Category Archives: Geography

Spring Break in Mexico, Decapitations and Coolers

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If you listen to everyone in the news and all the worry warts, the United States is in a recession…hell, the world is in a recession. Down here in Puerto Rico, all the local Inn’s and Hotels are complaining about a slow down in business but most of them are still doing well. I wonder if Rincon Puerto Rico is going to get more of the college spring break crowd with the lack of desire to go to Mexico…for fear of your life.

There have been more murders in Mexico in the past 18 months than in the Iraq war. That’s a lot of death. It makes me think that the drug cartels are really gaining power down there as the government looses power along with the rest of the world because of the recession. Recently, a retired army general hired to put together an elite squad of drug agents was kidnapped from the strip in Cancun and murdered. Analysts say that Cancun is less susceptible to the drug wars because it is a peninsula with only one way in and out allowing for the police and military to intercept any trouble makers. That is the reason they say that it is safe for spring breakers to go to Cancun Mexico, because it would be too hard for drug cartel hit men to get away after they kill someone or fill Senor Frogs up with a spray of bullets from one of their automatic weapons.

Just yesterday, five human heads were found in coolers in the Mexico state of Jalisco. The coolers all had messages etched into the outside with sayings like; “Like these, I’m going to finish you all” and “Here we go idiot”. Man, when did decapitations become so popular?

The US has issued a travel advisory on Mexico but mostly in the border towns like Tijuana. Tijuana has never been safe, but at least you only had to deal with corrupt cops and not kidnapping drug cartels.

My call, let Mexico work out their problems without US tourist money. Don’t be a hero, Mexico isn’t worth loosing your head.

SoCold in SoCal

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I feel like I’ve posted about the cold weather in San Diego just a couple of weeks ago, but just in case i didn’t, here we go again.

It is just plain old cold in San Diego right now. Last nights low hit 36°F which is a couple degrees above freezing! That’s right, the weather in beautiful sunny southern california gets into the thirties at night…and the houses have no heat. The only time to escape the chill is while driving your car with the heat on full blast. The cold weather even dictated where/what we had for dinner last night. Here’s how it went down:

summer, ” let’s get sushi for dinner”
stefan, “um, I don’t know if I want sushi or not, I really want something warm for dinner”
summer, “hot saki”
stefan, “sushi sounds like a great idea!”

As to warmer thoughts, here is a picture of the groom and groomsman at my great friend eric booths wedding at the Westin St. John. Eric is all the way to the left, I am next in line.

Westin St Thomas Wedding Photo, Eric Booths Wedding

Warm Days at Erics Wedding

Look at those outfits, no jackets necessary. mmmmm….the caribbean looks warm.

Mal Pais Hotel – Milarepa

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Mal Pais Costa Rica Hotel – Milarepa

On a recent visit Costa Rica, Summer and I headed over to the Nicoya Peninsula to do some surfing and check out real estate in the Mal Pais and Playa Santa Teresa area. I have been meaning to tell you about this great place to stay in Mal Pais but just have not gotten around to it.

Planning to go to Mal Pais Costa Rica:

We were in Playa Nosara staying at the Hotel Paris deciding how to get to Mal Pais and made the decision to take the coast roads all the way down. This is not advisable during the rainy season because of all of the river crossings (4) but we were there during the dry season. After about a two hour drive we crossed our final river and drove out onto the beach in Playa Santa Teresa. At this point, we both questioned our map reading skills but decided to follow the other tracks on the beach over some dry reef and back into the rain forest about 2 miles down the beach. After a few wrong turns (that were all dead ends), we hit our destination of Mal Pais Costa Rica.

Where to Stay in Mal Pais Costa Rica:

We went to the Hotel where we were staying, Milarepa Hotel, and couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay in the area. The homepage of their website describes their lodging the best; “A Small Hotel of Luxurious Simplicity.” There were four cabanas on the property all with unbelievable views of the palm tree grove and of the crashing waves on the beach right out front. For those of you that are fast paced city slickers looking for a home away from home in the tropics with Television, telephones and wi-fi, this probably isn’t the place for you. It is a clean relaxed environment that lends itself to the weary traveler looking to get away from all the hustle bustle of their every day lives.

I looked up the meaning of Milarepa and decided that I should share it with you, as I am sure it has a significant meaning to the owners and now to me. Milarepa is the name of a Tibetan Saint. He is said to have risen above the miseries of his younger life through meditation until he achieved the pinnacle of the enlightened state. He then passed the secrets of his enlightenment on to the rest of humanity. For those of you who are not seeing the parallel here, Hotel Milarepa is the pinnacle of a restful and peaceful vacation in Costa Rica in which the proprietors wish to pass the enlightened state on to their guests.

Milarepa Hotel Mal Pais Costa Rica
View from Restaurant Soma

The hotel staff was extremely nice and hospitable making us feel like we were the only ones staying there. Although they were available for everything we needed whenever we needed it, they were not overbearing which gave us the feeling of complete privacy. This is the type of place that would be ideal for a honeymoon. Clean, Discreet, Great Amenities and beach front.

