Thursday, February 27, 2014

St. Baldrick's - My 3 year Anniversary!

My First Head Shaving in 2011!
On October 21, 2011, I shaved my head for St. Baldrick's for the first time. (You can see the results of that here.) This October, I will be shaving again for the three-year anniversary of that date. As such, my goal will be to raise three times my original goal! Finally, after all this time, and some great hair-do's in between, my hair is long enough to donate and shave again. Please join me in the battle against children's cancers.

My donation page for the $3000, 3-year anniversary is:

You can also check out my post from the original event:
Getting a Mohawk in Costa Rica in March (ish?) of 2012

See videos of the ponytails being cut for donations here:

I hope you'll help me reach my goal of $3000 by October 26 - to celebrate 3 years since my first head shave AND three years since we embarked on our adventure to South America.

Awesome side-shave from August 2012, in Peru on the Jungle Trail

Monday, February 17, 2014

Our Final Sunset in El Salvador

Sad to say, the time has come to say goodbye!  Here is the cabana we have come to call home:

How did 12 days of doing nothing go by so quickly?  It was a perfect last day - I woke up early to get some morning beach sun after we both got delicious fruit smoothies.  We had a leisurely mid morning breakfast followed by some poolside sunning.  Then we repaired to the hammocks for some shaded reading and then wandered out for lunch. 

 In the late afternoon we soaked up the final rays of the day and then watched the sunset on the beach.  

In a bit, I'm sure we'll wander out for some food and maybe have a few drinks with some of our new friends.  After all, Monday night is Mopelia's biggest night!  

There was some local excitement: a Golden Cerveza commercial was shot on the deck of Monkey Lala hotel where we have eaten and drank a few times.  The Lala is right next to our hotel, so we could see some of the action.  Take 3 of opening a bottle and smiling into the camera:

We've definitely had a great time here!  I doubt that this will be our last visit, but who knows what El Tunco will look like next time we come by?  See you back in the states!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentines Day and a Frog

We had a lovely Día de San Valentín here in El Tunco.  We went for a sunset dinner at the Monkey Lala hotel patio bar, which has a lovely view of the beach and live music.  We had some drinks and are a nice relaxing, slow dinner.  

Today was more tanning and relaxing.  I can't believe our trip will be over so soon.  As I was typing this, a little frog hopped onto our patio!  Unfortunately, it was too dark to properly photograph him and when I tried to use flash, my leg got in the way!  Sorry!

See if you can make him out there!  Good night!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Geckos and Iguanas

This is one of our new roommates.  We found him hanging out in the shower this morning.  He seemed to have disappeared by the time I got into the shower this afternoon, but then I saw him swimming in the water!  I hope he survives the deluge...

Another larger gecko fell from the ceiling while Matt was taking a nap, but he quickly ran back to his hiding spot.

Lastly, for the last few days, I've sworn that there was something living on the roof of our cabana, big enough that I can hear it breath when it's startled she we return, but Matt kept telling me it was just birds landing on the roof.  Well, this morning while we were reading in the hammock, a friendly iguana poked his head over the edge and later jumped to a nearby tree!  He's about two feet long.  Hopefully we'll get a picture of him in the next week.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Not much to report...

I suppose you're probably tired of hearing how we woke up, had fresh juice smoothies, sat out by the pool, read in hammocks, took naps, and then swam some more.  So I won't bother you with the details.  

Today was particularly laid back as I seemed to have caught whatever bug Matt was fighting off when we left the states.  Nothing too serious, just elevated temperature, slight headache, and general fatigue.  Luckily, Matt is now feeling fine.  Nothing a couple of days of rest by the ocean can't cure...

Here is a picture of a bunny rabbit who lives at our hotel and is Matt's spirit guide.  He accompanies Matt to fill our water bottles every morning.

We've been having fun hanging out with other travelers.  There are two British "blokes" we've chatted up a bunch.  I especially love when they say something really British, like "blimey"!  It's so adorable.  They also seem to have extreme difficulty pronouncing Spanish city-names correctly.  (LEE-on instead of León (ley-own), LIE-ma instead of Lima (lee-ma), etc.)

Nothing else to report today folks.  Thanks for reading.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Some food adventures!

Well, it was another exciting day for the Shapiro Adventures.  Besides taking a yoga class at La Guitarra Hotel/Bar, we did more of the same hammocking, tanning, swimming, reading, and resting.

The lady who cooks pupusas on the street outside our hostel for 50 cents must have taken the night off, so we had to walk ALL THE WAY to the Calle Peatonal, about 150 yards away, for pupusas at an actual "restaurant", more like a food stand.  Here is Matt enjoying some pupusas:

On the way home, I decided to get an empanada from the woman who cooks them over a fire made in a trash can also just outside our hotel.  Here is a picture of me and the cocinera:

She cooks the corn over that fire all day long, then fries the dough made from corn filled beans and vegetables in oil by night.  Yum!  Let's be honest, you can't go wrong with food cooked over an flaming trash can, amiright?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Random thoughts and a few photos

It is the hora de siesta, you know that delightful afternoon time where there isn't much to do but take a nap in a hammock, then continue napping in your room, then shower and relax in a hammock some more, and I wanted to share some photos and thoughts from the day.  Here is the sunsetting view from our patio:

The highlight of my day was when, on returning from the beach, we encountered a vendedora ambulante selling bags if sliced green mango with salt, spices, and lemon juice.  This is my all time favorite snack and I eagerly bought a bag for 50 cents!    

Other than that, it's been a pleasant day of hammock-reading, beach-tanning, and ocean-swimming.  Observe, the wild monster in his natural hammbitat!

