Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Guatemala´s population is heavily Mayan - percentages widely vary, but most people are either a mix of Mayan and European ancestry or just straight Mayan. There are Mayan language schools here in Antigua and Spanish is the second language in many rural homes. The mais y frijoles diet here dates to Mayan times and the backstrap weaving we´ve purchased so much of is Mayan in origin too.
I have a new appreciation for the most famous contribution of Mesoamerican culture to the world - chocolate. I would hardly call myself a chocoholic, but I enjoy an M&M, the occasional Twix or a hot cocoa now and again. Since I´ve been here, i´ve gained a new appreciation for Guatemalan hot chocolate (Guatemalan has sugar, the Mayans was unsweetened). It makes the expensive hot cocoas I have at home taste like the back of a postage stamp. I´m hoping to bring some home, but am a bit concerned that the supermarkets are closing for New Year´s Eve....
If I find some, i´ll have you over for hot chocolate
After another fine evening at La Casa del Mundo, we set off early Monday for a return to Antigua.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Aside from the aforementioned gringo, we all got off at the docks to catch a launch to one of the many lakeside towns and resorts. Lisa and I paid for a private boat (suckers) to get to La Casa del Mundo - easily one of the most beautiful places either of us has ever been, The hotel is the only game in town, so everyone has dinner there, ensuring interesting conversation and comparing of notes on travels here and elsewhere. Lisa reserved the hottub after dinner, so we sat underneath the very dark sky and saw more stars than I knew existed. The tub was made on site- a wood burning stove stuck in the middle of a small pool - smells of oak rather than chlorine - i may try to duplicate someday (probably harder than it looks).
An incredible place to spend a weekend
Saturday, December 27, 2008
it can .....
but there is someone in the USA - I blame an actuarial type in Risk Management at the airport - who keeps the speed set low - in order to avoid the 15 suitcase pileups and other mishaps that we saw last night at the `Guate` airport - i´ve never seen lugguage fly off the belt before - saw 3 bags do that last night - also saw 3 pileups caused by tags getting stuck or bags being off kilter before returning to the loading area.
Best baggage claim experience ever.....
Waiting in customs line at the Guatemala City airport (BTW a beautiful new place that reminded us of Bangkok´s new airport and MUCH nicer than Miami where we spent 3 hours) there was announcement that I understood enough of to presume this:
"Those who have a TACA Airlines connection to San Salvador should wait in line 1" - we were waiting in line 1 and I was expecting to get inundated with people.....
What was said:
"Those who flew in on TACA from San Salvador and other connections will find their baggage on Belt 1"
Lisa pointed out that I missed the key word "equipaje" - no real trouble would have ensued had I been left on my own, but I do understand the expression a bit more personally.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
After I got home and was enjoying my first beer (oddly, given the Gators opponent, from Kona Brewery) Oscar (our dog) came downstairs with the rarest of toys in his collection - the stuffed gator
Florida 56 Hawaii 10
I hope this bodes well for the whole season
Monday, August 18, 2008
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
The body of water is the Skjálfandi, we at the north western end (you can see the Kinnarfjöll mountains in the background) at the opening to the Arctic Ocean.
The real thing is MUCH more impressive than the video.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Today is Iceland's national holiday, celebrating indepndence from the Danes in 1944. In preparation to celebrate, Lisa and I felt we should stock up on patriotic items like Viking beer and Brennavin (when in Reykjavik..). Vin Bud keeps sparse hours (11:00- 6:00) so we snuck in at 5:50 and picked up some beer. The store was packed and the line was deep but fast moving. On our way out Lisa saw a store employee bar the turnstile for some poor schmuck who will be celebrating independence with lattol.
The difficulty and expense (nearly $20 for our 6 pack of tall boys), not to mention the significant pre-planning, the Icelanders put up with in order to party like the rock stars they are makes their dedication to their craft an inspiration to partiers everywhere.
Monday, June 16, 2008
We got into town and began a trek to the great guesthouse we'd stayed at before. There was a much livelier vibe in the street than Wednesday had held. Soon a pickup outfitted with speakers blaring radio ad babble moved slowly through the streets, moving by us on cross streets. When they passed on our street, we could see that they were promoting N3 - a local DJ act playing as part of the Festival and giving out bottles of a soft drink called "Ri Mix" - punny name. Free is rare in Iceland, so we both took a bottle and the truck moved on in the same direction we were headed.
In the main road adjacent to the river there were the loud noises of revving engines and crowds of young revelers. Through the fencing we saw pairs of cars drag racing. We later found that this was Akureyri´s 'Car Days´. The racers were a variety of 'tricked out' street cars of all makes and models - some were more obvious money pits than others. As we passed the road and stood on the bridge that overlooked the line of pending dragsters, we saw a rag tag collection of amateurs - including a number of the style of mid size
luxury SUVs popular in the US! Alright, I can envision a few of my students borrowing Mom's car and drag racing down the Palma Sola Causeway, but standing outside one of these cars was a middle aged man in too tight jeans and a leather racing jacket, strapping on a helmet.
A quick glance through the line of a dozen pending dragsters, I could see that everyone had a helmet on - glad to know that safety comes first.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
We checked out Australia´s own Hoodangers - told you it was an international festival - a rockabilly jazz group that had a poster up in every town we´ve visited. They were fun and it was an interesting scene - not our usual and it struck us that the band was used to a lively crowd.
On our way home from the show, just before midnight, we passed plenty of high schoolers hanging out, one pair of middle schoolers (hey, its still light out...), about 4 roaring house parties, one group of women headed out (things start late), and 2 people so drunk they may not
have known where they were (Iceland!)
