Dive #7 Les Moyades

Today was the nicest days we have had. Cloudless and so warm we were constantly sticky, and now we are both very red. I did put on sunscreen but I guess I should have done it more often than I did. It is not too bad, but it is definitely red.

IMG_20150811_064514Morning in Marseille.

My day started 6:30 am to get ready to go on two adventures. First, get myself to the dive center with the local buses. I am always nervous about doing that, but it worked out fine and I got there on time. The dive center had two companies working there and I went with Aquadomia and the two main people could speak English really well. It felt so nice to speak English here. I was a bit sceptic about this before. How could it only cost 89 euros and include everything? All the rented equipment, including a dive computer, and a boat dive as well. I am surprised and happy! It was a pretty short dive though, but it was still so worth it. The dive site was called Les Moyades and was in the national park (since two years) Calanques. We pretty much just dove around a rock and I really enjoyed the dive. It was only 31 minutes, and I kinda wished we could have been under longer. But we saw some pretty cool stuff like moray, starfishes, sea urchins, a scorpionfish, and lots of schools of Saloma. We saw some other specific fish too, but I am too lazy to get out of the couch and get my dive log, haha!

The surface temperature was apparently cold today, only 17C, and the bottom temperature 15C. I didn’t think it was cold at all, I was actually really warm when we were done. When I was on the boat, waiting to fall backward into the water I was burning up, sitting there in a 6.5mm wetsuit in that hot sun. I was scared of getting a heat stroke. So the “cold” water was welcome. The maximum depth today was 18 meters, that’s the deepest I’ve ever been before. Because of the great visibility, 20m+ it didn’t feel too scary.

We took a very fast boat out there and it was just so nice with the wind. But I was a bit afraid of falling over board, haha! We were back at the dive center around noon, I cleaned my equipment, filled out my log book and thanked the two guys (one was Vincent, but the other had such a French name I honestly don’t know what it was) and went back. It went smooth going back and I even got a couple of French tourist girls asking me for a specific beach. What’s crazy is that I actually knew where it was and told them how to get there and that they had to change bus on the way, haha!

DCIM100GOPROG0010805.Scirpionfish. DCIM100GOPROG0010720. DCIM100GOPROG0010726. DCIM100GOPROG0010734. DCIM100GOPROG0010775.Cool blue stuff.DCIM100GOPROG0010784. DCIM100GOPROG0010804. Highlighted scorpionfish.DCIM100GOPROG0020829. DCIM100GOPROG0020844. DCIM100GOPROG0020835. Snapshot - 102 Moray in the crevice.Snapshot - 123 Sea urchins.Snapshot - 108 Snapshot - 114 Snapshot - 117 DCIM100GOPROG0050973. DCIM100GOPROG0050998. DCIM100GOPROG0051029. DCIM100GOPROGOPR1052. The rock we dove around.DCIM100GOPROGOPR1057. DCIM100GOPROGOPR1087.Turtle island to the right.

I met up with Axel in the park behind the building we live in. Sat there for a while and just chilled. Then we went up to the apartment and got ready for the excursion to Calanques National Parc. We went on a tourist boat and it was okay. The tour guide only spoke French which was not very fun, and there were too many people on the boat. But the scenery was pretty amazing! But the only thing I could think about was how badly I wanted to jump in the water. It was so blue and it was so hot under the gazing sun. I got burned, but this might have been my last chance of getting any sun, so why not. It is not too bad, but my shorts gave me a pretty bad new tanline…

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The whole boat tour was 3.5 hours and we were back in the harbor at 7pm. Went straight to dinner and I had the best pasta carbonara I have ever had. Then we went to the same park by the building and watched the sunset. It was a very beautiful sunset.

IMG_20150811_185000 I almost feel bad for taking this selfie in the mirror thing down in old port…IMG_20150811_190628 The square where we had dinner today.hdr_00027_0hdr_00030_0

Then back up and I looked through the videos from the dive. They weren’t as good as I hoped. The blue color is not even close to what it was in real life. And the pictures are kinda blurry. Well well, it’s at least something.

