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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Ziplining in Orocovis, Puerto Rico … [Toroverde Nature Adventure Park review]

Have I mentioned that I like zip lines? I’m going to put my affinity for them along with waterfalls and sky cars. Here is the list of the top 4 lines in the world and so far I’ve done #1, 3,4.

  1. Pronutro zip 2000 : 2,000 meters/ 6,561 feet.
    It is located in Sun City South Africa. It descends 918 feet at a speed of 100 mph.
  2. Hoonah Icy Straight Point, Alaska: 1,625 meters/ 5,330 feet long.
    The zip line in Hoonah Icy Straight Point, Alaska takes 90 seconds to complete a 1,300 foot vertical drop at 24 degrees.
  3. La Bestia : 1,446 meters/4,745 feet.
    Located at at Toro Verde Nature Adventure Park in Orocovis, Puerto Rico.
  4. Tu Ru Bari : 1,036 meters/ 3,400 feet.
    Located in Costa Rica in the Central Valley near the Pacific coast in the Tu Ru Bari Tropical Park.

Getting to Toroverde will require some driving or booking a tour, and it is definitely not going to be cheap either way but It is not hard to get to Orocovis from San Juan – the roads are quite good.. However, if you’re going to drive, it will actually cost you more in terms of gas than a non-subsidized tour price.

  • Going with a tour will cost about about 150$ and it is a 8-6 tour, since it takes about an hour to get to Orocovis
  • Going by car will require that rental or you can do it the way I did it, which would be hiring a driver from San Juan. If you can share the cost with some other people, then it would be somewhat reasonable but expect to pay $150 for a return trip to Orocovis

A couple things about Toro Verde

  • It is a bit “industrial scale” versus other places I’ve been
  • There is a big parking lot, bathrooms, food, and LINES, everywhere.

  • There is a lot to do …you can rappel, go biking or ATVing along with your zip lining tour.
  • The zipline tour is clearly more popular and probably you spend a lot of time queuing unless you go during the evening or non cruise ship day
  • The guides put all your gear on you and give you a safety demo. They have won several awards for their topnotch safety

  • Must be over 110lbs to do the tours….not for younger kids.
  • They spoke both English and Spanish.
  • The tour can take the entire day (we were there from 0830 until about 3pm).
  • It is quite the drive to get their (twisty, winding roads) but the drive is worth the experience.
  • The views are amazing.

  • The Beast was the highlight of my day – it really does last a long time and it is a very comfortable harness.

From the picture above there are 8 different zip lines and The Beast. I could say a lot more and describe La Bestia to you in many words, but if a picture tells 1000 words, then think about what a 4 minute video will tell you about the ride.

Here is the pre prep to get on the Beast …

This is the flight … on such a long ride, they don’t want to risk you being stuck, hence you’re paired with one of the guides and you do a little race. This is one ride where the more mass you have, the better you will do.


  • Going on any day where there is a cruise ship in town will condemn you to a shitty experience. The review from Trip Advisor is consistent with what I was told by the guides. On weekends and cruise ships days, it is super busy. I would hate waiting this much. On the day that I went, it was a bit rainy as you can tell … but there was literally no one there, so it was awesome.
    • “We went on a Saturday. I booked very far in advance. We were told our tour would take 3-4 hours at most.. Honestly, I don’t remember much of the details other than our tour took 8 HOURS because there was literally SO MUCH WAITING. This establishment is poorly run and doesn’t give much thought to customer service. We waited at literally every single platform for at least 20 minutes, and the last three of them (including the superman/la beastia), we waited at for OVER AN HOUR..AT EACH LINE… ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????????????? I literally wanted to tell them to forget it and let me go home but there was no way out..only the zipline. We had special dinner plans that night that we had to cancel because we were literally so exhausted from the long day/being annoyed. Nowhere to sit on certain parts of the course while we waited more than an hour. (We were supposed to get back to our hotel at 1-2pm.. we didn’t get back until after 6pm and our reservations were for 6:30)

You’re bored in San Francisco … 25 links to cool, cheap and random stuff going on in San Fran

I always have a tough time finding stuff to do in San Francisco … NOT! Here is a love list completely copied from the San Francisco CS group. I always get asked for lists of things to do in all the cities I’ve visited … so this is a start to those lists. Who said that you can’t find anything to do on a Monday night … well it’s tough if you live in a crappy city … true story!

