Monthly Archives: February 2007

Zentraveler takes dental vacation in Costa Rica!

Have you been to your friendly dentist lately? Buckle up you may be in for the ride of a lifetime. I went to my local dentist to have my teeth cleaned. After one hour in the chair and me with my mouth propped open I could see my friendly dentist shooting digitial snaps of all my teeth and being displayed across a large screen. The dental assistant deep cleaned one fourth of my mouth to the tune of $350.00. The money was never discussed with me. On the way out as I presented my plastic visa card I was told the dentist would call me at home that night to discuss my teeth. She also handed me a packet of glossies which I immediately displayed on the outside of my refrigerator for quick reference.

When the phone rang the dentist said he was so impressed with my mouth that he carried my digital photos home with him so he could study them in depth. To demonstrate that I am not exactly a neophyte in the dental chair the story goes that I bailed out of a three story window and landed on my baby bottle making all of my front teeth come in sideways under the gum line. Warp speed to dental surgery having a Chinese dentist work pro-bona and wearing braces from the time I was in the eight grade until senior in college. I had laughing gas, novacane, gum relaxers and lord knows what kind of pliers the dentist used every time he made an adjustment. It hurt!

Things were sailing along not too bad until a new dentist was doing a root canal and actually used a blow torch on some new material and then pounded the molten rubber into the hole. I have news for you. If you see your dentist coming with a blowtorch get the hell out of the chair and run for your life. The blowtorch tooth had to be extracted by a speciality dentist who said he could save the tooth. Five hours later after almost tearing my jaw apart he said he was sorry but he couldn’t save the tooth. Ka Ching! That little experiment cost me $1800.00 on one tooth that is now missing.

Upon going to my second deep cleaning on the second one fourth of my mouth the procedure went pretty smooth until the Dentist himself showed up to explain a few things that needed immediate dental attention. It all seemed a bit overwhelming talking about overbites and underbites and alignment etc; but I was glad to pay my second payment of $350.00 and get on with the show. He mentioned on the way out his dental assistant would go over the dental plan and payment plan and that I needed to sign off on the plan so he could fit me in his schedule. He also mentioned he was leaving for a trip to New Zealand and wouldn’t be in the office for a month. It’s very important to sign and witness the dental plan so he can get started was the last words I heard as I stumbled out of the Dentist’s office. I needed a stiff drink as I was still numb and was heading into dental denial.

I think shock therapy would be a breeze compared to this dentist’s interest in extracting my wallet of $38,000 and of course this was just the basics to get my mouth back to a chewable state. Thinking this dentist was just nuts I carried my mouth to two other dentists who gave me a bid of $31,000 and $43,000 all detailed out in a fancy dental package. That was it. I hit the wall— I was considering pulling all of my teeth with a set of long-nosed electrical pliers and putting in those multi-colored gummy bears as temporary teeth.

Then it hit me! When I was Tarpon fishing is Costa Rica I heard stories from some old xpats that dentistry in Costa Rica was very reasonable and they were pleased with the results.
On my first google search I turned up The Meza Dental Care website located in San Jose, Costa Rica. I e-mailed them asking if they could do the dental work I had outlined in my Dental plan from the states. To my greatest surprise they e-mailed a professional e-mail stating that they could do all of the services and would be glad to assist me with any of the details while visiting Costa Rica including lodging if I so desired.

The following day I received a phone call from Dr. Alberto Meza the Director of Meza Dental Care who explained what I had to do which was basically show up in San Jose and they would do the rest. When I enquired about payment he indicated I could pay for the services with visa card or travelers cheques. Having friends and family want to commit you just for opting to use a dentist in a third world country didn’t exactly help with the pre- dental jitters. The only thing I knew for sure was If I saw him with a blowtorch I was out of there.

It was pouring down rain when I arrived in San Jose. The pilot indicated we actually flew to Panama and back tracked because of heavy weather. As part of the dental courtesy they pick you up at the airport and deliver you direct to your hotel. They hold up a sign with a tooth on it and have your name printed on the sign. Off you go, with the transportation assistant, a beautiful girl who drives you in her new car with a tooth painted on the side of the car. She reminded me the plane was a couple of hours late and maybe I wanted to check in to my hotel or you could go directly to the dentist’s office and get started. I looked at the clock it was Saturday afternoon at exactly 3:00 p.m. when I sat down in the Dentist chair.

Without exaggerating The Dentists Office was the most state of the art modern facility I had ever seen. In fact it was so impressive I thought someone, someday will use the Dentist’s Office as a movie scene. There you were on the rooftop of San Jose looking over a vast part of the city with trees right up to the windows and a bevy of beautiful colorful birds chirping away. The dentist reclines you back one more notch and your off to dream land. The entire dentist office was a combination of all white and blue with upbeat streaming latin music piped into every room.

The dentist welcomed me and told me he was going to give me an exam and write up an estimate for the work. In less than a half hour I had the entire proposal in a computerized spread sheet itemized in a printout blue brochure. The total cost was $8040 less a 5% discount for cash which came to $7638 with a few minor adjustments. I gave him one third down and he asked me If I had time for him to do a deep cleaning on all of my teeth. It would be less than three hours. He wanted to have that done on Saturday so he could go to work on Monday morning. I looked at the clock as the Dentist worked non-stop and only took one five minute break for me to go to the bathroom. It was exactly 6:00 p.m. when he finished the cleaning procedure which was performed by the Dentist himself— not some dental assistant. I was extremely impressed! The transportation dental girl delivered me to my hotel and waived goodbye. “I’ll see you bright and early Monday morning at 7:45 as I will be picking you up.”

Being on a strict budget I elected to stay at the Backpacker’s Hostel which set me back about $7.00 to $10.00 per night . It had a swimming pool, movie entertainment, and food court. I took 21 days to have the dental work completed and also planned to visit some Costa Rican points of interest for my reward part of the vacation.

Monday morning the dental assistant picked me up at my hotel and took me directly to a lab where they took dental ex-rays of all of my teeth which were ready in 10 minutes. From there we proceeded to the Dentist’s office where he began to remove all of my old silver fillings, put in new material (approx. 12) did several root canals, six full porcelain crowns, composite whitening of all my teeth and arranged dental surgery for 3 tooth implants. By Thursday of that week I was finished and told to come back in about a week to have my permanent crowns fitted. The transportation dental assistant picked me up and took me back to my hotel for every appointment.

Aside from the fact that I looked a bit strange at the Hostel after my dental surgery the entire experience was nearly pain free and I can’t say enough about the professionalism demonstrated through every step. I was ready for the fun part of my dental vacation. I took a five hour bus trip to the town of Fortuna at the base of a magnificent volcano.

The town of Fortuna reminds me of Steamboat Springs, Colorado back in 1968 with it’s laid back style yet a sense of a new frontier. Situated only five minutes from the hot springs spa with it beautiful gardens, and pools set at different temperatures is about as close to heaven as you can get. They give you a map showing the different temperatures of each pool including a cold pool so you can hop from a hot pool into a cold pool and watch the world go by. The restaurants served excellent Costa Rican food with many fresh fish dishes complete with fresh fruits and Costa Rican coffee.

