Update June 2011 - April 2012
Honduras, Costa Rica, Bulgaria, and USA
It is holy Friday in GOOD OLD USA and I am writing from our rented condominium (Tracy’s Treehouse condo, link http://www.vrbo.com/321892) in the community of Bayou Liberty in Slidell, Louisiana. The condo is surrounded by Bayous Bonfouca and Liberty. Yes, we are near the Bayou!!!. The city of Slidell is a small city located at 40 minutes from Downtown New Orleans. We arrived here on December 1, 2011. The condo like the places we rented previously is fully furnished and has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. In addition, it has an awesome backyard where Angel & I eat breakfast and/or lunch almost every day. The owner is a fantastic lady named Tracy. Spring season has been mild here and the temperature ranges from 68 to 83 degrees Fahrenheit. Great weather for being outdoors! Also, there is the Tammany Trace bicycle/pedestrian trail (27 miles) where we have been walking five days per week. There is a lot of nature to watch, feel, and admire here. This condo is our “base camp” from December 2011 to June 2012.
Let me tell you how we arrived here. As I told you on my previous update (dated 05/31/11), we were at the beach in Sambo Creek, Honduras, where we spent three months and on July 24th, 2011, we left Sambo Creek towards the City of Grecia in Costa Rica. In our way to Grecia, we visited my family in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and spent one night in Granada, Nicaragua. In Granada, we stayed overnight at the Dolphin Hotel where we stayed previously for three months. It was nice to see familiar faces such as Karolina and Carl (the owners of the Dolphin Hotel) and to go out to eat to my favorite restaurant called La Gran Francia.
During our three months stay in Granada, Nicaragua, last year (February, March, and April 2011), Angel and I researched regarding temporary car permit duration in Costa Rica because we were planning to stay six months there. What we encountered was that the Costa Rican government only allows a personal vehicle with non-national car plates, 90 days temporary car permit and only once per year. After this huge discovery, we continued our research of temporary car permit duration for several countries in South America since we were planning to stay in several of them for more than three months. To our surprise, several countries have the same policy as Costa Rica and some others have shorter duration (30 days).
After these findings, Angel and I realized that our plan to drive to South America with our car and stay longer than three months in several countries was not feasible, so we modified our plan. We decided to return to USA driving our car, sell it, fly to Europe, and tour that continent; postponing our trip to South America for a later date. This is the reason why we are back in the USA and I am writing from the community of Bayou Liberty in Slidell, Louisiana.
To continue with my story of our travel to Costa Rica, after spending one night at the Dolphin Hotel, we drove from Granada, Nicaragua, to the Costa Rican border and late evening we arrived at the community of El Cajon in the outskirt of the City of Grecia where Dave and Marcia gave us a warn welcome. They are the owners of a beautiful house (called guest house) located in a small coffee farm and across from their home. It is fully furnished, has one bedroom, one bathroom, and a terrace where Angel and I spent many mornings eating breakfast while looking at the green mountains cultivated with coffee trees. This house was our “base camp” in Costa Rica from August to October, 2011.
In Grecia, Costa Rica
The next day, Dave and Marcia brought us to the farmers market where we bought fresh fruits, vegetables, sweets and baked goods (of course!), and showed us around the City of Grecia and its surroundings. They are great hostess!
Sadie and Cristina (my step-daughters) joined us four days later after our arrival in Grecia. They knew our travel schedule and planned their vacation trip to Costa Rica while we were there. It was fun having them for ten days. We visited Poas Volcano National Park (an active volcano), its crater and Botos Lagoon (a rain filled crater). We also tasted liqueurs made of coffee at the park’s gift shop. In addition, we visited Doka Estate Coffee Farm where we tasted their various coffee brands. The next day we went down to the city of Grecia where we ate lunch and shopped.
We visited the Arenal Volcano National Park area (Costa Rica most active volcano) and lodged in a hotel called Arenal Paraiso Hotel, Resort & Spa in the outskirts of the town of La Fortuna. We rented a cabin set in beautifully landscaped grounds and with direct view at the volcano. The hotel has 13 swimming pools with hot springs where we relaxed and enjoyed after all the activities we did in the area. We hiked Los Puentes Colgantes del Arenal (The Arenal Hanging Bridges) and La Fortuna River Waterfall, and went white water rafting in the Sarapiqui River for a stretch of 14 kilometers (Levels 3 and 4) where Angel and I fell in the river and our muscles and bones were aching afterwards. Also, we explored the subterranean Venado Caverns which have a river flowing through them. Other activities that Sadie and Cristina got to enjoy were horse back riding and canopying near the volcano.
We visited Playas (beaches) Hermosa and Herradura along the pacific coast. Playa Hermosa is a surfer’s paradise. We enjoyed our time on the beach watching the waves and surfers riding them. We lodged at the Hotel Terraza del Pacifico and ate at Punta Arenas Restaurant.
Also, Angel visited San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital, with Sadie and Cristina and he visited it a second time to attend a classical music concert at the beautiful Teatro Nacional (National Theatre).
Flying to Honduras
Four days after Sadie and Cristina’s departure from Costa Rica, my mother who lives in Honduras was hospitalized due to a sudden drop of her blood sugar level and other related complications due to her diabetes. I immediately flew to Honduras to be with her and spent six weeks with her in the hospital. She is out of the hospital now and doing well. Thank to God, the life experiences that I gained in this journey around the world travel, and several books that I had read along my life journey prepared me for this very spiritual, emotional, and physically intense experience. I practiced love, patience, humility, compassion, forgiveness, and sisterhood during my stay. My mother shared a large room with ten other women patients. We helped each other, prayed together every night, and listened and talked to each other. It was a group of intelligent, brave, and loveable women who I will never forget as long as I live. I take my hat off to Tania Melisa and Doña Maria who I admire and respect deeply. This was a great experience in my life; it reinforced my belief in our creator.
