This is the place for photos and reflections of my visits to Latin America beginning in 2012. Previous blogs are linked on the main pages of my photo collections on flickr. HAPPY TRAILS!

Thursday, October 27, 2016


Hi, all!

We crossed out of Belize and into Guatemala's northern Petén Department and met up with our new guide, Marlon Díaz. I had read very positive reviews of his work on the travel forums and every word was true.

You never know what you're going to find in the road in Guatemala.

We stopped at El Portal de Yaxhá for lunch, a restaurant near the Yaxhá turnoff that was built for the crew of Survivor when it was filmed in the area. We enjoyed a delicious, typical Guatemalan meal including my favorite, pepián.

Then we headed up another bumpy road to the beautiful Yaxhá Maya site, set between 2 lakes. 

We headed back out to the main road and for the 2nd time in the day were stopped by an animal in the road.

Marlon dropped us in the town of El Remate at La Casa de Don David where we enjoyed a nice dinner and headed early to bed. The next morning we caught a ride to Tikal, half an hour away, for our 6:30-11:30am tour with naturalist/archaeologist Roxy Ortiz. I have toured with Roxy many times over the last 7 years and it's a stellar experience every time. 

Big hug, strangler fig style

Spider monkey

Susie, Roxy, and I at the top of Temple 4

We spent the afternoon back at La Casa de Don David in El Remate to enjoy the food, the internet, and the beautiful views of birds and of Lake Petén. 

From there we headed to the airport in Santa Elena near Flores to connect with our (2 hour delayed) flight to Guatemala City. Our trusty driver, Alfredo Garcia, was there to greet us despite the late hour and we arrived at my favorite little hotel in Antigua, Casa Cristina, at about 1am: a loooong day. I was happy to wake up in my favorite room in Antigua the next morning.

We slept in longer than originally planned since workers were threatening a strike that would close the roads to Lake Atitlán; it was a win-win because we needed the extra sleep and the road closures didn't materialize. After a nice breakfast at Fernando's - crepes with strawberries, bananas, and house made chocolate and a 4 seasons smoothy for me...

...we walked by La Merced church to the iconic Santa Catarina Arch and did some shopping in the huge, museumesque Nim Pot store.

Alfredo and his wife Jane Hensworth de García (next in our string of excellent tour guides) met us back at Casa Cristina and provided a nice tour of a few of Antigua's highlights:

The parque central with it's mermaid fountain

The front façade of the cathedral and the earth quake tumbled interior

The bus yard behind the market to the west of town

The beautiful produce market

Then we were off to Panajachel on Lake Atitlán with a quick stop for tortillas with beans and cheese on the way. We crossed Lake Atitlán in a packed lancha and took tuktuks (golf cart taxis) to our lodgings.

For John, Cherie, and Susie, that was a 2 bedroom apartment at Hotel Sak'cari Almanecer that offered a full kitchen, a nice sitting area, and views of the lake that included this gorgeous sunrise.

Jennifer and I settled into my beloved Ti Wachooch.

Over the next 3 days we took a cooking class, attended a graduation, watched a back strap loom weaving demonstration and tried it ourselves, visited a Beca Project family and 3 Kamoon Project homes, took a boat across to Santiago Atitlán, and had a nice dinner on the terrace. Next post!

You can find the complete photo collections for this trip HERE.

Happy trails!

Monday, October 24, 2016


Hi, all!

At the airport in San Pedro Town on Ambergris Caye we parted ways; the Mikes flew to BZE for their flight back to the US. Cherie, John, Susie, Jennifer, and I flew to the Belize City Municipal Airport where we were greeted by Wilfred from duPlooy's Jungle Resort, our awesome guide for the next 3 days. We loaded into the van and headed west to our 1st stop, the very unique and worthwhile Belize Zoo. Check out this Wikipedia page if you're interested in a little background. Here are some of my favorite photos from the zoo.


Spider monkey

Harpy eagle

Morelet's crocodile


Jaguar yawning

We stopped at Amigo's for a Belizean Special lunch...

...and then headed west to the Green Iguana Project in San Ignacio.

Then we headed into the jungle to our home for the next 3 nights, duPlooy's Jungle Resort. This is our lovely 3 bedroom Macal House overlooking the Macal River.

The restaurant and bar and a meandering deck were at canopy level and the birdwatching was fantastic. Such a delight to see aracaris (toucanettes) and chachalacas at the feeder and in the trees. 

duPlooy's has a huge, lovely Botanical Garden and we took full advantage of Wilfred's birding skills and spotting scope.

White-fronted parrots

Summer Tanager

We also took the birding on the road, although I think I'm being overly generous to use 'road' to describe the rocks we ground over for hours and the rivers we forded in order to explore the Caracol Maya site one day and to canoe into Barton Creek Cave to see the wonderful formations and 1000-year-old pots and bones the next. Here are some highlights:

Northern Jacana

Roadside hawk

Baltimore oriole

Black-headed trogon

Our last morning in Belize the Botanical Garden offered up more gifts: the Orchid House, the Medicinal Trail, and the River Walk Trail. I left a rock rainbow in return.

Then we headed to the border, left Belize behind, and started the Guatemala chapter of our trip.

You can find the complete photo collections for this trip HERE.

Happy trails!