Monthly Archives: March 2015

Miami Nice.

There exist in the world a great many beautiful mountains, volcanoes, cliffs, caves, valleys, lakes, geysers, glaciers, and a whole load of other natural phenomena. But there exist a great many beautiful man-made phenomena too. And that includes some really rad roads.

The most beautiful road (of course, I mean the views therefrom and therealong, not the prettiness of the asphalt:), IMHO, is in New Zealand. It’s the road to Milford Sound. There are plenty of others dotted around the globe that come near to it in terms of awesomeness: There’s the Great Ocean Road in nearby Australia. There’s the coast road of California; Route 360 on Maui, Hawaii; the road from Platja d’Aro to Lloret de Mar in Spain; the Amalfi Coast road near Naples; the roads of Crete, and many more which I’ve yet to motor along.

Just recently I checked off another entry on the list of must-drive roads of the world. Yep, I finally got round to cruising along the resplendent road to Key West, at the very bottom tip of Florida. Key West is the last in a long line of islands that stretch from the US mainland on the outskirts of Miami out towards Cuba – all connected by a road. Nice. Miami Nice. Kuril Islands governor – take note!

From Miami to Key West

From Miami to Key West

Read on: tropical paradise here and there…

Guatem-ooh-la-la volcanism.

Turns out the Ring of Fire affects Guatemala too. But then that country classic affects many, and always will :). But no, it’s the seismic-lithospheric-tectonic Ring of Fire that ensures Guatemala is fully sorted in the volcano department.

In all there are around 30 volcanoes in Guatemala – impressive for a country of its modest size. Taking a peek at trusty old Wikipedia, we see Guatemala covers approx. 100,000 square kilometers, so if we divide that by the number of volcanoes… ooh la la!: the volcanism force is strong with this one! It’s nothing on the Kurils of course (68 volcanoes in 10,500 square kilometers!), but the Kurils aren’t a whole country…

Antigua is surrounded by three volcanoes – Agua, Fuego and Acatenango – all of which were visible from our hotel:

Guatemala volcanos

Read on: Ahhh, so great being up a mountain!…

Flickr photostream

Instagram photostream

Guatemala – what a gala (of colored… rugs). Part 3.

Howdy folks. Herewith, the next installment on my recent Guatemalan adventure. Today, a report on what we discovered while strolling around Antigua Guatemala.

Brief background: Antigua was one of the capitals of the country during the Spanish Empire era. Down the years it’s been destroyed three times by volcanic or seismic ultraviolence, poor thing: First, in 1541 – under a lahar (mudflow) from Agua Volcano; and then in 1717 and 1773 – by earthquakes. How unlucky? After the third time, the authorities wisely decided to move the capital to a safer location – where it still stands today. The ruins of Antigua were abandoned and stood mostly uninhabited for centuries. Shadows of former colonial grandeur can still be seen today in the dozen (!) or so imperial cathedral and church ruins. If the place looks impressive in ruins, I thought, imagine what it must have been like intact and with roofs on!

Antigua Guatemala

Read on: street ‘carpets’ made of colored sawdust, flowers and grasses…

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Night at the (Hotel) Museum.

Alrighty. Here we are in Guatemala. I’m enthusiastically ensconced in this here hotel-with-a-difference in the heart of the country – and it’s a fascinating place. I’ve been in some interesting lodgings in my time which stretch the definition of ‘hotel‘, but never stayed in one that doubles up fully as something else at the same time. In this case – several museums!! It’s called Casa Santo Domingo, situated in the former colonial capital of the country, Antigua Guatemala.

Antigua Guatemala

Read on: Not your usual hotel…

Guatemala – what a gala (of color). Part 1.

Which airline to choose to get from Madrid to Guatemala was a no-brainer: practically the only airline to fly direct is Iberia. It’s like, why would we fly with a connection – heaven forbid a North American one? :)

So off we popped, direct to Central America…

The first bit of land on the other side of the Atlantic was Haitian (I think), and then came Jamaica. Over the mainland we flew over Honduras, and next up was our country of destination – Guatemala.

Madrid - Guatemala

Madrid - Guatemala

Madrid - GuatemalaHonduras coming into view

Incidentally, Honduras – why’s it called Honduras? You can find out here. It appears there are two alternative versions. The first starts:

In Spanish, the word “honduras” means “deep waters” or “depths”. It is a peculiar name for a country, but there is also a peculiar story behind how our country got this name.

Madrid - GuatemalaYou have reached your destination

Not everyone (who lives outside Central America maybe) is able to point out Guatemala on a world map. Not everyone knows it’s in Central America even – many think it’s in South America. But no, Guatemala is the quintessential Central American country – the most central Central American country, in fact.

It sits neatly between Honduras, Salvador, Belize and Mexico. Firther to the south there’s also Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and then Columbia and Ecuador.

I flew over this nest of cuckoos curiosity a while back. Unfortunately that was at nighttime so I saw nothing at all of it. This time things were different:

Madrid - Guatemala

Madrid - GuatemalaVolcanism on the horizon. My cup of tea

Madrid - Guatemala

Madrid - Guatemala

Madrid - GuatemalaA Fuji competitor!

Madrid - Guatemala

Madrid - Guatemala

Turns out there are 33 volcanoes here, three of which, I’m told ‘represent a threat’. That makes sense: this part of the world’s seen plenty of volcanic activity in its time, some of it very sad. For example, in the sixteenth century Agua destroyed the first capital of the country; and in 1965 Pacaya blew its top violently and has been erupting constantly ever since.

And right now Fuego‘s causing all sorts of problems for the locals. And on the first night after we arrived there was even an earthquake! I missed it as I was in a jetlag-compensating deep sleep. Not sure if that was a good or bad thing.

We went for a walk up Pacaya while in Guatemala; not to the top – it’s smoking like a bar steward right now up there – but around the old crater near it. Impressive. So impressive in fact that it warrants a post of its own. I wasn’t expecting that there’d be a lot to report back on from here – I was proved wrong!

All the photos are here.

Back soon folks!…