While staying in Fortuna I wanted to have some lab work done and I was tested for almost everything known to man including Malaria, Lime disease, Yellow Fever plus thirty things that I helped choose with the lab-technician who couldn’t speak a word of english and me with my limited spanish. Within 24 hours he had the results printed out at a grand cost of $64.00. While on a roll I had a body massage at the massage school in Fortuna and was ready for my next leg. At breakfast the following morning I asked what the thundering noise was in the middle of the night and was told it was just the volcano erupting. It never carries on like that in modern times, but in the past it wiped out entire villages. Hasta Luego Amigo— I’m out of here!

After catching a ride by car we traveled through the mountains of Costa Rica on the back roads where we witnessed everything from large bird nests, to magnificent orchids and scenery that was out of this world. You felt like you were driving on the edge of the world as we proceeded through switchbacks and small mountain towns.

This is the form of travel I enjoy the most— looking at the signs, waiting for an oxcart to cross the road and wandering how they could build such beautiful churches on the side of a mountain and just watching the people go by. From there I went to a small town about one and half hours from Costa Rica known for its coffee plantations and stayed in a hotel run by a Frenchman who served the best coffee and deserts a man could envision. After being chased into a sausage shop by a pack of wild dogs I decided it was time to head for the Pacific Coast where the bus arrived eight hours late due to heavy downpours and road-washouts. I had made a reservation by e-mail and only had a name of a surf shop that had cabinas but couldn’t wake anyone up. Looking at my watch it was 4:00 a.m. Taking the lead from some surfing locals I walked a mile in the dark only to be greeted by a new bunch of dogs who didn’t wake anyone up but myself. I hightailed it back to town where someone near the beach ran a hostel and threw me the key. The room had no sheets, no blankets, no water, no electricity— but what the hell at least I was safe from the dogs. I said my prayers as I drifted off to sleep.

The following morning I hooked up with Chris the surfer from The Tico Adventure Lodge. After a tico breakfast right on the beach I settled into my brand new tree house room overlooking the canopy in the town of Samara. The cost of the room because it was off season was $20.00 a night. It was all natural woods and tile with a front balcony overlooking the canopy and a landscaped swimming pool. Swinging on my hammock from my front porch and listening to the Howler Monkeys I felt as if I died and went to heaven.

The following morning I carried my lab results to the local pharmacy who introduced me to a tico doctor who did his training in Miami. He interpreted all of the lab results and sent me to the clinic which was one hour by bus for an sonogram. I brought back the results in a sealed enevelope on the bus that same afternoon.

After the doctor appointment the following day he invited me to have a vegetarian lunch in the back half of his house which he prepared. During lunch he explained he moved back to this small town so he could surf and fish. “By the way I have the afternoon off so if you would like to go fishing with me we will leave in fifteen minutes.” The total cost of three doctor visits plus the sonogram was under $100.00.

So there you have it if you want to live on the wild side and visit with friendly people who aren’t out to rob you blind—- maybe it’s time to schedule a medical vacation. Costa Rica is becoming an international hotspot for plastic surgery, dentistry, and medical procedures.

Quote: “My tastes are simple I like only the best.”


THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: “Kemo Sabe”, meaning an all knowing one, is actually a mispronunciation by Native American of the Spanish phrase, Quien lo Sabe, meaning one who knows.” ——

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus krefftii)
The northern hairy-nosed wombat is classified as a member of the order Marsupialia (Marsupials) and is a member of the family Vombatidae. It is classified as a critically endangered species due to an estimated extent of occurrence that is less than 100 km², a severely fragmented population, a projected decline in quality of habitat, and an estimated population of less than 50 mature individuals. The northern hairy-nosed wombat can be found in Australia. ——

Zentraveler says keep traveling until you arrive!

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Zentraveler uncovers secrets of the Dead Sea!

Sometimes you have to look around you to hit the mother-lode. A simple word uttered in the movie Mrs. Robinson opened up an entire industry. “PLASTICS!” Bill Gates dropped out of college to help develop the computer and we are currently fighting wars over the oil patch— not to mention nanotechnology, robotics and bio-diesel. The keyboard and mouse are already obsolete, touch technology is taking its place. Not so fast don’t rush out and get all new technology. Talk technology has arrived. This is pretty good a pleasant sounding voice giving you instructions on how to navigate. Who would have thunk it! A man listening to the voice of a woman on how to find the right direction. We are evolving faster than the words can fly across the internet. That’s crazy fast warp speed. Hang on!

Liars and criminals take note and especially large business and politicians— we have technology that not only tells you when you are lying but also tells you what you are thinking. Case in point. You are at the singles bar scene and just deliver your best line. “Your prettier than a new set of snow tires.” She reads your real mind and delivers you a haymaker knocking you off your stool. Does anyone have a need for some useless criminal defense attorneys. Maybe they could pick turnips in the fields or do pro bona highway garbage pickup. What’s all this nonsense about technology? Keep reading I may need a partner to harvest the goodies.

What if I told you I know of the richest deposits in the world that would make all of our other resources look like chump change. Would you be interested?

Warp speed to the rich mineral deposits buried miles and miles below the Dead Sea.
There are enough minerals and riches buried at 57.6 miles below the Dead Sea to purchase all of the real estate on this Earth and feed, clothe, and house every living soul. Might as well include the animals too -some don’t want houses and cages and matched environments and the Richard Simmons diet spin a meal. Can you imagine the commission on this mother-lode. Move over Citybank we are gearing up.

What could be easier— even cave-persons could bore a test hole of 57.6 miles if they put their minds to it. A bit of research shows it may not be quite so easy. We may need an EASY BUTTON or a partner with deep pockets. Richard Branson would have to turn his reward booty over if we hit pay-dirt. What are we waiting for let’s start digging.

This quote from a recent Bill Bryson book.

In the 1960s…
Earth scientists decided to drill through the Earth’s crust down to the Mohorovicic discontinuity (where upper mantle begins), and take a sample.

“The project became known as the Mohole and it was pretty well disastrous. The hope was to lower a drill through 14,400 feet (4.5 km) of Pacific Ocean water off through relatively thin crustal rock. Drilling from a ship in open waters is, in the words of one oceanographer, “like trying to drill a hole in the sidewalks of New York from top the Empire state Building using a strand of spaghetti.” Every attempt ended in failure. The deepest they penetrated was only about 600 feet (200 m). The Mohole became known as No Hole. In 1966, exasperated with ever-rising costs and no results, Congress killed the project.

Four years later, Soviet scientists decided to try their luck on dry land. They chose a spot on Russia’s Kola peninsula, near the Finnish border, and set to work with the hope of drilling to fifteen kilometers. The work proved harder then expected, but the Soviets were commendingly persistent. When at last they gave up, nineteen years later, they had drilled to a depth of 12262 meters, or about 7.8 miles. … the Kola hole had not cut even one-third of the way through the crust, we can hardly claim to have conquered the interior.”

Fear not nay-sayers I have used laser glasses and ran the test which shows an entire ocean of oil, a mountain of gold, a silver and turquoise mesa, diamonds and green emeralds bigger than boulders plus a hidden bonanza.

So if anyone wants to save this planet now is your chance. Start digging!

Disclaimer: Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, Syria, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, China, Egypt, Sweden, Jamaica and Amoco oil all have a claim that they individually own all of the mineral rights. This looks like a politicians dream and here come the attorneys. I think I’ll pass. I ‘m going fishing instead— or else you will find me floating belly up on the Dead Sea— if you get my drift.

