América Central

A trip to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, also visiting Florida and Puerto Rico


The first friendly alligator at Everglades This is the proof that alligators don't see humans as food You can distinguish alligator from a much more aggressive crocodile by their teeth sticking mostly from above and their wider face The famous Miami South Beach An early morning at The Pacific (the water is very warm here, unlike California) First night in Guatemala was in tents (we have spent too much time trying to get out of the crazy Guatemala City traffic) Gallo is the most popular local beer Girls were hoping that they will get to the top of the active Pacaya volcano horseback All what is left from the team of climbers, but the most difficult part is yet to come! Running on Pacaya's ashes Climbing on a tilt of 45 degrees covered with sharp lava rocks sliding down on every step is exhausting... ...but well worth the live lava experience! A giant stove, feel the smell of melting boots? When its dark, the clouds reflect the red glow A wooden stick ignites instantly when in contact with lava, just like a giant match Pacaya volcano in all its glory A few minutes ago we we standing on a rock that suddenly started to move and released this river of molten lava! Thankfully the lava flows slower than I can run Wealthy locals Some more Guatemalan volcanoes Welcome to the cemetery! We call this plant Jõulutäht (Christmas Star), here it grows enormously large People like to be buried in cells above the ground here An escape? Cemetery is the place where people socialize and make fun, hence lots of colors, flowers, and smiles A quality local meal in a touristic restaurant in Antigua Guatemala Souvenir traders send their little agents in order to boost sales Antigua Guatemala - the old capital - is rich in colonial architecture Nice hotel's courtyard Retro One of the (few) road signs in the whole country The nature is taking its toll Local put-put cars, state-of-the-art of Indian car manufacturing Lots of souvenirs at the local market! "Antigua" stands not only for buildings and monuments The iconic gate of the city There is a huge Agua volcano behind the city - the reason why the capital was moved to the present place Conquistadors forced local Mayas to build catholic churches, but they used the images of corn for decoration, so they could pray to their own gods there La fuente en la plaza mayor Carlos, hoping to save the sinful souls around him on the plaza Cuco, a friendly bartender, one of the few persons in Guatemala speaking English (but he is Salvadorean), has invited us to his place later in the evening Cuco's test of my 40D (he owns a Canon film SLR) Aadu checking whether the girls need help with dressing in the morning A hospidaje in Panajachel with a near-perfect price-quality ratio On the roof (they never finish their roofs, whether due to taxation or extensibility in mind) Bridged river crossing, but 4-wheeled cars are prohibited Lake Atitlan, one of the most beautiful in the world, according to many sources As usual, little girls like being photographed Lago de Atitlan is beautifully surrounded by 3 volcanoes All what is left from a once mighty river during the dry season Gorgeous view over the lake Corn, much sacred, but equally useful for consumption Retired school buses can still serve well as public transport, probably breaking some environmental standards Corn is being dried everywhere Guatemalan Tuscany Lago de Atitlan from another side Few conveniences, but a nicer way of travelling than walking "Chicken bus" is cruising at high speeds on narrow roads 60 mph? All cities are divided in Zonas, with numbered streets and avenues inside of them The elder population But the hands are free! Traditional dress probably can benefit selling of popcorn Che Guevara's ghost is still present on the streets Butcher's These guys travelling in public transport is the reason why they are often referred to as "chicken buses" People carry lots of stuff on their backs here and covering great distances walking... Approaching San Pedro La Laguna Our friendly cook has prepared decent "carne azada" Market day in Chichicastenango in the Mayan Highlands People do carry enormous loads here One of the rare sightings of a traditional Mayan men's dress (it is much more expensive than jeans & a t-shirt) Spaghetti wires Are these fruits? No, these are chopped pork legs Socializing on the stairs of the church "Nice mask, but probably it won't be allowed through customs" Sentenced to death (by eating) Gold rush Who said searching for gold is safe? Chicks wearing make-up riding through the dust to a party in a nearby village El Chol's main square. We didn't know that we will be stuck here yet... After breaking the car's radiator and driving with switched-off engine down the mountain (backwards) we ended up sleeping here Happily in Cobán 3 days behind schedule due to an impassable landslide and breaking the car during the 2-day-long detour. Verapaces are much greener than Southern part of the country Lush vegetation soon will transform to jungle when going further North Tripod is a very useful thing, indeed 6 am in Tikal Templo V, the highest known in Tikal (excavated a few years ago) Much of Tikal is still unexcavated - no wonder why the ancient city was found only in 19th century in the deep jungle Spider monkey Tikal is so large that you rarely see other tourists outside of the main plaza Tarzan! Ants cut pieces of leaves and carry home, creating clearly visible paths