Posts Tagged With: Central America

Midas Resort – BELIZE!

Some resort destinations just have that perfect touch.  I had the pleasure to experience this recently, as I filmed a promo piece for Midas Resort, located in Belize’s fascinating jungle interior in the town of San Ignacio. Any trip to Belize MUST include a journey into the Cayo District, which is the country’s most prominent nature, eco-adventure and Mayan history region. The exploration opportunities here are endless…just like the tropical serenade of the native green parrots who frequent the resort grounds. Next time you’re in Belize, be sure to pack some nature-trekking gear along with your swimsuit, crack an ice-cold Belikin and come see what the “Midas Touch” is all about!   www.midasbelize.com

 

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UnBELIZEable! Snorkeling at the Belize Barrier Reef!

Ok, so a few weeks ago I finally had a chance to put my new underwater GoPro to the test…and what a first test it was!! You won’t Belize (I mean believe) what was waiting for me on my VERY first jump into the water at the Belize Barrier Reef. I’m talking ZERO training (unless you count the filming I did in my fish tank) and being “thrown” into one of the world’s largest natural aquariums with some flippers, a GoPro on a stick and a leaky snorkeling mask. Here’s how it all went down… #YouBettaBelizeIt!!

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You Betta Belize It!!

Hey amigos, happy Spring to all my fellow Northern Hemisphere dwellers! It’s my favorite time of year, no doubt about it (post-“tax season”, of course). Baseball, great weather, extended sunshine, morning serenade out my window by the local yellow-breasted goldfinch. I believe it’s also the best time to travel in most places around the globe, at least my favorite time anyway. So, that brings me to my newest vlog series (video + blog)…and this one is a nice lil’ warm up for my upcoming trip to BELIZE. I’ll be taking my new GoPro Hero 4 Silver to the Belize Barrier Reef, and then into the jungle, in a few short weeks, so I though I’d give it a little test run…a rather “advanced” test run, if you ask me! 🙂

Enjoy! #GWAGBelize

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Gringo With A Green Bag – Finding “Balance” in Guatemala

It’s just something I’ve ALWAYS wanted to do 🙂

Bella Guatemala Travel

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La Selva Maya – Petén, Guatemala

Tikal(Tikal – 2015)

So here I was, in the jungle of Petén, Guatemala just a few short weeks ago. I made my way up the zigzagging wooden staircase that ascends to the top of Temple IV in the mighty ruins of Tikal. Far less neck-slapping of mosquitos this time around. A dry, sunny April day made for an incredible contrast to my last experience in this mystical world of wonder, which saw me slipping around the ruins wearing a bright yellow rain slicker that made me look like a greased up banana with legs…hairy legs, even less flattering to the locals (perhaps not to the howler monkeys). I had made this trek and climb before, about 7 years ago. Same green bag, different shoes and camera. You always know you’re in a special place when, even though you’ve been there before, it feels like a unique experience the second time around, one that has your eyeballs peeled away in total awe of your surroundings, with an equal or greater impression felt than that of your first visit.

The jungle is raw, alive…constantly whispering its stories of the past though ancient structures and their decipherable remains. It breathes a silent air and echos a mystical tune as you stand above a canopy of endless green and inhale sweeping views of this storied land that has harbored centuries of warriors, kings, slaves, innovation, peace & prosperity, death & destruction. La Selva Maya – The Mayan Jungle. It’s still there…with the same sun casting its rays upon it daily, whether dampened or glowing. Oh, the stories it could tell…

Tikal, Guatemala(A floating mist blankets the jungle on my first visit to Tikal back in 2008)

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Holy…Week! Fresh off the Guatemala Easter tour…

Antigua Throughout my travels, when encountering something amazing for the very first time, I often find myself verbalizing a familiar phrase. It goes something like: “Wow…I’ve never seen anything like this before!” or “This place is on a whole different level!” or “What a f**king gem!”.  Well, I have to admit, I did use a few choice curse words to describe the awesomeness of Antigua, Guatemala during Holy Week (Semana Santa). The good news is that you can find a church in Antigua about as easy as finding a pub in downtown Milwaukee, or a cheesehead in Green Bay, so one is never without an ample opportunity to pay one’s respects to the Good Lord and confess one’s sins, especially in the town that celebrates the holiest of Holy Weeks in all of Latin America with its unique tradition of street carpets (alfombras) and elaborate processions. In order to do this blog proper justice, I’ll have to go through my 5000+ images from my trip (ouch!) and pick out a worthy selection of photos to tell the unique story of a place and its apotheosized and honored tradition that you will truly “never see anything like” in any other place in the world. That place is Antigua, Guatemala…where traditions have no expiration and the celebration of Easter is a bit more than a few colored eggs and a pink basket. Throw in some pineapples, red peppers, tomatoes, colored sawdust, purple robes and a whole lot of incense, smoke and street food and you’ll be off to a decent start. Stay tuned for the full Semana Santa recap…and enjoy a few snapshots of the “awesomeness” I found around town in the meantime. 🙂 Trip courtesy of Bella Guatemala Travel Antigua 01 Antigua 02Antigua 03 Antigua 04 Antigua 05

