A Travellerspoint blog

A TRIP AROUND VINALES

sunny 28 °C

Our first stop is the Indian Cave. The hills around this area are full of caves, some of them very large. It was an ancient indigenous dwelling was rediscovered in 1920. It is about a 200 metres walk and a little less in a boat ride at the end. The sometimes dark walk was a little creepy as we were all by ourselves and were not always sure which way to go. The little boat ride in the middle was more fun. By the time we emerged into the daylight we had had enough of spooky caves but also glad we went in.

large_270_DSC00211.jpg
large_DSC00203.jpg
large_DSC00206.jpg
large_DSC00205.jpg

We also visited another cave system which was far inland behind a a very well equipped bar, however having gone through one creepy cave system we rejected this one. On hindsight, it was probably the best of the two as this one actually contained a little village in which escaped slaves from Africa lived.

DSC00214.jpg

What we did see was this young girl who was preparing for her quinceanera. This is a celebration of a girls 15th birthday and of her coming of age. The father insisted that Helen be in a picture with her and speak in the video he was taking. She will now have a permanent record of Helen’s very weak Spanish

large_DSC00218.jpg

About 2 hours out of Vinales we find the beach.

large_DSC00220.jpg

DSC00269.jpg
large_DSC00266.jpg
large_DSC00261.jpg

The Botanical Garden. The guide book raves about it but we think it had seen better days. Please notice the very famous beer tin tree.

large_DSC00278.jpg
large_DSC00284.jpg
large_DSC00280.jpg

Mural de la prehistoria. Taking 18 artists 4 years to complete, this 120 metre long painting on a 617 metre cliff symbolizes evolution.

large_DSC00227.jpg

We drove in an old Lada but the local taxis was also available. We were not sure which one was better.

DSC00289.jpg
large_DSC00290.jpg

We say goodbye to our hosts and head back to Havana. The next day we fly back to Mexico and our home in Playa del Carmen. We loved Cuba and will definitely return to look at more of the Island.

large_DSC00293.jpg

large_DSC00274.jpg

Posted by keithandhelen 08:52 Archived in Cuba Comments (0)

THE VALLEY OF VINALES----A World Heritage Site

sunny 27 °C

Three hours after leaving Havana we reach the Vinales Valley and the little town of Vinales. The Valley is renowned for rock climbing, deep caves, tobacco, baseball, and friendly people. We experienced 3 of the 5. There was no baseball being played and rock climbing is the last thing on earth that we plan on doing.

After finding our way to our Casa Particular, we started familiarizing ourselves in our new environment. This was easy to do as the valley was so tranquil and beautiful.

The view from our room

large_DSC00191.jpg
large_DSC00193.jpg

The farmer in the field tends to his tobacco crop

large_DSC00194.jpg

Tobacco is the main commercial crop of the area and the cigars are reputedly the best in Cuba. One day our host, Juan Carlos led us on a long (1 hour each way) hike through the trails in the valley to a tobacco farm that was owned by his long time school friend.

Harvesting the Tobacco

large_DSC00246.jpg
large_DSC00247.jpg

Transporting the Tobacco to the drying hut where it dries for 6 months and then processed with his own special mixture of mango, guava, rum, and honey all boiled in water. It is then sprayed on the drying leaves off and on for another 2 years.

large_DSC00250.jpg
large_DSC00235.jpg
large_DSC00236.jpg

Rolling the cigar

large_DSC00237.jpg
large_DSC00238.jpg
large_DSC00242.jpg

Enjoying the final product

large_9B987D48F3CDA8F787C06494ED321275.jpg
large_DSC00254.jpg

Tomorrow we explore more of this great valley.

Posted by keithandhelen 13:47 Archived in Cuba Comments (2)

THIS AND THAT AROUND HAVANA

We wandered around Havana for a couple of days and these are some of the sites that caught our attention. Wandering around was amazing and fascinating and there was no restrictions on taking any pictures, even at the military patrolled areas. At one point I noted that there were not many police around, but I did learn as I looked more closely that there were lots of men in dark clothing around the various locations we visited, just not men in uniform.