In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight... Wild turkey The Gran Plaza aka Plaza Mayor aka Main Square of Tikal Nice teeth and claws The first airplanes of early 20th century helped to spot many lost Mayan cities in the jungle Temple of Jaguar Flores, situated on an island, is the nearest city to Tikal and the popular base for tourists The Coco Pan (cocos bread) maker The Robinson (why are there so many white children in the village? ;-)) Coco Pan is made here After Africa, we thought it is impossible to pass on a 2WD vehicle, but a quick trial has shown otherwise - there was solid ground under the mud Palms with fern? State-of-the-art Land Rover, abandoned in the mountains El carro de mi sueño El otro carro en las montañas We couldn't reach the cloud forest because of slippery muddy roads in the mountains, so we had to come back to the civilization The plan of Copán, a smaller Mayan city than Tikal, but it has much of the stellas preserved Macaw is the second sacred Mayan bird after the much rarer Quetzal Stars of inscriptions, the only such place in the Mayan world - the whole history of Copán can be read here Lots of text Trees interfere with Mayan architecture It's hard to withstand the time Inside of the famous Copán tunnels The tunnels show that Mayas used to rebuild their pyramids on top of the older ones The tunnels were made by the archaeologists The door below is one of the entrances to the tunnels One of the many ants' highways Ancient stair decoration Blood-thirsty Mayas knew well the insides of the human body Beautiful letters Outside wall of Copán The evil Mayan spirits A stella, depicting one of the rulers Antionio - half Maya, half Spanish - a perfect guide among the ruinas More evil spirits that used to visit (probably intoxicated) Mayan worshippers Macaws guarding the entrance Ancient Ceiba, 
the Tree of Life sacred by Mayas (and it's human child) Welcome to El Salvador, the most dangerous country in the world Much of Columbian drugs probably pass here on their way to the US (Probably) legitimate salvadoreños Santa Ana church in San Salvador, the capital Conquistadors have done a good job here Local worshippers of Jesucristo Foreign worshippers also take their time High-rise buildings of the modern and polluted San Salvador Almost a perfect view, doesn't seem very dangerous The rush hour, Salvadorean way San Salvador del Mundo (the saviour of the World), which gave the name to both the country and the capital city ¿Tienen algo dinero? The Pacific shore at La Libertad, arguably the best surfing place in the World Nice property View from the nearby volcano San Salvador is surrounded by volcanoes, which quietly respect the city of 2 million The crater from the last eruption (20th century) is quite small Such men are everywhere in Central America: at parking, bank branches, shops... you get used to them after a few days Not only humans love hammocks! Our almost perfect last night in El Salvador The ocean here has almost swallowed us the night before... never swim in the Pacific if you see waves much higher than you are, especially when it's dark A perfect place to sleep cooled by the ocean breeze A flight has teleported us to Puerto Rico, a vivid contrast with central american countries Old castle in San Juan, the symbol of the island, La Isla del Encanto Arecibo radio telescope, being 305m in diameterm it is the largest in the World, and is the place from where the SETI message was broadcast This place alone is worth a visit to Puerto Rico! Green bananas, they grow everywhere and are used instead if potatoes in many dishes Some stolen oranges Yummy! La puertoriceña in the middle of nowhere The land is so fertile, so plants grow freely in thrown-away bottles Close to the Bahia Fosforescente, where you can see millions of glowing micro-organisms during the night (but can't photograph!) If these guys are 20 cm long, how large are the resulting butterflies? Now we know for sure that the Earth is rotating! (20 min exposure) The evil banana flower Jurassic park: ferns are a few meters long here Puerto Rican desktop background :-) Strawberries on a palm-tree? The cheapest accommodation you can find in Puerto Rico Going to the coral reef from La Parguera Corals, fish and other sea beasts, here I come! Successful disembark Synchronous swimming in the Caribbean The diving team ready for submersion Muchos dineros (find Anton H. Taamsaare among Queen Elizabeth, George Washington and others) Cachi, a friendly diving instructor The diving team in La Parguera's fashionable pub Testing again whether the Earth is still spinning Early Caribbean morning These guys are funny when covered with a wave A Caribbean crab A Caribbean lizard The whole team of travellers under the palms The closest to the "Caribbean dream" we could find Quiet! The Tyrannosaurus Rex is approaching! Some people couldn't survive the road closure Walking in the only rain forest in the US Everything is wheel-chair accessible, this is definitely not Central America anymore Cool waterfall in the hot midday is the biggest tourist attraction Oops, Heathrow is suffering from the biggest snow fall in 15 years, we are not going home anytime soon! Looking for a place to sleep on the net, some people have only t-shirts for the freezing London Compulsory London excursion, the admiral Nelson is off-frame Black and white (HM guard and the white snow) Even London pigeons are not used to such surprises given by the weather
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América Central