New Ninja Warrior Video

Here’s the new American Ninja Warrior audition video for the upcoming season.  It’s a little goofy as they tell me wackiness sells, and in my defense I made it in less then a week.  Skip the first minute if you want to get to the action and if anyone is curious those are the “Full House” houses from the tv show I’m spinning fire in front of.  Hence the song. Enjoy.

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Checking In

It’s been a long time since I’ve checked in via blog form so here we go.  Training in SF is going great! I’ve moved to almost exclusively training out of Diakadi as I like the layout, setup and people there so much. I recently put on a clinic at Diakadi called “Run Healthy” that was well-attended and well-received. http://diakadibody.com/-/924-run-healthy/#/gallery/605

Personally I’ve been climbing a lot.  Hit Yosemite and Bishop three times last month.  The last trip I came so close to sending my first V8 at Bishop with Flyboy SDS, but was shut down, bouncing off the 15ft high lip.  A little bummed I didn’t get it, we left for Yosemite Valley that evening and the next day I send Torque Spanner, for my first outdoor (aka real) V8!!! I felt like this was a long time coming, and put in a ton of work in the climbing gyms this year so it felt good to finally get some validation.  As you can see by the end of the video I was slightly (and embarrassingly) excited. I’ll be cool after the next send, I promise. This video is clearer then the one I posted on FB.

The other awesome thing about that trip is that after working Torque Spanner for a while I was taking a break and watching friends work other problems in the Camp 4 area when a HUGE bobcat decided to stroll right by.  I’ve seen bobcats before and this one was about twice the size. After following him around a bit taking pictures (he didn’t seem to care as long as I didn’t get too close) my adrenaline was really high and I just had a good feeling I was going to send. Anybody who knows me well knows I’m a big fan of big cats (hence my tattoo/logo).

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Since I can’t post something without giving some fitness tips let me talk about the Lyon Street Steps.  San Francisco has many, many, many awesome hills and staircases and by this point I’ve run most of them.  I’ve heard about the Lyon Street steps from multiple people, mostly about how hard they are. Usually when lots of people tell me how hard something is I secretly think “well, it can’t be that hard or lots of people wouldn’t be doing it”.  These stairs are pretty damn hard.  Like anything it comes down to the effort you put into them, but if you want a great workout with stunning views without leaving the city then Lyon Street Steps are a good bet.  I suppose that’s why so many bootcamps meet there. I stopped by in the middle of a long, hilly bike ride and sprinted the steps three times and carried my bike up once.  The second time up I decided to film it using my iphone.  I got a few funny looks running with one arm pumping furiously and the other trying to steadily hold my iphone out in front of me.  If you want to get a first person view of what running up a bunch of stairs looks like, rewarded with a nice view up top and some of my currently favorite pump-up music check out this video.

All the best,

Sean

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I was speaking with a client on Saturday when he asked me a question I get fairly often “Do you ever eat bad stuff?” “Well,” I said, “Last night I went with a friend to Off the Grid Fort Mason where a friend and I shared: A pork belly sandwich, a bowl of ramen, a tray of poutine and a s’mores cupcake.  And when I say share I mean she had a few bites and I ate the rest.”

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He thought this was pretty funny but also surprising.  I generally try to convey to my clients the belief that you have to enjoy life, and eating is a big part of that.  It’s extremely important to eat healthy and make good decisions on a regular basis, but it’s OK to splurge here and there as long as you are smart about it and you are getting in enough exercise to somewhat counteract it.  The big thing is that if you are going to eat something unhealthy it should be something that you are really looking forward to and you should thoroughly enjoy it.  What you should avoid is eating junk food because you are bored, because you are in a rush or because you’re sad/depressed. In my case I had been looking forward to trying out the food truck festival since arriving in SF two months ago.  The afternoon before I went I was at Dogpatch Boulders indoor climbing for about three hours so I burned off a lot of calories in preparation.