While waiting for the bus at 8:30 the next morning, we saw one walker of shame in only a few minutes - and this was only the Saturday runtur!
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
We were passed by 6-8 large tour busses - folks who fly in from Reykjavik for various day tours and plenty of locals - I suppose we could have hitched a ride (the woman at the tourist office had suggested that as a totally reasonable option) but we trekked on our own. With time winding down and the van pickup in view, we ditched our heavy packs at the side of the road (theft is not much of a concern here), turned down the path to Godafoss to see the falls (totally worth the jog) and sprinted back to our bags in time to make our ride.
The extended exercise on a cool, overcast day produced the unfamiliar oddity (for us anyhow) of being hot and cold at the same time. Some of the tourist stuff calls Iceland the"land of fire and ice" but I don't think that is what they mean...
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Husavik has a whale museum, which we visited as a primer. All you wanted to know about whales, whaling in Iceland (more interesting than the biology stuff, in my opinion) and a ´whale walk´with a half dozen skeletons of whales. The folks at the museum are clearly ´save the whales´ types, which I feel safe in presuming the restaurants offering whale meat are not.
We got on the boat and drove out for 45 minutes (i suppose ´sail´ is the proper verb). We took a Dramamine before the trip and it was a good thing - when I saw the older French lady spewing over the side of the gunnals, I almost lost it myself - she hurled again right when we saw the whales (chumming the water...?). I focused on the horizon and thought about ice a lot - kept my composure.
After awhile, we spotted another boat and 2 humpbacks. We watched them for what seemed like a long time - pretty active creatures - and then rode home. I have what I think will be good video footage of a whale surfacing...
We then headed home, enjoying a bit of hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls. I suppose it may have been the late timing (around 6:45-7:30 for the ride home) or the pðst-whale adrenaline let-down, but this is when the cold air hit...read the other post for details.... I just want to emphasize: Arctic Ocean
At 17:00, we boarded our whalewatching tour with Northern Sailing, having chosen them over seemingly in descernible competition - same price, same time departure, same snack of hot chocolate and cinnamon roll. We saw whales (see another posting) but at this moment I'd like to talk temperature.
It was cold. Very cold. The wind was coming off the Arctic Ocean! Not in the figurative way that the weatherman talks about "Arctic winds" - we could actually SEE the Arctic Ocean!! While pondering that for a moment, I realized that there was no land between us and the North Pole - struck me as an odd thought - I briefly thought of asking whether the company had an "iceberg tour" aside from the whale tours and puffin tours...did not inquire.
I was wearing the warmest set of clothing this Florida boy owns - a short sleeved undershirt, a long sleeve shirt, a sweater, a lined light jacket - topped with a ski hat and gloves, long but light pants, shoes and socks. (don't laugh you Northerners - jealousy is unbecoming) I have no concerns that these clothes will get me comfortably through the rest of the week in Iceland where it stays in the 50s most of the time, but it was a bit light for the Arctic. Lisa borrowed a suit from the company but was still cold.
Off to a well earned and geothermally heated shower...
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Here in Akureyri, we can see snow capped mountains, glacial river, and bright green grass.
Weather is great. It was overcast when we arrived but the sun is out now and the temperature is making me wonder if I overpacked....
Scandinavian furniture? It might look like the Lieffur Eriksson
terminal at Keflavik International Airport.
A lot of folks visit Iceland as part of a stopover in Atlantic
crossing. Brilliant marketing by Icelandair doesn't charge a fee for
stopover and emphasizes the short flights - 2 flights around 4 hours
instead of one 7 hour flight.
The Customs official's first question to everyone was "where are you
going?". He showed no glint of cheer when we said we'd be staying in
Iceland. He did ask if it was our first trip and was definitely happy
about our response. When he was looking for a place to stamp he noted
our Cambodia visas and pointed out "This is not Cambodia" with a laugh
and "enjoy your stay"
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Pre boarding just started
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Point here: http://picasaweb.google.com/MurrayFactor
Travel blog next week......
Monday, March 24, 2008
Thanks Boe for being the ringleader and thanks everyone else for
making it a great and mostly memorable night (i'm sure you all
remember it better than I)
For those who missed it, I can't really say that "What happens at the
'Roo, stays at the 'Roo" since we all know that is false and it would
only cover the first third of the day anyhow....
How about "alls well that ends at the Waffle House..."
Monday, January 21, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
Saturday began with Mom, Lisa and I hitting the road to Fort Myers and help from Lynne. The primary goal of the day was a rehearsal dinner location. We scouted several places and ended up with one that should accommodate. Along the way we met with our photographer for the first time and went to see the reception site all done up for another wedding. Mom got her first look at the site all together. After all that was through we did some hotel wheeling and dealing (more info soon).
Today, Lisa and Mom addressed all the invitations while I wrangled with address lists and web sites.
Saturday, January 05, 2008
Took care of hair and makeup (for Lisa, not me), our cake (I love cake) and met with Father Bob. I learned that you have to bring your own cake cutting device to a wedding - since obviously they don't have that kind of thing in a banquet hall.
Lisa and I walked through 10 hotel rooms today but since every hotel sales person in town takes weekends off, we couldn't arrange a deal yet (we have choice 1, 2 and 3)
I think we're taking tomorrow off
Friday, January 04, 2008
Tonight was the tasting at the country club hosting our reception. We loved it! The traditional entrees were well done and there is a subtle creativity to the side dishes. I know that most wedding meals tend to blur together, and I'm sure this will not be an enormous exception for most folks, but I'm sure you'll enjoy it in the moment.
Early rising tomorrow for a slew of appointments and tasks.