While I was in Honduras with my mother, Angel stayed in Grecia, Costa Rica and one night while he was surfing the web, found an Apart-Hotel in Bulgaria called Lucky Pamporovo Apart-Hotel & Spa (Lucky Pamporovo) in the Pamporovo Ski Resort. One week after I arrived in Grecia from Honduras, Angel and I flew to Sofia, Bulgaria’s Capital, in our way to Lucky Pamporovo.
The apartment that we rented in Lucky Pamporovo Apart-Hotel & Spa was fully furnished with two bedrooms, one and one half bathrooms, balcony, and a gorgeous view of the Rodopi Mountains area. The manager of the place, Jivko was very helpful, nice, and spoke Spanish. He also invited us to his apartment to drink, eat, and dance (yes!!! Angel and I danced Bulgarian traditional music, check out our Adventure Videos Section).We had a blast! Our favorite beers were Zagorca and Kamenitza Dark. In addition, we drank the traditional homemade grape liquor "Rakia". This liquor is made of grape, plum, or apricot. We ate the traditional salad "shopska" made of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, and sirene cheese (white cheese). This salad is often eaten as an appetizer with Rakia.
Update November 2010 – May 2011 Honduras - Guatemala - Nicaragua
Honduras - Guatemala - Nicaragua
It seems that the universe wanted us to make a circle in our travel plans. Last July, we stayed in the community of Sambo Creek, Honduras, for one month and we are back again. We are staying in our favorite place, Helen’s Hotel & Restaurant (www.villahelens.com), where we are renting a cabin with a fully furnished kitchen, dining/living room, two bedrooms and one bath. It is located in front of the beach. I am writing while looking and listening to the ocean waves, surrounded by colorful vegetation, and feeling the breeze of the ocean. It is 93 degrees Fahrenheit but with the ocean breeze it feels deliciously cool. As I told you in my previous update, we would be in Honduras until February 1, 2011 when we depart to Granada, Nicaragua. We stayed in
While in Tegus, we flew to the beautiful
I also contacted and met with a few of my high school friends. It was fun talking and seeing them again after so many years. In my opinion, their faces have not changed much. I also met with my dad for a while.
We went to listen Melina Pineda, a Honduran singer who sang zarzuelas, tangos & boleros, and to a concert of Juan Manuel Serrat.
We visited the old colonial town of
While in Tegus, we went to
We visited the town of Coban, ate a delicious meal in Hotel Posada, and listened to the traditional musical instrument of Guatemala, La Marimba.
Another site that we toured was The Rey Marcos Caves in the town of San Juan de Chamelco. The cave tour guide provided us with a hard hat with an attached flashlight and a pair of rubber boots knee high. It was truly an adventure because once inside the cave we have to cross an underground river by holding from a rope and stepping onto rocks. I thought I would not be able to cross it because the first step I took onto the rocks was not steady due to the strong current of the river. Some parts of the cave were narrow and low and only one per person at one time could pass through. Once I crossed the river, I realized why we were wearing rubber boots and hard hats. Inside the caves, we saw beautiful shaped stalactites and stalagmites.
In the way back to Tegus, Honduras from Purulha, Guatemala, we made a stop in the town of Copan Ruinas, Honduras for two nights so I could visit Copan Mayan Ruins Archeological Park and its underground burials (www.copanhonduras.org). In addition, we visited the Mayan Ruins of El Puente Archeological Park. We also met with our Guatemalan friend, Marta Esperanza, who was going to visit Tegus and stay with us for a week.
In Tegus, we celebrated Christmas and welcomed the year 2011 with my family. I also started to prepare myself to leave my family after sharing thirteen months with them and to continue my nomad life, which I still love.
On February 1, 2011, we departed Tegus and headed towards the colonial town of Granada, Nicaragua.
In Granada we attended the VII International Poetry Festival (www.festivalpoesianicaragua.com) that was held for one week on February 2011, where poets from all over the world read their poems in their native language and then they were read in Spanish by another person. Music concerts followed the poetry sessions each night. We listened to Katia Cardenal, Luis Enrique Mejia Godoy, Carlos Mejia Godoy, and watched the Nicaraguan Folkloric Dance Group of Blanca Guardado called Tepenahuatl.
In addition, we attended several events in the cultural center of Casa de los Tres Mundos (www.c3mundos.org ). We listened to Anima Mundi World Jazz Group and to the
Our favorite restaurants in Granada were La Gran Francia, El Tercer Ojo, Mona - Lisa Pizza with its great dark German beer, Mombacho, and Casa Campo located at twenty-five minutes from Granada. We discovered a small neighborhood coffee shop that we visited frequently in the afternoon to eat dessert and drink cappuccino. Also, we took a horse drawn carriage tour of Granada, visited the Old Convent San Francisco Cultural Center, and climbed the steps to the top of the towers of La Merced Church and the Granada Cathedral to view the entire city of Granada.
A tradition that “Granadinos” have as the evening approaches is to pull their rocking chairs from their homes into the sidewalk and talk to family members and friends or just watch people go by. Angel and I like this tradition very much because it keeps people outdoors, keep them away from TV, and they get to share among them.
From Granada we visited, Laguna de Apoyo, the handicraft town of Masaya, the capital city of Managua, San Juan del Sur, Leon, and Masaya Volcano National Park.
Laguna de Apoyo is a crater lake. Its waters are great for swimming, diving, and sailing.
Managua is the capital of Nicaragua and we went there often to the movie theater. Our favorite movie theaters were located at Galerias Santo Domingo Mall which is located forty minutes by car from
We took a tour to the active volcano of Cerro Negro where we did the extreme sport of sand boarding. We hiked to the top of the volcano with our sand boards and we sled down sitting on it for a drop of approximately 400 meters (1,312 feet). It was an adrenaline rush. After we finished, we ended up with our cloths and faces covered with black dust.