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Old San Juan tour

This post used to contain pictures, but due to new storage limitations from WordPress, I had to fix the problem and decided to create a new blog that works as an archive for all the posts from my two years in California. This full post can be found here.

This morning I slept until 10 am, a total of 10 hours. Awesome! I chilled for another two hours and then walked a mile to the pickup spot for today’s tour. It was a hot day today, so it was nice to sit in the chilly bus for a while. Today’s tour was of Old San Juan.

First stop: Museo de Las Americas. We spent an hour there, but I was only there for a little bit more than 30 minutes, it wasn’t that interesting. I saw three exhibitions, one of 22 ethnicities who survived Europpean conquests and still lives today in The Americas. Then I saw one of Christian figurine carvings (all in Spanish so I didn’t understand anything). Then the third was about art in The Americas. I wanted to see the history of Puerto Rico, but it was also only in Spanish, so I didn’t even bother.

Museo de Las Americas Museo de Las Americas

The rest of the time we had over there I was outside checking on of the forts out. There are two here in San Juan, and I looked at Castillo San Felipe Del Morro (built 1539). On the grass field outside a lot of people flew kites and I even saw an iguana graze (is that the right word for eating the grass on the ground?) on the field. I got pretty close and got my first good picture of one of them. Cool!

Castillo San Felipe del Morro Castillo San Felipe del Morro Iguana

Second stop: Castillo San Cristobal. The biggest fort in San Juan. Built in 1783 and has never experienced an attack. It was a pretty cool place. We got a 20 minute tour from the guide and then we could walk around by ourselves. We saw a prison cell where Dutch prisoners had drawn ships on the walls. We walked through tunnels, and saw the pretty view over Old San Juan and the ocean.

Castillo San Cristobal Castillo San Cristobal Castillo San Cristobal Castillo San Cristobal Castillo San Cristobal

Third stop: 2 hours alone in Old San Juan. If I knew this I probably wouldn’t have gone there myself the other day. Or I probably would have. It was nice not to have a time limit to find something. Now instead I walked around for a bit, then sat down on a square, had a mofongo for dinner and then a Toffee Nut Latte from Starbucks and read for 40 minutes. It was also nice. So far my stomach is actually feeling okay after the coffee. Normally my stomach gets real upset and bloated, but I think I am good. We will see later tonight if anything happens.

Old San Juan Mofongo in Old San Juan

At 6pm we head back. I walked in the dark from the Hilton Hotel to my hostel. It was a little bit scary, but it was only 7pm. Nothing happened and I am safe and sound now.

I am not sure what I should do now, maybe just go to bed and read? Or watch an episode of The Flash? I have such a huge crush on Grant Gustin right now.  He is the definition of a handsome man! He is wow, just very very much WOW!

Grant-gustin-1360391870

Flamenco Beach

This post used to contain pictures, but due to new storage limitations from WordPress, I had to fix the problem and decided to create a new blog that works as an archive for all the posts from my two years in California. This full post can be found here.

Wow, this day has been incredible in many ways. Flamenco Beach definitely lived up to its expectations. It’s not google beautiful, since all the pictures there shows a beach cleaned from seaweed, but it was still amazingly beautiful, the sand was fine and white. The water had the amazing turquoise color of the Caribbean sea. Just perfect!

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This Christmas Day started with a bus trip to Fajardo from San Juan. It took about an hour. We checked in and then went aboard the boat. It was a speed catamaran boat, which made the whole trip not as enjoyable as if it would have been a sailing catamaran. I thought it would be nice to go there earlier anyway, but I soon regretted that thought. The 50 minutes it took to get to our first stop was horrible! Just horrible. I don’t know when this happened, when my stomach can’t handle motion anymore. It was very very bumpy because we went against the big waves. And I got really nauseous. Eventually my throat got tighter and I really had to throw up. The nice guys leading the trip gave me a bucket and a piece of napkin with some alcohol on it to smell. After my gagging (but nothing came up fortunately), I smelled that paper for a while and I was fine again. That was not fun.

