Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Caye Caulker

 Caye Caulker (2) Off the coast of Belize we had our first taste of the Caribbean sea at Caye Caulker. Its all very nice but a bit pricey so we didn’t stay too long.

Caye Caulker (5) We at least stayed long enough to take a sailing trip out to the barrier reef for the best snorkelling of our trip so far. All the pictures of turtles, stingrays, nurse sharks and moray eels are on the underwater camera so you’ll have to take our word for it and make do with Sarah swanning about on the yacht instead.

San Ignacio

San Ignacio (3) After learning some Spanish in Guatemala we crossed into English speaking Belize to make sure we forgot it all instantly. First stop was a lazy jungle town called San Ignacio.

San Ignacio (14) We went on a day trip called the ATM tour, which was a lot better than it sounds. We swam and waded up an underground river to find some caves with the remains of some ancient human sacrifices.

 San Ignacio (23) Food Pic #29. Jerk chicken, rice and beans. Belize has some tasty Caribbean food.

San Ignacio (21)  Iain’s ever expanding head was getting him down.

 San Ignacio (22) But a trip to Floyd the barber didn’t seem to perk him up.


Flores - Guatemala

Flores (9) We left the mountains of Mexico for the jungle of North Guatemala – or at least a pretty little town on a lake, near the jungle. We were struggling without our Spanish speaking guides, Ali and Ed, so stayed in Flores a while to take some lessons.

Flores (57) Our teacher Paqui, was great and did her best with the willing yet hapless estudiantes. At one point she looked up the English translation of her name ‘Paquita’, which turned out to be ‘Fanny’. She was very disappointed when we explained what her name meant in contemporary English – American or British.

 Flores (49) A school outing.

Flores (43)  Iain’s trying to point out the second biggest ball court of the Mayan empire. It’s so big it didn’t fit in the photo. It’s also still unexcavated so not much of a photo really.

Flores (45)  Iain quite chuffed to be holding a piece of Mayan pottery, about 2000 years old.

Flores (54) Sarah’s birthday cake. It was accompanied by a rendition of “Feliz Cumpleanos a ti” (Happy Birthday to You) by the school staff. They have a second verse “Queremos Pastel” that demands to have cake.

Flores (56) Our headmaster, archaeological guide, cake provider and general host, Dieter. Anyone visiting Flores should make sure they bump into him at some point, for at least a beer if not for one of his tours. Some German’s do have a sense of humour, it’s just not the same as anyone else.

Flores (58) Birthday margarita.

Flores (61) Food pic #27. Umm big burritos.

Flores (15)  Food Pic#28. Pescado Blanco, from the lake. (Also ‘Tasty fish found only in one lake in the world’ #2.)

Flores (84)  Lake activities.

  Flores (105) Most people visit Flores for just one day as a base to see the ruins at Tikal so we saved them for our last day. They’re really impressive, spread over a vast area of jungle with monkeys to keep you entertained between each ruin. We think we’ve seen enough ruins for a while now though, as like Buddhist temples and Colonial churches, it feels like ‘you’ve seen one Mayan ruin, you’ve seen them all’ (but don’t tell Dieter we said that – or any monks or priests for that matter).

Flores (97)

Flores (99)

Monday, 8 February 2010


Palenque (13) Heading south east through Mexico we were entering Mayan territory and the chance to see many of their ‘lost cities’. The first of these was impressive Palenque.

Palenque (8) 

Palenque (6) The ruins are generally found in the middle of the jungle. The jungle has some big leaves.

Palenque (17) 

Palenque (2)

Saturday, 6 February 2010

San Cristobal de las Casas

San Cristobal de las Casas (30) After finally dragging ourselves away from the beach we headed to the mountains again to get cold.

IMG_8368 On our first night we went to the cinema (a cold room at the back of a cafe) to watch a documentary about the local guerrillas, the Zapatistas, fighting for indigenous peoples’ rights. They’re still active in the surrounding forests and after the film we jumped every time a firecracker (that Mexican’s seem to love so much) went off. The situation didn’t seem so serious though, when we discovered you can buy cute knitted figurines of the outlawed guerrilla generals from the local indigenous market.