After a long walk to the bus station to pick up our tickets for our trip to Vinales, we got a taxi to Revolution Plaza.

The heroes of the Revolution: Che, Cienfuegos, and Marti. These chaps are also in memorials all over the country. At the moment it is illegal to profit from the image of Fidel or make any representations of him.

Che

large_90_DSC00097.jpg

Cienfuegos

large_90_DSC00098.jpg

Jose Marti

large_90_DSC00095.jpg

Tourists arrive in very snazzy old cars

large_DSC00099.jpg

On leaving the plaza Helen notices the best dressed soldiers with their specially tailored uniforms

large_DSC00105.jpg

We were always amazed by the old cars that plied the streets of Havana. The really good conditioned ones were rented to rich tourists, the middle of the road ones were also rented out as taxis, and the really stuck together ones were used as collectivos which means a really cheap ride. Here are just a few of the thousands of them on the roads.

large_DSC00167.jpg

large_DSC00162.jpg

large_DSC00112.jpg

An around the world touring exhibit of “Buddy Bears” have been on tour since 2002 and have finally reached a square in Havana. They represent every
country recognized by the UN and the goal is to promote living together in peace and harmony (not doing a great job so far).

Canada between Cambodia and Cameroon

large_5A09AA960D88C0B831FEBD2F70D7426C.jpg

Mexico

large_90_DSC00301.jpg

Cuba

large_90_DSC00304.jpg

Others

large_DSC00303.jpg

Around the town

Just a few pictures of beautiful Havana, beginning with the National Hotel

large_DSC00109.jpg
large_90_DSC00140.jpg
large_90_DSC00298.jpg

large_DSC00308.jpg

The Museum of the Revolution

large_DSC00174.jpg

The Museum of the Revolution----guess who these guys are

large_DSC00176.jpg

Replica of the Capital Building

large_DSC00159.jpg

art deco, a common sight

large_DSC00160.jpg

Tomorrow we are off to VINALES on the bus.

large_DSC00189.jpg

Posted by keithandhelen 07:38 Archived in Cuba Comments (1)

A WALK THROUGH OLD HAVANA

28 °C

Old Havana is an old Spanish colonial style city and is the centre of the city's tourist trade. Not only are the tourists that are staying in Havana there, but judging from the lines of tourist busses the tourists from many of the country's all inclusive vacation resorts are also there. Both Helen and I loved the Old Town and walked extensively through it for 2 days. One day we plan to go back one day and see more of the things that we missed.

A typical street in Old Havana. Most of the streets here are pedestrian only.

large_DSC00149.jpg

A Church square. There are many such squares in Old Havana

large_DSC00123.jpg

Just another street

large_DSC00124.jpg

Statues of every shape and size are scattered throughout

large_DSC00122.jpg

Both sides of the harbour are guarded by forts

large_DSC00125.jpg

A part of the Old Fort

large_DSC00134.jpg

One square is surrounded on all sides by old book sellers

large_DSC00138.jpg

The Harbour

large_DSC00137.jpg

If all else fails?

large_90_DSC00135.jpg

Posted by keithandhelen 12:55 Archived in Cuba Comments (1)

CUBA======A QUICK TRIP

sunny 25 °C

We discovered that travelling from Mexico to Cuba was a very quick flight of only 55 minutes, so we decided to beat the rush of Americans and join all the others who were trying too beat the rush of Americans, thus creating our own rush. Anyways, it was a wonderful and enlightening experience. Helen and I enjoyed every minute of the 10 days we were there and can hardly wait to go back.

Our first stop, of course, was Havana or what it is called in Cuba---------HABANA

The Casa Particular that was our home for the first 4 nights was a bit of a surprise as we rolled up to the front door. The building was big and obviously beautiful at one point in time but showed its age after 50 years of neglect. Actually 50 years of neglect is a common theme running through much of Cuba, especially in terms of roads and other infrastructures.

large_DSC00084.jpg

Much to our surprise as we entered the house , we found an elegant oasis filled with antiques and collectibles and most in perfect condition.

