There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where none intrudes.
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more...

-Lord Byron

Definition of Walkabout :

a short period of wandering as an occasional interruption of regular work
Showing posts with label Central America. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Central America. Show all posts

18 August 2017

the sunsets of the Guanacaste province

After every adventure filled day in Costa Rica, I would look forward to chilling in the hammock on the deck of my little villa and watch the sunset over the Guanacaste Province.
Tropical birds would gleefully sing in the ancient tree next to me. Howler monkeys would scream their haunting calls along the forest ceiling. Large iguanas would usually make an appearance, and one evening I even saw a strange creature that resembled a mix between a hedgehog and an anteater. I wish I could remember what that animal's name was....(maybe an armadillo?)
What I do recall though is that these were some of the best and most peaceful evenings, memories that I never want to shake off.

10 August 2017

Palacio de Bellas Artes

A random conversation being had in Spanglish leads to me overhearing about a place called "Palacio de Bellas Artes", located somewhere in the historic district of Mexico City.

My only problem was that everywhere in this massive city (one of the ten largest cities in the entire world) seems to be a historic district.

I take a chance and have my cabbie take me to a district where I think this place may be, and I start wandering the streets....I turn a corner and find the building staring at me in ominous fashion...
The artwork and photography displayed inside once again amazes me. More from Diego Rivera and Freda Kahlo, plus many, many other Mexican artists. There is so much beauty inside that I can barely contain my excitement as I try and take it all in.
Come with me on a trip fantastic through the artwork on display during my time in Palacio de Bella Artes.

You won't be disappointed.

09 August 2017

The Boriquen room

The place you sleep can make or break your Holiday, which is why research is critical before you travel, especially when venturing to a new country.

If you are going to the Guanacaste province region of Costa Rica, and you enjoy mountain solitude, a room that is more cabin than hotel, and a place that has wide open spaces in between visiting travelers, the Boriquen Mountain Resort may be the place for you.
Be forewarned though, there is no wifi in the rooms, only in the common areas, and no room service either. If those things are important to you, this is most likely not your cup of tea.
However, if you enjoy luxury accommodations in a beautiful mountain space close to all kinds of adventures, I can't recommend it highly enough.

02 August 2017

Rincon de la Vieja

I've dreamed of being on the edge of a volcano, staring into the abyss that leads to the center of our earth. Rising smoke and golden molten lava.

Rincon de la Vieja in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica seemed to be my chance to make this dream a reality. As I arrive to the park's entrance, the first sign I see dashes those hopes....."volcano trail closed due to unstable activity..."

Bummed for sure, but my guide tells me of another trail that leads to an amazing waterfall, and we will still see the volcano along the route. I'm all in for this alternate adventure. As we get our tickets their is a table display containing jars of various poisonous snakes that have been caught in the park. 

My adrenaline skyrockets as we start our hike.
My shirt becomes a sweaty and soaked mess minutes into the hike as the humidity is no joke here in Costa Rica. I hydrate and carry on as my guide points out the wildlife in the trees. We make out way past aloe and agave plants, then come to an open meadow where the smoke from the volcano is rising in the distance like a slow moving marching band.

After a few miles, we start to descend into a canyon. We both slip on the rocks and smile as we take it slowly the rest of the way to the water. No reason to hurry and twist an ankle in the jungle.

I hear the deafening roar of the waterfall well before I see it. Once we arrive the cascading spray cools our skin in refreshing fashion as the clear blue water hypnotizes my senses. One old man is bravely stripping down and skinny dipping in the cool water.
We decide to hike around to get closer to the waterfall itself. We carefully cross the river over moss covered rocks, then make our way through the lush jungle to get behind and under the waterfall. As we near, I slip and feel a sharp pain in my groin. A protruding stick impales me and almost takes out my right testicle. Luckily though I am only bleeding on my upper leg, and the injury doesn't prevent me from hiking back out.
My guide tells me that sixty percent of the people that try this hike do not complete it, so I feel a great sense of accomplishment.

Pura Vida my friends.