QUOTE: My Jesus Mercy
Alphonse Capone
(Mt. Carmel Cemetery; Chicago, Illinois) ——

What was the largest creature ever to walk the earth? The answer is certainly a dinosaur, and certainly a sauropod. Depending on how accurate current estimates are, a sauropod might even be the largest creature ever to have existed, perhaps beating the Blue Whale’s record of 103 feet and weight of +175 tons. ——

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: HAWAIIAN MONK SEAL They are Endangered only 500 to fifteen hundred of the species left on this Earth.

“The Hawaiian monk seal has a streamlined body to aid in swimming. Their front and back limbs are flipper-like. The front flippers are smaller than the back flippers. The front flippers have five digits. The hind flippers cannot be turned forward, so they must wiggle when on land. In the water, they propel themselves by moving the hind flippers and use their front flippers as rudders. They are dark gray on their back side and silvery gray on their stomachs.

Males are approximately seven feet long and weigh about 400 pounds. Female Hawaiian monk seals are larger than males, up to 7.5 feet long and weigh up to 600 pounds.”

ZENTRAVELER SAYS stop and smell the flowers then discover the motherlode. It’s right in front of you.

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Zentraveler discovers Royal Monkey Empire in Honduras!

Intrigued by the stories told, the alleged wildness of the place and the many groups of Indigenous Indians with their separate languages I headed toward the Mosquito region of Honduras.(a wilderness paradise east of Trujillo and running toward Nicaragua)My research showed this region was the largest tract of virgin rainforest in the Northern Hemisphere. I had a vague idea of my self designed trip into one of the wildest regions of the Americas. Landing at San Pedro Sula I headed overland on secondary buses. It was good to be back on the road again. Miles and miles of royal palms, little hamlets with their Coco-Cola signs plastered everywhere and the Marlboro Man—- as if we need anymore reminders.

At least where I am headed I won’t be inundated with advertising signs. Man somedays I just want to say enough is enough already— leave the beauty. Arriving at the town of Trujillo with a statue of Oliver North reminding us Americans of just one more screwed up warring effort. I checked into a local bar and told some xpats I was heading into the Mosquito region on a self-imposed exploratory trip. After the rum started to take hold every last person advised against going in alone. Recounting stories of a female archeologist who was recently be-headed and was told flat out “Muy Peligroso Senor” why don’t you visit the Bay Islands and go diving or bird-watching like a normal tourist?”

That’s all I needed to hear! I was psyched— a place no-one one should go alone. Taking the bus from Trujillo I headed south to the town of Puerto Lempira where I loaded up on supplies. From Puerto Lempira I headed toward Perla which I was told was the last town of any consequence on the Mosquito Coast. It started to pour buckets of rain and I began to doubt the sanity of this trip all together. You couldn’t see ten feet in front of you. So much for designer trips —I think I just designed the trip from hell.

While being holed up in Perla on the coast I was told the bus-driver would be there tomorrow morning at exactly five a.m. By the third day I was getting a mild case of cabin fever and wanted to move on. “No problema senor! Buses haven’t been running. All of the roads are washed out— maybe manana. It’s the rainy season you never know what Mother Nature has in store.” Slap, Slap, as I killed yet another mosquito! Big Mosquitos in Perla!

Tomorrow couldn’t come soon enough. I heard the bus blowing it’s horn as it flew into town at exactly 4:20. Thank God I was awake and packed. I ran down to the corner with an Olympic effort — just in time to flag the bus down as it was pulling out of town.

Tropical jungle everywhere as we pierced our way through the mountainous terrain. I sat directly behind the bus-driver and could see the pavement or dirt road directly under my feet. It started to rain crazy fast as we maneuvered our way through some mangrove swamps. The bus-driver stopped the bus over a rather deep ditch. He jumped out the side door and hit a gator over the head with a tire iron— throwing the gator between the bus-drivers seat and my feet where he continued to kick, and thrash, and make snarling noises.

The road narrowed with the ditches getting deeper and the mud more menacing as we headed along the coast. We came upon a rusty barbed-wire fence right in the middle of the road stretched from tree to tree serving as posts. A rather worm-faced man with a machine-gun appeared from nowhere, hopped on the bus and made a few spot luggage checks. He couldn’t get my Swiss army pack untied so he just moved on. The bus-driver had to reach in his wallet and give the man a stack of money.

As we were pulling out a man dressed in black with all black combat boots and a green duffle bag hoped on the bus and took the last remaining seat next to me. Traveling through the blistery rain he began to assemble a machine gun which was in pieces in his duffle bag.
After saying my hellos the rather stern looking all serious man with a large black mustache asked me what I was doing here in the tropical jungle of Honduras. I told him I was heading to the Mosquito region where I was searching for the Indigenous Indians and their trail of underwater petroglyphs. Just like the info I received from the last bar he leaned over and said: “Very Peligroso Senor!” Darkness came across the dense Honduran jungle. The bus came to a grinding halt in the middle of nowhere. He whispered “This is my jumping off point— I’m heading into the mountains to track bandidos.”

The driver got out and installed chains on both sets of dual wheels on the back of the bus plus the two front wheels. Our red bus was now a chocolate brown as we submarined ourselves through the next series of water hazards. As we went down submerged above the floor boards in muddy water our bus-driver yelled: “Everyone out!” as the engine made a clanking sound and then conked out with one more last thrust. Pitch dark and raining like hell, I finally was able to find the bus-driver who told me to walk east for about three miles until I could hear the ocean and then walk south approximately one mile to the small unnamed native hut fishing village.

Walking through the jungle with my boy-scout flashlight in the pouring driving rain I was beginning to think maybe I went to far this time. I was getting flashbacks of my high-school days and could hear the warnings my parents often gave me. Starting down the beach in the driving rain I thought maybe this was it. Could anyone survive these tropical rains and what if I just got washed away — who would know! Another hour on the beach in the drenching rain I spotted a fisherman’s hut just off the beach with a plume of smoke coming from the thatched roof. I knocked on the door to be greeted by a short black Caribbean man who invited me in for the night. He told me point blank that I shouldn’t be wandering around in the jungle by myself because it was “Muy Peligroso!” Are you kidding me! He fixed me up with a hot cup of tea and placed me in front of the fire. He lit up a 30 inch ivory pipe and began to tell jungle stories as I drifted off to sleep. I was told later he was a Garifuna which means fun-loving sea loving folks located all along the Mosquito Coast. I couldn’t have had a nicer host… I was very grateful indeed. I often wandered If somone knocked on our door would we do the same.

The following morning he shook me and yelled: “Here comes da truck running the beach. Get moving mon- if you run fast enough you can catch a ride all the way down beach.” With the bright sun and all blue sky juxtaposed against the mountainous jungle and flying along the beach, I felt as if everything was coming together. Thank you Jesus! The truck came to a roaring stop with the truck-driver announcing: “This is the end of the line. This is as far south as a vehicle can go. You have to work your way into the Mosquito region by taking a series of dugout canoes and walking. “Buena Surete Senor!”

Yelling thank you very much I walked several hundred yards and came to an opening. Here I was able to hire a motor-driven canoe called a TUK TUK which took me approximately twelve miles through the jungle on a small tributary. At the small fisherman village I had lunch with six men, all of whom were packing pistolas stuck in the front of their pants, with the revolver handles sticking out in plain sight. Another man entered and enquired If I wanted a place to stay for the night. Since he wasn’t packing I thought I might as well bed down— I could already see a dark series of rain clouds were heading our way.

