Dobbs Away II

Joined April 2017
  • Day411

    Tupiza

    June 21 in Bolivia

    We took a bus from Tarija over very high (14,000ft) and barren mountain passes to Tupiza. The road was paved more than half of the way and we were lucky to get a very cautious driver, as some of the drop-offs were scary. Our driver was also a softie as he bought several loaves of bread he broke up into small pieces before we set off that we saw him tossing out the window to dozens of stray dogs we passed on our route. When he ran out of bread he waved kindly to the dogs that missed out, probably thinking I’ll feed you on the way back. When we’d bought our bus tickets we’d asked if the bus was new and had been told “more or less”. It was definitely the latter as the driver’s co-pilot was continuously pouring water on the engine so it didn’t overheat going up the steep hills.
    Tupiza is a small city known for beautiful red rock landscapes. We hired a driver for a day and were able to see most of the famous (we use the term loosely) rock formations, which were very impressive and reminiscent of parts of Southern Utah, though without the crowds. We only saw one other tourist the whole day! We were told this was less because of it being winter and more because everyone had stayed home to watch the soccer Worldcup.
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  • Day408

    Tarija, Bolivia

    June 18 in Bolivia

    Our first stop in Bolivia was the center of wine and food for the country. Bolivian wine?? We were actually very impressed with the quality and the price (~ $4-5 for a very good bottle of local Tannat).
    Tarija is very quaint and seemed fairly affluent given the cleanliness, quality of buildings and the fanciness of the cars driving around the town. It was a nice town to wander around, especially after siesta when the town’s squares are packed with school kids and office workers grabbing a quick bite before returning to their long day. We can’t imagine breaking up the work or school day this way, but apparently it gets too hot to do anything during noon-3 in the summer (though it’s winter now and very chilly given a total lack of heating in any of the buildings). The food was also good and we even enjoyed some delicious street food here (we tried quesadillas and churros – Mexican food is popular). One of the things that impressed us was a new, 3-story central market the town had built that contained fresh produce and meat on the ground floor, little kitchen stalls rented out for restaurants on the 2nd floor, and a 3rd floor that rented out stalls to vendors selling clothes, soap, etc. It was a very lively place and such a great model to encourage small businesses.Read more

  • Day403

    Rapa Nui

    June 13 in Chile

    Rapa Nui. Isla de Pascua. Easter Island. Whichever name you want to use, the giant statues (Moai) on this incredibly remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean have been something we’ve wanted to see with our own eyes for as long as we can remember. It’s crazy to think people journeyed here in canoes from somewhere in the South Pacific 800-1000 years ago because this is a really small, easy to miss, dot of land.
    The culture here seems to take much more from Polynesia than Chile and the people here are very proud and seem to enjoy a pretty good life. The Chilean government is apparently afraid of an independence bid by the island so has sought to make staying part of Chile very attractive to the native Rapa Nui people by offering free healthcare, education, $50k towards their first house, and zero taxes. Not too bad!
    The ruins here were really interesting. We spent a day doing a small tour with a guide, then rented a car and wandered around the island on our own for another few days. The weather on our last two days was pretty wet and windy (John said to get ready for Wellington!) but this just added to the unique beauty and atmosphere of the island. The prevailing belief is that the statues were built as early as ~1200 as tributes to important ancestors. Then, due to some sort of famine or major disruption (which isn’t hard to imagine happening on such a tiny island with so few natural resources), the statues stopped being produced and were all toppled during some sort of infighting. Some, but not all, of the statues were re-erected in the 1970’s. The stone carving is impressive and we were able to visit the quarry where the statues were originally carved and to see the trail of incomplete Moai that were abandoned as they stood.
    This was an incredible visit to a unique place, however we did observe one sad feature. We were walking on a small sandy beach, with several Moai standing in the sand dunes in the background, when we noticed small colorful objects in the sand about 1/8th of an inch across. We realized these were small pieces of plastic that had washed up on the beach. As we looked around we noticed the beach littered with these tiny plastic particles. A couple of locals were doing their best to clean the beach, but it looked like an uphill battle. Amazing that 2000km from the nearest inhabited island and 3600km from the South American Continent that this type of pollution could find it’s way here. The owner of our hotel suggested there is a huge trash ‘patch’ in the seas between Rapa Nui and the Galapagos Islands. What have we done?
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  • Day402

    Santiago, Chile

    June 12 in Chile

    We said goodbye to Katie and Katie, for now, as they headed to the beach for a few days and we flew to Santiago for a quick overnight before our trip to Easter Island. It seemed we were the only ones on the plane excited about the chilly temperatures in Santiago (we’re wearing our puffer jackets and hats here).

  • Day397

    La Fortuna

    June 7 in Costa Rica

    A beautiful drive through an intense rainstorm showed us just how much water rainy season brings. The roads were good, so no problems driving to our last stop in Central America.
    We’re so grateful that we’ve been able to meet up with good friends during our travels. Here, we were able to spend time with one of our favorite people, our cousin Katie, and her good friend Katie (not confusing at all!)
    The weather was moody (and stinking hot and sticky) during our visit, but generally didn’t interrupt any of our plans. Katie and Christy enjoyed horseback riding through the beautiful area near Arenal Volcano and we all enjoyed soaking in some nice hot springs afterwards.
    The place we stayed had a lush garden out the back near a river and was teeming with poison dart frogs (and, a little unnervingly, snakes according to the hotel owner -though luckily we didn’t see any). Sadly, it seems frog populations have dramatically declined since we first visited ~15 years ago due to a fungus. It was nice to see a thriving population of a few species at least in this little corner of the country. We also were lucky to see 3 sloths (both the 3 and 2-toed types) and toucans during our visit.
    We enjoyed this trip to Costa Rica and believe it’s the prettiest country in terms of nature in Central America, mostly because they’ve done such a good job with conservation since the early 70’s. It’s also really well developed with good roads, reliable electricity and drinkable water. While not a bargain, it’s a nice country and our favorite area is on the Osa Penninsula which we visited on our first trip.
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  • Day394

    Monteverde

    June 4 in Costa Rica

    A beautiful 4 hour drive on mostly good roads took us to the cloud forests of Monteverde. We were so glad to escape the heat and mosquitoes in this higher and more comfortable elevation.
    The place we're staying has an onsite hydroponic garden so we've enjoyed some beautifully fresh salads during our stay.
    On a night walk we saw our first porcupine (in a tree), armadillo and glass frog. We also saw a tarantula, sloth and many insects and birds. On a day walk in Monteverde Reserve, we felt super lucky to see the Resplendent Quetzal – maybe the most beautifully colored and feathered bird we’ve seen so far.Read more

  • Day391

    Tortuguero National Park

    June 1 in Costa Rica

    Up early to catch an Uber to the bus station to take public buses to a public boat, then on to Tortuguero National Park (a 6 hour trip). The river trip was beautiful, but unfortunately deforestation for palm plantations and cattle grazing was evident everywhere.
    Sadly, we missed turtle nesting and hatching season here (which is meant to be amazing). We did manage to see some good critters though, including more howler and spider monkeys as well as white-faced capuchins. We were excited to also see lots of Jesus Christ lizards (named for their ability to run on water).
    On a night walk, we saw lots of insects, a few snakes & frogs and a mouse possum (so cute). The downside was that Christy was having a clumsy night and managed to fall down twice in the dark when tripping over things. She suffered a bad bruise, but luckily nothing more serious.
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