Monday, August 26, 2013

Wallpapers of the World - San Christobal de las Casas

During our travel we encounter places/objects/views which turn out to be awesome wallpapers! We would like to share them with you.

First to show is a huge graffiti wall we saw in San Cristóbal de las Casas. We couldn't make out a tag, so we don't know to who the honor goes. With the help of TinEye we found the possible creator of this street art, kudos to Liqen!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wallpapers of the World - Antigua

On a random street in Antigua I found these brick walls, enjoy!

Wallpapers of the World - Boqueron

The inside of the little canoe we rented to go up river at Boqueron next to Rio Dulce presented itself as a wallpaper. All the scratches and the layers of different greens, nice!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sailing on Las Sirenas to the Cays of Belize (27.07.2013 - 05.08.2013)

After Melanie left for Switzerland I had two more days in Antigua before heading back north to Rio Dulce. After another night at Hotel Kangaroo I could board the sailing boat which would be my home for the next week. Las Sirenas is an old 46 feet (14m) long Polynesian catamaran, designed by James Wharram. My cabin or should I say coffin was in the stern of the starboard hull. It was quite small but cozy and I didn't plan on staying below deck besides the nights. All the food and drinking water was included, beers and soda where on the honesty system. But I was prepared and had two bottles of rum with me ^^
Everyone would get a plastic bottle of fresh water a day to shower/rinse. This wasn't a super luxurious cruise, but I didn't mind.
As companions for this trip I had a israeli couple (hello Mor & Itai ^^), a girl from belgium, a american/south african Witness of Jehovah couple (aeh...) and the owner with his wife and two boys. The crew consisted of the captain, a deckhand and a cook.
After lifting the anchor we sailed out into El Golfete where we stayed for the first night. Early the next morning we would cross the canyons and stop at Livingston to get our passports stamped. As it was quite windy the captain decided not to cross over to the cays the same day. So we anchored protected behind the peninsula in the bay of Amatique. The next day I woke up as we were already out in the open sea on our way to the Cays of Belize. Soon after a school of dolphins showed up and escorted us for the next 20 minutes. We arrived before midday but the carribean work ethic hindered us to get our passport stamped, the official wasn't around. So we set sail for the tiny island of Tom Owens Caye where we could go snorkelling and diving. As it was the last dive of the day it wasn't really deep and spectacular dive.
So we tried our luck again the next morning. This time they would allow me to help them spearfish the invasive Lionfish. The divemaster (as it was a girl is it called a divemistress?!) and I got about ten each when a nurseshark showed up and expressed interest in our spears and the bag with our catch. But after sniffing on the spearheads he departed into the deep blue again.
After the dive our captain took us back to the first island to get our immigration done and then we left for another reef. They called the place we anchored the White Reef, a sandy area surrounded by a circular reef. As it was quite shallow (0.5 - 2m) it was a great place to go snorkelling! We would stay there for two nights and do nothing besides swimming in the open sea, spearfishing, snorkelling or go out with one of the kayaks/surfboards.

I tried my luck on spearfishing there and got a nice catch, around 40cm long! The spears we would use are called a hawaiian sling. Its a spear with a rubber band at the back which you would stretch and then let go. You can't shoot really far, so you have to get quite close!
While snorkelling I saw sting rays, eagle rays, barracudas and we had a nurse shark visiting our boat. The fish innards from our catches probably helped ;)
Our captain would go out to spearfish everyday, so we had fresh fish all the time! And by the end of the trip he had caught enough lobsters for all of us. So we had a awesome lobster meal!
The time passed way to quickly and we were already on our way back. After a quick stop at Livingston for the paperwork we sailed up the canyon and ended up anchoring close to Rio Dulce.
The next day we got dropped of and I called Gary to pick me up again so I could spend two more nights in the swamp ;)

Hotel Kangaroo, Rio Dulce

I ended up staying three times in this lovely place. Once with Melanie and before and after my sailing trip.
Gary, the australian owner, built himself a nice jungle/swamp retreat. He rents out a couple of cabins and private rooms and has a dorm under the thatched roof. As you are literally in the middle of the swamp don't expect good internet connection and also the power may go out (which just makes it more cozy). His mexican wife/girlfriend runs a restaurant with typical dishes, so you wont go hungry. There are kayaks for rent to explore the surroundings, but we never found time for it. Too much to do with relaxing and chilling on the tub ;)

We think we paid around 20 USD/CHF for the private room and 8 USD/CHF for the dorm, but its a while ago so use with precaution.

Tip: Bring our own booze, Gary wont mind!

Rio Dulce and Livingston (20.07.2013 - 23.07.2013)

Arriving in Rio Dulce we were picked up by Gary, the owner of Hotel Kangaroo. 5 to 10 minutes boat ride later we arrived in a side arm/swamp of the river were the hotel lies. We were just settled in when the three canadians showed up as well ;)
So the next day the five of us and another french canadian couple (seems to be holiday season there) headed to Finca Paraiso. For a small fee you can go swimming in the cold river into which a waterfall fed by hot springs plunges. You could dive behind the waterfall which felt like being in a steam bath. Most of us (hint, hint ^^) jumped the waterfall, but Nic really couldn't get enough of it.
After a while the river was getting crowded by guatemalans so we decided to head on to Boqueron. There we had to pay some locals so they would take us up the narrow and high canyon by boat. The steep cliffs were quite a sight. After a while they dropped us off and we continued on foot as far as possible. Jonathan, Nic and I then tried to swim upriver against the current. It took us forever for just a short stretch and we were (at least I was) quite exhausted afterwards ;)

The next day we headed downriver to Livingston on the caribbean coast. First we took a peek at the fort close to Rio Dulce. It was once built to hinder any Pirates of sailing any further up river and harass local settlements.
On the way downriver we would pass through some nice canyons, some in form of steep cliffs and other totally overgrown with vegetation.
Livingston itself turned out to be a typical caribbean town. Rundown wooden shacks with rusty corrugated roofs. The inhabitants of this town are a mix of freed black slaves, pirates and other early white settlers. We tried the typical (read touristy) local garifuna dish of tapado. A soup of coconut milk, whole crab and whole deep fried fish. It was not that bad, but in my opinion the cook is just lazy and throws everything unpeeled in a pot ;)

Finca Ixobel (17.07.2013 - 19.07.2013)

Looking for a place to split the trip down south to Rio Dulce we stumbled upon Finca Ixobel. Next to the town of Poptun lies this finca which sports some dorms, private rooms and a camp ground with tree houses! A big group of tourist-guide-students from Guatemala City had most of them reserved, we were lucky to get the last of the standard tree houses. The standard version is basically a wooden box on stilts with a bed, mosquito net and a candle, there is no electricity. The deluxe version has power and even a private bath downstairs.

In the evening they opened the bar next to the swimming pond. We were quite tired and soon went back to our cabin to go to sleep. But on the way to the bathroom we changed our mind. Thats how we ended up in the bar with our tooth brushes ^^
The evening turned out to be quite fun! The group of french canadians staying in the dorm were already starting to dance with the guatemalan girls. Some of these girls were well drunk and overweight, so the attempts on the dancing pole were quite entertaining.

The next day we did a horseback trip around the huge farm. Melanies first time on a horse ;)

We paid around 12 USD/CHF for our rustic suite.