27 July 2017

La Casa Azul de Frida Kahlo

This adventure started from the television show "American Pickers", of all places, in which a person had some old furniture that appeared to have belonged to the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

This got my curiosity going, as I was heading to Mexico City in a couple of weeks. I found that her home was now a museum, and one the the top places to see in Mexico City. I wanted to learn more about this artist.
On an early weekday morning my cabdriver drops me off in front of Casa Azul. The vibrant blue walls surrounding the home already have a large line outside, and it is nearly one hour before the place opens. I find that I have plenty of time to relax and reflect as I'll be waiting a few more hours in this line before finally entering Frida's home.
After the madness at the entrance, a calm is found inside amongst the gardens. I start exploring the life of Frida and her husband, Diego Rivera.
The pain of Frida's life from her constant battle with polio and her devastating bus accident as a teenager are on vivid display through her self portraits and artwork.
Her tumultuous relationship with Diego is also on display, as they had married twice, both having multiple affairs, including one in which Diego was sleeping with Frida's sister. The intense love and loss is on full display in Frida and Diego's art.
You also learn about their relationship with Russian author Trotsky, whom was given asylum in Mexico after being banned from Russia. Their relationship with the USA and the world regarding communism, fascism, capitalism and democracy are all eye opening tales that cause one to look at the world from a different angle, a new perspective.

Which I think is one of the greatest gifts that travel and exploration can give.

08 July 2017

museo nacional de antropologia

A giant Mexican flag is slowly flapping in the soft breeze as I make my way toward the entrance to Museo Nacional De Antropologia. After a little confusion due to the language barrier about where I needed to store my backpack, I hand my ticket to the lady officer and enter this all encompassing museum covering the history of Mexico.
Hall after hall showcase different time periods and civilizations of the regions of Mexico. It is a fascinating walk, and one that will continually surprise you.
One of my favorite areas was a screen that took an x-ray image of your face as your stood facing the wall, then projected your image for you to try and find among the many faces. Can you locate me?
Artwork, stone statues, ancient craftwork, etc...it all can be found in the beautiful National Anthropology Museum of Mexico City.

Don't miss it.

01 July 2017

Ziplining in Pura Vida

We were all huddled underneath a tree as the winds were howling around us and the rain was coming from seemingly every direction. I was watching the zip line wire swing crazily back and forth in the storm.

"Are we really going to zip line in this weather?"

"Si. Pura Vida muchacho!"

Hey, if they feel it's safe, then what is to stop me?
The sound of the cable as you glide over the Costa Rican jungle invigorates me with a rush of adrenaline. I see previously hidden waterfalls come into view. Back and forth we go, crisscrossing the massive gorge as we make our way down the ten point zip line course.
I end up mud spattered and starving after the zip line adventure, and gorge myself on locally grown beans and other Central American dishes.

The rain slowly dissipates and the sun warms my skin in the Costa Rican afternoon.

23 June 2017

Chapultepec Park

I'd been in Mexico City about one hour, readying myself to start exploring this new destination. I like to start out slowly so that I can familiarize myself with the lay of the streets and my new surroundings.

Chapultepec park is across the street from my hotel, and seems to be the perfect place to get acclimated.
Being one of the largest parks in the western hemisphere, I have no goal of trying to see it all, I only want to get familiar with the people and culture of Mexico City. Cobblestone paths take me past statues of heroes and great political figures that helped shaped Mexico's history and future.
The park has Aztec history, castles, monuments and museums, merry-go rounds and giant fallen trees to climb upon. Beautiful flower gardens and lakes for couples to take a ride on in a boat.

Families are enjoying the day everywhere you look.
It is the perfect place to start exploring a new city.

21 June 2017

Horseback riding & secret Costa Rican waterfalls

I wake up to the smell of falling rain. It's my first full day up in the mountains of Guanacaste province in Costa Rica. I'm hoping to go horseback riding as well as get in some hiking, yet the weather is not looking like its going to cooperate.

A small truck appears out of the rain and the driver asks me if I'm ready. If they are willing to venture out in this weather, so am I....