The second time, we went to see the colorful and elaborated wood chip street carpets that the locals built on Holy Friday during Holy week. Our favorite restaurants in Leon were Cocinarte, a vegetarian restaurant, and Puerto Marino Restaurant in the Garden Plaza where we ate the best plate of octopus. We lodged in a small and charming hotel called Enrique III centrally located three blocks from the central park.
Another trip that we took from
Hasta luego from Sambo Creek, Honduras!!!
Update February – October 2010
Honduras - Puerto Rico - USA
It has been a time for family and friends. Angel and I came to
I feel inspired tonight to begin writing after so many months. My nieces (Gabriela, Valeria, and Camila) who came to spend the weekend with us went to sleep and I felt like writing tonight.
We visited El Museo de Identidad Nacional (
Angel went to an old style Russian circus show given by
On February, we continued our membership in the Tegus Chapter of the cultural organization called Nueva Acropolis (N.A.) (http://www.acropolishonduras.org/). We had joined N.A. during our stay in
We spent the weekend at my sister’s friends Rita & Jaime’s country house in the town of
We visited the southern towns of San Lorenzo and Coyolito, and the city of
While in Tegus, we took a side trip to Puerto Rico, to visit Angel’s family, and
We stayed at Angel’s parents and visited his sisters, nephews, nieces, and college friends Meca and Perkings. One day we drove up in the central mountain range with Meca who has driven this range with his Harley Davidson motorcycle previously. We ate lunch at a restaurant called Guigui in the town of
Angel’s nephew, Bertito, and his wife, Ciomi, are members of a Jeep Club and ride their Jeep with the club members every other weekend. Bertito invited us to ride cross country with them for two days. It was a lot of fun. We rode through creeks, muddy dirt roads, and hilly terrain; there were a couple of scares along the dirt roads. After one of the rides, we went to eat at Salitre Meson Costero Bar & Grill where we ate fresh fried fish and Ceti (very tiny-tiny fish). Ceti is transparent in color, no bigger than an inch and it is only fished at night when the moon is waning. It belongs to the Goby family. (See picture on photo section)
After, touring La
Another place we visited and shop was Plaza Las
We spent Holy Friday in the town of
We paid a visit to Meca’s family and got to see his two antique cars (MG and Ford pick up) that he brought back to life. We took Angel’s mom, Lucila, with us to the
Atlanta, Georgia – Angel’s daughter, Sadie, lives in the outskirts of this large city. We visited the Underground, a national historic site. It offers retail shops, food, and entertainment. Another place that we toured was CNN where I got to see and photographed my favorite CNN host and international weather anchor, Guillermo Arduino and his producer. He hosts two shows, World View and Clix. In World View, he presents international good news and in Clix, presents the latest electronic and digital gadgets. They are great and cool shows to watch. In addition, we went for a walk at the 1994 Olympic Park where we listened to a concert and watched the dancing waters of a fountain.
New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA) – We visited our home town, New Orleans, where Leticia, Angel’s daughter, lives with her two children (Jasmyn and Caleb) and some of our dear friends. The night after our arrival, we had dinner at Dick &
We could not leave NOLA without paying a visit to the Morning Call in
Brandon, Mississippi – After our NOLA visit, we drove to
Orlando, Florida – We took scenic highways to get from Brandon to Orlando, and we enjoyed the drive. We visited for the first time Universal Studios and
El Salvador – After returning to Honduras from USA, we left to the Central American country of
Following our trip to
All I can say is that it was an unforgettable vacation. We got to do the following outdoor activities: walk on dirt roads, hiking in the forest, white water rafting, snorkeling, jungle canopy, swim in
The Garifuna communities are scattered along the Atlantic coast of
We ate fresh seafood several times in Sambo Creek at Kabasas Restaurant at the beach and Corozal Restaurant, a family run restaurant in the town of
We took a half a day tour to hike the Pico Bonito Cloud Forest National Park (http://www.picobonito.org/) where we got to eat terminates and place a gecko as earring. We also visited and ate lunch at the Pico Bonito Lodge where we saw two Toucans eating up on a tree, a snake and several hummingbirds. Another day we drove to Pico Bonito Lodge to visit its butterfly, iguana, and snake farm.
A small train took us from La Union to the Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge’s visitor center in
We went white water rafting (Class I thru IV rapids) at the
One day, we drove to Glenda’s Paradise Hot Springs where my nieces and I swam in the natural hot springs (105 degrees Fahrenheit, 40 Centigrade), while Angel went next door to take an eighteen zip lines canopy tour of the mountain and afterwards he swam in the crystal clear soothing hot springs to relax his muscles. In another occasion, we visited a water park named
We visited La Ceiba’s Mega Mall several times and the city’s main plaza. La Ceiba is located 25 minutes from Helen’s Hotel. Also in La Ceiba, we took a visit to the Butterfly and
After a month, it was hard saying so long! to Sambo Creek/La Ceiba area but it was time to return to Tegus.
One Sunday, we drove to the Zamorano Pan-American
October is opera season in Tegus. We attended the opera called “Cavalleria Rusticana” by Pietro Mascagni and listened to the Honduran Philharmonic Orchestra.
I attended the 100 years anniversary of my elementary and high school, “Colegio Maria Auxiliadora”. My school originated in the city of
Angel joined the group of Nueva Acropolis, Tegus Chapter, on a trip to
Well, this is the end of my story of our world travel adventures for now. Have a Happy Thanksgiving, lovely Christmas, and a very prosperous 2011!!!
Hugs and kisses!
Update September 2009 – January 2010
Guatemala - Honduras
With this update it comes along a Happy 2010!!! Angel and I hope that you had great holidays and the year 2010 received you with abundance.
CONGRATULATIONS!!! to the fans of the New Orleans Saints (go “who dats”) that won the National Football Conference and will be playing at the Super Bowl XLIV in Miami, Florida, on 7 February 2010, and to the fans of the Honduras National Soccer Team that qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Competition in Johannesburg, South Africa in June. We are following on TV both teams.
