Sunday, March 23, 2008

Central American Adventure (Guatemala pt 2)

Well after Tikal, Roque and I returned to Flores and booked our transport to Yaxha for the next day. We ended up sharing the ride with a couple of south Americans and made a few stops along the road to take some photos. The driver was really funny and kept making really really bad jokes… but still he was quite amusing and very enthusiastic. Yaxha was a really cool site, obviously not as big as Tikal… but still very large with much influence from central Mexico. There was plenty of walking involved but it was very pleasant. After visiting the site we went for lunch and ate this really weird meat from an animal that looks a bit like a hamster. I cant say it was the most delicious thing I have ever eaten, but still it was good… and anyone who knows me knows I am up for trying just about anything. Roque and I spent the rest of the day in the lake and the next day we made our way to Chiapas where we visited Palenque. After visiting the site we took a night bus back to Merida and were back home at about 5am the following day. Well that basically wraps up this trip, I hope you enjoy the photos and the little video thingy.

Little Guatemalan girl siting on her front yard

yummm hampster!

Our driver to Yaxha

Another Shot of Flores

More Flores

Pyramid at Yaxha

Ballcourt at Yaxha

Beautiful river along Yaxha

Nifty yet creepy looking spider

Vendors by the river in Yaxha

Central American Adventure (Guatemala pt 1)

Roque and I got up early in the morning and began our 6 hour trip from Belize city to Flores Guatemala. The transport was, well… sketchy, a beat up old van that thundered down these terrible dusty roads, not particularly comfortable but adventurous I guess. When we got to flores we were pleasantly surprised by how nice the city was… reminds me a lot of San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas (for those of you who know it), just that without so many mountains and the fact that Flores is an Island. We had a fairly relaxed first day on the island and enjoyed a nice swim on the lake that surrounds it. Our hotel room was very basic, but then again we were only paying 11 USD a night for two people, so no complaints from us! One thing about Guatemala is that they don’t seem to have much love for Mexicans, which is understandable after all the heck they are given by immigration authorities in Mexico… but oh well, that’s a tune all Latin Americans know quite well. I don’t usually endorse or openly criticize products or services on this blog but for this I will make and exception, if you find your self in Guatemala AVOID San Juan tours, at AT ALL COSTS… They are con artists and horrible jerks, just stay away. They ripped us off so bad, it just makes me furious thinking about it… so you have been warned, hope you don’t make the same mistake we did. So for our second day Roque and I made our way to Tikal at 3.30 AM, and got there at about 5, just in time to see the sunrise over the pyramids. Being the nerds that we are we were of course delighted to be looking upon the same view that served as the backdrop for Yavin 4 in Star Wars a new hope… so that was nifty. Of course Star wars aside, Tikal is one of the most amazing places I have every seen. I will try to get some more pictures of it up soon… hopefully ill get those panoramic shots composited sometime this week. Anyway enjoy the photos and keep posted for the fourth and final post of this central american adventure!

Structure number five, towering over Tikal

I love the way the pyramids just kinda sneek up on you

Really cool birds nests sway in the wind

Narrow street in Flores

Sunset over Flores

Sunrise over Tikal... amazing

Some very cool orchids

Roque and I (red shirt) in front of the "Gran Jaguar"

You can really see the central mexican influence in this particular pyramid, right? (Archaeology is so sexy!)

Central American Adventure (Belize pt 2)

So after my stay in Corazal I made my way back to Chetumal for a night, there I meet up with Roque at 4am the next morning and made my way with him back to Belize city. I have to say that Belize city was even less impressive the second time around so we did not really hang out there very much. We took a 10am boat ride to Caye Caulker (pronounced Kikaka for some odd reason) and spent the day there. The beaches were really nice and we enjoyed some nice beers, food and a swim. The island was really different from the mainland in just about every way… and better in just about every way also. The island has a very Caribbean flavour, you really get the impression that you are in a country like Jamaica or Barbados, not really in Central America… but this is true of Belize as a whole, or at least from Belize city south. After we got back from the Caye, we spent the night in Belize city and got ready for our trip to Guatemala.

Cool beach on the Caye

Kids playing on the streets of Caye Caulker

wow... thats straightforward... and disturbing, yikes!

I like the lighting in this shot

Even the maniquins in Belize have rather large butts!

Mexican and Belizean flags painted on a mural at primary school in Belize

Daybreak at Corazal

I have always wondered how acurate this things are

You will find those crazy Norwegians anywhere you go

Couple kids enjoying a bite on the beach

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Central American Adventure (Belize pt 1)

Well a few days ago I headed out to Belize city from the border town of Chetumal. I took the 6 am bus, and although it was a pain to get up that early it was kind of cool because there was not waiting around for long lines at the border crossing. I took the bus straight to Belize city and just kind of explored around. My first full day I made my way to the archaeological site of Altun ha. I had to pay for a private transport since I could not find any groups going that way… but in any case it was worth it. The road to Altun ha is quite rough, but the site itself is quite well kept. The reconstructed area of the sight is not that big, featuring only six monuments or so… however there are a few pretty interesting buildings. There is also a fairly cool jungle trail you can take in the site and that is pretty cool because of all the awesome flora and fauna. The next day I made my way to Lamanai. The road to Lamanai is quite awful, and everyone recommended I take a tour by boat… so I did, it was well worth it. It took about an hour to get there by boat from the “city” of Orange walk and the ride was really fun since there were many beautiful birds and orchids to photograph (although all I had was my lousy point and shoot). The best thing about Lamanai was the immense mask at the not very imaginatively named “mask temple”. There was also a very large structure from the pre-classic and a few lesser pyramids, as well as a very small ball court. The next day I headed over to Corazal were I hung out and visited the pyramid at St. Elena. The one pyramid is all that there is there, but its definitely worth a look if you are in the area. Anyway tomorrow I will be meeting up with my friend Roque to check out some of the Caribbean islands of Belize, maybe a few more archaeological sites… and then make our way to Guatemala! Sorry for the not so great image quality, I have been shooting with just a little point and shoot… and just cropped them using a little application here at the internet caffe… no Photoshop I am afraid, but still the results are ok =)

Top of pyramid mound at St. Elena

Early morning shot of river to Lamanai

Another shot of the river

The national flower of Belize, the "Black Orchid"

Stuning mask at Lamanai (its over 3.5 meters tall!)

Impresive pre-classic structure at Lamanai (notice the eroded rain god masks all the way up on every level)

View from my balcony in Belize city

Largest structure at Altun ha

Kind of nice shot of some familiar flowers

Traditional Belizean house

Rice and Beans with fried chicken and bananas... the national dish of Belize (in most places the only thing on the menu, seriously)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

"La Avenida de los Artistas"

For the past couple of weeks I have been showcasing some of my photos on the “paseo de Montejo” with a group called “la avenida de los artistas”. On exhibit (and sale) are mostly paintings although there is also some sculpture as well as photography. The group is very informal; we just set up shop from around 8am to 1pm on the avenue and attract people along the “Bici-ruta” and passing tourist. We are currently working on setting up a blog, so when that is ready ill be posting the link on here. Thank you to everyone who has expressed and interest, and even more to those who have been buying!!!