Posts Tagged With: snorkeling

Puerto Viejo, where beach and sea prevail.

17-19/10/2013

The Caribe’s are as fancy as someone would imagine.  Good food, smooth live, easy going, blue sea and sunny sky are the daily tread, as well as the long rasta, reggae music and the ever smell of pot in the air.  We travel from Cahuita to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca (1440C$) getting closer to the Panamas border without losing the Caribbean Sea out of sight.  Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, or just Puerto Viejo, is a bit bigger than Cahuita, has more shops, bars, restaurants, night live,… and at equal parts has it more tourists and is noisier at day and night, it is as we would call it a popular touristic destination.  With luck on our side today, we find ‘Cabins Larry next to a, good for breakfast and teatime, coffeehouse, a street away from the bus stop.  This rather minor apartment complex offers us, in low season and without any other guests, a full apartment (kitchen, bathroom with hot water, double bed, terrace with table, chairs and hammock and with a good Wi-Fi service) for just 9000C$ a day, a worthy price for a bit of rest, peace, safety and privacy.  We walk 50m and find ourselves crossing the main street with shops, supermarkets, banks and the bus stop and walking another 50m we are starring at the bleu horizon with sporadic Caribbean little waves.  After a 1000C$ fresh squeezed fruit shake at a terrace on the bay we ‘horizontalize’ us on the beach protected by the shade of the palm trees which leaves make tropical sounds when waving in the tropic breeze.

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Snorkelling is a must here: warm water, no waves, no currents and thousands of fishes displaying millions of colours.  We see a blowfish, octopus, and different starfish walking the bottom with their long thin tentacles, besides all the rest of the colourful fishes typical to coral reefs.  The day passes by fast and the night sets in soon, the village lights up and neon shows us the way to our needs: meat, vegetables, avocados and flour tortillas.  We have a kitchen, so we cook, so we have delicious burritos on the menu and so we save another couple of thousand Colones.

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Day two we do the main street and confirm what we sadly expected: every shop selling exactly the same. When it’s a cloth shop: it are the same trousers and reggae coloured sweatshirts, when it’s a grocery: the same small variety of vegetables and fruits and when we enter a souvenir shop we’ll get magnets, spoons and other useless stuff we can buy anywhere else but this time with ‘Puerto Viejo’ written on it.  So we advance fast and end up at the beach for another underwater-vision-swim, a long read and a tasteful coco and pineapple.

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The third day we discover the surroundings so after an easy hitchhiking we get to Punta Uva, a wide white sand dream beach to relax, swim and contemplate nature.  We observe how a pelican time after time flies high, circles around our heads, spots a school of sardines, dives and breaks into the water surface to catch his meal of the day.  Behind us Howler Monkeys clans are debating the territory with loud screams and as we turn around we can see them jumping from branch to branch in the big canopy of an old tree high above us.  Diving glasses and tube becomes more and more an extension of our body the longer we stay at the Caribe’s.  The water is crystal clear and the sun obligates refreshment and cooling off so snorkelling is the solution.

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To go back home we walk along the different beaches (Playa Uva, Playa Chiquita and Playa Cocles) observing how locals are fishing at the shore.  Stunning vistas pass by together with the seaboard while the sun bit by bit is getting closer to the vanishing point.

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From the beach to the road we pass through a few bushes full of oversized spiders in even more oversized spider webs and as neither of us is very fond of arachnids very soon we find ourselves in a nightmare of jumping human eating spiders trying to capture us in their webs… so running through this area our hair and faces are getting full of spider strings.  We are just disgusted by the idea and feverishly we try to untie the spider maze that is sticking strong on us.

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After this horror experience we reach the road and from there the village and at last our safe cabin at Larry’s.  After dinner we stuff our backpacks and prepare ourselves for tomorrow.  Another border will be crossed and another stamp will embellish our passports.

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Our recommendations:

Puerto Viejo is beautiful, warm-hearted and cosy but not for those who look for something original / Desolated beaches at abundance just outside the village / For fruit and vegetables you’ll find the best buy at trucks which stop at the corner of the street, ask locals where to find them / Experienced surfers will be delighted with Salsa Brava (wave direction from the northeast and wind direction from the south), for some surfers the most powerful wave in Costa Rica

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Categories: Costa Rica | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Placencia, un- Belize -able!!!