We left Antigua Guatemala (our 2nd “base camp”), Guatemala, on December 18, 2009 (www.aroundantigua.com, www.revuemag.com, www.visitguatemala.com ). At the present, we are in the city of
While in Antigua Guatemala (Antigua), we visited Guatemala City, the towns of Esquipulas, Rio Dulce, Flores, San Juan Alotenango, Retalhuleu, Champerico, and Copan Ruinas. Also, we toured Philadelphia and La Azotea Coffee Farms (www.cafeazotea.com); Lakes Petén Itza and Izabal; Tikal and Quirigua Mayan archeological ruins; and Belize Coral reefs.
During the month of July, we visited my family in Tegus for 10 days. In addition, we visited my family the last two weeks of October and the first week of November to attend my twin nieces’ first communion and my eldest niece’s confirmation and 15th birthday. We made these trips in two days since we do not drive at night for safety reasons. We stopped in the town of
Guatemala City is the capital of Guatemala at an altitude of 4,897 feet (1,493 meters) above mean sea level. It is a large metropolitan city with a population of approximately 4 million. It is located at 45 minutes from
Esquipulas is a small town where hundreds of travelers visit every day from all areas of
Rio Dulce (
Tikal National Park – Along the road to Tikal ruins, we stayed in the town of El Remate, on the shores of
I spent an unforgettable birthday in “La Reunion Antigua Golf Resort”, an awesome place located fifteen minutes from Antigua near the town of
In the way back from Rio Dulce, we stopped at the Mayan site of Quirigua where the tallest (11 meters) known Mayan stela is located.
To renew our Guatemalan’s tourist permit, we drove to the Mexican border at Ciudad Tecun Uman. We stayed the night at Retalhuleu and the next day went to the border to get our tourist permit. In the way back from the Mexican border, we visited the beach town of Champerico in the pacific coast. Here we took a ride in a tricycle along a dirt road next to the beach.
We lived in Antigua for four months. We rented a very nice and large apartment that had a terrace where we ate breakfast and sometimes read afterwards. From our apartment we could see the Agua Volcano. We were located seven blocks from Parque Central so we walked everywhere. We attended several cultural events and parties.
We visited a homeopath, named Marta Esperanza, while in
On December 18th we left Guatemala and arrived in Honduras just on time to spend the holidays with my family. We traveled to the towns of
We accompanied my sister to a meeting for one of her projects in the coffee-growers town of
We took a day trip to San Lorenzo, home to the Port of Henecan, with my mother and brother. It is located in the Pacific coast of
We also visited the beach town of Coyolito where you can hire a boat to take you to the small volcanic island of Amapala. We gathered information about lodging and boat costs to the island. There is a small seafood processing and packaging plant in Coyolito where you can buy fresh seafood to cook at home. We decided to visit Amapala and purchase seafood later on.
Check out our new photos in our albums World Trip Photos II and Our World Garden. The previous summary updates can be found under section “Archives”.
Well, I say so long! and many hugs! from
Update February 2009 – August 2009
Good morning good people! I am writing while looking at “El Volcan de Agua” (Water Volcano) on a beautiful sunny day in Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala. Several months have gone by since our last update and we have so much to tell you but I’ll summarize our adventures as much as I can.
In our last update we told you that we were leaving the city of Guanajuato and we were moving to our third and last “ base camp” while in Mexico, San Cristobal de Las Casas (San Cristobal) in the state of Chiapas. It took us three days to arrive at
San Cristobal de Las Casas – At elevation 2,160 meters (7,085 ft) above Mean Sea Level (MSL) and with a temperature between 40 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the months that we lived in it (February 10 to July 9, 2009). It has San Francisco, California’s weather. Perfect for us! We still lighted up the fireplace during the months of June and July. This colonial city is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage for Humanity. It seems that we have picked cities that belong to the UNESCO World Heritage for Humanity and have colonial style architecture. We liked them very much!
We visited the Na Bolom, Ambar, Coffee, and Regional Costumes museums, produce and arts & crafts markets, attended a musical-dance performance called “Palenque Rojo” at Zebadia Theater, and Angel took a tour by horse to San Juan Chamula among other things.
From San Cristobal, we traveled to San Juan Chamula, San Lorenzo Zinacantan, Tuxtla Gutierrez (Chiapas’ state capital), Chiapas de Corzo, Rancho Nuevo, and Amatenango del Valle, indigenous Maya settlements of Las Guacamayas and Lacanja Chansayab in the Lacandon jungle, the archeological Mayan ruins of Palenque, Yaxchilan, Bonampak, and Tonina.
The state of Chiapas is “indigenous country” where 60 % of its inhabitants are indigenous from Maya groups. We listened to indigenous people speaking Tzotzil and Tzetzal languages. These two groups wear colorful clothing. Also, we visited another group called Lacandones who live in the Lacandon jungle and wear white tunics and long black hair. Other Chiapas indigenous groups are the Choles, Zoques, and Tojolabales. All indigenous groups follow their traditions very closely and profess a religion that is a mixture of their traditional and catholic or some evangelist.
The state also has an active Zapatista movement (www.globalexchange.org , www.ezln.org.mx).The movement pursues equality for indigenous people. The Zapatistas actions have caused a raise in the standard of living, rights, and equality for the indigenous community.
San Juan Chamula - a Tzotzil town where men are polygamist and a yearly carnival is celebrated seven days before Ash Wednesday (similar to Mardi-Gras, a lot of drinking, singing, eating going on). Also, it is famous for its temple “Templo de San Juan” where worshipers bring candles, chickens, eggs, incense, and chant their traditional religious songs/prayers to cure sick people, and/or ask for health, love, and money. We saw statues of catholic saints with a mirror around their necks, no benches for sitting-down, there was pine-needle-carpeted floor for kneeling and sitting. It was a unique experience that we will never forget (you have to be there to appreciate it; words can not describe it well). Photography is banned inside the church and photos can not be taken of the town people either.