On Sunday I decided to do another activity I’ve wanted to do since arriving in SF, and jog/hike the Dipsea Trail.  This famous trail stretches 7 extremely hilly miles from Mill Valley to Stinson beach with unbelievable views and varied terrain. It’s 14 miles if you do it as an out and back (the only option unless you do the race or shuttle cars). The fact that we never ran this trail back when I was a pro runner living down on the Peninsula is mind boggling.  It’s so good and so tough.  Sure some of the hills are so steep you almost have to walk up and it does have a lot of stairs but those are good things in my eyes.  Plus it’s rolling hills unlike the normal up for halfway and down for halfway long run.

I highly recommend this trail as a hike, even if you’re not a trail runner, you just need to make sure you prepare for it.  I brought a small backpack for car keys, wallet, phone.  A long sleeve shirt and running pants which turned out to be blatantly unnecessary as it was about 80 degrees the whole way. A 1 liter water bottle with Gatorade packets to add to the water you can get from faucets along the way, which turned out to be outstandingly necessary as it was about 80 degrees the whole way. I also brought a headlamp and a granola bar as I try to always have one of each when out hiking.

The last couple miles of the run I started getting hungry, I thought about what sounded good, remembered that there was an In’n’out burger in Mill Valley and for the last three miles that’s what I was thinking about. I love In n’ Out, it’s one of my weaknesses.  As far as fast food goes you could do worse. In N Out peels its own potatoes and uses fresh beef, and it does not use microwaves, heat lamps or freezers. In the book Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser he tears apart every national fast food chain except In n Out saying ”It isn’t health food, but it’s food with integrity. It’s the real deal,”.  I got a double-double, fries and a chocolate shake, so good.

I realized that last week out was out climbing at Mickeys Beach near Stinson and went this same In n Out, so that’s two weekends in a row.

Here’s a pic from that weekend just because I really like it.  This is my friend Wayne on Endless Bummer 5.13b.

I guess the point of this article is trifold. 1. It’s ok to occasionally eat unhealthy. 2. When you do, try to make sure you get good exercise before or after. 3. Find ways to really enjoy both.  Don’t eat dessert just because it’s something you do.  Savor it.  Try to pick exercises you are going to really enjoy and you’ll be more likely to keep doing them.  Finally, get outside in the sunshine and experience some nature.

More pics from the hike.

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San Francisco

It’s been a big gap since my last post.  What have I been doing?  Oh, I just decided to move to San Francisco.  I’ve been working hard finding an apartment, getting my car set up, and starting work.  I’ve decided to give independent personal training a try and I’m currently working out of three amazing clubs here in the city.  Diakadi in SoMa, Alex Fitness in the Castro and Mission Cliffs in the Mission.  If you know anybody looking for training send them my way. My new website is seantrains.com and my training email is seantrains@gmail.com. I’m also teaching circuit training at Mission Cliffs and TRX at Alex.

I’ve made giant moves many times now in my life, moving all the way across country 5 times already, and it’s always hard, you miss your life, you miss your people, you miss your pets, you miss lots of things, but I’ve never ended up regretting it (well, maybe once).  Change is scary but it’s also a great motivator and exciting. I have a bunch of friends here in SF so that’s made things easier, I’d like to thank Andy and Zaia especially for letting me stay with them the first week while I looked for places.  My new apartment is right in the Mission near Dolores Park, it’s an amazing neighborhood, I love it.  You need an organic supermarket within two blocks of your apt? Got it.  A small batch chocolate shop? Yep.  A cheese only shop, a hipster barbershop, a bowling alley/bar, not one but two fixie bike stores, Dave Eggers writing shop, one of the biggest hippy hangout in town, 4 coffee shops and about 30 taquerias all within a few blocks? We got that.  Best of all, all three clubs I’m working out of are within a mile of my place.  Of course my room is the size of a broom closet and I pay way more then I did for my mansion sized bowling alley room in DC, but hey what are you going to do?

Thanks for checking in,

Sean

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My 50 favorite pics from 2012 world trip

This gallery contains 50 photos.

I decided to go through the 1000 plus pictures I took on my trip this year and try to pick my favorite 50 of them. Here’s the result.