  1. People In Plazas – free musical concerts in San Francisco public spaces.
  2. The List – great list of concerts, gigs, shows in the area.
  3. FuncheapSF.com – one of my favourites! Cool stuff on a budget.
  4. San Francisco City Guides – Free walking tours of San Francisco.
  5. Seward Street Slides – A hidden urban playground in the Castro.
  6. SF Bay Guardian – a cool and useful local newspaper.
  7. Free Museum Days – a list of free entry days in the Bay Area .
  8. Audium – Sound sculptures are performed in darkness in this theatre.
  9. 7×7 – an “insider’s” guide to some of the best of SF.
  10. Laughing Squid – art, culture and technology from San Francisco and beyond.
  11. Bay Area On The Cheap – free and affordable things to do in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  12. SFArts.org – a comprehensive guide to SF arts.
  13. First Thursday Art – on this day every month many galleries in SF hold a casual open house.
  14. SF Station – San Francisco’s City Guide.
  15. Upcoming – a list of local events.
  16. Broke-Ass Stuart’s Goddamn Website – oddball gems and cheap stuff.
  17. Plant Trees SF Listings – yes, another listing of local events.
  18. Lilycat’s listings – even yet still more events!
  19. Going SF – for people who love to go out to clubs and events.
  20. The Cheap Bastards Guide to San Francisco – pretty self-explanatory!
  21. Indybay – news and happenings in SF and the Bay Area.
  22. Really Really Free Market – it’s a market and it’s FREE!
  23. SF Critical Mass – go for a ride with hundreds of people through SF. Last Friday of the month.
  24. The Bike Hut – bike rentals, repairs and sales near the ballpark.
  25. San Francisco Stairways – some of the best stairs in SF.
  26. Free Entrance Days in the National Parks – if you want to explore parks in California or other states.

I made Chicken Soup and I’m happy to be home … some thoughts on long term travel

After the last couple of years of working and travelling, I’ve met a lot of people on the road. Typically, once I’ve told them about where and how much I’ve travelled, I get responses and questions in the following ilk

  • “Man, that is fantastic, I wish I could do that”
  • “You’re so lucky to be able to do that”
  • “You must have the best job in the world”
  • “Does work pay for your travelling? How can I get a job like that?”

To most people, they think that I have the best job in the world. Essentially, I get paid to travel and I happen to work on the side (Well this is the way I tend to look at things, even though the reality of 70hr work weeks with three day weekend trips is much closer to the truth). Of course, who wouldn’t want to get paid to travel the world? Right?

That being said, most people with those response above, also only think about the good side. To most non consultants, I’ve stopped trying to explain what I do for a living and I’ve also basically stopped explaining why I travel. Now, I rarely ever mention it when I meet people unless I know the person is extremely interested in travelling. My lifestyle isn’t all roses and I hate the gushing. The grass is always greener on the other side.

When I first started really travelling a couple years ago, I did it with selfish and rather shallow desires in mind:

  • I wanted to meet tons of girls
  • Have fantastic adventures, while tango-ing and salsa-ing to the next location
  • Have tons of useless stuff to talk even more about
  • Did I mention meet crazy travelling girls on the road??

Then it evolved into trying to be a travel writer. I wanted my name in guidebooks … to be an expert at something … for people to say that I was an expert at “XYZ Pigeon Shooting” or something else. Of course, after speaking and chatting with guidebook authors and travel writers, I quickly realized that for the vast majority of them, it was a life of penury and considerable struggle. It dawned on me that their jobs weren’t these phenomenal jet setting adventures that I visualized but instead it was a melange of long hours, tight deadlines, last minute travelling and demanding micro managers aka Editors. That vision quickly changed to say the least.

There is a great quote by Susan Sontag that goes like this :

Boredom is just the reverse side of fascination: both depend on being outside rather than inside a situation, and one leads to the other.

I think when you travel for a long time, the same can be said about long-term travel. There are many wonderful things I’ve learned while travelling but it does provide a paradox of sorts. Nowhere else will you learn as much about yourself as when you’re in a tiny cafe in Morocco or any country, surrounded by laughter and strangers, completely alone yet with everyone. Long term travel is a very lonely existence in many ways.

Being on the road offers you the chance to see new places, experience new cultures, make new friends, and learn about yourself. However being on the road also means that your relationships will suffer … whether it’s with your BFF, partner, parents or just regular day to day friends.