San Lorenzo Zinacantan – called Zinacantan by locals, located 10 minuets by car from San Juan Chamula. It is a Tzotzil town where men are monogamist. This town is famous for its flower industry which is exported nationally and internationally.
Tuxtla Gutierrez - The time came to bring our Toyota car for service and we brought it to the nearest Toyota dealer-service which was located in the city of Tuxtla. The city is modern and has movie theaters, malls, plazas, etc. We took a second trip to Tuxtla to attend a flamenco dance performance at the Convention Center.
Chiapas de Corzo – it is a very small colonial town located on the north bank of the Grijalva River, a very hot and humid town like New Orleans and at elevation 450 meters (1,476 ft) above MSL. It has tour boats that bring tourists to El Cañon (canyon) del Sumidero. The tour boat navigates along the river which flows through the canyon. The boat took us from Chiapas de Corzo to the Chicoasen Hydroelectric dam. We admired great views of the canyon rock walls that stand 800 meters (2,624 ft) above us, saw a Virgen de Guadalupe sanctuary, a river alligator; and ate fresh fried mojarra (perch fish) at a restaurant across the dam.
Rancho Nuevo – a recreational park is located 15 minutes by car from San Cristobal where the Grutas (caverns) de San Cristobal are located. These caverns have a concrete path and are lit.
Amatenango del Valle – A Tzetzal town is famous for its pottery. One of our favorites is the dove clay figure.
Indigenous Maya settlements of Las Guacamayas and Lacanja Chansayab in the Lacandon jungle (www.aventurachiapas.gob.mx) –YES! we went to the Lacandon Jungle, had a great time, and they “all asked for you”. I prepared physically, mentally, and emotionally for my trip to the jungle and it was easier that I expected. The people who manage the cabins and the tour guides at both places made it easier for us. At the Guacamayas, we stayed at a cabin and took a walking tour of the jungle (2.5 hours) with Cesar. We saw spider and howler monkeys, guacamayas birds (Scarlet macaws) in their natural habitat, spiders, butterflies, termites, etc. The Guacamayas is a sanctuary for the scarlet macaws. We learned that termites are good for the jungle ecosystem balance because they eat DEAD wood only. We saw several dead trees and the termites were doing their natural job, EAT DEAD WOOD.We also took a boat ride along the Tzendales and
Archeological Mayan ruins of
We finally left
On August 15 we departed Panajachel to move to our 2nd “base camp” in
Angel created a section called “Our World’s Garden Album” where we placed photos that we have taken of flora, fauna, and natural features along our world trip. We hope that you like it as much as we do. Also, check out the new photos of
Love and hugs!!! Mireya
Update December 2008 – February 2009
Living in Guanajuato: Our second “base-camp” while we travel in
We lived four months in Guanajuato (GTO) and it was very exciting and interesting. Our apartment was located fifteen minutes walk (by the Temezcuitate Alley) from the historic center. The Temezcuitate Alley is not only a quick way to get to the city center (going down) but a way to get your exercise done for the day. Temezcuitate is a very steep alley (45 degree inclined) that we had to walk-up in order to get back to our apartment. We could take a taxi to get back but we enjoyed our daily exercise. Everything was very close to our apartment such as a shopping mall, 10 minutes by car through tunnels where MM cinema theatres and MEGA supermarket were located. Most of the restaurants were located in the city center. Our favorite restaurant was “Casa Valadez” located at our favorite plaza Jardin de La Union where we ordered our favorite dessert “flan de Cajeta” every time we ate there. Jardin de La Union (the city main plaza) was surrounded by several restaurants, had a beautiful garden, a water fountain in the middle, and mariachi bands played every night. Our apartment was completely furnished, a woman named Luz cleaned it every week and a man named Jose washed our car for a fee. Mission del Sol (www.missiondelsol.com) had everything we needed: great neighbors like Andrea & Michael (a retired couple from Florida), great service from Luz & Jose, a loving pet dog named Frida, washer, dryer, internet, a great view of the city, and a GREAT host like Gerardo (the owner).
While in GTO, we participated in a GTO tradition called Las Callejoneadas. In addition, we participated in Mexican traditions such as Virgen of Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration on December 12th, and Dia de los Reyes Magos (Three kings’ Day) on January 6th. Las Callejoneadas (callejones means alleys) are performed by a group of singers and musicians of all ages that dressed in traditional costumes. This tradition came from
We visited the birth place of the famous painter and muralist Diego Rivera, the Mummies, Alhondiga, and Don Quijote Museums, University of Guanajuato, and several beautiful churches such as Templo de la Compañia de Jesus, Templo de San Francisco, and Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato.
From GTO, we traveled by car to the towns of Dolores Hidalgo, San Miguel de Allende, Zacatecas, and the cities of
Dolores Hidalgo is where the Mexican independence movement began on September 16, 1810; priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang the church bells to gather the town people and to issue the Grito de Independencia (the independence movement).
San Miguel de Allende is the birth place of Ignacio Allende who joined Miguel Hidalgo and other revels to initiate the Mexican independence movement. It has so many
Zacatecas is another UNESCO World Heritage of Humanity town. Its historic center kept well its colonial architecture. We rode an aerial cable car to the Bufa Mountain and park ; visited El Eden Mine where there is an underground disco called “El Malacate” that opens Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at midnight, the Rafael Coronel Mexican Masks Museum, a Roman aqueduct, water fountains with lights and music. Took a city tour bus of course!
Leon is an industrial and commercial city where we found Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Sam’s stores, large malls, and a historic center where there were colorful sculptures of cows on display, and where we saw a contest of piñatas.