DSC00070_-_Copy.jpg
DSC00079_-_Copy.jpg
DSC00072.jpg
DSC00080_-_Copy.jpg
DSC00081.jpg

The inside also had a garden area and one evening our friends Jim and Sheila visited us there to pick us up for dinner in one of the many restaurants in the area.

large_DSC00310.jpg

Tomorrow, we will visit Old Habana

Posted by keithandhelen 12:35 Archived in Cuba Comments (1)

A TALE OF TWO CHRISTMAS'S

overcast

This past Christmas was celebrated by us in two different places. Starting in Playa del Carmen, we moved to Victoria, BC, and then ended up again in Playa del Carmen. It was very different in both places and we loved the whole experience. So. follow us along as we have a festive season in two parts of the world.

Decorating our yards

large_DSCF0176.jpg

large_christmas_wreath.jpg

Decorating our house

Playa del Carmen Casa Myers

large_DSC00068.jpg
large_IMG_0278.jpg
large_IMG_0265.jpg

Victoria Myers Maison

large_DSC00003.jpg

large_DSC00015.jpg
large_DSC00004.jpg
large_DSCN0520.jpg

Christmas Day in Victoria

large_IMG_0291.jpg
large_IMG_0289.jpg
large_IMG_0283.jpg
large_IMG_0281.jpg

Celebrating Christmas in Playa del Carmen

large_DSC00049.jpg
large_DSC00048.jpg
large_DSC00044.jpg
large_DSC00042.jpg

large_IMG_0293.jpg

This Blog is posted well after Christmas but we were busy in Cuba for the last little while. Stay tuned for our Cuba adventure.
We promise to be faster with this one.

Posted by keithandhelen 13:47 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

RETURN TO CAMPECHE

semi-overcast 32 °C

It was fun to make another trip to Campeche. Our first one in February 2014 was with our friends Dave and Diana. This one in October 2014 was with our friends Eduardo and Diana and their 10 month old son, Erick. These Dianas are two different people, not just one that just runs around on our trips. Because I organized both trips we stayed at the same hotel and I got the Best Western points. We also went to some new places and ate in different restaurants.

A view from our room in the Best Western which I am now a gold card holder

large_IMG_0253.jpg

large_IMG_0252.jpg

A WALK THROUGH THE OLD CITY

The old town and its narrow and meticulously cared for surroundings are now a UNESCO world heritage site.

large_IMG_0192.jpg
large_IMG_0195.jpg

Even the licence plates celebrate this designation

large_IMG_0189.jpg

Campeche is really dedicated to the arts. Four Mexican sculptors had their work featured throughout the old walled city. This group will be on display for six month when they will be replaced with works of new artists. They were all a good mix of serious and whimsical.

large_IMG_0188.jpg

large_DSCF0562.jpg

The town square is the historical centre of Campeche. The town was established in the early 1500's. The cathedral was built shortly afterwards. A walk through this centre is interesting and relaxing.

large_P1000155.jpg

Even Erick enjoys the centre

large_IMG_0205.jpg

Very few tourists are found in Campeche, however there are hourly tour trolleys running from the centre of town.

large_IMG_0197.jpg

After a busy morning in the city, we enjoyed a delicious lunch.

large_DSCF0564.jpg

As Campeche is situated on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico it is not surprising that industry is centered on water. There are a fifteen thousand Mexicans employed on the oil rigs offshore. Also, a large number of men are fishers. Octopus is the main catch and it wholesales for 85 pesos (about $8.00) per kilo. We figured out that one boat would have about $4000.00 on it. There are hundreds of boats in the fishing fleet. A stroll down the Malecon emphasizes this point .

