Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Its place in the Ancient Mayan world, how the Island became a pirates' refuge, the founding of San Pedro out of the terror of civil war, life in a sleepy fishing village. In the early 1990s, after twenty years of tourism on the Island, a group of San Pedranos recognizing the need to preserve their island heritage, came up with the idea of the Ambergris Museum. The aim was to collect the history of Ambergris Caye, both ancient and recent, both material and oral, and then to present the story for residents and visitors. The Museum is proud to exhibit several fine examples of Mayan ceramics found on the Caye. These beautiful vessels from Belize's Archaeology Department are once more on the island where they were used centuries ago. The island held an important place in the network of Maya trading routes, and the exhibit includes flint tools, obsidian and pottery all of which originated on the Central American mainland. Skeletal remains have also been found, and the Museum displays fascinating examples of dental mutilation; a practice common amongst the Maya. Collections of early glass bottles, silver coins and shot represent the period in the 17th and 18th centuries when the island was a retreat for pirates and buccaneers.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Columbus landed in what is now Costa Rica in 1501. Under the rule of General Tomas Guardia between 1870 and 1882, Costa Rica developed many of its principal modern characteristics, notably the minimal role of the Catholic Church in secular matters and an adherence to the principles of democracy. Throughout the 20th century, Costa Rica has enjoyed peace and a steady growth in prosperity, with the notable exception of a civil war in 1948, which followed a disputed presidential election. Significantly, Costa Rica is the only country in the region to have abolished the national army.
In recent times, one of the most prominent political figures has been current President Oscar Arias Sanchez, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for successfully bringing warring parties elsewhere in Central America to the negotiating table.
Coconut-palm-fringed Ambergris Caye comes with one big recommendation: it's the island that Madonna sings of in 'La Isla Bonita'. Located 58km (36mi) north of Belize City, it's awash with colorful, sandy streets and offers sun-drenched days, filled with activity, by turquoise seas.
As the country's top island destination, the best time of year to visit Ambergris Caye is during the dry season (December to May). The wet season (June to November), which is also hurricane season, is not so wet it spoils your holiday, but it's always nicer to relax out of the pouring rain.
Tourist hoardes arrive in the two weeks each side of Christmas and Easter. Considering Ambergris Caye is the most popular of the cayes, book accommodation in advance. During these periods, be aware that prices are at their highest.
There are festivities aplenty around Fiesta de Carnaval (February/March), Holy Week (March/April) and from Christmas to New Year. If you're planning your trip around these times, bring your party shoes as it's all about music, dancing and fun!
For a truly low-key start to the day, be breakfasting in Estel's by the Sea, a sandy-floored seafront restaurant where you can build your own breakfast from a staggering array of options. There's plenty to do on Ambergris, and if feeling active, the choice is going snorkeling or diving the reef, or hiring a windsurfer, sailboat or kitesurfer. If in the mood for something a little more relaxed, catch a water taxi up to one of the northern resorts for lunch and some sea-gazing from a deckchair. Mata Chica and Portofino - both up here - have two of the best restaurants on the island. Back in town, try to make it for happy hour at the beachside Cannibal's Bar, which attracts a good mix of tourists, expats and locals. More drinks and some live music are on the cards at Fido's, from where it's a short walk to Mango's, an award-winning restaurant that's one of the best in Belize. The bar out the front of the Jaguar's Temple always gets a good crowd, and the disco inside heats up around 11.00. For more dance floor action, head down south to Deja Vu, where the party starts later, but often goes until the wee hours.
Travel between Belize City and Ambergris Caye's town of San Pedro is quick and easy, though you'll certainly get windswept on the 90-minute water-taxi journey.
Maya Island Air and Tropic Air run flights to/from San Pedro and Belize City (15-20min), Caye Caulker (10min) and Corozal (25min).
Caye Caulker Water Taxi Association runs boats between San Pedro, Caye Caulker and Belize City. Boats to Belize City (1-1.5hr), go via Caye Caulker (35min). The Thunderbolt, departing from San Pedro's lagoon-side dock, travels to Corozal (2hr), and stops at Sarteneja. It also goes to Belize City via Caulker.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Others come to retire.
However out of all the different people who come to Panama, there are those in that group who also come for much more: the adventures. And you can find your share of adventure here. There are 14 national parks in Panama covering an area of roughly 22% of the country. This is quite an area when you consider that 30% of the country is still covered by jungle. What probably appeals most to the adventure seeker here is the fact that Panama is still a simple land having not been polluted by mankind. There are many unexplored trails in the forests and something new to see just about every day.
One tour company, Wildland Adventures, offers these types of adventurous excursions into the rain forests that the entire family can enjoy. Remember that the jungle is a very beautiful place yet most of us do not realize just how dangerous this place can be. This is the wild and do not forget it. This is why it is especially advisable that you have an experienced tour guide lead you through this environment.
There are all sorts of kayaking adventures in Honduras. In fact, a company called Rios Honduras runs adventure tours and they have a contact address in Eagle, Colorado. They have developed a set of trips with a wide variety of choices for adventurers to explore Honduras. Their packages range from touring the ancient Mayan Ruins to Caribbean getaways. They have scuba packages for those interested and a Surf and Turf package that takes you kayaking through the world's largest barrier reef.
Mantaraya Tours offers a tour on the northern or tropical part of the Amazon in Colombia. This is a fully-guided tour that takes you through an ecosystem of swamps and vegetation in the jungle where you can see pink dolphins, jaguars, otters, and manatees. In the canopy part of the jungle tour you will see all sorts of lizards, monkeys, birds, and bugs.