Our first stop was by a snorkeling spot. We were told it was the Caribbean’s best spot and I believed it. It was pretty beautiful. But, nothing can ever compare to Egypt’s Red Sea. Lots of different colored “leaves”, brains, fingers, and all the other things. Fish also of course. I did not see too many, but that was probably because there were a lot of people in the water at the same time. Saw a few very pretty ones. No turtles though. Apparently they were on the other side of Culebra island where the current was too strong to swim in. I wasn’t disappointed, I have seen turtles. But it would be really cool to swim with them one time.

IMG_20141225_105100DCIM100GOPROGOPR0333. DCIM100GOPROGOPR0372. DCIM100GOPROGOPR0377. DCIM100GOPROGOPR0378. DCIM100GOPROGOPR0388. DCIM100GOPROGOPR0393. DCIM100GOPROGOPR0392.

Then there was a lunch buffet with a divine chicken salad and coleslaw. Free drinks as well. I didn’t go in the water again to snorkel because it was a bit windy and not too warm. Only 20 minutes later we were on our way to Flamenco Beach which was on another side of the island we snorkeled by. It was breathtaking when we came up to it, saw the beautiful water and white beach. Not too many palm trees, they grew more on DR, here it is something else. I think it is some kind of Acacia.

We had to swim to the beach from the boat, so no towels and nothing. I brought my snorkel and mask and my GoPro. It does not take as good pictures as my phone, but I didn’t wanna bring it. First I went to the two old tanks at the farthest end of the beach with a guy I met on the boat. He was from New York and was here with his cousins. The tanks were left there after Flamenco Beach was a US military testing beach or something. They had been painted though, pretty cool.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0431. DCIM100GOPROGOPR0433. DCIM100GOPROGOPR0435. DCIM100GOPROGOPR0438.

When we came back to where we landed I just sat down where the water rolled in on the beautiful sand. Sat there for a while, filling up my bikini with sand, and then it was time to go. I was sad to go (and I dreaded the trip back to PR main island). The way back was better than the way there since we were going with the waves. It was almost pleasant.

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The bus trip back to San Juan was not fun. I was dropped off last, and because of heavy traffic it took more than two hours when it should have taken 50 minutes normally. And the AC was too cold and I was tired, not a nice ride.

Back at the hostel I took a shower (not nearly as warm as I would have wanted it – it made me miss DR), and then went with my new roomie Stephanie, to a Thai-Indian place a few blocks away from here. I had two appetizers and it was good, at least one of them.

Now I am extremely tired, I have sorted all my photos better in DropBox and tomorrow morning I will start uploading to Facebook. I have a few hours to kill before my last tour (and activity) here on Puerto Rico, a tour of Old San Juan and the fort. I can’t believe I am off to Jamaica after that. And I also can’t believe that I’ve been away from home for two weeks now and only have 10 more days before going back.

Another thing that I thought was really cool about today was all the iguanas I saw on the way to and from Fajardo. When I was driving myself, I didn’t have time to look closer to the trees on the side of the roads. But today I noticed that they were full of iguanas. Okay, that was an exaggeration, but I saw countless of iguanas in different trees. Really cool! There was also a guy next to the road with a goat on a leash. Totally casual.

 

In all, I can definitely recommend East Island Excursion’s Catamaran Trip to Culebra Island. The guys working there were so friendly and nice and helpful. One of them was from Nashville, Tennessee, but he moved to PR nine years ago. He is the fourth person I meet from TN, and three of the four look the same, tall and blonde. Maybe I should move there?

I need to go to bed now, I can’t keep my eyes open. All this sun, gupping on waves, drinks, has made me exhausted. I hope everyone else had a great Christmas Day! Mine couldn’t have been better (okay, I could have seen turtles and not get seasick, but those are minor problems)! Merry Christmas!

Rainforest, rum distillery, Old San Juan

This post used to contain pictures, but due to new storage limitations from WordPress, I had to fix the problem and decided to create a new blog that works as an archive for all the posts from my two years in California. This full post can be found here.

