Paradise in Punta de Mita

We just returned from an amazing trip to Mexico for a friend’s wedding. The wedding was in Puerto Vallarta proper, but post-wedding, we wanted to get away for a few days and pamper ourselves at a beautiful resort. I’ve always been a huge fan of W Hotels, so everywhere I go, I try to check them out. Having had several friends recommend the W in Punta Mita, we decided to check it out ourselves. Read more

Panama – Bocas del Toro

Yes, I am in Panama. I came down yesterday from Puerto Viejo after a lot of
traveling. Thursday morning I got up at 4am to catch a 6am flight to San
Jose. Once I got into San Jose, I hopped on a bus and headed straight for
the Carribean. Spent a night in Puerto Viejo. I stayed at this really cool
hostel right on the beach. They have dorms, hammocks, and tents all for
sleeping. They were out of dorms when I arrived, so I camped it out for the
night in my own little tent. The hostel had a bar, a bunch of hammock areas,
a treehouse room that you could stay in and a common area with chairs and
hammocks in another treehouse. It was really unlike any hostel I had ever
been to. The town is really cool at night, but during the day, there´s not
really a lot to (at least when the surf is low like it has been) and the
beaches there are less than great. So, I jumped on a bus the next morning
and headed south.

In order to get to Bocas, I had to walk across the Costa Rica/Panamian
border, which was in essence an extremely old rickety bridge. You have to
walk on planks they´ve laid across it because if not, there´s a good chance
you will fall through the giant holes in the bridge to the river below. Once
you get across, you take a taxi to a nearby Port Town and then jump on a
water taxi which takes you through these beautiful mangroves (similar to the
river safari tour at Disneyland). Bocas is a group of islands just south of
the border. There´s numerous hotels (or botels) that sit right on the waters
edge. Most of the good ones are pretty pricey, and out of my budget.
Instead, I´m staying in what is pretty much a crazy party hostel.

Today we took a tour out to Dolphin Bay and the Zapatillos Islands.
Basically, you hire a boat because that´s the only way to get anywhere. The
area is absolutely beautiful and the ocean water in between the islands is
extremely calm and acts like a mirror to the sky. All you see is islands and
flat water for miles.

The Dolphin Bay was very entertaining as we got to see dolphins in their
natural environment. Some of the boats would come and circle the dolphins
and the dolphins would swim and jump in their wake following the boats for
ten minutes at a time in some cases.

We stopped for lunch out in the middle of nowhere at a restaurant on stilts
next to a small island and then headed over to Zapatillos. Zapatillos is two
islands fairly close together and is far out from Bocas, so the only way to
get there is to go on one of these tours. Luckily, hardly any one was out
there. Most of the people in my group decided to snorkel, but I went on the
far side of the island to swim and lay in the sun. There are no services,
hotels, shops, or anything on the island…so you feel as if you are in the
middle of nowhere. Fortunately for me, no one followed, so it was as if I
had the entire island all to myself. It was so great to just be by myself
relaxing on a beautiful beach. Needless to say, I´m getting a pretty damn
good tan!

Honduras – Roatan

I just left one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen…West Bay in
Roatan, Honduras. I spent the last couple of days there, staying at West Bay
Lodge which is owned by a couple from Portland. The sand was so white and so
fine and the water was this beautiful, beautiful color of turquoise.
Everytime I looked at it, I just couldnt believe that a place like that
actually existed…it was just so picture perfect. Tuesday morning I got up
early and walked out to the beach before anyone was really up…so I got the
most amazing pictures of a completely empty beach…They are surreal.

My time in Roatan was pretty relaxed. I basically just worked on my tan and
then went out in West End last night where all of the backpackers stay. The
only people there right now are really the people that live and work
there…but there are definitely a lot of expats. I ended up drinking
Frodkas (Vodka and Fresca….yes, they have Fresca at the bars here) all
night for the sum of $5. Gotta love Honduras!!!