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Rio de Janerio

In the course of my trip I’ve been to 16 countries. About half the time I visited a country I explored much of it and about half the time I just picked one city or region to investigate.  Brazil unfortunately fell into the latter category.  On the positive side Rio de Janiero is not just any city, it’s an amazing one.  Brazil and Rio have been high on my list of places to go for many years and I thought it would be a great place to end the international part of my travels this trip.

Highlights

The beaches: I stayed at two different hostels, both right on Leblon beach, which is right next to Ipanema which is right next to Copacobana. Three of the most famous beaches in the world, beautiful sand, beautiful water, beautiful people. There’s a jogging path along the whole strip, workout stations every quarter-mile or so, including an old school muscle beach type open air gym that’s free to anyone, and volleyball nets everywhere. One cool thing was watching the locals play footvolly which is exactly what it sounds like and I thought was more fun to watch then the soccer and vollyball games that were going on as well.

Climbing “The Italians”: A classic 5.9+ multipitch up the face of Sugarloaf, the iconic mountain coming right out of the bay.  Great route with awe inspiring views.  I made a video using video and stills of the climb and exploring around Rio. Including Corcovada and the Christ the Redeemer Statue, bouldering in Urca and the Botanic Gardens. Click on the X arrows to go into full-size.

The Christ statue was very inspiring as well, such a cool statue in such a cool location. When I first got up there, guys were making a capoira video which was fun to watch.  After being there for an hour or so a storm came in and all the sudden everybody on the platform got zapped by a small electrical current.  I felt it in my scalp and it ran down my neck. Women’s hair were standing up like six inches and there was lot’s of nervous laughter but nobody left the platform.  Except me.  I made a beeline for the stairs and came back out after the storm had passed.  It was weird that everyone thought they were safe, but I guess Jesus was there watching out.

The Botanic Gardens: Very beautiful, but not as exciting as the most of the attractions in Rio.

The food: Rio is known for a couple things, most famously the Brazilian steakhouses with all you can eat. When I left the one I visited I could barely walk, but it was very delicious.  Gustavo, my guide for the Sugerloaf climb recommended eating a local meal which I can’t remember the name of but included Farofa and some kind of thick stew.  After the climb he took me to a no-name restaurant in a womens house down an alley in a favela where we got it, and it was amazing. Perfect refuel after a full days climb. That’s the food pic in the video.

I was told I needed to to go to a Samba club before I left, and I failed to do this but on Saturday night I met Gustavo and a couple of his friends in Lapa (the neighborhood with the best clubs) for a mountain film festival and then we hung out on a patio outside a bar while people were just playing music and dancing in the streets. Very fun.

Language: Going from Spanish to Portuguese was hard for me, and Brazilians do not appreciate being asked if they understand Spanish (though it seems like most do). In a bookstore I asked, in Portuguese, if the merchant spoke English, he replied no. I asked, in Portuguese, if he spoke Spanish and he replied by angrily shouting “Falo português!” (I speak Portuguese!) So I had to mime the act of climbing while saying guia (the Portuguese word for guidebook), and pointing towards Sugerloaf and Urca, which actually worked.

One funny thing was that the person I hung out with probably the most in Rio was an Argentinian girl named Rocio who spoke almost the exact amount of English as I spoke Spanish, which is little.  When we went to the beach or for food we ended up using a crazy combo of the two languages, a tiny bit of Portuguese, hand signals, occasional translators and usually ended up understanding each other.

I’m back in the States now, I’ve taken a few in-country trips since I’ve been back and I’m considering doing a blog post about them.  I’m in Denver now and headed to Hueco Tanks, Texas on Friday. One of the best bouldering areas in the world, so I’m super pumped about that.  Then it’s on to Christmas, which I love and time to start applying for jobs.  I’ve been getting my resume together and studying anat/ex-sci/phys to brush up on things.  I started this blog as a way to keep friends and family updated on my travels this past year and enjoyed doing it for the most part. It’s doubtful I’ll continue it once I’m settled somewhere but I might start a different blog or focus this one on training (might have to change the name, maybe comprehensively meaningfull?). Before I do that though I plan on doing a entire trip wrap up with highlights, things to avoid and things not to miss. It took me almost a month after leaving Rio to write this post so I can’t promise anything timely but I’ll make an effort.