Today was s a busy day. I got a lot of fun things done. My day started with a trip to El Yunque, the rainforest on the east side of this island. I walked to another hotel where the tourbus would pick me up. It only took 20 minutes and with the GPS it wasn’t that hard.

The big van stopped at three more hotels to pick up guests and then about 35 minutes to the rainforest. It was rainy and not too warm. I wasn’t freezing, but I had a few goosebumps most of the day. And because of the cold, I didn’t go into the waterfall pool, otherwise I totally would have done it!

We saw a lot of waterfalls, dense rainforest, a tree frog, lizards, bamboo, and more. It was definitely a cool experience to be in a real rainforest. We didn’t hike much at all. Just mostly drove around to vistas, some walking and climbing, but nothing too hard. It was an easy day. But I was extremely tired when I got back to the hostel, so I actually took an hour nap before going to my next stop for the day.

Juan Diego Juan Diego waterfall pools.Juan Diego Juan Diego waterfalls pools.Sierra palm tree Sierra palm treeEl Yunque El Yunque Yokahu Tower Yokahu Tower built in the 60’s for an amazing view over the forest.Yokahu Tower On top of Yokahu Tower.Yokahu Tower Yokahu Tower Yokahu Tower Yokahu Tower La Coca Falls La Coca Falls.La Coca Falls

I drove there in the heavy traffic, but I was in a better mood today and didn’t get too angry when I drove the wrong way a few times. I got there and directly managed to catch a tour. $13 for the tour, and a complimentary glass and drink was included and so was a lot of rum tasting. So worth it! Not worth driving though. I had a few sips of rum and a virgin pina colada afterward. First on the tour we drove around the area in a train and the guide pointed out the distillery and all the other buildings. Then we went to the visitor center where we first watched a historic movie about the Bacardi company. Then into a room where an old distillery was built. We could smell different types of rum and learned the process of making rum. It was interesting, but too much fact for me to remember now. I do remember though that it started in 1862 in Cuba, and then moved mainly to USA, and then back to the Caribbean when alcohol was banned. It opened up on Puerto Rico in the mid 20th century and the San Juan Bacardi distillery is today the world’s biggest. I also remember that it was the founders wife who suggested the bat logo because the first building they used were full of bats.

The next room was a bar where a bartender taught us how to mix the three basic rum drinks and the history around them. The first one, rum and coke, was back in the days called a Cuba Libre (=for a free Cuba) because the military cheered that way. It is just rum (preferably not a white rum), coke and lime. The second one, daiquiri, was invented when a lot of people ordered the same drink all the time, but there was no name for it, so one guy named it after the city he was in (or something like that). The drink is also very easy to mix, two teaspoons of sugar, white rum, ice, and lime juice. And then there are a lot of variations with flavors and stuff. The third drink was mojito and I definitely learned something about that drink today. You are not supposed to use the muddle on the mint leaves, only on the lime. So first, two teaspoons of sugar on ~5 slices of lime, muddle it, then pour white rum (don’t remember the amounts) and lime juice over, take a handful of mint leaves and clap your hands once or twice with the leaves in between and then put them in the drink. Some ice on that and it is done. The last thing we did was to try Bacardi 8, 8 years aged rum. It was strong, but actually not too bad. I only took half the sample, since I was driving (I usually have a zero alcohol and driving policy, but I thought if there was one time to break it, it would be at the tour of the world’s biggest rum distillery. Then in the shop I tried a tiny sip on Bacardi Coconut, and Rock Coconut which was a fusion between melon and coconut. Both were good, but strong. It is hard alcohol. And then at the bar where the tour started I got a pina colada with no rum and had it as a smoothie in the car while I was driving to Old San Juan.

Casa Bacardi That artsy thing (where you bought the tickets, and where the bar was) is supposed to look like a flying bat. It is very much designed.Casa Bacardi Casa Bacardi

Old San Juan was cute, I liked it. It is very close to the hostel and there were a lot of souvenir shops, which is what I was looking for. I bought my bracelet and the magnet and I actually couldn’t resist buying a shot glass too. I wasn’t planning on it, but when I saw it, I just couldn’t resist, handmade with an iguana on it.