The Malecon runs from one end of Campeche to the other.

large_0E7EA23FB8BAC3DDDDF45C1AEE2BD339.jpg

The fisherman holds up one of his catch. The truck itself is of course full of octopus.

large_IMG_0225.jpg

The money derived from fishing is very good but the boats and shacks are pretty shaky.

large_IMG_0226.jpg

large_IMG_0223.jpg

large_IMG_0221.jpg

On the edge of the shore stands a statue celebrating the three groups who founded Campeche; the Mayans, the Spanish colonists, and the ever present Catholic church. Notably absent were the Pirates who were responsible for Campeche being a walled city and helped increase it population.

large_IMG_0229.jpg

We had a fabulous meal at one of the many seafood restaurants on the Malecon. We all ate prawns, none of us had octopus

large_IMG_0212.jpg

We ended our visit to Campeche at Fuerte do San Miguel. Unfortunately the museum was closed but we all took pictures and then started home. The Fort and the walls around the city were built in the early 1700's after a series of devastating and vicious pirate attacks. On one of these attacks Henry Morgan led 1500 English, French and Dutch pirates to rampage through the town and also seize 12 Spanish ships with all their treasures and commodities such as wood and tobacco.

large_IMG_0209.jpg

large_IMG_0211.jpg

large_IMG_0210.jpg

Now, back to Playa Del Carmen

Posted by keithandhelen 12:53 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

NORTH TO ALASKA

SAILING NORTH FROM VANCOUVER

overcast 18 °C

After cruising over the Straits of Georgia on the BC Ferries to Vancouver, we gather our luggage and board the "Zaandam" for our week trip to Alaska and back. Not knowing how cold it may be we were overloaded with clothing for every type of weather, plus outfits of both casual and formal attire.

Setting sail at 5PM, we slowly travelled through Vancouver's beautiful harbour. Here is Helen leaving Canada Place.

large_IMG_0036.jpg

Keith enjoys the view of West Vancouver from our balcony.

IMG_0037.jpg

IMG_0039.jpg

We enjoy a sail-away buffet on the Lido Deck.

large_IMG_0040.jpg

large_IMG_0041.jpg

AFTER ONE DAY SAILING WE REACH JUNEAU, THE CAPITAL OF ALASKA

Juneau is a product of Alaska's golden past when gold was discovered there in 1880. This Capital city is the largest city we visited but just a larger version of the others. It is completely inaccessible by road and is wedged at the foot of the Coastal mountain range.

large_IMG_0050.jpg
large_IMG_0071.jpg
large_IMG_0072.jpg

The Mendenhall Glacier with its ice face dipping down into Mendenhall Lake is located about half an hour out of Juneau. It is 12 miles long and 1 1/2 miles wide and is reported to be the most viewed glacier in the world.

large_IMG_0076.jpg
large_IMG_0075.jpg

OUR NEXT STOP, SKAGWAY

Skagway served as the jumping off point for the tidal wave of prospectors who arrived in 1897 heading for the Yukon gold rush. The aboriginal name is Skagua, which means "home of the north wind", which in our opinion they got that right. The town now is protected as a National Historic Site. There were many examples of Russian influences ranging from the architecture to the many trinkets for sale in the town.

large_IMG_0083.jpg
large_IMG_0086.jpg
large_IMG_0087.jpg
large_IMG_0088.jpg
large_IMG_0089.jpg

GLASS BLOWING IN SKAGWAY

large_IMG_0091.jpg
large_IMG_0097.jpg
large_IMG_0099.jpg
large_IMG_0106.jpg
large_IMG_0110.jpg
large_IMG_0105.jpg
large_IMG_0111.jpg
large_IMG_0113.jpg

TRACY ARM

=====A DAY OF CRUISING==

This was a perfect (except for the weather) day of cruising up Tracy Arm. This long fjord is dramatic with sheer mountain walls rising a mile high
straight from the water and are cut by cascading water falls. The Sawyer Glacier was calved while we were there, creating new ice bergs which constantly pinged and banged against the ship while we were there.

large_IMG_0132.jpg
large_IMG_0152.jpg
large_IMG_0137.jpg
IMG_0135.jpg
large_IMG_0134.jpg
large_IMG_0145.jpg

KETCHIKAN------OUR LAST STOP

This small town is another one without a land way out. Its claim to fame is that it is one of the soggiest towns in Alaska with an annual rainfall of between 160 and 200 inches a year. It also calls itself the salmon capital of the world. Other Canadian cities also make this claim.