These days when I’m on the road, I really have no inclination on meeting people anymore. There was a time where I was excited to meet as many people as I could … listen and learn from their stories and experiences. I’m done with the general phase now. I’ve learned that every hello comes with a goodbye. You meet new people and they can be friends with you for a day, week, month or years … but as a traveller, you will naturally have to say goodbye, because you’ll be on to your next destination, as will they.

One becomes numb to new people, since it’s just another useless entry into your Facebook friend list … someone who might be a great contact, if you ever cross paths again. Despite the best intentions and Facebook, you know that 95% of the people you say goodbye to, you’ll never see again. Your life is filled with 24-hour friends who made that brief stop over great, but are soon gone. Who wants a life filled with that?

I’m also tired of a lot of things … which is sad. So many things have become yet another “one of those ..”. I’ve gotten

  • Waterfalled Out in Iceland
  • Templed out in Thailand, Cambodia, Italy … blah blah
  • Churched out in Mexico
  • Hiked out in Morocco
  • Island-ed out in the Caribbean
  • Fished out in the Maldives …

Yes!!! I know these are #FIRSTWORLDPROBLEMS!!

That 100th church, 100th waterfall, 40th hostel, 800th bus ride, 600th bar… it’s not the same after a while. It loses its charm and luster. Travel becomes unexciting. Ask any traveler – at some point, they hit that point where they are sick of traveling. They just need a few days or weeks to recharge their batteries. After all these years, I move a lot slower than I used to. I’m in no rush now. If I want to spend 12 hours out sightseeing, I can, but I tend to be out for a few hours and just relax the rest of the time. After all, I’ll be wherever I am for a while. Slow travel is better travel, and it fights the “just another” syndrome. But even still, travel can become exhausting, and there are times you never want to see anything with the word “historic” in front of it ever again. Some days I just want to spend a week in front of my computer watching moves and TV.

Long-term travel takes a certain type of person to enjoy. You need to be independent, you need to be able to spend lots of time alone, you need to be flexible, and you need to be able to deal with constant change. Eventually, I’ll find the answers. I don’t think people can move forever unless they are trying to escape something.

For now, I’ll just continue enjoying the process of making my Chicken Soup at home.

Swim, see and photograph Magens Bay in St. Thomas …

There are very few places in the world where I actually think that a morning jog would be awesome, especially since this Trini does not do the “cardio ting”. That being said, I think if there was a stretch of beach that would inspire a run, it would be America’s finest and most reliable treadmill : Magens Bay. It’s a heart shaped, one mile stretch of gorgeous white sand, easy waves and picture perfect tourist brochure charm.

Everyone talks about Magens Bay, it’s kinda like how we talk about Maracas Bay, except that Magens Bay is prettier, less over run with tourists and doesn’t have tons of shacks selling stuff now.

As for Magens Bay, there is very little to explain that a couple pictures wouldn’t do a lot better. Thankfully, our local guy Kurt got us into the Bay area without paying (I’ll leave that to the Americans :D ) . The pictures show the view sweeping from right to left and as you can see, it’s pretty difficult to take a bad picture on this beach with the combination of white sand, turquoise waters and great foliage.

If walking the beach isn’t your thing … (I don’t know if that’s really possible) … you can also have some spectacular views from the mountaintop, which is a short drive uphill.

You can walk in free and you don’t have to buy any of the tourist crap that they have on offer. Additionally, you can feel free to ignore the “Banana Daiquiris” that they have on offer. Whether or not, this was where the Banana Daiquiri was invented, it’s like drinking a Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel … completely touristy and overrated.

Mountaintop was completely rebuilt after it burned to the ground, and the all new structure is definitely an improvement … there was a local story about the owners actually setting it on fire because they were losing money with the old arrangement of sharing the location with other people, but this is all rumor and hasn’t been proven – just a curious rumor.

As for the view, you can see many of the surrounding islands and is just breathtaking. You’ll have to take a taxi, since it’s much too far from the cruise ship docks to even consider hiking.

If you feel like skipping the Mountaintop, then you can get the same view just a little further up the hill and around the corner …

However the trip on the beaten path to Magens Bay is still completely worth it, no matter how much of a cliche it is, it’s still a must see when you’re in St. Thomas, tell them Rishi sent you.