Guadalajara is a very large city, population 4 million, the home of the mariachi bands, tequila, and Mexican hat dance. It has a historic center with a lot of pedestrian streets, plazas, water fountains, churches, and outdoor cafes. We toured the historic center by horse carriage and by Tapatio Tour bus. We went to eat lunch at Marisco Chilo restaurant where a comedian-singer was performing jokes and songs. After 5 drinks of tequila sunrise, Angel decided to leave his retirement life briefly and became a singer. You can see Angel’s photo singing along with the comedian in the photo album of our website. Angel went back to his retirement life with a hangover the next day. We admired Jose Clemente Orozco’s famous murals displayed on the ceiling of the Museum Instituto Nacional Cabañas. The three dimensional perspective murals are listed in UNESCO World Heritage of Humanity sites.
We traveled to
We watched the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico performed, visited the National Museum of Anthropology (NMOA) which was impossible to see it in one day, took the metro system to visit the Virgen of Our Lady of Guadalupe basilica, visited the Czars of Russia exhibit at the NMOA, and many more places.
Check out the photo album for new photos and on the next update I’ll write about San Cristobal de las Casas our third base-camp and our three day road trip to get there.
We added a new section for the latest photos called “World Trip Photos II”.
God bless you! Mireya
Update October - December 2008
We arrived at the old colonial city of Guanajuato in the state of Guanajuato on 10 October 2008 around 6:30 p.m. We rented an apartment for 1 month at the Mission del Sol (www.missiondelsol.com). We communicated by email and phone, prior to our arrival, with the owners, Sonia and Gerrardo, to request information on how to get to their apartment complex. After traveling along gorgeaus Copper Canyon, we arrived to beautiful, romantic, exotic, and mysterious city of Guanajuato. I read in travel magazines and watched many Mexican soap operas and movies filmed in this city but never like being here. Guanajuato is a colonial architecture style city which was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988. Its narrow cobbled stone streets going around its hillsides, its small alleys, and its underground tunnels make it a fascinating city to explore. We were planning to stay one month in this city but after enjoying the Festival Internacional Cervantino 2008, walking, and sightseeing around it; we decided to extend our stay three more months until February 9, 2009. Guanajuato became our “Base Camp” for the next few months. We arrived during the Festival Internacional Cervantino 2008 (www.festivalcervantino.gob.mx) and we fully enjoyed it. We attended opera, music, theatre, movies, dance events, and other activities, etc. The festival takes place every year in the month of October and last 19 days. This year was the 36th year anniversary of the festival and 24 nations participated from October 8th to 26th. The entire city was a vibrant and party town. People from all over the world, Mexico, young, and old attended the different cultural events. When the festival ended, we thought that the city will not be as much fun as during the festival but the University of Guanajuato students give the city a youthful environment and a cultural life.
We stayed one month in our apartment in Guanajuato (www.guanajuato.gob.mx) before we visited the cities of Queretaro and Pachuca and the towns of Bernal, Jalpan de Serra, Xilitla, Huejutla de Reyes, Molango, Mineral del Monte (Real del Monte), Mineral de El Chico, El Chico National Park, Tecolutla, Papantla, El Tajin Archeological site, and the five Franciscan Missions of Sierra Gorda.
Queretaro a large colonial city is the capital of the state of Queretaro. We stopped here to eat lunch and walked their historic area in our way to Bernal.
Bernal is a small town in the Sierra Gorda where the third-largest monolith in the world is located. This rock is approximately 10 million years old and stands 350 meters high. The Pena de Bernal attracts thousands of visitors each year during the Vernal Equinox and who dress in white to take in the rock’s positive energy. We climbed the rock and took photos, and attended an opera event at the base of the rock. It was a very unique experience. At approximately 13 kilometers (kms) from Bernal in Ezequiel Montes, we visited the winery Cavas Freixenet of Mexico (www.freixenetmexico.com.mx) where we took a free tour of their facilities, ate lunch (Paella), and drank their white wine of course. We had a very informative, food-wine filling, and relaxing afternoon.
Xilitla a small coffee-growing town is located at the hilltop of Sierra Gorda Madre Oriental. It is famous for the surreal garden “Las Pozas” and museum of the English eccentric Sir Edward James. We visited Las Pozas gardens where there are concrete and stone structures some finished and some half-finished such as temples, pagodas, bridges, sculptures, spiral stairways, and pavilions built adjacent to natural waterfalls. This is a great place to play “hide & seek” but it may take several hours or perhaps even days to find somebody.
Sierra Gorda Franciscan Missions: In the mid-18th century the Franciscans arrived to Jalpan and built five missions with the aid of the Pames Native Indians. The five Franciscan Missions are Santiago de Jalpan, San Miguel Conca, San Francisco del Valle de Tilaco, Santa Maria de Las Aguas de Landa, and Nuestra Senora de la Luz de Tancoyol located in the towns of Jalpan, Conca,Tilaco, Landa de Matamoros, and Tancoyol respectively. The five missions have been restored and inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2003. Their colorful facades are carved with religious, plants, flowers, and animal figures. In Jalpan we stayed at Sierra Express Hotel & suites.
We visited the city of Pachuca from where we drove to Mineral del Chico, El Chico National Park, and Mineral del Monte. We stayed in Hotel Emily (www.hotelemily.com.mx) in the heart of the city, in front of the Plaza of La Independencia where a 40 meter-high Clock Tower is located. The clock was English made; it has the Roman numeral IIII instead of IV. We took a tour in Mineral de el Monte in an English style two-deck bus and ate the original “pastes” (a meat with potato pie, delicious!!). We visited Mineral de el Chico, which reminds me of small European towns and drank Pina Colada in El Chico National Park. Pachuca’s temperature ranged during our stay from 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the day to 40 at night. It was cold but we enjoyed it.
