Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Well, we came back to the States to take advantage of the air conditioning and get a break from the day-to-day grind of traveling in the van. We spent 2 full weeks here doing just that and it was good. Our plan was to chill and stock up on a few things that we can only really get in the States. What sort of things do I try to bring back in our limited space and weight? Well, peanut butter for one. A one pound jar in Central America can cost US$10. We brought back a 6 pound can for US$12.

DSC04131 This one is 18 oz. for US$6.25.

Another item is parmesan. I assume it would be crazy expensive in C.A. as well, but we haven’t even been able to find any to purchase. In fact, even Pizza Hut doesn’t carry much of it. They either don’t have it or they don’t sit it out. You have to ask for it specifically. Parmesan is important for us. I mean, yes it goes well with pasta, but we really don’t eat that much pasta. I actually use it too flavor my rice and beans, my soups, my salads. It is a great flavor to add to a lot of foods and has become one of my staples. When we left the States, I stocked up with 3 large canisters and that has lasted us until now, but we were on our last canister. So I packed another 3 to come back with us.

DSC04157 Right when we got back to Costa Rica, we finally found some Parmesan. Note the small canister is US$3.20 and the normal size is $7.24-$10.06.

You know those US$1 Knorr (used to be Lipton) packets of dried pasta and rice? Those are actually decently tasty and easy to make up in the van. They make a great lunch. We probably grabbed 30 of those. And a bottle of Western dressing. Western is great with rice, salad, and as a dip for grilled cheese. It is a great sauce, but it is hard enough to find in the States, let alone C.A.

Other than food items, we did have a few more needs. When we were in Belize, Jonathan accidentally dropped our Kindle about 3 feet in its case. Apparently he dropped it just right so that the case didn’t protect it and it broke the screen (no cracks or anything, just couldn’t read half the screen). While you may not think that important, the Kindle is so much more pleasant to read on than a tablet or phone, so we rather missed it. We searched for one in C.A., but we couldn’t ever find one. So we took advantage of the access in the States. We picked up a Kindle Paperwhite 3G for two reasons: 1) so that Jonathan could read with the lights off when I wanted to sleep, and 2) so we could access the internet for free. The newer Kindles have some pretty cool features and works great, but turns out that Amazon has removed the 3G internet browsing options from Kindle Touch 3G on. I was rather disappointed. We did find a work-around, but it is rather inconvenient. But, I guess when you are desperate…

Remember that dormant-volcano, cloud-forest hike? Remember how it left me jealous of Jonathan’s waterproof hiking shoes? Well, my mom took me shopping for some. Ended up with these comfortable outlet specials for US$50.

I also managed to lose my hat somewhere along the route. I think it was laying on the driver’s seat headrest and fell outside one day and we didn’t see it when we drove off. Not having a hat was part of the reason I got a nasty burn when we went volcano boarding. So, I was on the hunt for a new hat. I knew I wouldn’t get one that was quite as perfect as my original hat, but I did find one that was extremely close at the Eddie Bauer Outlet Store.  It was a man’s hat (they didn’t have a woman’s in my size), but it will do the job. Plus, I can hang things from the bowl!

DSC04007 I had fun, but I came out with several casualties when volcano boarding: a bug sting and a sunburn.


Besides needs, we are always working on improving our van life. One thing that I found wanting was the lack of media server. We have an external hard drive that stores all the movies and anime that I like to watch. It is great, don’t get me wrong. But we only have two USB ports on the computer—one of which is for the mouse and the other normally used to get a stronger Wi-Fi signal. When ejected, the USB port often doesn’t recognize the next USB device. Plus, it would be handy to be able to access some files from multiple devices without having to set up a sharing folder and/or another Wi-Fi network. So, I got Jonathan to arrange for a wireless media server for me. To such ends, we did some research and obtained a wireless router that recognizes USB devices. When we get back to the van, he gets to install it for me. We tried to program it to be able to receive a wireless internet signal and broadcast its own internet wireless network, but were unsuccessful (maybe it is the hardware of this router), but it will still be better than what we currently have.

And, of course, we couldn’t come back without a few things to make Chuck happier. We wanted to bring back a new exhaust, but it wasn’t ready in time. While in C.A., Jonathan kept having a hard time finding something to catch his oil. Last time, we stayed at a campground that does ATV tours, so they changed their own oil and we borrowed their pan. But we needed to be more able to do it whenever was convenient for Chuck, not whenever we could find something. So, I searched around found a collapsible tub we could use and store. And, we brought back Chuck’s favorite oil filters as well.


That was mostly it, I think. A few other miscellaneous items like tire valve caps but that is about it. Now we should be set for another 2 months of travelling in C.A.

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