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Miraflores, Lima, Peru

The Beverly Hills of Lima


As far as cities go, we enjoyed Miraflores, a neighborhood of Lima.
The first hostel we went to was a little depressing, but we moved to the Flying Dog which was one of the nicest hostels we've been at so far. It's very modern and clean.
It's on the edge of the central park of Miraflores which our room had a nice view of.
I got a kick out of the feral cats that inhabit the park and the ladies that come each day to feed them.
We ended up spending several days in Lima because we wanted to take care of our Brazilian visa. Thanks to a very nice and helpful lady at the embassy the process ended up being relatively painless and much quicker than we expected. We ended up getting our visa the next day from when we submitted all the required documents. We were surprised to find that even though we were in the so-called Beverly Hills of Lima, the prices were extremely reasonable, comparable to Central America but with much more developed facilities.

While we were there, we visited some ruins right in Miraflores, remains of a pre-Incan people called the Lima.

Posted by olin 21:20 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Los Angeles for a day

A quick detour for Rob and Jenny's wedding

Got a multi-city ticket from Honduras through LA to Peru so that we could go to Rob and Jenny's wedding. It was at the beautiful Los Angeles arboretum rose garden. Although we weren't too excited about going back to LA in the middle of the trip, we're glad we did. Congratulations, guys!

Posted by olin 21:08 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Punta Gorda, Belize

Two days to Honduras with a little shake in between

sunny 50 °C

We had to be in San Pedro Sula, Honduras for our next flight which proved to be easier said than done. Our best path ended up being taking a water taxi from Placencia to a nearby town called Independence. From there we got on a bus which took us to Punta Gorda. This is a bizarre town which has amazingly little to offer a tourist, yet amazingly inflated prices for the few tours that are available. Luckily for us we didn't have to pay for our thrills this time around. Around 2:30 am that night we woke up to our two story concrete building swaying as if we were up a tree in a wind storm. Off the coat of Honduras, near the island of Roatan, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake was shaking things up something fierce and we were enjoying its effects from several hundred miles away. We were both glad that there was no actual danger or damage since in our dazed states we did precious little to actually escape the room or seek cover of any kind.
The next morning we grabbed the ferry from Punta Gorda, Belize across to Punta Barrios, Guatemala.
We then had to take a small minibus to the Honduran border and then cross the border on foot. We had been assured by our guide book that there were regular buses from the border on the Honduran side, but when we arrived it seemed to be a different story because of the earthquake the night before. While we were contemplating between a very expensive cab ride or slinging our hammocks for the night a bus did show up. Unfortunately, he said he wouldn't go to Puerto Cortes (our next checkpoint) unless he had at least ten passengers. While we sweated it out, both literally and figuratively (it had been 30+ degrees celsius since Belize, but it felt like 50+ because of the humidity), a few more stragglers showed up looking to get on the bus. In the end, he left with six of us on board, none of which were anywhere near as relieved as Nelly and I. We came to a bridge which had actually been cracked all the way through by the earthquake and the side of the road was crowded with large semi-trucks which had pulled over since their weight and cargo (fuel) made crossing the bridge unwise. Our bus driver was not deterred by the sight and barely brushed the brake before we drove over. I was able to clearly see the two inch wide crack that went from edge to edge of the bridge as we passed over it. We arrived in Puerto Cortes without incident and then transferred to the last leg of our trip, another hour on a packed minibus to San Pedro Sula.

Posted by olin 18:03 Archived in Belize Tagged transportation Comments (0)

Caye Caulker, Belize

Sailing without a drop of wind


We made our way to Caye Caulker, Belize, another spot blessed with the distinction of having no cars. They do have golf carts, but hey. The beach wasn't much to speak of there so we hopped onto Ragamuffin Tour's sailboat the RaggaKing and sailed from Caye Caulker to Placencia over a period of three days, stopping to camp at Rendezvous Caye one night and Tobacco Caye the second. Rendezvous Caye is amazingly small, not more than a hundred by two hundred feet I'd say, and with only one small shack for the caretaker of the island, but surrounded by beautiful white sand and crystal clear water all around.

Tobacco Caye is substantially larger with several homes and small hotels. The snorkeling there was surprisingly good, however, and that night we even got to enjoy the presence of an eagle ray which we could leisurely watch from the balcony of the bar we were at as it swam in the brightly lit shallow water directly under us. The boat itself was nice and we were looking forward to learn more about sailing but unfortunately the lack of wind meant the we had the motor running non stop for the entire trip and the sail was used for nothing more than to provide shade on the boat.
The trip involved several swimming and snorkeling stops each day which we enjoyed immensely. We also managed to catch a rather large barracuda which we enjoyed for supper one night.

The boat left us in Placencia on the third day and we spent a few days just enjoying the beach and water there.

Posted by olin 17:36 Archived in Belize Comments (0)


The "New York of the Mayan world"

After another long bus ride we found ourselves in Flores, a town close to the Tikal archaeological ruins. It's an interesting little island which does not have a single tree. We stayed at a rather lively hostel called Los Amigos and we had three small quails living just under the window to our little room. For the first night we were perplexed by this amazingly loud and strange bird call only to find out the next day that it was one of these tiny quails (n o bigger than the palm of my hand) standing up tall and periodically yelling its lungs out.
Our tour of Tikal was quite interesting. Part of the appeal is the diversity of wildlife that can be seen while touring the ruins and we were not disappointed. We saw a small alligator (the big one named Goliath was apparently feeling shy), several Coati, which are related to raccoons but have a pointed snout and a much longer tail. We also saw spider monkeys, howler monkeys, a tarantula and a variety of birds.

The howlers make a spectacular racket and our guide was quite good at instigating their calls by slapping on the tree trunks and imitating their throaty howl.

Tikal is called the city of voices and our guide demonstrated why. By standing at certain spots in front of the temples and clapping your hands, there is an echo produced that is a high pitched sound entirely different from the original clap. It is difficult ot describe but fascinating to witness. The temples themselves are amazingly tall and steep, giving the comparison to New York.

They are actually the ones featured in Apocalypto. Speaking of Apocalypto, Nelly and I had been wanting to see it since Copan and had actually managed to find a DVD copy in Antigua but had been thwarted in actually watching it by various issues of region code incompatibility, not having a DVD player on our laptop, and other annoyances. It had become a game to see what the next impediment would be. At Los Amigos, just before going to Tikal I had asked if I could use their DVD and TV to watch it, and the host told me that it being pm it was a little late for a movie. To add insult to injury he slighted the movie and said it was grossly inaccurate, citing the movie's failure to portray the Mayans as astronomers and instead painting them as murderous and corrupt. I did not bother pointing out that those are not mutually exclusive traits of a society.

Posted by olin 16:58 Archived in Guatemala Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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