We drove from the cold weather of Pachuca to the warmth of Tecolutla. Tecolutla is a small beach town located at the Gulf of Mexico. We stayed at the Santa Luisa Finca and Resort (www.fincasantaluisa.net) located in Gutierrez Zamora 10 kms from Tecolutla. We slept in a room overlooking the Tecolutla River. We woke up early the next morning to visit a place in Tecolutla beach where they release turtles into the ocean from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. The place is a small private conservation site that the owner, Fernando Manzano Cervantes, called “papa Tortuga”, has been protecting and releasing green and Kemp’s Ridley turtles for 34 years (www.vidamilenaria.org.mx). By giving a small donation, we purchased two t-shirts. We adopted and released two turtles. I named my adopted turtle, “Ed” after my co-worker in New Orleans who loves turtles and Angel named his “Jasmyn” after his grand-daughter. After making a wish and releasing the turtles, we received a certificate of adoption. The same day, we took a boat tour along the Tecolutla River and we saw mangroves, wild birds, and alligators.
We drove 30 kms from Tecolutla to visit the small town of Papantla, important market town for the Totonac Native Indians. Papantla is famous for its vanilla products and Vanilla Festival. Six kilometers from Papantla, there is the Totonac Native Indian Culture archeological site of “El Tajin” where we visited its museum, took a guided tour of the ruins, and watched with amaze the Totonac Indians performed their traditional “Voladores rite” (volar means fly). The performance consisted of five men climbing a 30 meter-high metal pole and four of them tying their ankles to a rope attached to the top of the pole while one danced and played ceremonial music on a tiny platform. Later four of them slowly descend to the ground by allowing their rope to unwind from the pole by revolving. It was a goose bumps experience. They performed all of it without safety net.
We will continue to visit from our base camp Guanajuato, the cities of Leon, San Miguel de Allende, Zacatecas, Guadalajara, and San Luis Potosi that are located in central Mexico. Stay tune for the next update.
NEW SECTION in our web site: We added a new section called “Country Travel Itinerary”. It is intended for those of you who want to see the location of the places we visited and/or plan to visit in Mexico with some additional information.
Hasta Luego and God bless you!
Update September – October 2008
We planned to leave
I was a little bit nervous because of all the negative news and information that I heard. NO! NO! NO!
In Creel, we met extraordinary people such as Eric and Adriana. This couple adopted 39 homeless children from ages 7 months to 14 year old. Believe me there is no mistake! They have 8 kids of their own and 39 adopted. Check out their web site www.fundacionmanosunidas.org. If you want to donate to Casa Hogar Manos Unidas use the information below:
INTER-BANK CODE: 012767001555404025
If you have any questions email Eric and Adriana at [email protected]
Also, we made friends with the owners of a hotel called “La Posada de Creel”, www.laposadadecreel.com. Moli, Luis Enrique (Moli’s husband), and Moli’s son, Mario Alejandro, were wonderful with us. Several nights we visited them, played cards, ate dinner, and drank wine. We had a lot of fun and learnt two new table games.
We visited the Tarahumaras Native Indians’ museum, Copper Canyon (the view of the canyons from Divisadero, Cumbres de Sinforosa and Bufa are outstanding), San Ignacio de Arareco
We rode el CHEPE from Creel to the city of
We spent some time in Creel before we headed to Batopilas, Satevo, Basaseachi, and
We rode a public bus to the mining town of
While visiting Basaseachi waterfall (246 meters drop), we stayed at a cabin in the national park where our neighbors, native Indians from Mayan descent, invited us to participate in a fire ceremony. This ceremony has been celebrated by native Indians in North, Central and
Afterwards, we drove to
A 45 minute drive from
Creel gave us a little treat with “La Vuelta a
After 3 weeks, we left Creel, the canyons, and the Tarahumaras Native Indians and headed to the City of
Hasta Luego! Mireya
Update August – September 2008
While staying in Bellechase at my sister-in-law Claudia’s home, we went to watch a prelim football game of the
Hasta luego! and check out NEW photos
Update June – August 2008
In Puerto Rico
I have been sightseeing a lot, doing so much, and traveling from Puerto Rico to Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, and back to LA that I could not keep up with my updates but here it is.
In early May, Angel and I made a list of things that we have not done and that we wanted to do before leaving Puerto Rico (PR). On May 15, we moved from my in-laws’ house to a condominium in the ESJ Towers in Isla Verde which is a tourist area with a lot of hotels (Ritz Carlton, Marriot, Ambassador, Holiday Inn, etc), beaches, and the Muniz Marin International airport. We lived on the 14th floor where I can view the beach on the left and the airport on the right. We lived in this place for 2 months and 1 week. We did not use the air conditioner at all because we had 24/7 wind from the beach. It was awesome! As always you can see photos in the photo album in this web site.
We went snorkeling to the west of the island at Guilligan Island and I did not see “Ginger” neither “Gilligan” BUT I saw different types of fish that I never had seen before. Also, we hiked to the highest point of El Yunque National Forest (east). This tropical rain forest is managed by U. S. Department of Agriculture and it has 28 miles of well maintained trails. Hiked one of the Trails of the Dry Forest in Guanica (west) where the temperature was 105 degrees Fahrenheit, oh Yea! it was hot!. The trails are maintained by Department of Recursos Naturales in Spanish or Department of Natural Resources in English. Took a passenger ferry from old San Juan to Catano area where we ate in an excellent restaurant named Don Tello. They serve great PR food and had a trio singing traditional PR songs.
We had Angel’s family reunion at his sister Maria and her husband Tua’s house. She cooked a HUGE pot of pigeons peas and rice (it is a traditional dish in PR). Angel and I visited again Angel’s friends Jose and Tati in Cabo Rojo. We rode in Jose’s boat around Cabo Rojo stopping and swimming at different beaches. In the way back to the marina we rescued a family whose boat ran out of gasoline. I learnt that is MANDATOY to rescue people who are stranded at sea. Visited the City of Ponce with its beautiful water fountain and attended a track and field meet. There were participants from Canada, USA, Mexico, Central, and South America.