All the best,

Sean

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PERU

There are reasons things become standards, and in a lot of ways, Peru is THE standard backpackers destination. So many of my friends (and a few enemies) have been to Machu Picchu and gotten in the iconic picture that I almost felt I didn’t need to do it. Still the appeal is obvious and being in the region I couldn’t pass it up.  I’m glad I didn’t.

I arrived in Lima and went to a hostel that was supposed to be good, it was a giant renovated mansion with around 25ft ceilings.  Very interesting.  I got real happy when I saw one of my favorite travel quotes painted on one of the walls.

I actually ran into more problems in Peru then anywhere else on my travels this year.

  • In one day both my credit card company and my bank decided to screw me over and I spent about 4 hours on skype arguing.
  • Two 22 hour bus rides in two weeks. The first was about 10X worse. The driver was swerving recklessly through the mountain passes, twice skidding a tire off into the gravel. The seats were not that comfortable and I sat next to an older man with the worst breathe I’ve ever smelled. This was with the Tepsa company, on the way back I did the same trip with Cruz de Sur and it was 10X nicer.
  • I’ve hiked/trekked/climbed with people while they were sick and I felt bad but apparently not bad enough.  On the second day of my trek I ate or drank something bad and then vomited the rest of the day and my stomach wasn’t 100% for over a week.
  • Once I got back in Lima I somehow lost my little travel wallet. Luckily I only had cash in it but it was about $80 american in new soles.

Now, on to the good stuff.

Cusco is a cool mountain town. It’s reminiscent in some ways of Namche in Nepal, though much more of a cosmopolitan city, with automobiles and classy stores and restaurants. It was also extremely tourist driven, but that wasn’t very shocking.  The Inca trail is so popular that they limit it to 500 people a day, charge outrageous prices and still sell out all days months in advance.  I decided to sign up for a group hike on the Salkantay trek, which is one of the alternate Inca trails.  It’s a 5 day hike which goes up to the 15,000 ft Salkantay pass at the foot of said mountain and offers beautiful mountain scenery and hot springs with a finish at Macchu Picchu.  I thought about doing independently but I was solo and found a great deal with a group so I jumped on it.  Highlights of the trek were Salkantay itself, some bouldering at 14,000 ft wearing my running shoes, a bunch of Andean condors and the hot springs at the end of day three.

Then on the fifth day we made it up to Machu Picchu! In the last two months I’ve seen quite a few ruins and to be honest I was feeling a little “ruined out”, MP changed that.  Like Angkor Wat earlier this year, this is not a ruin it’s a work of art.  This time it’s more the setting then the buildings.  The amount of work it must have taken to drag that stone up those mountains is amazing.

I think the highlight of MP was actually going up to the top of Huaynapicchu, which is the tall skinny mountain that towers over MP. There were incredibly steep stairs up most of it and an amazing view the entire hike, but especially at the top.

After the trek I hung out for a couple days in Cusco and then headed back to Lima.  There are many other great things to do in Peru besides MP but unfortunately I didn’t do too many.  I thought about heading to Iquitos in the Amazon and Huarez in the mountains but I didn’t have my yellow fever shot and decided I got enough mountains in the Cusco area. So instead I decided to head for Rio de Janiero Brazil for what was to be the last country in my epic trip!  Before I left I went for a long walk through Lima, including the bluff over the beaches where they do paragliding.  Very cool.

For more pics check out here.

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Guat´s Up?

Like usual I´m one country behind on blog posts. I´m currently in Lima, tomorrowI fly to Brazil for what will most likely be the last country of my entire 2012 trip (except for the USA of course).  Machu Picchu was amazing and I´ll get to it soon but for now here´s Guatemala going back to the list format.