His daughter and wife began grinding the corn and preparing the evening meal while he poured us each a cup of jungle juice. He lauged heartily by telling me we were having green Iguana for dinner– he hoped I was hungry. He indicated he was of German decent and had settled here 60 years ago. I carried my boy-scout flashlight in my right side of my pants and If you were astute enough it might look like a pistol. At least that’s what I thought. On my second cup of jungle juice he point blank asked me: “If I had a pistola?” I told him I did! He asked what I did with the pistola and I pointed my finger right between his eyes and told him I shoot people.

I turned in that night sorrounded by pavo silvestres only to hear a pounding on my door at about 2:00 A.M. It was the ole German who told me we had to leave immediately for the mountains. As we made our way through a maze of jungle paths he explained there was a rogue jaguar eating all of his cattle and he was treed just last week for 24 hours. He visually demonstrated how he escaped and showed me his scratches as he fled for his life.

What seemed like an eternity suddenly turned into an adventure of a lifetime as the ole German took me into a limestone crevice which opened into a white city of marble. Impeccable buildings made of hand carved marble mimicked the imagery of a lost civilization. Just then four large all white monkeys dressed in flowing red satin robes embellished with gold thread came out of nowhere and greeted us formally. Your Royal Pectus, Your Royal Zeus, Your Royal Herman and me I am the king. “What brings you here? I hope you aren’t a missionary, reporter, scientist, archeologist, type trying to steal our secrets. Tell him my German friend what happens if anyone gets to close. He made a throat cutting gesture so I would get the message.

Clap, Clap, Earth Servants please serve out guests the special tea. Looking like the crash test dummies the all white Earth Servants mysteriously showed up with steaming hot tea. Bowing— they handed us bright red tea cups with green wax embossed Chinese lettering and disappeared into the ether.

Show em the Doom Room Pectus! Hundreds of skeletons all labeled and in perfect shape imbedded into marble with an alcohol process making them appear as if they were neon purple liquid lluminaries. You could still see green blood running through their veins and arteries. “A nuclear expression of plutonium” one of them mummured. Each Earth Body was numbered and labeled with their Misdemeanor on Society. “Would you like to see the Hydraulics Room”? Through a rainbow labyrinth we wound around going through a series of revolving doors until we reached the elevator where we used centrifugal force and shot down a three mile all white tunnel— brightly lighted with about 4 billion candle-lights of power.

Historian Monkey as he was called snapped his fingers while the doors flung open into The Lost City of Pacificus. Real humans mixed with Royal Animals and Gods milled around naked and drank cups of mystical tea. He pointed out there very svelte figures and mentioned they were mostly hydroponic and didn’t eat anything. They only drank liquids which accounted for their longevity. I asked King White Monkey if anyone ever made it out of here alive and he pointed his staff at the ole German. “Would you like to stay for the Jaguar Transformation Ceremony he enquired? You see it’s the ole German’s turn— he just getting too dam nosey if you know what I mean.”

Historian Monkey opened up the Jade Room with a mountain of elaborate carvings representing all of the major civilizations on Earth. He explained the intricate carvings were carved by laser precision light with no tools. He opened the Gold Room for a glance at most of the glitter in the World entombed here for safe keeping. He quickly spun through the Emerald and Diamonds Rooms and stopped briefly at the Universe (digitally lighted) Mapping Room which he said came in handy for space travel. At the Leisure Room they had a beautiful swimming pool with monkeys swimming laps and playing chess with Jade pieces. Pulling a red lever next to the PEACE LORDS ROOM by mistake we shot out of the system as if being shot from a cannon.

Once out of the labyrinth I looked at my German friend and said I hope you said goodbye to your wife and daughter. Out of nowhere a large Jaguar cat leaped from an overhanging tree more than 30 feet– taking the German to the ground. All I could hear him say was: “Shoot senor shoot!”

Back on the airplane in San Pedro Sula I knew that was the final Transformation Ceremony and I didn’t want any parts of that ritual– I have places to go and places to see. Adios Amigos!

PostScript: I have tried to find the Royal White Monkeys and The Lost Civilization of Pacificus several times and haven’t even turned up one clue. Of course down in the fishing village everyone knows of the legend and a few even say they could guide me there when the time has come. So forget fancy burial plots and cremation schemes I know where I’m going to perform the ultimate transformation. Can anyone keep a secret I have a map. Of course If I told anyone and showed anyone I would be history. If anyone has seen the Mosquito Coast movie with Harrison Ford you simply hike about one mile north of the ice factory and turn west at the Missionary Plantation. You make your way along a treacherous ravine then you proceed approximately 21.5 miles through mountainous jungle terrain and look for the hidden crevice. It’s so simple to find even a cave-person could find it. Buena Surete and did I mention it is Muy Peligroso!

QUOTE: ” I believe there is nothing we can’t achieve if we put our minds to it.”

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW:The Fierce Snake or Inland Taipan has the most toxic venom of any snake. Maximum yield recorded (for one bite) is 110mg. That would probably be enough to kill over 100 people or 250,000 mice.—-

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: The forests of Boreno! This makes the chainsaw masacre look like a cartoon compared to what’s happening in Boreno.

Zentraveler says quit monkeying around and at least save this Planet.

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Zentraveler craves wolfberries!

It is also known as Chinese Wolfberry, Duke of Argyll’s Tea Tree, or Matrimony Vine. The name Tibetan goji berry is in common use in the health food market for berries from this plant.

Wolfberries, and Lycium root bark (the latter called dìgǔpí; 地骨皮; in Chinese have long
played important roles in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), where they are believed to enhance immune system function, improve eyesight, protect the liver, boost sperm production, and improve circulation, among other effects. In TCM terms, wolfberries are sweet in taste and neutral in nature; they act on the liver, lung, and kidney channels and enrich yin. They can be eaten raw, consumed as juice or wine, brewed into a tea, or prepared as a tincture. The berries are also used in traditional Korean medicine, traditional Japanese medicine, and traditional Tibetan medicine. The leaves are also sometimes used as a tea. —– Wikipedia

Medicinal Uses

Chinese Wolfberry can be used to nourish a weak body, improve vision, and promote longevity. There are many legends associated with Chinese Wolfberry. A famous Chinese physician, Li Shizhen (1518 – 1593) who lived during the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644 A.D.), compiled the Great Compendium of Herbs (or Compendium of Materia Medica), which stated, “The Bao Shou herb store recorded an elixir that promotes longevity. A bizarre barefooted man named Zhang passed the formula of this elixir to an elderly person at Yi Shi county, who followed the recipe and lived for over a hundred years. The elderly man could walk extremely fast as if he was flying. His gray hair turned black again. His aged teeth were replaced with new ones and he was very virile in the bedroom. The herb is mellow and can be taken often to eliminate excessive heat in the body, and will also improve vision.” —–

Since I was born a feral child and ran swiftly along the riverbanks I couldn’t wait to be re-connected to the wolf. That fresh wolf milk is something else! What I liked most was riding through the woods at break neck speeds rolling over and clinching the underbelly as we out ran the hounds in hot pursuit. We would fly sometimes mostly on a large male albino and weave in and out of the early civilizations when that sort of thing was in vogue. Mayan and early Indian cultures are heavily steeped in the mystical wolf along with the legends of Romulus and Remus of Italy.

So before you start howling at the moon better load up on wolfberries. They look like strawberries and are so good for you. This is something you may want to add to your list of exceptional herbs. If wolves like them they must be good!