Antigua 08

Antigua 06 Antigua 07

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2015 Travel & Adventure Show in LA – Feb 21-22

Hey amigos! If you’re in the LA area on Feb 21-22 come on down to the Travel & Adventure Show, the premiere travel event in the U.S.! The Gringo With A Green Bag will be there to cover all the action, as I will be doing some travel documentary and video journalism work to highlight some of the best travel destinations and experiences the world has to offer! Come and see what’s hot in the wonderful world of travel and stay to see some of the event’s featured speakers, including Rick Steves, Samantha Brown, Pauline Frommer and many, many more! So dust off your favorite safari hat, bring your adventurous spirit and come say hi to the Gringo if you see me out there with the green bag and camera (or microphone) in hand. 🙂 See you there!

(Event sponsored by the Travel Channel)

GWAGB

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Doing Your Homework Before You Travel

Question: How much would it suck to finally arrive after a brutal 8-hour bus ride to the Mayan Ruins of Tikal on a Saturday night (read all about it here), only to be told that the tours don’t operate on Sundays or Mondays, and you’ve already booked your flight out of town on Tuesday morning? Answer: LOTS! Yes, we’ve all been there one way or another. Travel experiences we’d like to just put on an Etch-A-Sketch and shake the hell out of until they are erased forever. I always say, my most successful and enjoyable trips have ALWAYS been a result of a good amount of research and preparation. For me personally, that means making the weekly visits to the book store in the months leading up to my trip.

book store

My travels always begin long before I even arrive at the airport. They begin the very day I decide where I’m going to go (and they kick into high gear right after that nerve-wracking click on the airfare “purchase” button). At that point, my focus shifts to all things related to that place…its culture, people, local customs and etiquette, native foods, road conditions, weather, where to buy Tums, etc….all the logistics of getting acquainted with and getting around in a place that is totally unfamiliar to me. I treat it like my homework…do the reading and take good notes! There are many resources available to us to help us do our homework before we travel. Book stores, such as Barnes & Noble (where I have logged hundreds of hours while consuming superfluous amounts of steaming Starbucks lattes), have a healthy supply of travel books, magazines, guides and maps for most countries around the globe. The internet is perhaps the most valuable resource out there. On-line travel sites such as TripAdvisor.com and VirtualToursit.com are essential for me because you can access forums, read reviews and communicate directly with people who actually live in, or are natives of your chosen destination, or those who have recently traveled there (the locals are always your best resource). This is very important if you want that “insider” information that isn’t available to you in a publication. Also, it’s the best way to get current information, such as prices, tours and bus schedules, or whether or not a particular hotel or restaurant is still in business. (Not to mention info about that little tucked away slice of paradise that only the locals can guide you to!) People always love to share information about their homeland and travel experiences and the forums are great ways to get the inside scoop from those who are familiar with the area you are intending to visit. Just make sure you’re not reading an outdated forum from 2005, or you might end up arriving at a former restaurant that has been replaced by a neon-lit strip club (though some may consider that a good score).

travel homework

In addition to being a travel, football and mint chocolate junkie, I am a total research junkie. I want to feel like I’ve already been to the place I’m going and know exactly where to go before I even get there. I admit, I get a little over-zealous with the studying and memorization of topographical maps, but it totally helps when you’re trying to figure out practical travel times and distances. A little preparation before you get underway can go a long way to help you avoid the pitfalls of an ill-prepared vacation (like applying for your passport or Visa last minute and having to nervously wait by your mailbox for your travel docs to arrive just days before your flight. Yeah…been there! You have no idea how much discontent you can have for the post office until you experience your entire vacation being held hostage by the mailman!) Map out your itinerary and learn as much you can about everything you are planning to do during your visit. By doing this, you’ve already removed 50% of the stress that is typically experienced by travelers: inconvenience. This is the benefit of doing your homework before you travel!

Now, if you’ll excuse me…it’s time to go suck down a Butter Pecan Latte and read a few more books on Puerto Rico…and listen to some Tito Puente. Salud!

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Getting ill in a “Tropical Paradise”

I got pretty sick once while I was in Bocas Del Toro, Panama. An “ill”-advised bit of teeth cleaning at the border with some tap water was most likely the culprit. I took one bite of my chicken and rice dish at a local food joint and I had to throw in the towel, as my stomach was the first organ to checkout on whatever schedule I had planned for my weakening body that day. I noticed this little boy who was standing there looking at me with a curious and innocent grin, so I invited him to join me and help me finish my plate (when I say “help me finish”, I really meant “please get this greasy pile of Caribbean grindage away from my face before the waitress is gonna have to call for a mop and some sanitizer at table #12”). Bad shape. This kid eagerly accepted my invitation and kept me great company while I battled fatigue, nausea and frustration with the fact that the only “tropical paradise” I would see for the next 24 hours was a fading logo on his soiled t-shirt. Nonetheless, I made a local friend that day and he got treated to a great meal. That’s all you need sometimes to make your day. Bocas Del Toro

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Island in the Sun

Island in the Sun(Comarca Kuna Yala, Panama)

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