large_9A55DBD7ABB6927B132F70D9DBD5E977.jpg
large_IMG_0162.jpg

The centre piece is Creek Street, a row of wooden houses built on pilings along a salmon creek. Up until the mid 1950's it was the local red light district with more than 30 brothels. Today the houses all are filled with the inevitable tourist souvenirs.

large_IMG_0163.jpg
large_IMG_0164.jpg

HOMEWARD BOUND

large_IMG_0165.jpg

NOW, IT'S TIME TO PACK FOR MEXICO

Posted by keithandhelen 15:46 Archived in USA Comments (0)

KEEPING BUSY IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN

sunny 34 °C

The time here has neared an end for the time being. The months have passed by very quickly and you may wonder what we do from day to day.
Well.........................................................................................................................

Very often you find us looking like this.

large_DSCF0399.jpg

large_DSCF0401.jpg

large_DSCF0403.jpg

Helen and her friend Carole begin to take painting classes. Please notice the studio decorations, it becomes a restaurant in the evening. Neither of them were tempted to eat there.

Helen and Carole get started

large_DSCF0308.jpg

Natasha , the teacher from Germany, encourages the artists

large_DSCF0282.jpg

Helen finishes her first painting and readies it for the show-----date to be announced

large_DSCF0410.jpg

Our friends Jim and Sheila come for a visit and we go out for dinner. Notice the "aquarium" behind them

large_DSCF0263.jpg

Then Jim cooks a delicious dinner at our casa.

large_DSCF0320.jpg

CARNIVAL 2014.

Once again this year we take in the Carnival Parade (better known as Mardi Gras) and all the many other activities.

large_DSCF0335.jpg

large_0B88B3832219AC681785BCEE2483F458.jpg

large_DSCF0361.jpg

Going out for dinner is a regular activity here. The food is relatively inexpensive and delicious. On this occasion we celebrated my birthday with our friends, Eduardo and Diana and baby Erick.

large_DSCF0381.jpg

The Park across the street from us is tended by all the neighbours. Here Helen is found raking leaves.

large_DSCF0395.jpg

Our garden is showing off now.

large_DSCF0394.jpg

Soon we return home to Springtime in Victoria. We will be doing all the above minus the beach (I hope there are some good girls to dance with in the 24th of May parade).

Posted by keithandhelen 17:42 Archived in Mexico Comments (3)

A SNAPSHOT OF OUR MEXICO 2014

sunny 31 °C

This year we have been very busy in our new home in Playa del Carmen. We finished some renovations and generally busied ourselves with the small details that always pop up and started to relax and enjoy our fix ups. It is really now OUR HOME.

Construction of our (upper) deck

large_9C2992092219AC68170CE30E9BAC0FB9.jpg

large_DSCF0149.jpg
large_DSCF0164.jpg

The professional painters in action

large_DSCF0166.jpg

Our new deck is now in use

large_DSCF0388.jpg
large_DSCF0393.jpg

After arriving back here in January we had a new baby that was born to our friends Eduardo and Diana to welcome. His name is Erick and he won over all our hearts.

large_DSCF0329.jpg
large_9D8A6F402219AC681772B057A1B6F89F.jpg

Helen's brother, Don and sister in law, Kirsten came for a Visit

large_DSCF0231.jpg

A Trip to Tulum--------a nearby Mayan site, unique as it is situated overlooking the ocean.

large_DSCF0249.jpg
large_DSCF0250.jpg
large_DSCF0255.jpg
large_9F394F592219AC6817C35A99CF171F79.jpg
P1010029

P1010029


large_P1010034.jpg

We make some new friends

large_DSCF0247.jpg

And of course, there is always a market These hangings are typical of this area.

large_DSCF0261.jpg

And before they leave, Don and Kirsten take us all out for dinner.

large_DSCF0244.jpg

Stayed tuned, more of our daily life to come.

Posted by keithandhelen 15:25 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

(Entries 1 - 10 of 37) Page [1] 2 3 4 »