13-16/08/2013

Placencia

How about Placencia?  “I’ve heard about nice beaches, it’s just a small town.”, Giorgia said one evening in Tulum.  Not knowing she had a clear mind or was still talking nonsense from the fever she had, we looked a bit on internet to see what it is all about.  And we thought it might be worth a stop and visit.  We take a boat from Caye Caulker to Belize City (15 Bel$ each).  Here we look for snorkel material because we won’t pay two times 70US$ for a tube and a pair of glasses!  Belize City is a young city just out of kinder garden… in full puberty let’s say, as it was reconstructed again and again after various disastrous hurricanes in 1931, ’61 and the last in 2010 it was rebuild each time but strangely enough, did not improve and got darker and darker.  (So different from Europe, where new means stronger, advanced, more practical, more prepared for the next disaster, more technological… new means better in general) It functions like one big ghetto with a population of 68.000 habitants.  Basically mixed between Caribbean black progenies and Mayan descendants and some sporadic white men.  We find our stuff and make a long ‘just look in front of you’-walk through a never-ending street with people starring at us.  We can feel the looks penetrating us, people stop talking and speculate what we are doing there.  Houses with paint peeling of rise over us, windows with iron bars like prisons and barbed-wired rooftops make the scene of our urban hike.  A mountain of earth in the middle of the street, blocking the stream of traffic, gives the whole thing a picturesque warzone touch.  Luckily there is always some reggae playing somewhere, after all… as much it might look as Mogadishu, Somalia, it still sounds as Belize.  The bus station isn’t much better off, as holes in the walls indicate extractions of all copper cables by locals with economic needs.  There is no official service what so ever, no rates, no timetables.  The places for tickets sales are occupied by little stores selling food.  Helpful people are asking us all the time where we go to and informing us about times and places.

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First a bus to (surprise!!!) the capital Belmopan (14.800 habitants) and from there over Dangriga to Placencia (500 habitants), a 4 hour drive for just 40Bel$ each.  We wait several hours observing the hectic organization of a ‘right on time’ bus service.  We jump on the bus somebody indicates us, because there is no info on the bus indicating itineraries.  At the end of the day, at 20:30hours, the darkness already falling over our shoulders, we arrive at Placencia.  The receptions of the hotels/ hostels/ guesthouses are already closed from 20:00hours. (Unthinkable for Europe, knowing the last bus with tourists arrives at 20:30hours… you might gain some clients!) So we ask to somebody passing by.  He brings us after a five minute walk to a caribbean style ‘guesthouse’, not beautiful, hardly clean but with beds inside.  We say goodbye not without he trying to get some money out of us with their magical phrase: “show some appreciation,… I’m hungry.”

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It is first in the morning; we can see Placencia and orientate us a bit.  We go to the bank to change some money but 30% commission to change euros is not over the top… it is outrageous!!!  For each 100€ we change we get only for 70€ Belizean $.  So we make a cash withdrawal which gives a normal rate with a normal percentage, pay the room and go looking for another place to spend the night.  The first we try has all the sea view rooms empty but want to charge us 60Bel$ each… not payable for us, so friendly shows us the way to a cheaper option.  (Unbelievable: not just the fact they don’t try to make a deal, maybe lower the price to fill up the hotel.  Offering us a room for 40Bel$ we would have stayed 3 nights, that makes 120Bel$ better than nothing having the rooms empty anyways.  But they happily showed us the way to spend our money with the competitors!  Again, working 7 years in hotels: unthinkable for Europe)  so we arrive at our new guesthouse at the beach, 1 min walk from the seaside and 1min walk from the supermarket (which by the way are all owned by Asians!) just the perfect base.  After checking some mails and updating our blog we go for a swim at the long but small beach with rough white sand.

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A tree trunk is laying in the water and with our new bought glasses we can see an aquarium in front of us, as around the tree are many small beautiful tinted fishes.  We find at the sea bottom countless fragments of death coral, collect them and place them near the trunk.  The fishes are happily accepting the upgrade of their home while we piece by piece give them a coral garden.  We have nice days passing by, walking along the sea or along the lagoon or at its best: where both come together.  A remarkable place, Placencia, it’s a long small bit of land away from the mainland.  We even find a small piece of reef where we can see some new species of tropical reef fishes, beautiful purple coral and a pair of elegantly jellyfishes.

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Amazing are the huge barracudas just some meters away from the coastline.  Hanging still, camouflaged, mouth half open with teeth sticking out creatures, threatening every moving shiny fish in the area.  I enjoy myself observing them because as they move from sand parts to seaweeds, they change colours from white to green/brown camouflage.  So I chase them a bit so they move from one area to the other and change colours.  But of course they are too fast to chase so I lose them out of sight every time.  After a while I start to notice that I just had to look behind me and there he was… half a meter away staring at me.  Fun in the beginning but scary after a while.  I start to get the feeling that I was the one getting hunted and that with a 1,5 meter barracuda, is like playing with fire.  Later I realized I had the hostel key hanging at the string of my swim shorts… dangerous place to hang a shiny object in front of a barracuda!!!

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As said: nice days pass by at this lost corner off the earth.  Where sun is fine and erratic ‘cool you off’ lukewarm raindrops even better.  Where English is written as it is spoken.  Where wearing a watch has no sense and asking time sounds ridiculous.  It is absolutely enchanting and unfortunately… unthinkable for Europe!

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Categories: Belize | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Caye Caulker, La Isla Bonita

9-12/08/2013

caye caulker

Dopo la nostra aventura sottomarina tra coralli e pesci coloratissimi in San Pedro, salpiamo alla volta della seconda dell’esotiche isole Cayes, Caye Caulker. Per 40 dollari (15 euro) ci imbarchiamo in un battello che in meno di un’ora ci porta sulle sponde della nostra nuova destinazione.

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Vaghiamo per un pó alla ricerca di un posto dove stare e alla fine ci sistemiamo  nella Blue Wave Guesthouse, semplice, pulita, con una cucina comunitaria all’aperto e a soli due passi dal mare. Lasciamo gli zaini e andiamo in esplorazione.