1. Antigua is the nicest city in Central America. By nicest I don’t necessarily mean most fun or coolest, but the cleanliness, security, amount of great restaurants, and number of things to see and do make it extremely “nice”.

2. The natural pools at Semuc Champay around the middle of the country, were very fun and definitely a highlight. They also had this cool cave in which you went in using only candles and at one point had to swim in water over your head keeping the candle above water.

3. Tikal was very impressive. Huge pyramids. Wild Coatamundis and Woodpeckers.

4. Guys just walk around everywhere with shotguns here. Sometimes they were security outfits, most of the time they don´t

5. Mom has been wanting to come join me for a stop on my travels and I liked Antigua so much I told her to meet me there and I would go back from the far north of Guat, rather then enter into and fly out of Belize.

 (this is my Mom)

6. It was moms first time in a 3rd world country outside if an all-inclusive resort and she flew down all by herself. We vistited a lot of churches and museums, drank a lot of coffee and even hiked a nearby volcano (and roasted marshmellows on a thermal vent). Go Mom.

7. I liked Gaut, good food, very cheap, and friendly people who seem to love parades.

To see more pics from Guatemala check out my FB album 

 

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Honduras

It’s been my habit on this trip to check the State Dept travel site for each country before I visit it, so that I have a better idea of what to expect safety-wise. I checked Honduras’ listing the night before I was to head there and this is what I read.

“CRIME: Crime is widespread in Honduras and requires a high degree of caution by U.S. visitors and residents alike. U.S. citizens have been the victims of a wide range of crimes, including murder, kidnapping, rape, assault, and property crimes. Widespread poverty and unemployment, along with significant street gang and drug trafficking activity, have contributed to the extremely high crime rate. In January 2012, the Peace Corps suspended its program in order to review the safety and security of its volunteers.

According to the United Nations, Honduras has the highest per capita homicide rate in the world, with 86 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants.  Although crime and violent crime occurs in all parts of Honduras, the north coast and central portions of the country have historically had the country’s highest crime rates.  Copan, Roatan/Bay Islands, and other tourist destinations have a lower crime rate than other parts of the country.

  Since 1995, 108 U.S. citizens have been reported murdered in Honduras; of these, just 29 cases have been resolved.  Six U.S. citizens were reported murdered in Honduras in the first six months of 2012″http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1135.html

Needless to say I was having second thoughts, but I’d already spent $45 on a bus ticket from Manauga to San Pedro Sula, and that was a commitment I couldn’t walk away from.  In reality though, I’d talked to a lot of tourists coming down from the north and they told me that if you avoid the big cities and hit the common backpacker spots you’ll be fine.  As it turns out, I’m glad I listened to them and not the State Dept as I had a great time in Honduras.  The Bay Islands were very fun and felt completely safe.  There are three of them and like almost all people doing it on the cheap I stayed on Utila. It’s mainly an Island dive hotspot that offers cheap fun dives and even cheaper certifications, much like Koh Tao in Thailand, where I was certified. With an Australian couple I met in Nicaragua and a couple others we met on the ferry, I haggled a little bit with a dive shop and purchased 6 fun dives for $24 a dive. They also offered free accommodations on dive days. This is where I stayed, you can see people doing skills off the dock.

The diving was great, lots of coral and lots of fish. I had a 3ft long Great Barracuda swim very close, saw lots of parrotfish, angelfish, some Morays, lots of eagle and spotted rays and a couple spotted drum fish, which only live in that area of the Caribbean. There where come cool bars and restaurants on the island, including a treehouse one called Treetanic that was obviously inspired by Park Guell in Barcelona, had a view of the ocean and sold chocolate cake. Very cool. There was also sunset Yoga for $5 on a 15ft high pier out in the ocean, I went three times in one week, which is a yoga PR for me.  One other interesting thing about Utila is that it was a huge Pirate hangout back in Pirate days and apparently some of them actually settled on the Island and apparently I actually met one.  This guy was a white guy born on the Island, now in his 60’s who growled when he talked, was ridiculously muscular for an old guy, was constantly drunk and getting in fights, super tan and leathery. In short, he looked exactly like you’d expect a pirate too. I didn’t get a picture of him though I wish I did.

