Sunday, October 20, 2013

Tortuguero National Park - Costa Rica

Alright, I've been remiss about blogging lately!  In June-July, I spent a month in San Jose, Costa Rica for work.  It was great to spend time with great friends I met there on my first stay there for work.  I was also lucky to go to Tortuguero National Park in NE Costa Rica.  This beautiful area is a part of Costa Rica's ecotourism.  They decided to preserve the beautiful natural landscapes for tourism rather than use the land in other ways to make money and destroy the natural environment.  Just a few photos from this amazingly memorable trip!

Our first stop on the trip was for breakfast and we saw this painted map of CR.  I love the scale of the zipliner guy over the trees.

Baby sloth on the drive to the park.  Amazed he and his mama let us touch him.

Nisey - happy to be on a boat!

Once we reached the park, we took a two hour boat ride through the canals and then to a river to search for wildlife

We saw many birds and crocodiles - and this Jesus Christ Lizard (the one that walks/runs on water)

Our cabin/room at the amazing place we stayed.  The animal sounds were incredible in this jungle hotel!

The dock at our hotel where our shuttle boat always picked us up

Nothing like fresh, cold coconut water and meat by the ocean

Nisey is an expert coconut meat scraper-outer

At night, we went to the beach and were guided to see some of the turtles laying eggs.  We were lucky to see three sea turtles and watch one lay her eggs and cover them up again.  The turtles were over a meter long and just amazing to watch!  No photos were allowed, but this shot (stolen from Wikipedia) at least gives a glimpse of the size.  The turtles lay over 100 eggs and they hatch in 3 months time.  Seeing this firsthand was probably one of the coolest things I've ever seen.  Turtle conservation projects happen all over the world to help preserve these amazing animals.  It was estimated the turtle we watched lay her eggs was about 250 years old!  Most turtles are killed at a young age by poachers and predator animals.
The light outside our cabin - love the butterfly!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Antigua and Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

In May, a very good friend came to visit and we explored new and old parts of Antigua together as well as made my first trip to Lake Atitlan (about two hours from Antigua).

Cerro de la Cruz - a beautiful overlook of Antigua 

Cerro de la Cruz

Grateful for an amazing friendship!

Lunch at one of my favorite restaurants - amazing food and a fantastic garden!

Love this!

Lake Atitlan is one of the most peaceful and beautiful places I have ever visited.  There are several villages around the 15 mile wide lake that is also surrounded by several volcanos.  Needless to say, the views around the lake are stunning!

The view from the Panajachel dock - the best way to get around the lake is by boat.  Love that!

We rented a house for a couple nights - absolutely beautiful house and gorgeous setting with amazing hosts!

Our cozy bungalow with an amazing view...

View from our house!

View around Santa Cruz - little village our house was in

View around Santa Cruz 

View around Santa Cruz 

View around Santa Cruz 

View around Santa Cruz 

View around Santa Cruz 

A cool bed/lounge area as part of one bar we stopped at

Beauty is everywhere - even in recycled bottles :)

The view from Isla Verde - a beautiful hotel next to our house

Sunset/evening sky

In San Marcos (another village around the lake) - Lee (our amazing host and guide) showed us how the community reuses plastic bottles to build walls.  There's no recycling or garbage collection here, so they have to use everything.  Great idea!

Mayan symbols

Mayan symbols

Yes, Batman truly is everywhere!  My favorite mode of transportation - tuc tucs!

A tuc tuc stop

Mayan symbols

Mayan symbols

View from San Marcos dock.  We had such a beautiful, clear day!

In the village of San Juan - the artisan village.  This village welcomes tourists during the day but preserves its community by not allowing any outside development.  They are really working to sustain the traditions of art in this community.

This fantastic artist also teaches young children how to paint and their work was incredible!

The mountain in San Juan with the Mayan face.  Can you see the nose (second bump from the left)?

Beautiful artwork around the town - depicting coffee picking

Many weaving cooperatives in this town and we stopped for one demonstration

Getting the wool on the spool

Natural, organic cotton grown in the village

Preparing to weave


Intricate and beautiful artwork!

And we got dressed up in traditional Mayan clothes too - looking good if I do say so myself!
Then a stop at a family's house to see some traditional dancing by the kids

The dance illustrates a boy meeting a girl and courting her.  All the children are in traditional Mayan clothes.

Church in Santiago - our last village stop

Here both the men and women wear the traditional costumes - looks very comfortable

Our incredible host and guide, Lee, even dressed up!

Our last stop in Santiago was to see Maximon (said Maa-shee-Mon).  He is a folk saint and important to the Mayan people.  He hears the concerns that might not be right to share with Jesus.  Offerings of alcohol and cigars are given to him.  He is hosted by one family for a year who sit with him 24-7.  When we visited, a ceremony was taking place, so we could not take pictures.  This photo is from Wikipedia.