A short border crossing report for those overlanders venturing away from the Pan-American highway. The crossing between Honduras and Guatemala at El Florido is fairly well-organized, and it has an actual concrete building to boot! Not many other travelers, just transport truck drivers vying for the attention of the Customs agents. Naturally, we got by using our apologetic Canadian nature and our elbows when needed.
We’re heading to Copán in northwest Honduras to see one of the great cities of Mayan civilization! History abounds in this area and as we roll through, the smooth Honduran roads are a treat for Bruno. The entire country is filled with lush, green mountains and the endless rolling hills consistently offer beautiful vistas.
How many ways do we love you, Honduras? And how many bleeping ways are there to translate the word “waterfall” in Spanish?? Cascada, salto de agua (literally a ‘water jump’), caída de agua (‘water drop’), or the jaw-dropping larger variety referred to as cataratas.
A new country! One we hadn’t spent any time in during our trip south, and one not as frequently traveled by overlanders who follow the PanAmerican Highway down from Alaska to the southern tip of Argentina. The Las Manos border we used to cross into Honduras was tiny with only a handful of travelers, but hoards of transport trucks clogging the roadway. There were surprisingly low levels of bureaucracy; they were happy to admit us and we were happy to have arrived!
Ahh, border crossings. You can’t avoid them if you want to see a new country! In fact, they are part of the adventure. Sometimes a headache, but sometimes you come out with good stories. In this instance the annoyance was soothed with excellent Nicaraguan food waiting for us on the other side!
It’s time to hit the road and say farewell to Costa Rica, which has been our home for the past 6 months. Before leaving, we couldn’t miss out on the iconic volcano and lake of the same name: a visit to Arenal was the last bucket list item to cap off our time in the country!
The bikes and surfboards have been sold, and there’s less than one week left of our life in Costa Rica. Our northbound Central American trip is taking shape and has a destination: we’re headed to Travis’ home province of Nova Scotia, Canada! We’ll be on the road for about 3 months and covering over 6,000 miles (close to 10,000 kilometers). We’re hitting up some sights we saved especially for the return voyage: the Mayan ruins of Tikal in Guatemala, the mountainous National Parks in Honduras, and all the wonders of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It will also be our first time visiting such U.S. hot spots as Austin, New Orleans, and Nashville. We’re excited! Here’s the route for the next few months:
Hi everyone, Amanda and Travis here! We’re a young couple in our early thirties and we saved $1,000,000, quit our jobs, and began our journey of financial independence. We planned our first big adventure: driving from California to Costa Rica. We bought a used 2000 Toyota 4Runner and aptly named him Bruno. We fixed him up so that we could sleep in the back, then we hit the road to camp and travel our way through Central America!
Back in March, everything was coming together nicely: we had reached our financial goal of $1M, quit our jobs and cleared out our two-story rental home in Oakland using Craigslist. We had successfully purchased and fixed up Bruno – our used 2000 Toyota 4Runner, and we started driving down to Costa Rica from California. It’s now six months later and in this post I’ll answer such questions as: Have you run out of money yet? What do you do in Costa Rica? and Did Bruno break down and fail you yet?
The time has come! Bruno is to be freed from the chains of bondage. Well, that may be a little strong-worded. I’m pretty sure he just sat idly in a grass field during the bulk of Costa Rica’s rainy season. Could be worse.
What did it take to jail-break Bruno? A lot of patience, paperwork, and an entire day to waste away… at least, this was our experience. With these handy tips, we hope you can do it a lot faster!
While visiting New York City as tourists, we quickly began to appreciate just how huge the city is. So what is the best way to get around and see this amazing place?
The NYC subway is great and all, but with a $2.75 flat fee ride, it costs us $11 round trip anytime we want to go somewhere in the city. Travis thoroughly researched the Citi Bike program in NYC, as we’ve been seeing docking stations all over town. It turns out that at a cost of $10 p.p./day or $25 p.p./7 days, this absolutely saves us money and we also get a workout in between pizza slices!
Travis really liked the idea of taking the train to get from D.C. to New York City, but the reality is that it’s not cost effective. We scored two tickets on Boltbus that together cost $30, while Amtrak would have cost us $104. With this extra money saved, we’ll be able to eat as much 0.99¢ NYC pizza as we want!!
So far during this month’s trip away from our home in Cost Rica, it turns out that leaving behind the laptop’s power cable was not the only thing Travis was to forget. Upon flying out of Panama City at the end of our 4-day visit, he left his cell phone plugged into a power outlet at the airport! While the phone is not particularly expensive (it’s four years old), we did have a bunch of beautiful panoramic pictures of Panama City that were on it. Thankfully, we still have lots of nice pictures from our compact Canon camera to share with you!
We’ve followed the Pacific Ocean south from San Francisco to our current home in Nosara, Costa Rica. Our 90-day Costa Rican visitor visas are about to expire, so it’s time to take a trip to renew them! We’ll check out the Caribbean vibe and then cross over into Panama, the southernmost country we’ll be hitting up on our Central American travels. We’re back on the road, and this time backpacking without our 4Runner Bruno!
Upon becoming financially independent, we decided to move away from the expensive San Francisco Bay Area. Although we’re currently enjoying life in Costa Rica, we will soon be driving Bruno back up to the US and need to figure out which cities are good candidates for living in.
To help us make this decision, I wanted to see which US cities have the lowest cost of living, are considered somewhat liberal, and also have mild winters.
Everyone loves taxes, and now that we’re traveling the world and no longer going to work everyday, what better time to plan for our future income taxes?
After years of working hard at our careers, we were curious to see how much of our previous income we’ve already paid to income taxes. Here is a table showing our income and taxes over the last seven years:
|Year||Income (AGI)||Federal Tax||CA State Tax||Total Tax Paid||Effective Tax Rate|
A family vacation of Central American proportions! Grandiose sunsets, colorful wildlife in lush, wet cloud forests, yummy foods, quotes from movies of our youth the likes of Ace Ventura and Speed. Couldn’t ask for anything better.
When we were working full-time jobs, dental insurance is something that we always had. It’s a standard employer-provided benefit in both Canada and the US. During those days, we didn’t pay much attention to how much the insurance company was being billed for our dental visits.
However, now that we’ve both quit our jobs to travel and live the good life – we no longer have dental insurance! Amanda needs something called an inlay (bigger than a filling, smaller than a crown), I need a new mouth guard, and we both need standard checkups, x-rays, and cleanings. Let’s go see a dentist in San Jose, Costa Rica!
We drove Bruno to San Jose! Costa Rica has a population of 4.5 million people, and the metro area around San Jose represents 2.1 million alone. Guidebooks set our expectations low and prepared us for a drab city, but compared to the other Central American cities we’ve driven through, San Jose is pretty modern!