and said my goodbyes to the people at the hotel. It really is lovely there and the people who work there make you feel like family. Top marks. I decided to walk to the ferry pier, even though it was already 28 degrees or so, it was only about a kilometer away and the journey wasn't too bad.

As I sat waiting for the boat, I wondered where I'd put my travel adapter? I had definitely taken it out of the socket, but I couldn't remember which bag it had gone in. I went through both bags pretty thoroughly, the answer? Neither. I'd left it at the hotel. It was also during this search that I knocked my mask into the ocean and then couldn't find my backup. I was doing well.

I returned back to the hotel, both bags in tow and they had my adapter waiting for me. but by then it was too late. I would miss the ferry and the next one wasn't for almost three hours! But off I went, still carrying thirty pounds of bags in the now 30 degree heat.

I know what you're thinking, that I should have just forgotten about the adapter, I can get another, but it's a very good adapter and cost me £15 and I'm on a budget!!

It's bloody great and worth walking 3km for

After walking there and back and there again, I had lots of time left to go through my stuff and find some masks, read a book and watch the world go by until the boat arrived.

After my ferry journey arrived in Golfito at midday, I was told the bus to Peso Canoas would arrive after 1 pm, which it did. About an hour after 1 pm! But arrive it did, and it was super cheap (about £1.40 for a 60 km journey) so I was happy enough and after an hour or so, we arrived at the border crossing into Panama.

Welcome to Panama!

Now, I had read up on it, so I had an idea of what to do, but most of that went out the window and the next 90 mins or so was just a rat in a maze type puzzle that I was locked into. Here's what I had to do and bear in mind, no one spoke any English. Well, I did say I wanted to learn Spanish!!

1 - Firstly, pay the Costa Rican Exit tax ($9). Confusingly, this isn't at the Costa Rica border office, but over the road, in a hotel or restaurant.
2 - Take your passport with exit tax slip to the CR border office to get your stamp.
3 - Go to the Panama Border control (this took me ages to find, even though there's a big building that says 'Panama' on it. There were lots of places within that it could have been.
4 - Fill out your details, have your temperature taken
5 - Go pay for an antigen test where a woman will shove an impossibly long bud impossibly far up your nostril - Pay your $46 - Wait 15 mins
6 - Take this back to the guy in step 4, who then sends you along to another booth two or three places down.
7 - Show proof of your accommodation, proof that you're leaving the country (my flight out) and proof that you have at least $500, a credit card will do. Have your photo and finger prints taken, get your stamp.
8 - Walk out, not knowing really if that's all done, only to wander out into Panama without speaking to any guard or anyone.

As far as I can tell, I could have just walked right into Panama without anyone stopping me. My only issue would have been trying to leave I guess!

Panama's Flag is great

I managed to find a bus fairly quickly, it was a bit bonkers! Going super fast, overcrowded, playing loud music, people jumping on and off at any time. It was pretty fun and again, super cheap.

But I'm here now. In Panama, with a day to spare in another city that seems a bit rubbish, in a room with a curtain but no window (??), but it's clean, has great wifi and a shop across the road and I'm heading North on Sunday to see some more volcanoes. All seems pretty good right now and after about 70 days of travel (this journey and the last) I've finally gone from one country to another!!!


The curtain feels a tad redundant!

Posted by cblanc102 05:21 Archived in Panama Tagged water bus crossing panama costa_rica border ferry journey south_america central_america latin_america solo_travel Comments (0)

Jungle Diary - The ups and downs of going up and down

I'm like a cross between Tarzan and Indiana Jones

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So a few days ago I travelled to Dos Brazos in Corcovado National Park. My first time in what they call Primary Rainforest instead of the apparently tame stuff I've been in so far.

The wifi there was spotty at best, but you know, I was in the jungle. I did however, keep a little diary. Here it is:


Day 1 - arrival
I don't feel very comfortable here. I'm the only guest here and the only person wearing clothes half the time. The hike up was harsh! Five mins by road, then another five up a pathway then you have to wade through a river before a final 20 min hike uphill.


The bed seems nice, but it's all very open and I don't have any warm clothes. In theory, I could go back to the office and get stuff from my bag. Harsh hike again though if i do that!

At this point it feels like 3 nights may have been a night too long… Alternatively Blanc, just roll with it, chill out and relax a bit. Read a book!