As we get to the stables, the wind picks up and the rain is coming at us in sideways fashion. It's not cold though, and the fast moving storm clouds create an unreal atmosphere. I climb up on my trusty steed, and ready myself to get muddy.
The green hills around us spark the imagination of jungle creatures. We climb the rolling hills until we eventually summit. My fellow riders leave me at this point to do some ziplining but our guide and myself carry on.

We are going to find secret waterfalls.
Families of monkeys follow us from high up in the trees above. The rain has turned the trail into a slick waterslide, and I brace myself as our horses slip and slide down the trail. Eventually we tie the horses up to a hitching post and continue on foot.

A butterfly with the most stunning azure blue color on its wings follows me along the trail, eventually resting on my pant leg.

My guide tells me this is a good luck sign.
We come to two different waterfalls, both amazing in their own right. The best part is that it is only the two of us here. The quiet jungle sounds and falling water are the perfect morning symphony for my ears.
Our morning ends just as the rain starts to let up. We make our way back to the top of the mountain, and rest for a spell before our next adventure begins.

12 June 2017

The Boriquen

In the early morning I look down the empty road that leads to the Guanacasta beach in Costa Rica with a smile. It's been a lovely few days here, but the time has come to head up into the jungle and the Boriquen Mountain Resort.
I grab some Tecate's from the local market, then load into my van transportation for the one hour drive. The driver speak little English, so my morning is enjoyed in silence as we make our way up the winding roads.

I arrive at the resort before 9am, and find my room won't be ready until early afternoon. No worries though, as it gives me plenty of time to explore my new surroundings for the next few days. I start by climbing the steep road to the top of the resort. The lush jungle is alive with the sounds of the creatures within.
I spot a tropical bird high up in the trees, perhaps a parrot but I'm not really sure. Soon thereafter the monkeys start to show themselves. I stay for a bit, watching the puffy clouds roll across the lush landscape, then head back down.
I find a trail below the restaurant down by the pools and spa. A crystal clear river runs against the trail, the babbling of water flowing over rocks is the only sound. I find a butterfly following me, hitching a ride on my shorts.

It's a good luck sign.

I come to an ancient petroglyph marking high up on a stone, then a little further I find a natural hot spring with steam rising and filling the jungle with it's breath.

I make my way back to the lobby area to find my room is ready. It's more of a cottage than a room, set up on the hillside.

A deck with a hammock calls my name....
in the Garden of Eden known as Boriquen.

28 May 2017

The Ritual of the Voladores

As I'm walking around the Chapultepec Park in Mexico City, I look up to see the most bizarre sight....men hanging upside down spinning around a pole while a flute is being played.

I see this again and again throughout my travels in Mexico, and finally learn that this is an ancient tradition of the Totanac people.
A long time ago, there was a severe drought in the region. The elders decided that a ceremony should be performed to ask the Gods to return the rain and bring fertility to the soil.

From this ceremony of old comes the practice that is continued today, as the people are thankful to the God Xipe Totec, God of agriculture and fertility, for the rain and land that he has continued to provide for the people that reside and flourish here.

11 April 2017

Guanacaste

Costa Rica would be the first country I would attempt to enter after being denied entry in Montreal. That bitter feeling combined with high anxiety levels were on full display as I approached passport control.

Nothing felt as sweet as hearing the click of the stamp coming down, and the big smile on the officer's face as he stated "Welcome to Costa, pura vida!".
It's dark, almost midnight, as my taxicab drives through the countryside to my hotel in Guanacaste. I've no idea what type of area I'll be in until morning. I check into the unassuming hotel and fall asleep quickly, dreaming of what will come in the morning.

I arise to the salty ocean smell, yet I can't see the water. At breakfast, I ask a young man which way to the beach. He smiles warmly and points down the road.

I start walking. I'm not in a hotel zone with throngs of tourists, nor a busy beachside city. It's a laid back and quiet little town with hostels and hotels hidden in the lush jungle, a store here and many a local's home there.

