Gonzalo Figueroa and Nina Maria Eidheim...

LA to BA

UPDATE 7, Feb. 15, 2001,

Costa Rica

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We had decided to place our bet all in one region here in Costa Rica, thus hopefully avoiding the more frequented spots. We put all our cards on Southern Costa Rica and this is what happened We pulled into what many would call "a one horse town", pouring sweat in the most incredible midday heat we had ever come upon. The first beers disappeared as if they had never come. In comes a guy carrying an attache case followed by 4 others, two of them looking like right out of a spaghetti western, the other two obviously locals.

What the hell is a guy doing with an attache case in these parts? He introduces himself with a ferocious southern drawl. He's from Mississippi, chews tobacco and spits it out on the street. When it hit, the spit quickly evaporates as it must be around 42 degrees around here. His friends were Bobby and Roger, from Alabama. I needed a translator to understand these two guys, their accents being from deep inside the Alabama bush. All these guys were gold prospectors. The real thing, panning for gold in the jungle creeks. And what do you think we did?

Next day we were all buried in to our chests in the creeks working a dredge, splitting rock and panning for gold. I had seen this only in the movies and we could not believe it as the more we panned the more gold dust that showed up. "Every speck you can see with the naked eye is a dollar, " said Alabama. "Every one you drop on the pan and can hear it make a noise, is 5 dollars". How much do you guys have here? That they would not say. These guys thought gold, talked gold and dreamed of more gold. They even panned the dirt of my very dirty old shirt. "You cant imagine how much gold you can find by panning the dirt of your socks!" It seems gold dust gets trapped in clothing just as it would inside a sponge.

We spent some time in a very little gold town. Although the mining companies had moved out years ago, there is still plenty of gold and both locals and foreigners go looking for it. Many of the locals work until they find enough of it to get drunk, then they drink until they use it all up.

Once they are sober, they go out again. The foreigners take the raw gold out of Costa Rica and sell it abroad making an incredible profit. In the town grocery store gold is legal tender. There are no notes. Just gold.

We moved on and landed in the most idyllic place we have ever seen. On this trip we have already seen incredible beaches and I thought they could not get better. I was wrong. We have been spending the last few days in a desolate spot, camping under a band of coconut trees where the scarlett macaws (the big colorful parrotts) feed on almonds, where sloths move millimetrically from branch to branch and the howler monkeys shatter the twilight. Living in the jungle on the edge of the beach we met Willy, by far the friendliest character we have come across so far. Willy is a former FSLN (Sandinista) guerrilla. He's built a camp in the jungle using only the things at hand: sand, rock, wood and whatever works and invites us constantly to hear the funniest stories you could imagine: being thrown in jail for handing out food from Somozas warehouses, running from government troops only to meet more government troops, being trained in guerrilla warefare by the Soviets in Bulgaria, seeing Miskito fishermen steal a whole boat load of drugs from the Colombian cartel and the tragicomical chaos that ensued. Whatever. He just talks and you laugh. He says he's lived so long in guerrilla camps that he likes to always have people around in his jungle.

He is a real good, helpful guy, one of the best we've met.

We will be around here until around the 20 of february and then we will cross into Panama. God willing we will be in Panama city by feb. 21 to arrange the air-lift to South America.

Besos y Abrazos, Gonzalo y Nina Southern Costa Rica, Feb. 15, 2001.

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So who are we?

Update 1, November 2000, First road report

UPDATE 2, Dec. 5, 2000, Baja California, Hola amigos y que viva Mexico!

UPDATE 3, Dec. 17, 2000, Central Mexico

UPDATE 4, January 4 2001, Southern Mexico

UPDATE 5, January 31 2001, Guatemala

Update 6, Feb 7 2001, Honduras and Nicaragua

Update 7, Feb 15 2001, Costa Rica

Update 8, Mar 8 2001, Huaraz, Peru

Update 9 April 7, 2001, Cusco, Peru

Update 10 April 23, 2001, Bolivia

Update 11: May 15, 2001, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Story and photos copyright © Gonzalo Figueroa and Nina Maria Eidhein 2000-2001.
All Rights Reserved.
Grant Johnson

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