Two guys turned up late afternoon, Chris and Frank from Poland. Turns out they're father and son, which i never would have guessed. I think they've booked a room, so I'm still on my own where I'm sleeping

Chris is a good guy, we have a drink together, pretty fun evening, but still raining, it has been now for 6 hours.


Day 2
The rain stopped about 7am, apparently the worst rain for two years! They’re saying it destroyed a bridge between here and Puerto Jimenez where I’m returning to, maybe I can't get out of here?

I went out for a hike, it was extraordinary, really beautiful, but very hard going in places and bloody hot! I saw a few animals including a family of jumping monkeys and the biggest butterfly I have ever seen in my life.


Finished a whole book in under a day, I haven't done that in ages. Amazing how productive I can be when there’s no wi-fi

Made my dinner, only for a swarm of flying termites to show up and get in absolutely everything. I had to boil the water 3 times because they managed to get in there.

I would be happy to leave tomorrow, all the things that make this place great get old very quick, being in the middle of nowhere, shit power, shit wi-fi, nature everywhere, good for a day, maybe two, but three??

Went out at night with everyone looking in the jungle for snakes and spiders. Actually quite creepy, saw loads of spiders, no snakes. We found a hand sized wolf spider in the French couple’s room. The Polish lad moved it to the pond. He likes bugs apparently


Day 3
Walked down to my bag to get the drone. Water was higher than before, but not too bad. Walk was a pain again though.

Flew the drone a bit before it started to rain hard. Ron got my hopes up by saying I may have to leave early if the rain continued because of crossing the river. Rain stopped though, I've never been so saddened by rain stopping.

Chris and Frank left, two Swiss girls arrived, tonight I'm mostly bored and looking forward to getting off tomorrow. I spent a little lime looking for stars. Anyone who knows me knows how badly I want to see the Milky Way, but it has eluded me again this trip so far, with the night skies being clouded over all the time. It's a long trip though, fingers crossed


Day 4
It’s been a funny few days and in some ways I’m sad to be leaving, but in more ways I’m not lol. It really has been an experience, but I guess I’m too used to the trappings of modern life, even the cut down ones that I have while travelling. Would I do it again? Surprisingly, yes, in a heartbeat, it was amazing, seeing all the animals, living in the middle of it. It's the experience of a lifetime. Although I would likely just do two nights, that’s more than enough!


Posted by cblanc102 20:31 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged animals monkeys rainforest jungle costa_rica bugs south_america central_america latin_america spiders solo_travel Comments (2)

Terror in the Dark!!!

Just a short one - Also the name of my sex tape

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A map of the trip so far

I often enjoy travelling at night, it seems to make more sense to waste time at night travelling than during the day and you can often save money with night buses as it's a night not spending money on accommodation. When I was in Turkey I took a 13 hour bus for £16 that worked out perfect for me.

My view right now

Sometimes however, these things are terrifying, like the horrendous bus trip from Mumbai to Goa that Jarvis and I took in 2015 that felt like we were going to go off the edge of a cliff all night and where they almost drove off without me at a filthy roadside toilet God know where in the middle of the night.


So I was obviously overjoyed to discover that my bus from Drake Bay to Puerto Jimenez was to leave at 4am. Or more accurately 4:30 am when they turned up. To be fair, I was happy it turned up at all as I wasn't 100% sure it would and a storm was coming in over the Pacific. No rain, but plenty of thunder and lightening.

As we sped through the forest roads in the pitch black, every now and again a flash of lightening would let me know that we were actually driving at speed along the very edge of a cliff overlooking the pacific. This It all adds to the adventure I'm sure you'll agree! As did the three times we drove through rivers as the bridges were unfinished, in disrepair or nonexistent.

Giant meals for £3 and I guess I eat plantains now??

But get here I did eventually. Like most other places in Costa Rica it's beautiful, filled with friendly locals, great places to eat and exotic animals everywhere. Just this morning I've seen macaws, howler monkeys, brightly coloured crabs and some weird squirrel looking thing (like a thin squirrel without a bushy tail), but the real adventure starts in a couple of hours when I go to my new hostel right in the middle of the jungle for three days. With little electricity and wifi I won't be bringing along my laptop (I can leave my main bag at the office as there's a 30 min hike to the hostel) but I'll have my phone so hopefully will be able to update Facebook here and there.

Watch out! Moneys above!

So hopefully I shall be back in three or four days with some exciting wildlife pictures! Can't wait!

Good advice!

Posted by cblanc102 17:12 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged animals night costa_rica south_america central_america latin_america solo_travel Comments (0)

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