After Utila it was time to head towards Guatemala. Everyone I’d met who came throught there, had been talking up about how great it was so I was looking forward to getting there, but first I decided to hit the Copan Ruins which were basically on the way.  At the time of writing this, I’ve now been to Tikal, which is arguable the most impressive Mayan ruins but supposedly some like Copan better because of the detail in the work.  The detail was very impressive but I guess I’m one of those that prefers magnitude over detail as I enjoyed Tikal in Guatemala quite a bit more. If you’re passing through though it’s definitely worth visiting.

The town of Copan Ruinas itself was fun as well. They have a bird Sanctuary called Macaw Mountain with hundreds of tropical birds in large cages, some of which you can walk into and hang out with. It did have a little bit of a Hitchcock “Birds” vibe but in a colorful, skwaky way, which is less frightening I think.

After Copan Ruinas it was off to Guatemala city and then Antigua. More on that soon.

Adios, Sean

PS. Did you know Adios literally means “To God” and in Central America they sometimes say it as hello as well as goodbye. Kind of like Aloha I guess.

PPS. This is what I think of when I read that first travel advisory sentence.

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Adios Nicaragua

I take off for Honduras tomorrow. Heading up to the Bay Islands, which are supposed to be a great diving spot. Before I leave I thought I’d do a quick recap with photos on the three weeks I’ve been in this vibrant country. I didn’t bring my camera many places this time around so all shots are with my phone.

San Juan del Sur

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As the pic shows, SJDS is right on the beach and has great sunsets. It’s also a total surf town, I would say half the people there (including locals) are surfing. It was the first place I’ve ever dropped down the face of waves rather then just standing up in the whitewater as they crash. Certain days also had by far the biggest waves I’ve seen surfing, about 10ft or so.
I also took a Spanish language class that met 3hrs a day for a week. Ayudo un poco. I was pretty much starting from scratch so you can’t expect too much. Some friends and I hired a boat one of the days and luckily saw a humpback whale breaching and a sea turtle swimming. The food there was tasty, but unless you want to eat at the more upscale places it’s hard to find healthy food. I’ve eaten a lot of dinners that look like this.

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One of the last things I did in SJDS is head to Playa La Flor, which is one of the few beaches in the world Olive Ridely sea turtles lay their eggs. You go at night and have to wait for a new moon since they won’t come into the beach if there’s any light. We were lucky as it was extremely dark the night we went and right off the bat we saw two walk right by us and start digging their holes. It’s a crazy process, they drop like 30 eggs in that hole and the guides there (some of which have machine guns to stop people from eating the eggs) shine a light right on the whole thing, it felt a little invasive. Apparently numbers are way up though since they started conservation efforts. I have a couple good pics but that was the one place I brought my camera so I can’t post them yet. I also saw the largest toad I’ve ever seen in my life. About the size of both my fists together.
When I finally took off I headed to Ometepe which many people had built up as being very fun and extremely beautiful.

Ometepe

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The entire island is made up of two volcanos, I had planned to hike at least one but ended up taking off before I did. I liked It there ok, I just wasn’t feeling like staying. It was hard to get around and not that many people where there. I also thought the lake itself was not that pretty with its brown water. I did finally get to stay in a treehouse, which was pretty sweet.

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There were some nice pools which fed from the volcanos. They were unfortunately not hot but they were quite pretty.

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Grenada

My last couple days in Nicaragua were spent in Grenada, supposedly the oldest colonial city in Central America. The architecture is interesting, though that periods doesn’t do that much for me. Sept 15th they celebrate their Independence Day with lots of drums and parades.

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The highlight of Grenada for me was splurging a little and getting a massage and just sitting by the spas infinity pool for the rest of the day.

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Overall I liked Nicaragua quite a bit, hopefully Honduras is fun as well. After reading the Dept of State travel advisory for it I’m starting to think about my last post again. I’ll stay on the tourist road and get right up to the Bay Islands, then it’s on to Guatemala.

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