QUOTE: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” —–Unknown

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: The Blarney Stone is a stone set in the wall of the Blarney Castle tower in the Irish village of Blarney. Kissing the stone is supposed to bring the kisser the gift of persuasive eloquence (blarney.) —–

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: Meeps Island Flying Frogs – what a story check it out!
American Museum of Natural History

Zentraveler says eat more wolfberries and fool the longevity tables.

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Zentraveler takes up kite flying!

“Imagine a sky filled with Dragons, Dragon flies, Butterflies, Cranes, and myriad’s of other whimsical creations.”

Every spring around mid to late April folks from all over the world head to Weifang, China to the World’s most spectacular International Kite Festival. More than 300,000 spectators and participants show up to try their skill and enjoy the weeks festivities.

“Kites originated in China. It was the Chinese philosopher of more than 2,000 years ago, who “spent three years and successfully made a hawk out of wood, which was broken after one day’s flight. “This wooden “hawk” made by Mo Zi inspired by the flying hawk in the sky was the first kite of the world as well as of China. Birds were worshiped and loved by man, and kites were made in imitation of birds. This reveals man’s longing for a better life. The Wright brothers used a crude form of a box kite in their early developmental stages of the airplane. Kites have been used to send love messages, send signals in war and as pure mythical entertainment throughout the ages.

Mo Zi passed his undertaking of kite-making on to his disciple Gongshu Ban who made split bamboo clappers into thin strips, polished them, curved them through heating over a fire and shaped them into the form of a magpie. And this “wooden magpie” could be flown in the air for three days. It is recorded in the book Great Documents that “Gongshu Ban once made a wooden hawk to pry into the citadel of the State of Song.” adapted from the writings of Wang Xiaoyu and printed at Shandong Friendship Publishing House.

History tells us that folks have been flying kites at Weifang, China since A.D. 1368. Your never too old or too young to get involved in kite flying. You can get one for as little as a dollar or you can build your own or purchase an elaborate whistle kite direct from China.
Folks from all walks of life are using kite flying for a form of exercise. It’s just a matter of time before Extreme Kite Flying will be an Olympic Sport.

Want to perform a test? If you tune into the media all you hear and see is doom and gloom. When spring rolls around simply head out to a park or a beach or a big grassy field and begin kite flying. If you think we don’t live in a magical world then simply watch the expressions of the small children as they run alongside watching the kite dive and twist. This is magic my friend– you can’t run that on the newswire. Too sterile! Get involved! Take a kid kite-flying or come along for the view— it’s mind expanding!

So if someone says to you “Go fly a Kite!” simply get up from your desk and say thank you very much I think I will. If you have gymnastic skills— this is the time to include the triple backwards somersault as you exit your workspace.

If you are applying for a job in the Banking Industry or are trying to make Senior Attorney in a prestigious law firm you may want to skip “kite flying” as your only interest and activity. They are looking for that good solid football profile, However, with today’s new world of creative hiring, I wouldn’t be surprised if Google and the Chinese gamers wouldn’t snap you up on that skill alone. They can teach a monkey to work a computer, but they seem to have other things on their mind when it comes to kite flying.

Wanting to make a great impression at the Weifang Spring Kite Festival, I headed to my favorite spiritualist (Earth name Mrs Rossi) who specializes in channeling with the great spirits and didn’t say a word. She went into a trance and started shaking her head. With her eyes closed she looked in great pain. Minutes later she reported that my seven American Indian guides were pissed at me and I was to be a Cigar Store Indian and simply observe life as I prepare to enter another dimension. “What’s this China thing— then she began laughing and said they have given you permission to fly the Great Thunderbird of the Sky—- You are heading for the flight of your life. CHOP CHOP!

No strings attached!

QUOTE: “If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.”
Jim Rohn quotes—–

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: “Delphic oracle was ancient glue-sniffer is the conclusion of scientists – writing in this month’s Scientific American – who have found that the oracle chamber was built over a geological fault from which seeped ethane and ethylene gases. As a result, the oracle, the temple maiden who uttered Delphi’s prophecies, was probably in a permanent narcotic state. In other words, the oracle’s utterings, upon which so much of ancient Greek life depended, were not the words of Apollo, the god of prophecy, but the babblings of a drunk or glue-sniffer.”— I hope they don’t look to close at Anna Nicole Smith’s past— I think it was those boozing, drug popping attorneys, but what do I know— I’m high on blogging!

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle They are the smallest of sea turtles and not very many. Turtle Soup is not an option. Write that with indelible ink on the inside of your left hand. Good— now get saving!

Zentraveler says go fly a kite . The more string you let out the closer you are!

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Zentraveler escapes giant octopus in Mexican waters.

Who doesn’t like to travel around and find new sights, sounds and things of interest. I left on the directo bus from Cancun to Merida and headed toward the unknown. After changing buses in Merida I traveled several hours to the quaint fisherman town of Celestun located directly on the Gulf of Mexico.

Upon arriving I took a room facing the sea, got my self settled and headed up the beach. A few friendly Mexicans waived me in and asked If I wanted some camerones.(shrimp) I bought three cervezas before the stories started flying about the mighty octopus. Displaying a dragon looking tattoo with the fisherman’s cross, Pedro announced his family came from a long line of Octopus fishermans. By the time the second round of cervezas hit the table they began to show their scars from the fights down under. One rather tall and skinny native lifted up his shirt to show me his battle marks and did a slow spin demonstrating how he escaped from a giant octopus just last week.

As we headed back to town Pedro asked me if I would like to go along and watch them catch octopus. What time do we leave I asked. ” Five in the morning. Meet us right here on the beach and we will walk over to the fishing wharf just minutes away.”

After a good nights sleep with the ocean breezes and lapping waves I was excited— like you get anytime you go on a new adventure. The sun came up fast and was already a hot bright red. The sky was a twinge of purple and red glancing off the aqua green water. The octopus boats have long bamboo poles similar to outriggers extending out some thirty feet. They look like ancient Phoenician boats from a bygone area— painted bright reds and greens to ward off the evil spirits.

Red in the morning sailors take warning. Oh well it’s so calm this morning maybe this doesn’t apply in this part of the World. The lady octopus boat named “La Pescada”seemed to sneak out of the harbor as we could hear the grown of the engine and watched the crew getting ready for the day’s event. Pedro looked a little hung over. El Captain said: “Pedro will be your instructor for today’s extravaganza. Buena Surete Senor!” (Good luck)

Explaining some of their fishing techniques Pedro pointed out today they were using a vertical mainline with single/multiple lures on some and baited hooks and weight on others. Lowered at various depths near the bottom to include drifting for octopus. They also were using traditional handlines tied off the stern and placed at various increments along the boats rail. Armed to the teeth I almost pittied the wary octopus.

A fisherman held the cord of the lure in one hand or used the bamboo poles and made it dance in the water, until the octopus took hold of the artificial or live bait, then the fisherman pulled the cord up swiftly, grabbed the octopus and pulled it against the side of the boat, imbedding the lure’s hook securely, so the octopus could be hauled aboard.

Lines down they boated several small octopus. For some reason the fishing just stopped and we were dead in the water. The captain yelled: “Full steam ahead were going toward the outer bank— maybe we can run into Los Gigantes today.” Immediately after dropping anchor one of the fisherman brought up a large octopus which was putting up quite a struggle. It appeared this was one octopus that didn’t want any part of coming aboard. With three fisherman hand lining him onto the boat, two of them threw their bodies on top when he flopped aboard just to contain him. He had the look in his eyes as if– you guys aren’t serious. I think I’ll send an ink message down-under. Just wait until my family finds out. In the forward hold he went— tentacles and all.