Old San JuanCalle Fortaleza in Old San Juan.

On my way out of there I had to drive through the busiest street of Old San Juan, but I survived and it wasn’t too bad.

I got back, hung out with my roommates for a while (they are leaving tomorrow morning unfortunately), we ate pizza, and talked about everything. They are really cool!

Now, I am finishing this up, and will probably go to sleep directly after. This humid heat is making me exhausted all the time. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, which is hard for me to believe. I will spend it on a beach called Mar Chiquita, then return the car and watch the last 9 episodes of the Swedish Christmas Calendar I haven’t watched yet. I will probably stream “Kalle Anka” (Donald Duck, the Swedish Christmas TV tradition) as well. I don’t feel too sad about spending another Christmas away from home actually. It is a nice holiday, but not too important to me any longer. I guess it will be when I have my own family in the future though.

San Juan International HostelThis is what the main room in the hostel looks like.

Saona Island

This post used to contain pictures, but due to new storage limitations from WordPress, I had to fix the problem and decided to create a new blog that works as an archive for all the posts from my two years in California. This full post can be found here.

What an amazing day this has been. Except for my stupid stomach that is still very much upset. But for some nice reason it stayed calm during most of the day so I could enjoy it all.

At 7 am this morning the tour bus picked me up. We picked up a lot more people and went to the southeast corner of the island where we took a speedboat out to a natural pond out in the ocean. The water was shallow, crystal clear, and had the beautiful turquoise color. AND, the coolest part was that there were huge starfishes. I played a little with my GoPro, but there was not much to see since it was just sand and water as long as you could see.

We had a photographer among us and he took a lot of pictures. Lots of silly pictures with the starfishes. We stayed there for about 40 minutes. I was in the water most of the time because it was so windy above water and I didn’t wanna freeze. It was very cloudy today and actually not that warm. This trip could have been so perfect with a clear blue sky. But it was still great.

Next on the agenda was Saona Island where we stayed for 3 hours. Apparently one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies was filmed there. It is definitely a “deserted paradise island”. Tons of tourists there today though.

First we had free lunch and free drinks, then I started talking to two German guys, Mattias and Arik, who were nice. We hung out for the rest of the tour. We hung out by the beautiful water for a while, and then I got tired and went to lie down for a bit. Then the photographer came along and wanted me to pretend to be a model again. I am so not photogenic so they didn’t turn out that well. If I were those pictures would have been amazing. I mostly blame that I didn’t wear sunglasses…

At 3pm we were done and hopped on a catamaran and sailed the way back to shore. It took 1.5 hours and there were free drinks (rum and coke) and party music all the time. It was so great! I loved it. It was a bit scary at first to sit on the net above the water, but I got used to it and could relax the rest of the way.

On the bus back to the hotel I talked to a guy from Puerto Rico and he told me that I should get a car while I am there, and he also told me about a few places that I should visit. I am really excited to go there on Saturday.

When I came back to the hotel, I first took a shower, then headed over to the neighbor hotel (which is the same pretty much) Barceló Bávaro Palace (I am staying at Barceló Bávaro Beach) to buy something for my stomach (let’s cross all of our fingers that it works, I am getting tired of this). That hotel is huuuuge. There is a shopping center and countless of buildings with hotel rooms. I took the shuttle train there and back, on the way back I had to go to the other parts of the mega big hotel complex. In total it took 25 minutes to go around it all on that train. It is like a city, all of it.

I had a small dinner, where one of the waiters asked for my number. I really learned today that Hispanic people love white people. On the bus to the boat we watched a lot of music videos, in ALL of them, the guy was singing and adoring a white woman. I wonder why.

Last night I finally watched The Maze Runner, and even if it was a good movie, it was so different from the book.  The storyline was pretty much the same, but all the details were changed, I don’t understand why. The book makes more sense.

I am very very tired now, so I will probably just go to sleep, without reading. Tomorrow is my last full day here on Dominican Republic. I hope the weather will be nice.

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