I come to the beach.
There are no annoying people bombarding you to buy wares or hook you up with things you don't want to do. Everyone is just enjoying themselves. I wander around from sunrise to sunset, sleep in the sand, find a shack to eat ceviche when hungry, a bar to quench my thirst.
Guanacaste province is the perfect starting place in Costa Rica. Let the sailboats gently rock in the morning sun as one falls in love with this country.
******

13 November 2015

Cancun

I was told that the place I was staying at in Cancun's hotel zone had the best beach in the area. I would walk in the wet sand most evenings and just take in the surroundings.

Couples holding hands, children laughing, millionaires making out with big breasted women in the shallows of giant yachts.
The water was always smooth, never a rough surf. I wade in the clear blue ocean, letting the salty wonder lap over my sun kissed skin.

I head to the bar when thirsty or hungry, and then slowly make my way back to the beach chair.
Best beach in the area? Who knows, but one thing is for certain...
the beach was better than being trapped in a kitchen doing dishes.

10 November 2015

Climbing Coba

A clearing ahead gave one it's first glimpse of the Nohoch Mul Pyramid rising high above the Yucatan Peninsula. One hundred and thirty steps to the summit. I stand at the base and look up in awe.
The stones are as slick as black ice, my foot barely fits on the narrow step. I understand why the rope was put into place and grab it tightly with one hand.

The final step brings me to an unparalleled view of the area. I let the sweat drip off my brow as I sit and cool down atop this sacred place.
After a spell, I look down and try to calculate the best route to take back to the ground. Others are sliding down on their backsides, or crawling in reverse on hands and knees.

Inadvertently worshiping the Mayan Gods of old as they descend. Bow down new humans.
I reach for the sky one last time, then slowly make my way down from the mighty pyramid.



17 October 2015

biking around the ruins of Coba

The large and peaceful grounds of the ancient city of Coba awaits me. It is here that I am searching for a large pyramid that I can climb to it's peak and feel the Mayan spirit of old.

To do this, I decide to rent a bike and ride along the flat Yucatan roads among the symphony of the jungle.
It was quite the experience to quietly come to a clearing in the jungle and find the remains of a city that once held up to 100,000 people.
As I was riding around though, I started to notice that I was the only one at these sites. I found this strange, and started to wonder where the mighty pyramid was...
Tracking back, I find a fork in the road that I missed seeing initially. Sweaty but excited, I head down this new path. People and bicycles start to appear and the road becomes more populous.
Luck strikes me again, as I saw the sites of the mighty Coba first, but unknowingly saved the best for last.....

but that will be a story for another time.


19 September 2015

Cenote Ik Kil

The Cenote Ik Kil was as different from the Cenote Maya as New York is from Los Angeles. You can't even compare the two, and I recommend going to both places if you can.
Ik Kil is much larger and more designed for tourists due to being so close Chichen Ixta. Since I was going to swim in the cenote, I first went to the lady to get a locker for my stuff, and securely fastened my locker room key around my neck.

I showered, as we want to try and keep as many chemicals from lotions, deodorant etc, out of the pristine waters. It was then time to get wet.
The water was cold as I entered, but the spectacular scenery abates the chill quickly. I decide to first swim to the other side where waterfalls cascade lightly down on to those that venture to this side of the cenote.
The water is so clear it takes my breath away. As I submerge, schools of tiny black catfish are teeming below the surface.

I decide to step up the adventure to the next level, eyeing the jumping platforms of various heights built into the right side of the cenote.

I choose the middle platform first. A deep breath, a little prayer, and then....
the thrill was amazing!

I turn into a child after their first bite of candy....more, more, more!

I go to the highest platform, and jump in time and time again. 5 times, 10 times, perhaps 20 jumps in total, I lost count.
The bubbles free the poisons in my life, re-oxygenating my spirit. I am cleansed anew in this sacred and special place.
The only downside? My locker key wasn't as secure around my neck as I thought, due to my repeated jumping.

The lady wasn't too happy that I lost it in the cenote, and charged me twenty dollars.

Lesson learned.