A brisk wind came up with the sky turning jet black. It began to drizzle with sheets of rain blowing everywhere. Minutes later the bamboo pole jerked and the captain yelled Grande octopus it’s ole Purple-haze Diablo himself– I’m sure of it! Pancho took my arm and said: “Jump overboard he’s not getting away this time.” Swimming in a cross current of whirling shrimp and bait fish I could see why Diablo was hanging out here. I struggled to bring him toward the boat in fact I don’t think I even moved him. He was huge and was definitely in control. He wrapped just one tentacle around my waist and started maneuvering downward. I immediately gave the underwater cut sign to my Mexican fishing mate. The octopus made an agressive turn toward me and began to squeeze me to death. I thought this only happened with giant snakes. Looking through the murky waters I could see a bigger octopus heading in our direction. He could have turned over the boat if he choose too. Ay Caramba!

Just at that point the third fisherman-diver emerged with a giant pole and wrangled him loose. I shot up to the boat like a jep propelled astronaut and thanked the gods that I was saved one more time. It’s all about the funeral write-up. “Tourista caught by giant octopus never to be seen again.” You might expect something like this from Steve Irwin “The Croc Man” from Australia but not from a tourist dude who didn’t have a clue. Later over a few more cervezas the brave mexican octopus fisherman volunteered that octopus fishing was muy peligroso (very dangerous) and that every one of their families had tales to back it up– not to mention a few well marked white crosses just over the hill. Dios Mio!

Th town of Celestun is situated right on the beach and is home to over 20,000 pink flamingoes. Aside from the weekend travels from Merida, the bird sanctuary and wildlife refuge provide most of the tourist trade. This is a wading bird’s paraiso! There are three or four small hotels with a price range of about $20.00. to $30.00. You could also make special arrangements and rent a room from a native. They have several excellent guided nature sight seeing tours where you can see flocks of wading birds and a smorgasbord of plant and sea-life. The restaurants are small and quaint and all serve excellent seafood. You can have your choice of shrimp, fresh catch of the day, octopus, squid and lobster.

So there you have it! If you want a good seafood dinner, want to trust your luck with a giangic octopus or just want to hangout and dance with a flock of pink flamingoes then hop on the bus Gus— you’ll be glad you did. Adios Amigos I’m out of here. Don’t you just hate it when you are at a really good sushi bar and you are served fresh octopus with those large suction cups looking at you. Down the hatch matey! Must be good for you— The Japanese, Greeks and Italians can’t get enough octopus. Save the Chilean Sea Bass–EAT MORE OCTOPUS.

“To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also.”


THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: The phrase ‘going bananas’ was first recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary, and is linked to the fruit’s ‘comic’ connections with monkeys.
Quote from

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: The American Eagle! If George Bush and his cronies have it their way it’s bulldozer time in the nesting fields. Bye Bye American Eagle.

Zentraveler says fly like an Eagle so you have a clearer view and try to stay above the frey!

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Zentraveler muses over Zen fable!

It goes something like this a Zen master was sent to a cave in the mountains and was told to practice meditation on one thing. This one thing was anger. After meditating for fifteen years straight he was beginning to get the hang of it. Then one day the Zen master made a surprise visit to the cave hermit’s abode high in the mountains of Tibet.

The cave hermit politely bowed to the Zen master and they proceeded to drink a cup of tea which the cave hermit was mighty grateful. They talked about the weather and how he was progressing on his meditation practices. He agreed that tackling anger was one of the most difficult Zen lessons, but now he was a master himself— as he proudly danced around and said: “Go ahead try to anger me. You will see nothing could get in the way of my peaceful state of mind.”

The Zen master called him a no-good rotten snake to no avail. He just laughed and said: “you could shoot arrows at me and it wouldn’t bother me. I am literally bulletproof and words don’t bother me —they are only words. I have learned that most difficult and valuable lesson. Thank you Master. ”

As the Zenmaster was about to leave he mentioned you know we really have it made. Zen followers always keep us in good food, warm clothes and blankets and all we do is sit around– it’s basically unfair don’t you think? Sweat started pouring from the cave hermit as he yelled: “Why did you come here— my life was perfect until you showed up.” He drew his sword and shouted: “I think I’m going to kill you.” With sword fully drawn he started to weep and realized who the enemy was.
Adapted from the writings of Pema Chodron

“I’m going to do something that even the devil wouldn’t do- leave you alone!”

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW:” Aztec emperor Montezuma drank 50 golden goblets of hot chocolate every day. It was thick, dyed red and flavored with chili peppers.” Corsinet.Com

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: Your mind! You can always use it later on; however it may be attached to a skink, a slug, a sloth or a pot bellied pig.

Zentraveler is walking down the middle of the tracks. I hope it leads somewhere!

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Zentraveler eats dirt!

If you want to be healthy better begin to eat more dirt. No wonder were half sick most of the time were too dam clean. Spending all of our time tied to our computers and walking around in air-conditioned quarters— it’s no wonder we are food for fodder for the bugs. We live in environments that are the perfect breeding ground for the smallest and nastiest bacteria known to man They thrive on anti-bacteria soaps and are magnetically attracted to hygienic clean hospitals. The law of opposites is taking over!

Maybe you can’t remember back that far— but as a kid everything from mud-pies, to mud puddles were fair game. If your hands weren’t dirty you weren’t a kid. It’s that simple!

“Too many children, today and in the last fifty years, have been denied this much-needed exposure to soil microorganisms. In other words. we’re living in too clean an environment.” Patient Heal Thyself by Jordan S. Rubin

A lot of the african traditional huts are made from a combination of dung and mud.
Adobe mud makes some of the best houses in the World. Eat yourself out of house and home might be a stretch but at least it’s a starting point. We have excellent mud wrestling at some of the motorcycle events, mud desserts, mud slides, dirt haulers, dirt to grow things, piles of dirt, dirt bikes, dirty skateboarding, dirty riding, slide in the dirt during baseball games, dirt farmers and dirt balls.

Mules and horses love to roll in the dirt. Dirty ole men are always trying to get a roll in the dirt, and birds like to dust themselves with dirt. Elephants can’t enough of a good dirt bath. Beauty salons cover your body and face with some of the most exotic dirt on this Earth. Mother Earth knows quite a bit about dirt also. Don’t you like the smell of freshly plowed dirt! So before you go out and start digging maybe you should goggle yourself around the web and discover an over the counter dirt supplement or keep reading.

Before you take too many showers and baths just remember in Boston in the 1800’s you had to have a Doctor’s prescription in order to take a bath. My grandfather cut that article out and always preached to his wife the virtues of staying dirty.

So maybe the television star Monk has it all wrong by wiping all the door knobs, and not shaking hands. What he needs is a good dirt bath– followed by a dirt bike ride in the back country and a good healthy portion of dirt on his oatmeal. Things that may change will be it’s good to be a dirty cop, a dirty priest, a dirty politician and all of the dirt bags worldwide will finally have their ten minutes of fame.

You have the dirt Navy, worm dirt, paydirt, dishing the dirt, down home Georgia white dirt and Mississippi mud. Africa has long used the practice of mixing and using dirt in their meals to get important minerals. This trend spilled over from the slave trade in the South and there are still folks who eat clay especially pregnant women. Scientists, researchers, and nutritionists are beginning to pay attention to dirt.