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Il villaggio é molto carino, piccolino, con piú bar e ristoranti che case, stradine sterrate di sabbia e pietroline. Il mezzo di trasporto piú utilizzato é sicuramente la bicicletta ma se si va in cerca di quattro ruote ed un motore l’unica cosa che si trova sono Golf Cart. Esatto, sto proprio parlando di quei surrogati di auto, generalmente bianchi e abbastanza lenti, che circolano tra i prati verdi dei campi da golf trasportando mazze e giocatori da una buca all’altra. Nessuna auto normale, solo macchinette da golf (non elettriche in questo caso ma a benzina) che sfrecciano all’impazzata tra le stradine del paesino. Un quadro pittoresco. Abbastanza simile a San Pedro, solo piú accogliente e autentica, popolata da neri rastamen con il fare rilassato e la musica nelle orecchie tutto il giorno. Un peccato solo per le spiagge… Siamo nei Caraibi e uno si aspetta di trovare spiagge chilometriche, soleggiate, coperte solo dall’ombra di palme e cocchi. E invece no… nelle Cayes si riescono solo a intravedere pezzetti millimetrici di sabbia circoscritti da moli con barche e barchette private che altro non fanno che sporcare le acque smeraldine e intasare la costa, impedendo cosí ai bagnanti di godere appieno di questo paradiso. Fortunatamente un posticino dove rinfrescarsi e prendere un pó di tintarella si trova sempre. Nel caso di Caye Caulker il posto é lo Split (che significa spaccatura, scissione), un canale naturale situato ad una estremitá dell’isola creatosi a causa della forza dirompente di un uragano che qualche anno fa taglió letteralmente l’isola in due creando due isolotti separati, distanti l’uno dall’altro solo pochi metri.

2013-08-10 16.56.36  Qui l’acqua é meravigliosa. Caldissima, verde e calma. Una folta vegetazione ne fa da cornice e un baretto dai cui altoparlanti si diffonde musica raggae rallegra l’ambiente.

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Un idillico sottofondo per il calar del sole che cade a picco sul mare incendiando il cielo con fiamme rosso fuoco e sfumando i contorni di velieri e canoe.

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Facciamo una passeggiata per familizarizzare con il luogo e ci imbattiamo in una cosa alquanto curiosa. Dall’altro lato dello “split”, nel bel mezzo della cittadina, sorge un cimitero. Un cimitero piuttosto atipico con tombe bianchissime, alcune visibili, altre quasi totalmente seppellite dalla vegetazione. A malapena vi si possono leggere i nomi… Un luogo abbandonato da Dio, attraversato da una stradina in cui processioni di persone calpestano abitualmente la sua terra, un tempo sacra e venerata.

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Perfino gli epitaffi che decorano le lapidi sono insoliti. Uno mi é rimasto particolarmente impresso. Accanto alnome della defunta, invece dei soliti “nascita”e “morte” riporta: “sunrise” (alba) e “sunset” (tramonto). Non vi sembra meraviglioso?

2013-08-09 14.35.10   A me suona estremamente poetico!

Ma non é finita qui…la cosa ancora piú sorprendente é che accanto, appena superato il cancelletto, vi si trova un bar-ristorante e un hotel con tanto di molo privato raggiungibile attraversando proprio il cimitero. Ritornando a casa cerchiamo un posto dove cenare e veniamo rapiti dalla comica immagine di un ragazzo seduto sul ciglio della strada che sta manovrando un volante alla cui estremitá peró, non vi é un auto, bensí un enorme e dorato maiale allo spiedo che si sta lentamente rosolando su braceri ardenti. Uno spasso! Per 20 dollari a persona (sette euro e mezzo piú o meno), ci informa il nostro amico alla “guida”, si ha diritto a un buffet con formula “all you can eat” in cui sará servito il suddetto animale acompagnato da una deliziosa salsetta.

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Imperdibile…davvero buono!

I giorni seguenti trascorrono tranquilli tra mare e sole, abbuffate di frutta e un paio di lavatrici. L’ultima sera decidiamo di andare a mangiare in una trattoria italiana che avevamo intravisto la notte anteriore. Il piccolo bistrot si chiama Pasta Per Caso e ci incuriosisce proprio perché la pasta é fatta in casa. Pensiamo…pasta fresca in Belize… troppo strano per non provarla. I proprietari Anna e Armando sono ospitalissimi. Hanno inventato una formula originale ed efficace. Chiedi il menú e Armando risponde: “Sono io il menú” e via con la descrizione degli unici due piatti in lista per cena che prevedono due condimenti diversi e ovviamente due tipi di pasta differente. Non bisogna nemmeno porsi il problema della scelta. Il menú cambia ogni giorno con due proposte per volta. Ci toccano linguine alla bolognese e un tipo di pasta corta, simile alle trofie, con assortimento di verdure e formaggio fresco. Saporitissimi!

Ultimo giro per godere del chiaro di luna e a dormire. Domani si scende per terra, destinazione Placencia.

Categories: Belize | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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