Mal Pais Beach and Surfing Costa Rica
Beaches in Mal Pais Costa Rica

Eating in Santa Teresa and Mal Pais

Milarepa also has an unbelievable chef. Jim Kelly has been studying “Slow Food” preparation for years concentrating on the freshest non processed foods available in his Restaurant Soma. Breakfast is dominated by freshly ground Costa Rican coffee served in a French Press, freshly cut fruit, pancakes and the traditional bacon and egg American Breakfast. The dinners there are also out of this world good. Jim has nourished great relationships with the local fisherman and farmers to ensure that only the freshest and finest ingredients are served to his guests. If you have special request, Chef Jim will surely find a solution that suits you.

How to get to Mal Pais Costa Rica

There are a few options on how to get to Mal Pais Costa Rica. As I mentioned above, you can drive there from the North along the coast during dry season, or you can drive inland via the main roads during the rainy season. For those of you that are not looking to travel all around Costa Rica, you can fly into the local airport and get a driver to drop you off at Hotel Milarepa.

Dubai Craziness

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My sister and her family are currently living in Ethiopia. She has an awesome husband and three beautiful kids (two boys and a girl). I get these great emails from them fairly regularly discussing their adventures as a family, as parents and as young kids growing up in Ethiopia.

Recently, two of them went on a trip to Dubai for some fairly routine medical testing and sent me an email expressing how amazing Dubai was. Now, if you know my sister, you know she wasn’t caught up in the consumerism of the whole deal, but purely amazed at the engineering and wealth around a city smack dab in the middle of unsettled nations in the Middle East.

Here is an excerpt from her letter to me, and for the kids, cause hopefully they will go to this page and read this entry, I am going to post pictures of some of the amazing structures the witnessed from the ground.

She wrote:
What an interesting place–although it is set on the Gulf in and amidst nations which have difficulty”, it is a sea of “westernized” consumption. I have NEVER in my life seen anything quite like it–a beautiful skyline on a fine sand shoreline–yet more traffic and fine cars than I have ever seen. The population is roughly 20% Emiratee, and the rest are immigrant. It’s insane how much wealth exists. They are building the world’s tallest building, nearby one of the supermalls with an indoor ski slope (which I saw and gawked at mostly), as well as the 7 star hotel (whose name I can’t pronounce but is Al something), which sits out on the Gulf in the water, designed in the shape of a sailboat. Apparently, there are two stories of “underwater” rooms and each room has its own butler, etc. There are a minimum of 8 supermalls in Dubai itself with oil money bringing in names like, Saks etc. There are even a series of islands that have been built offshore in crazy shapes, like Palm trees, where you can buy your own island. . . Wow, overwhelming. Even a visit to the grocery store was a bit overwhelming after leaving our market selection of veggies in Bahir Dar. The types of clothing worn were amazing, and beautiful, many representing both different countries and religions (lots of women in full black garb–burqas, some across the whole face with a veil over the eyes, some with just a head scarf. The men varied in their dress from extreme western to full head to toe white pants and dress, with checkered head cloths, etc. Very odd to see the women trailing behind the men (several wives often to one man).

The Hotel you couldnt pronounce is called “Burj Al Arab”…here is the picture as well as pictures of The World, Palm Jebel and the Ski Resort so you can show everyone that wasn’t there what you guys saw!.

Picture of Burj Al Arab

This building, whose name literally translates to “Tower of the Arabs” and boasts being the tallest building in the world that is used exclusively as a hotel. Construction of this hotel began in 1994 and took 5 years to build finishing its construction in 1999. The hotel stands over 900 feet tall. The architect of this “symbol” was WS Atkins PLC.

Picture of Palm Jebel
Picture of Palm Jebel

This area is currently being developed and upon completion will be one of the worlds 3 largest artificial islands. It was a project created to help with Dubai’s growing tourist industry that will take 100’s of millions of cubic meters of rock and sand to complete. There is still room for development on these islands…

Picture of The World in Dubai
Picture of The World in Dubai

The world is large group of islands that from above will appear to be shaped like the world. It will consist, upon completion in 2008, of over 250 small islands for sale to private investors ranging in size from 5-20 acres each.

Picture of outside of the Indoor Ski Slope in Dubai
Picture of the Indoor Ski Slope
Picture of Dubai Lift Line
Picture of lift line at the Dubai Ski Area

This Ski area smack dab in the middle of the desert is in the Dubai Emerates Mall. It is currently the worlds largest indoor ski slope measuring 1200 feet long (400 meters) using upwards of 600 tons of snow!

Alright kids, enough of the geography and engineering lesson for the day…I hope you all enjoyed all this being in one spot. These really are amazing…

Attack of the Potato Bug

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First off, last night was by far the coldest night in San Diego since the turn of the century. Maybe since last winter, but it was so cold it must have broken records. The low last night was 43 degree’s…come on! I know you, and you don’t think 43 degrees when you think of southern california, you think of convertable porches and lamborghini’s…I think about that David Lee Roth video, Girls Girls Girls…and all those chics had bikinis on so it couldn’t have been 43 degrees(i am a twisted result of a childhood in the 80’s)!

Anyway, it was so cold last night it drove the bugs into our house (although our house has no heat so I don’t know what they were thinking). I woke up looking for a hoody but first noticed that summer was attacked by a potato bug once again! Now, she sleeps in much later than I do so she didn’t tell me personally, but I woke up to this note in the hallway…

Captured Potato Bug

Luckily for all of us, she survived the attach. I imagine she was doing dishes and whipped this bowl over into the hallway like a fearless ninja capturing the vicious potatoe bug…then left the carnage for me to dispose of.

He’s definately still alive, I here him calling in back up..little guys’ probably cold in there…..