San Cristobal de las Casas Quiet colonial streets.

San Cristobal de las Casas (7) Busy colonial streets.

San Cristobal de las Casas (11) A good piƱata.

San Cristobal de las Casas (16) We went for a high altitude bike ride with a nice chap called Marco. We chose the easiest route he had on offer but Iain still nearly couldn’t continue after the first small hill. Altitude really does make a difference – as does 4 months of eating and drinking your way around the world.

San Cristobal de las Casas (35) Looking for amber in an amber museum.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Back in Puerto Escondido

Puerto Again (5) We got to spend a few more days chilling out in Puerto Escondido before we managed to drag ourselves away and head off on the road again. It was difficult to leave after just three weeks and we now realise why Ali n Ed called it home (that’s their house above) for more than a year.

Puerto Again (3) Fee fell in love with Charlie but we’re not sure she’s told Mini yet. 

 Puerto Again (7) Sarah just tormented him.

Puerto Again (20) The locals hard at work as usual.

Puerto Again (21) Before being rudely interrupted by one of the resident pelicans.

Puerto Again (19) If you look closely you can see someone surfing a quite big wave – unfortunately its not Iain as Sarah failed to capture any of the (much bigger) waves that he caught.

Puerto Again (1) Last sunset in Puerto.

Oaxaca City

Oaxaca (32)We took a short city break from the beach life in Puerto to visit the local state city and some surrounding sites. It’s a really nice town but very high up in the mountains so also pretty cold. We hadn’t realised Mexico had so many mountains so we’d dumped almost all of our warm clothes after Siberia. That meant we had to share one cardigan and a pair of jeans between us in Oaxaca.

Oaxaca (11) Monte Alban is the big local attraction – impressive ancient ruins with amazing mountain top views. Iain had read about Mesoamerica’s Mayan culture in a book and wasn’t too impressed that this place was created by some unheard of civilisation called the Zapotecs.

Oaxaca (57) More non-Mayan stuff, this time from the Mixtecs – whoever they are.

Oaxaca (42) 

Oaxaca (62) Ali n Ed have become even more ‘arty’.

Oaxaca (38) Food Pic #26. Posh starters, including cones of manchego cheese. Part of the poshest meal we’ll have for the whole trip thanks to big Sis splashing out.

Oaxaca (37) This cactus gets turned into Mescal – the superior alternative to Tequila.

Oaxaca (55) This cactus doesn’t get turned into booze but it does look a bit like a thingy.

Mexican Christmas and New Year

Mexico Christmas (23)We went to visit Ali and Ed in Puerto Escondido, Mexico and were joined by Willie for two weeks and Fee and Chris for three. That meant we got to have a long, proper (if you only count childless siblings) family Christmas and it was brilliant.

Mexico Christmas (9) Food Pic #24. Christmas Dinner. We had the works – turkey, roast potatoes, paper hats and a moustache for Sarah.

Mexico Christmas (58) New years eve started with a deep sea fishing trip, where we were joined by hundreds of dolphins swimming around the boat, jumping and spinning. We thought the dolphins would distract us from the important business of catching fish but fortunately there were so many that we soon got bored of them and forgot they were there.

Mexico Christmas (66)Sarah was very pleased with her fishing belt.

Mexico Christmas (78) We caught lots of yellow fin tuna that didn’t look that big until you got Ali to hold them up.

Mexico Christmas (77)

Mexico Christmas (82) New years eve evening was a little more traditional – we got drunk.

 Mexico Christmas (3) Food Pic #25. Service station tacos. Will didn’t let being asleep in the middle of an 18 hour bus trip stop him from eating.

Mexico Christmas (86) Most of the time was spent at the beach trying to surf and get sun burnt but we didn’t get the camera out till sunset.