With warm weather plaguing much of the country hopping a

plane to Nicaragua’s

Pacific coast for a few weeks with Dan Norkunas was a great way to pass the

first few snowless weeks of the ski season. 

I met up with Dan on Halloween day in the Houston Airport,

wasted as much time as possible drinking coffee and flipping through the newest

New York Times Bestseller books available waiting through our four hour


Finally we arrived in Costa Rica’s northern most airport,

Liberia International, just 40 kilometers to the Nicaraguan border.  After learning driving rental cars from Costa Rica to Nicaragua was prohibited, we hailed

a taxi to drop us at the border, getting us there just minutes before the

border closes for the night.  After

struggling through Spanish we managed to get our passports stamped, then walked

out the door to the unknown. 


was a half-mile away, down a muddy deserted looking dark road.  A local hoping to make a few bucks off us

took it upon himself to walk us to the Nicaraguan Custom’s building, looking

even more dilapidated than Costa


Three different times we showed our passport to “officials” along the

half-mile strip.  None had flashlights;

all had either machine guns or machetes.

Surprisingly enough we made it unscathed, passports and

wallets tucked tightly into pockets, to find no taxi or bus on the Nicaraguan

side to take us to the town of San Juan del Sur.  Our guide led us on, walking away from the

hardly lit road, through a wet and slippery dirt parking lot, through a grassy

field, and to a friend of his who claimed to be a taxi.

Weighing the few options we had left, we got in nervously,

and soon enough we were bouncing along the road.  Forty five minutes later with the help of his

emergency brake (his brakes broke halfway to San Juan del Sur) we slowed to a

stop in front of a sleepy looking hotel.

From there the trip had its ups and downs.  The rain held up, but many roads to surf

breaks were impassible.  We managed to

get to a few beach brakes near San Juan del Sur and Dan made fun of me for not

knowing how to surf.

A few days later we left San Juan del Sur, and it was my

turn to make fun of him.  Every trip he

takes to Central America he spends a few days on the toilet complaining about

whatever virus it is that got him sick, and Nicaragua proved to be no

different.  Not only was he sick, but he

also had to bribe police to get his license and car registration back.  I just sat there with a Spanish phrase book

and tried to find something smart to say to the cop. 

Unlike Dan, I had never gotten sick from being in another

country, so instead of sympathy, I gave him plenty of sarcasm and wolfed down

any food or drink put in front of me. 

Soon enough though, Dan recovered and it was my time to complain about the

sickness.  I ate his remaining medicine,

got pissed, and got better in a couple days.

By that time it was time for Dan to leave; I had learned how

to surf, Dan had found several good long rides, and our trip had taken a turn

for the better somewhere in between.  The

next morning he hopped a bus to Costa

Rica and I climbed a volcano, roamed through

a coffee farm, and drove back to San Juan del Sur, all without having to pay

off any police officers.

My flight to Salt

Lake City managed to get delayed 13 hours, so I had

plenty of time to think about what the ski conditions might be like back in the

States.  With Alta planning to open

November 15th, I figured I just had one day to transition between

the tropical sunny weather of Central America

and the winter like conditions I was expected. 

Instead though, as I was flying over the Wasatch Mountains,

I noticed significantly less snow now than I did three weeks ago.  And the trend has continued since I’ve been

back.  Temperatures have risen into the

60’s every day (for all you Canadians, that’s about 18 degrees Celsius), and

wide-spread mild temperatures have lingered all across the western portion of

the States. 

Granted, Colorado

and the East Coast have a few resorts open, but about 99% of the snow being skied

on is man-made.  I’m not about to turn

this little update into a Global Warming rant, but instead I’m just going to

laugh at those who had hopes of an early ski season and sat around watching

snow melt.  I mean come on, wouldn’t you

rather have to worry about bribing the police, getting your car stuck, getting

sick, and trying to navigate a country that doesn’t believe in street signs,


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