“It’s just Kaopectate,” Maddox said. “The old drunks, they used to get drunk and put it [clay] in water and drink it, then go to work. The old-timers and people in Louisiana and Mississippi — they just love to eat that Mississippi mud.” ABC NEWS -health

Researchers have discovered that people who grow up around dirt have less allergies than city dwellers and stronger immune systems. ” We are, after all. part of Nature. William C Bryce, M.D., PH.D of Huntington Beach, California, notes: “Just as HSO’s destroy molds, yeasts, fungi, and viruses in the soil of the organic garden, they perform the same function with pathological organisms present in the gut, which greatly enhances the body’s immune system.

We have to eat dirt once in a while. So if you have a range of mystery diseases or are just not feeling up to power you may want to check out Jordan S. Rubins excellent book on Patient Heal Thyself and try his product called Primal Defense soil organisms which you can purchase at a health food store.

What’s for dinner honey? You won’t believe it, but I canceled the squid lasagna that you like so much. We are going to start with a medley of Swedish Dirt Balls, thin spinach and artichoke spaghetti, sprinkled with prime South African dirt, and end with a brandy glazed mud pie. I’ll see you honey I just remembered it’s poker night with the boys down at Toni’s bar. Enjoy your dirt dinner honey! What’s come over you lately? Just look at the house it looks like a pig stye in here and what’s that disgusting looking brown paste all over your face? I’m out of here already! Toni makes a Chicago style pizza that’s to die for. Don’t wait up honey I’ll probably be very very late.

Eat more dirt it’s good for you!!!!

“Heat shimmers in the air like galloping horses, dust floats like the morning mist, and living creatures are blown about in the sky.”


THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: A camel can drink 25 gallons of water in 20 minutes.

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: GOLD It could come in handy someday.

Zentraveler says it’s a long journey-or not.

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Zentraveler wittnesses Jesus bus driving skills in Central America !

Touching down at dark in Tegucigalpa, Honduras gives you just enough adrenalin buzz to get your wits about you. You would think at least the airport would have electricity. The best idea under these circumstances is to share a taxi with fellow travelers in the same boat and score a budget hotel before it’s lights out permanently. Oh I forgot half of Honduras is on some kind of a generator restrictor program. We will give you electric when we feel like it. Sounds like a government with issues! At least the hotel clerk was polite as he guided me back a long stairway with his large flashlight and opened the double locked door to my no windows, no air conditioned room. Isn’t this why we travel for the adventure? Could be!

After working through the night sweats and being awakened by the street generators, I headed to a beautiful White Colonial hotel where I had a wonderful mixed real fruit breakfast with homemade bread and jellies, a large glass of fresh pineapple and orange juice and several cups of Central American Java. There is something about Central American coffee— maybe it’s because it is always served piping hot in white china cups or water glasses with smiling waiters and waitresses or because they use cheesecloth to strain the milk, or because they keep the best coffee beans for themselves. That’s good Java!!

Seasoned travelers skip this part. If you are traveling on a budget zero in on the most expensive hotel in any city you are traveling in Central or South America and find budget lodging within three blocks. Hangout at the expensive hotels, have a cup of Java, and always use their bathroom facilities— you will be glad you did. Also a great place to meet other fellow travelers. To break the ice pull out your tourist maps or your computer printouts and spread them out over your table as you plan your day or the rest of your life. You never know! This could be your last ride. Might consider a pocket computer language converter. I have never used one but I saw a fellow traveler from Denmark had one and he thought it was a handy item to have along. I will check one out for my next trip. Hope it converts Burmese or to be Atlas correct Myanmarese and can spell and talk intelligently.

The smell of the buses exhaust system almost went directly into my brain as we roared out of Tegucigalpa on what the conductor said was “Directo”. Not only was it Directo it stopped every time anyone needed picked up until there wasn’t anymore standing room left and the luggage compartment on top of the bus was full. Do not take the last seat on the bus since this is where the engine is imbedded. Too hot!– also your hinny hits bottom on every bump pounding against bare metal. Depending on your thriller skills you may also skip the seat directly behind the bus driver and the one across the aisle unless you need the leg room and don’t care if you live or die. Because whether you know it not— all you need for a extreme bus race in Central America is another bus traveling the same direction you are and the conductor yelling something in coded spanish to the other conductor and your off for the ride of a lifetime.

I have seen drivers so conservatively dressed (with a white pressed shirt and a black string tie) and a picture of their family and Jesus mounted above the steering wheel race side by side for miles around curves driving the traffic coming the other direction onto the berm or into the fields. Some governments have tried to slow these bus-a-maniacs down by installing governors which won’t allow them to exceed 65 miles per hour. Others have tried speed bumps. I think they need video cameras and tazer guns. I have actually offered to pay a nice bonus like a crisp $5.00 bill if the driver would just slow down a touch. “DON’T TELL ME YOU ARE LIKE SOME THEM QUEEZY AMERICAN WOMEN I get from time to time.” You haven’t lived until you see your bus driver grapple the huge steering wheel, hit the brakes and broadslide the bus through a series of mountain turns that would defy gravity.

On the road again— I know we started out a little bumpy but man look at this countryside.
Royal Palms as far as the eye can see and miles and miles of blue sky and nothing but wide open spaces. Hold on— we are grinding the gears down to an abrupt stop at a small village. Look at those pavo silvestres (turkeys) strutting around like they don’t have a care in the world. In my hometown they would be dinner. There’s a vaquero (cowboy) riding alongside the road. Look at all of the people walking– where do think they are going? I don’t know but hats off too walking. Central Americans walk everywhere!

The windows open down from the top and the vendors hand you everything from red kool aid in plastic bags to stuff wrapped in hot leaves with long sticks. If you missed the outside vendors not to worry— now you will have a continuous line of women and children selling everything from coke a cola to religious cards and pots full of good smelling food.

As if on a mission the bus rolls out with the second tier of vendors— vending every kind of a dish you can hide in your apron or in a pot. I’ll have one of those as the cute, petite, grandma shows me some sort of a snack and politely says: “muchas gracias senor” as you part with a thin dime. Forget trying to learn spanish in a stuffy classroom. Hop on a bus anywhere in Central America and start hablan (speaking) away espanol.

Since changing all that funny money could tax even Allen Greenspan I have developed a Central American exchange formula that works every time. It costs approximately 30 cents an hour to travel. As you plan your trip and I have taken many 8 hour trips— that’s just a small warm-up. At the end of the trip simply hand the conductor 8 x .30 = $2.40 score your hotel for about $5.00 add a few bananas and pastries and there you have it. With a roll-up poncho and backpack you could travel 313 days by bus for a cost of $751.00 and don’t forget to rest on the sabbath. By adding in your bus travel, food and hammock rentals you could easily live a year for $1500.00. They do!!!! Need extra money! Comes in handy to have relatives working in the states. They send billions of dollars a year to their families.
Offer to move to Central America if your relatives will chip in. It pays to be hip!

Leaving Merida, Mexico on the night bus I inspected the bus drivers mannerisms, and looked at the conductors facial expressions looking for signs. Everything seemed perfect I had the seat directly behind the conductor and was traveling on a brand new Mercedes bus. We had a full house. The gears were so smooth as he pulled out of the bus station I couldn’t have felt better. Heck, I might even nod off with such a good bus crew and a spanking brand new Mercedes bus. Greyhounds motto “Leave the driving to us”. Tilt your seat back and relax— this is travel as it should be.