We've been thinking a lot about how much this town has grown in the past two years.  On one hand, it makes us wonder how long ago was it that this place was not more than a tiny fishing village with just a few surfers.  Maybe only 4 or 5 years ago?  And looking forward, how long until this becomes a true resort town?  In two years, will the shack hostels still remain?  Food prices are still very low, though some slightly higher than our previous visit.  A fruit smoothie can cost from $2-4.50!!  A burrito can go for $3-6.  Then again, burritos are not native Salvadoran fare, so perhaps that is already a sign of the tourism changes.

I also just regarded to Matt how easy it is to feel clean after a very quick and simple cold shower.  You guessed it, there isn't hot water here.  It isn't actually cold per sé, it's just not heated.  But a simple soaping and face washing in the cool water does a lot to wash away the heat from the day and leave me ready for some cervezas!  If I can get my husband out of the hammock, that is!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Things I've missed about Central America

In no specific order:

-street food being cooked over a flaming trash can
-dollar coins
-90 degrees in February, low of 70
-women walking on the beach, on the street, and through the hotel selling home baked goods 

It's been a very relaxing day - after a quick self-guided yoga on our patio, Matt and I had a simple breakfast of smoothies and fried plantains.  Then it was a day of rigorous sun-tanning and reading in hammocks.  Matt is taking a nap.  How will we ever keep up this pace for 12 days?!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Hemos llegado - we've arrived!!

Finalmente, the Adventurers are back at it, albeit for just twelve days.  Travel days are always exciting as we transition from our "normal" lives into vacation mode.  Our first flight from Phoenix to Dallas was delayed about a half hour due to snow in Dallas.  Once we landed, it was another 30 minute hold while we waited on the landing strip for our gate to open up.  It was snowing and once we finally deplaned, we realized traveling in sandals may have been a poor choice.  Luckily, the terminal was warm as we had time to kill.  Our second flight to San Salvador was also delayed about two hours.  This gave us time for a leisurely lunch of Texas (airport) BBQ and a perusal of the duty-free shops. There was a rep giving free "samples" of Johnnie Walker double black, which also helped to warm me right up.  

The real fun began once we boarded the second flight.  It was basically like being on a chicken bus in the air.  The flight wasn't full and so people kept shuffling around without notice to the seatbelt sign.  Matt and I were able to snag our own private row.  The majority of passengers were hispanohablantes, so Matt and I got right into the swing of things.  I'm glad I remember as much as I do!  

Once we landed, we were able to move quickly through migración and aduana since we each only have one backpack that we carried on board.  The immigration agent seemed pretty impressed with our Spanish.  He asked if it was our first visit to El Salvador, since we have stamps from every other Central American country but NOT El Salvador, since last time we crossed by land from Guatemala.  Since the two countries have free passage, there was no stamp.  I told the officer my Spanish abilities increased with every cerveza I drank.  I think he saw the logic!  

Once out of the terminal, we were mobbed by eager taxistas who all wanted the privelege of taking us to El Tunco.  It's hard to choose when they all offer the same price and all have official badges.  We just went with one if the first to offer us the ride.  Riding in the truck-cab, windows down, I love breathing in the humid air.  It immediately fills my lungs with a weight I didn't realize I had missed.  I love the dirt-damp smell of a place that never gets cold. There are some other interesting smells driving through El Salvador, the most prominent being the smell of burning trash.  Last time we were here, I did note the very apparent trash problem, but it's common throughout Central America.  I regret that we arrived so late, as there was not much to see as we drove in darkness.  By 9 PM we were in La Libertad and a few minutes later, El Tunco.

The town seems to have grown slightly since our last visit, but it's hard to tell how much at night.  We'll have to explore and see more tomorrow.  We're staying at Hotel Mopelia, just a few seconds from the beach.  We're currently enjoying a Salvadorian microbrew and the hammock outside our room. The plan for tomorrow is to buy some sunscreen and let the relaxation Take over.

The Shapiro consensus is: we are so glad to be here.  Life is good!  Pictures and more stories will come later.  Good night friends!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pre-Vacation Post!

I've traded my wedding ring for my travel ring - a simple gold band - so you know things are serious!  Our bags are packed, the apartment is all tidied up.  We've made arrangements for our guard-snake to be watered regularly, so everything will be under his care while we're away (thanks Mopsy)!

I've only packed one backpack for our not-quite-two-week trip.  Even though it's not a lot, it still feels weird since it will be nearly 3 times as many things as last time I was in El Salvador!  I'm bringing a pair of shorts, a skirt, two dresses, and 5 tank tops.  (The forecast calls for daily highs in the 90s, so I will also bring one light sweater for the evenings and thats it.)  I'm also bringing a few work out outfits and my yoga mat - I think there's a good chance there will be some place for me to practice there, and if not, I can always do my own thing.  Matt has packed two pairs of travel pants (aka pants withe zip-off long legs), three shirts, and his icebreaker sweater.  Obviously, we're also bringing bathing suits and our brazilian cangas (beach sheets).

I'm super excited about our first international adventure in over a year!  Blogposts and pictures to follow, for sure!  Hasta luego, amigos!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Getting Ready to Go!

We are super excited to begin our vacation on Thursday!  Here's a sneak peak at the weather change we are looking forward to:


La Libertad:

Yay sunshine and heat!

In other news, I made some chai-spiced challah French toast for breakfast!

I had fun this week, going to karaoke and also meeting with a new quartet group!   My new group needs a name, so suggestions would surely be appreciated.  So all around, a fun week!  Look forward to vacay pictures soon!!!!!!!!