Now, I´m in the hole of all holes…La Ceiba….which is essentially just a
gateway to the Bay Islands. It reminds me of Bangkok and I haven´t seen one
tourist yet. Luckily, I´m on a plane tomorrow at 6am to head back down to
Costa Rica. Then it´s off to Puerto Viejo and Bocas del Toro. I´m actually
excited to get back down there as I haven´t been traveling with anyone over
the past couple of days….so it will be good to get back in the backpacker

Guatemala – Tikal

A little over a year ago, I was looking through a book I have called the Top
100 Manmade Wonders of the World. I was flipping through it, noting the
places I had been to, but was also trying to get ideas as to where I was
going to travel to next. Looking through the book, the pictures of Tikal,
Guatemala instantly caught my eye. I’m not really a “historical monument”
kind of girl. I tend to gravitate towards the beaches and tropical places
more so than I ever do places with a lot of history…but for some reason
Tikal just really struck a chord with me. It was that book and those
pictures that made me decide to travel to Central America in the first place
and today, I was fortunate enough to see the Maya ruins of Tikal.

I traveled yesterday from Caye Caulker to San Ignacio, which is the
adventure capital of Belize. The town itself is nothing glamorous, but the
area, called Cayo, has numerous waterfalls, caves, rivers, Maya ruins, etc.
and just 20 minutes from the Belize-Guatemala border. I knew I didn’t have a
lot of time to really spend in Guatemala, so I decided to take a day trip
from San Ignacio to Tikal, which is about two and a half hours away.

The site itself was gorgeous and was surrounded by a huge Guatemalan
rainforest. Unfortunately, our guide talked way too much and seemed a little
crazy as he spoke in numerous metaphors and half the time, I really couldnt
understand the point he was making, but still, I’m so glad I went to the

I took some amazing photos, many that I had seen in guidebooks and on
posters and postcards, but didn’t think I would actually be able to
get…however, that wasn’t the case at all. We climbed up a number of the
temples, and the last temple, Temple 4, gave us this insane view. We were
above the treetops and could see the jungle for miles. Off in the distance,
you could see three of the temples sticking out of the treetops, a view I
had seen numerous times, but imagined it was only visable by plane or
helicopter. It’s hard to describe, but I promise I will send pics soon so
you can get the full effect. It truly was a beautiful place.

Anyway, looks like my time in Belize has come to a close. 😦 I’m off to
Honduras tomorrow…which will again bring more relaxation and beach time
for me.

Belize – It’s Unbelizeable! (sent from Caye Caulker)

So today has pretty much been a very carefree day. We got up this morning
and had some breakfast…fryjacks are my new favorite food…went and layed
next to the beach for a while, had an iced coffee and a bagel and soon I am
going to go get a pedicure because my feet look awful right now.

We’ve made quite a few “local” friends…

Samunda is the neighborhood bar tender and he was hooking us up with some
very savory drinks last night. My favorite is the panty ripper which is
basically pineapple juice and local coconut rum. Their juice is the best
I’ve ever tasted!

Frank is the island “electronics” guru. He fixes all of the tvs, stereos,
etc. and does the wiring. He was pretty funny during happy hour yesterday
and has been chatting us up (sorry…hanging out with the brits a lot) quite
a bit.

Marcos is Samunda’s painter friend. He is staying at the hostel and is an
amazing painter. When he’s not painting he’s either at the bar or laying on
his hammock.

Ross Creek (sp) owns a boat and takes people on tours of the island. He is
supposed to give me a free tour because we are “making friendship” now, so I
have to hit him up for it before I leave which is probably a couple of days
from now.

The island is extremely laid back, but I’m absolutely in the love with it.
There’s not a lot of people here, but it’s nice because its not overcrowded
and everyone seems to gather in the same place at night…which is a great
way to meet people.

Tomorrow, we are going to going to a nearby Caye called Ambergris just for a
day trip to check out San Pedro. Apparently, San Pedro is a lot more hectic
and has cars and mopeds and such….Caulker doesn’t have any motorized
vehicles which makes it an extremely peaceful place to hang out. As they
like to say here, “It’s UnBelizeable!”