Visited Gienell’s parents and her sister in the town of Dorado where we ate delicious food and received great hospitality. Gienell works for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is a Civil Engineer, graduated from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus, and was recruited by Angel last year along with four more engineers.
We spent two days researching for information on Angel’s great-grandfather (Angel G. Mislan Huertas) who was a brilliant and famous music composer and musician (1864-1911) at the General library of the Instituto de Cultura de Puerto Rico (Cultural Institute General Library) in San Juan and at the San Sebastian library. We found his bibliography written by Helen Santiago.
Visited Tamarindo beach, town of Patillas , Florida, and Guayama, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. We rode the metro train.
Our favorite bakery was “Panaderia y Reposteria La Madrid “ in Bayamom, where they serve hot meals, sandwiches, pastries, wine, beer and the most delicious bread called Pan Sobado” at low prices.
My favorite beautician was Celimar who is very talented fixing hair and with her singing. She sang while she was working on my hair.
We lived in Puerto Rico from February 8 to July 23. In the way back to New Orleans, LA, on July 23, our airplane made connection in Newark, New Jersey. When we arrived in the Newark Airport all the evening flights were cancelled due to bad weather (strong thunderstorms). Our flight was scheduled to leave at 8:30 p.m. that night. Well! it did not happen! We scheduled a flight for the next day at 7:30 a.m. and spent the night in a Raddisson hotel near the airport. When we showed up at the airport the next day at 5:30 a.m., Continental’s counter employee said that our flight was cancelled again and that they rescheduled a flight that will leave at 10:30 P.M. Well, like good traveler that we are, we decided to buy tickets for the train that left to New York City at 9:30 a.m. In New York City, we ate breakfast/lunch meal in Chinatown, ate Din Sum, and went sightseeing for a while. At 4:00 p.m. we took the train back to Newark Airport and at 10:30 p.m. took off to New Orleans. It was a nice delay!
We arrived in New Orleans and left for Baton Rouge where we spent three weeks at Cristina’s apartment (Angel’s daughter). Later, we left for Atlanta to spend a week at Sadie’s house (Angel’s daughter) and her husband Andy. We met with his other daughter, Leticia and her husband Mike and their children Jasmym and Calib in Metairie. Also, we met with Cristina and her boyfriend Alejandro in Gretna.
While I’m writing this update, we are visiting my sister-in-law Claudia (from my previous marriage), her husband Guy, and children Celeste and Connor in Bellechase.
Check out the photo album, I have the NEW photos at the top.
Hasta luego and God Bless!
April - May 2008
In Puerto Rico
YEAAA! We have been doing so much that it will take me a week to write everything we have done. I’ll update on the most memorable of events.
We celebrated Angel’s mom birthday in Hipodromo El Camarero (racetrack). Bet at the horses and lost but we had fun.
Holy Week in Bayamon - We spent Good Friday watching a parade. The floats of the parade were very realistic and dramatic.
We took a day tour of Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve. All visitors to the reserve have the option to fill out an information form so we did. The tour was great. We saw red, white, black, and button mangroves, iguanas, crabs, ocean, beaches, a lighthouse, and the most northeast corner of the Island and much more. As we were leaving the reserve, the assistant director of the reserve called us and invited us to attend a two-days wetlands work-shop for free that included breakfast and lunch. Of course, we said YES! We attended the workshop where we learned about the different types of mangroves, identified birds and their singing; went snorkeling where we saw crabs, fish, corals (brain). During the workshop, our team presented what the word "Mangrove" meant with a drawing and text. We also went into a bioluminescent lagoon, one of the three bioluminescent places that Puerto Rico has.
Luquillo Beach – East Part of the Island. We stayed for a week. Went to the beach and saw a baseball game.
Las Croabas – Ate a whole fried fish. Fresh fish! It was caught that morning.
Mayaguez - We visited Angel’s alma mater, the university where he graduated in Civil Engineering. The University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus (on the west part of the Island).
Vieques Island - We went sailing and snorkeling with Captain Bill and met our friends Eddie & Barbara and Meko & John from Long Island, New York. Captain Bill allowed me to steer the sail boat for a while, it was a great experience. During the sailing trip, Barbara invited us to join them at her sister’s beach house called El Ensueño (the enchanted) where she, her husband Eddie, and her friends Mico & John were staying. That afternoon, Angel & I joined our new friends. Later that evening we went to eat dinner at La Esperanza, a town in the south side of the island. It was a lot of fun meeting new people. We met Abu (from Africa) & Cristina a couple who lives in California while we were snorkeling in Red Beach at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife National Refuge . Also, we went kayaking one night in Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay at La Esperanza. The named “Mosquito” says it all, we were eaten by mosquitoes while standing at shore. Angel cooked the biggest fresh lobsters I have ever seen in my life at the kitchen of Las Olas Beach house where we stayed for a week.
Cabo Rojo - Visited Angel’s close friends Jose & Tati and stayed a long weekend. We also visited La Parguera (a bioluminescent bay), drank the most famous sangria Coño (Coño means “shit” in Puerto Rican language). After drinking a couple of sangrias you start saying bad words. Visited El Faro (the lighthouse) with its salt flats and beach.
I uploaded new photos, see World Trip Photos album.
Hasta luego and God bless!
In Puerto Rico
We celebrated Angel's niece (Margarita) baby shower. We visited the town of Ciales where Angel's dad was borned and raised. Also, we visited the town of Baranquitas, Guajataca beach, Arecibo Observatory, and City of Mayaguez. we wachted an eclipse of the moon.
See new photos. hasta luego!
In Puerto Rico
We visited a small town called "San Sebastian" where the town square was dedicated to Angel's great-grandfather, Angel G. Mislan Huertas. He was a musician and a composer.
We also visited Utuado, Lake Guajataca, and Lares (west of the Island). You can see photos in the World Trip Photo folder. We'll leave for Luquillo beach to spend a week on Sunday, Feb 24.