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May 22, 2004

I have been talking every evening with the bartender at the bar in the hotel where I’m staying.  His name is Ronald, and he’s studying to be a physical education teacher, because he loves sports so much.  He has a wife and a daughter and somehow is able to support them with this job, and go to school at the same time.

He said that he’s from Heredia, a small city just 12 km north of San Jose.  I was curious to see what this small town was like, so he volunteered to be my tour guide on his day off.

I took a taxi to the Parque Central in Heredia: this is where we had agreed to meet.  I got there early, and walked around and took some photos.  There was a church, of course, on one side of the park, and there was also a curious sculpture garden with all kinds of animal sculptures.

Ronald arrived: he had borrowed his uncle’s car so he was able to drive me around a bit.  He showed me the Heredia Fortress and the Heredia Castle, as well as examples of local mud and brick construction.

Along the way we passed a curious sign for the “Inst. Parauniversitario Richard Nixon.”  Richard Nixon?  I found this most bizarre.

We left Heredia and went into the Braulio Carrillo National Park where we saw a waterfall.  We didn’t go much farther because it was very foggy: low clouds had moved in.  So we headed back to Heredia and went to the INBioparque.

This is part botanical garden part zoological park.  We saw some of the strangest plants here, like several different kinds of giant orchids, and a flower that looked vaguely like an albino ear of corn.

There was a lake in the middle of the park, as well as a small waterfall, and here we saw turtles and iguanas around its perimeter.

There was also a garden with lots of plants that a attracted a huge number of butterflies and it was enclosed with netting to keep them inside.

We saw a tarantula and other insects in the insect house, and a rather large boa constrictor in the reptile house.

When we were finished, Ronald kindly drove me back to the hotel in San Jose.

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May 14, 2004

Another hop, skip, and jump, and I now find myself in Costa Rica: San Jose, the capital, to be exact.

I got here on Monday and, after taking a taxi from the airport, we arrived in the city and I checked into my hotel.

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May 7, 2004

It seems to make sense to continue in a southerly direction from one Central American country to the next, which is why I’m now in Managua, Nicaragua.

I had read about the high crime rate in this city, so it was reassuring to be met by a representative of the hotel on exiting the airport.  Nice to see your name on a sign being held by someone as you come out of baggage claim.  Especially at night.

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May 1, 2004

There’s an old film called, “If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium.”  I’m hopping around Central America, kind of hitting the highlights, so it’s almost like “If It’s Tuesday, This Must be El Salvador.”

But there is method to the madness: I’m trying to hit the things I am most interested in seeing, most of which are World Heritage Sites.

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Apr 24, 2004

I’m now staying in Copan, Honduras.  It’s really easy to get from Guatemala to Copan, which is just across the border from Guatemala.

The main attraction here is Copan Ruinas, which means, obviously, Copan Ruins.  These impressive ruins are just one km from the little city of Copan, so, as the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and a light breeze made the air comfortable, off I headed, camera in hand.

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Apr 16, 2004

One of the reasons I wanted to stay in Antigua, other than that it’s a really cool city, is that I wanted to climb to the top of a nearby volcano called Pacaya Volcano.

There’s a travel agency just a couple of doors from the hotel, and I noticed a sign in the window that mentioned this volcano tour.  I signed up and, bright and early on Tuesday morning, we were on our way to Pacaya.

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Apr 10, 2004

Now I’m in Guatemala, in the historic old city of Antigua to be exact.  I left Belize on Sunday and went first to the capital, Guatemala City, and then by bus to Antigua.

I chose Antigua because it, along with its cobblestones streets and old historic houses, is a World Heritage Site: the whole city!  It was the Spanish capital of all of Central America during colonial times.

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Apr 2, 2004

After “chilling out” on Caye Caulker, I returned to Belize City on Monday by water taxi, and checked in again at the Guest House.  I retrieved my belongings which I had stored there, and everything was fine.

High on my list to see and do while in Belize was Lamanai, a Mayan sight in the middle of the jungle.  On Tuesday I took a taxi from the hotel to Belize City’s bus station.  On the way there, we followed a truck that was full of soldiers carrying machine guns.  The way one of the soldiers, seated near the back of the truck, had the muzzle of his weapon balanced on the top of his foot made me hope that it was unloaded.

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Mar 26, 2004

I’m still in Belize, but not in Belize City.  I’m on one of the offshore islands.

I left most of my things at the Great House in Belize City and, on Sunday, I jumped on a “water taxi” for the 45 minute ride to Caye Caulker.  Belize City’s “Marine Terminal” is located across a swing bridge that spans the Haulover Creek.  And the water taxis for Caye Caulker and the other offshore islands leave from this terminal.

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Mar 20, 2004

I am now in Belize after a brief stop in Miami.  I think Miami is the best city to fly out of when heading to the Caribbean or South or Central America.

I had decided, since my three month US visa was just about to expire, to explore Central America.  I enjoyed the Yucatan Peninsula and all of its Mayan sights a year ago, and thought I’d explore some other Mayan lands.

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