The bright moon soon began to play hide and seek as we traveled at a rather brisk speed going down the mountain as our night driver shifted into fifth gear overdrive. Patches of fog began to appear from time to time. Looking around every passenger was already asleep and snoring to kingdom come. Talk about “THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD” Are you kidding me! This ace bus driver is now going 97 mile an hour on what looks like too narrow of a road to have traffic going both ways. Boy was I wrong, as another Mercedes bus came flying right toward us blowing the air horn at least four times as if this was some kind of religious passage. The only one that came to mind was my funeral. At least I could afford one more glance as I was scared stiff. Talk about praying. I could already see it in the morning papers “Bus traveling at high speed runs into oxcart and skids off the road killing all of the passengers.” Hell the press won’t even pick this up in the states. What’s another bus load of Mexicans?

Get a grip doesn’t this bus driver have a family and such. Able to turn my head now. Prayers at the height as I see the odometer cross the 100 miles per hour threshold.
Hell I have to piss like a racehorse —shouldn’t have drunken that last cup of coffee just before boarding. On my final prayer I’m jiggling and asking the Good Lord to slow this thing down. I’m so sensitive to sounds and everything. I hope this isn’t a cruel joke, but I think I hear the bus driver touching the air brakes. Oh my God he is slowing down, in fact the bus is coming to a crawl shifting downward all the time. Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus! As I suddenly realized we only slowed down for one of the government imposed speed bumps. The bus driver started revving and double clutching the rpms right back up in record speed. It’s now beginning to rain and drizzle. Oh great, it wasn’t bad enough to drive like your in the Daytona 500, but now we have terrible weather conditions to boot as we fly through the clouds at breakneck speeds and can’t see a dam thing.

We went through a series of these speed bumps with the weather closing in on us. Our driver stopped the bus at the last speed bump and had the conductor get a large ladder and wipe the crud from the windshield. At least I was still alive. Roaring through the mountainous fog and looking down at the speedometer pegging at over 100 I knew then that Jesus was definitely our co-pilot. You would think as busy as he was he wouldn’t have time to take up bus driving. Just then the bus came to an abrupt halt. Senor bus driver wheeled the Chariot from Heaven into a planned bus stop and announced this was the midway point to Chetumal. (The last free zone city before bus crossing into Belize) “Be back on the bus in 45 minutes.” Under my breathe– yea right buddy in your dreams.

The driving rain and fog were relentless. I picked up my small backpack and went inside the warm Mexican restaurant– whereby I handed my bus ticket to the driver and told him this was my jumping off point. I told the driver what a wonderful driver he was and thanked him very much. He just pointed up to the sky and said he had very little to do with it! I believe it! In fact I may have witnessed the first bus on divine auto-pilot. How do you account for the fact that while he was combing his hair and looking in the mirror the wheel turned expertly through a series of curves. DIVINE INTERVENTION!

When the sun eventually broke through the clouds I headed south on a converted yellow school bus. The rather portly Mexican bus driver with the traditional black beaded Mexican sombrero drove so nice I just wanted to kiss him. On second thought maybe not! I was so dam glad to be looking at the sights again I think I would have done almost anything. One thing I won’t due is travel through the clouds at breakneck speeds again or will I. I guess it depends on my mode of travel and who’s really driving.

Forget going to Moscow (The most expensive city in Europe) where a pair of men’s shoes costs $2000.00. Hop on a bus and get off the beaten path in Central America. The people are normally generous to a point. Colorful indigenous Indians with amazing handicrafts. You can see and photograph Mayan Ruins and discover things you didn’t know. You could track a shy inhabitant of the cloud forest, The magnificent Quetzal, (pharamachrus mocinno) the elusive and sacred bird of the Mayans, try out a new language at one of the many language schools with built in lodging and adventure trips and learn to read facial mannerisms of the Central American bus drivers. It’s so important it may determine if you are in for a thrill of a lifetime or not. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me to see this skill exposed on Oprah.

Note: For those less adventurous Central America has some wonderful, modern buses with direct routes, pull down screens for watching mexican soaps, and curtains to cover your windows not to mention some of the freezing air-conditioning systems. Also take special note what tapes and videos the conductor hands the driver. By pulling down the blinds you miss all of the wonderful colorful sights and miss the smells of the country and might even miss holding a pavo silvestre while your seat-mate excuses her-self at the next rest-stop.

But oh how touristy you look, bused fom one ecolodge to another and honestly do you think you are really off the path when you are in a brand new Landrover and pull over to look at a few birds sitting on the telephone lines. I witnessed that very scenario in Costa Rica. I couldn’t make something like that up. Zentraveler says get the smells, ride on top of the bus, get lost, you might be surprised at what’s around the next bend.

“The truth is out there —or is it!”
— Don’t know

Things you may not know: History tell us that folks have been flying kites at Weifang,
China since A.D. 1368
Things you may want to save: Water! The aquifers are being depleted faster than you can
Zentraveler says it’ all in zee travel.

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Zentraveler parachutes Peruvian Jungle for Cat’s Claw Tea!

Una de Gato or Cat’s Claw tea is derived from the interior of the Peruvian Jungles. Cat’s Claw tea has long been a staple of the indigenous Indians for a variety of medicinal healings. If you don’t have the time to fly to Peru, hire an airplane, parachute into the jungle and bag your own bark— you could always go to the health-food store or purchase it on line. According to local legend the herbal tea from the Amazon rainforest has many health benefits- including using the extract to heal wounds. A natural herbalist explained to me that Cat’s Claw tea was an excellent tea to boost the immune system and had some long term benefits for fighting some extra nasty bugs.

Cat’s Claw Tea tastes pretty good in it’s own right or you can mix it with other herbal teas if you desire. Old Folklore suggests if you drink too many cups of Cat’s Claw tea you might start dreaming of goldfish. So like anything else— use moderation.

“Cat’s Claw Bark is a general stamina-enhancing tonic from South America. It enhances immunity, increasing immunoglobin counts and helps protect the cells from damage. This valuable herb regulates normal blood pressure, balances cholesterol, relaxes blood vessel walls and opens up peripheral circulation making it helpful for the skin and joints. A relaxing herb, it balances the heart rate. It supports the health of the digestive tract lining and relieves symptoms of coughs, sneezing and congestion. Cat’s claw benefits PMS, and its diuretic effect balances water in the body.”

Sit back, pour yourself a cup of Cat’s Claw tea and let nature take it’s course.
Don’t you just hate it when your parachute gets stuck in the trees and you are imbedded in one of the largest rain-forests in the world. I guess It would depend on your perspective and your your survival skills. I already see a river and have plans to build a raft. I just hope these native folks are friendly. Not to worry I brought one dozen Ipods and a few Mp3 players for trade and goodwill. What’s that zinging noise I hear in the trees? I’m out of here. Things could be worse— I at least have a backpack full of Delicious Cat’s Claw tea

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: ” For each person in Australia there are two sheep and over 16 rabbits, the latter introduced in 1859 by one enterprising man who brought 24 wild rabbits from England in an effort to remind him of home.”
Convict Creations. Com

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: ICE! So the Polar Bears have a chance!

Zentraveler says have a spot of tea ole boy, high tea in the afternoon for the ladies, and why not treat yourself to an elaborate Japanese Tea Ceremony. While we are on teas drink magnums of Herbal Green Teas and work in a few cups of CAT’S CLAW TEA along the way! If you are not careful you will be so healthy you will be transformed into a Jaguar cat.

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