(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…
(A floating mist blankets the jungle on my first visit to Tikal back in 2008)
Tags: Central America, Gringo With A Green Bag, Guatemala, GWAGB, history, jungle, Latin America, Mayan jungle, nature, Nikon, Peten, Selva, Tikal, Travel, travel blog, travel blogger
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
Tags: Antigua, beauty, Central America, Easter, Gringo With A Green Bag, Guatemala, Holy Week, Latin America, Semana Santa, Travel, travel blog, travel blogger
Just wanted to shout out to the city of Acapulco for hosting the Tianguis Turistico Mexico 2015 travel conference this week. It was an amazing event for the global promotion of Mexico, and the Gringo With A Green Bag was honored to be invited by the Mexico Tourism Board to participate in a week of business, culture, networking, beach and uninterrupted sunshine. Full event review on the horizon. I’ll be sure to reflect on all the inspiration (not pounds) I gained over the week…which, as I imagine it does for most visitors, started with that lovely vintage view of Acapulco’s legendary Pacific coastline and a little first date courting with la playa y sol. 🙂
Tags: Acapulco, beach, Gringo With A Green Bag, GWAGB, Latin America, Mexico, Mexico Travel, paradise, playa, Tianguis, Tianguis Turistico, travel blog, travel blogger
This morning on the beach in Acapulco, Mexico…host city of Tianguis Turístico México 2015. The shadows have since shortened and the temps have risen. A beautiful place to be.
Tags: Acapulco, beach, Latin America, Mexico, Nikon, paradise, photography, playa, Tianguis, Travel, travel blog, travel blogger, vacation
Hey, just wanted to give a quick shout out to my amigo Chan from Culver Shoe Repair in Irvine, California. He plays an important role in the Gringo With A Green Bag travels, as he has performed some very valuable repairs on the Green Bag over the years (just hooked up a new zipper today)! My bag is going on 10 years strong now, thanks to Chan’s great workmanship. It takes a beating, so regular maintenance is critical. Without the Green Bag I’m just a Gringo…and that’s not too exciting. 😉 Thanks again Chan! Just in time too…headed south of the border this weekend. Time to fill ‘er up. Catch up with y’all later! – Damian
Tags: backpack, Culver Shoe Repair, Green Bag, Gringo With A Green Bag, GWAGB, irvine, Mexico, Mexico Travel, Travel, travel blog, travel blogger
Big THANKS and shout out to my buddy Vinny (www.beensentoe.com) and author of the webcomic Tako-Salad for hooking me up with the new GWAGB logo! Check out his work, he’s a true talent if there ever was one! By the way, the Gringo loves taco salads. Be sure to get your weekly dose of Tako-Salad every Tuesday.
Tags: gringo, Gringo With A Green Bag, GWAGB, nature photography, Nikon, Tako-Salad, Tourism, Travel, travel blog, travel blogger, travel photography, traveler
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)
Tags: adventure, Africa, Asia, Australia, Caribbean, Central America, Europe, Gringo With A Green Bag, LA, Long Beach, Los Angeles, North America, South America, Travel, Travel & Adventure Show, travel blog, travel blogger, travel photographer, travel photography, USA, vacation
One of several things you are guaranteed to find on the island of Puerto Rico (besides delightfully potent and colorful rum concoctions, fried pockets of meat-stuffed plantains at every turn and the infectious beat of Caribbean rhythms that can force even the gringoest of gringos to break into a Carmen Miranda-like hip shuffle) is an epic sunset. In order to find the best ones, however, you must leave the tourist-mousetrap of San Juan (which does offer up some rather enticing bait) and head towards the western end of the island where the final footprints of day slowly fade away behind the dreamy Pacific. Sunsets on a tropical island always seem more enjoyable than those viewed from anywhere else. They just do. Several theories here: 1) It could be the consistently dramatic island skies, which are typically filled with swirling and color-bending clouds that hover above the ocean like seagulls in search of surface appetizers, reflecting the lovely golden and pastel hues of the “magic hour”. 2) The calmness and serenity of being on a landmass surrounded by water and fringed with photogenic palms, isolated from the rest of the world and so far away from the monotonies of the “normal” life back home, which forced you to buy that ticket in the first place. 3) Feeling like you are in a privileged place at the perfect moment in time while all of your friends back home are sitting at a desk counting the tic-tocs until they can leave behind the office grind and dive into the not-so-flowing stream of rush hour traffic. 4) You’ve just consumed your fourth Piña Colada or Mai Tai, and everything you witness is “the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen!”. Yeah, fruity drinks injected with alcohol do have that effect on me sometimes. The only downside of that is being able to properly focus your camera or iphone as the Earth beneath you begins to spin double-time. Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that Puerto Rico offers up sunsets that can rival those found anywhere around the world. On a stage that has been set to provide much drama, beauty and inspiration to all those who come out to watch…the sunsets of Puerto Rico have played a praiseworthy role.
Tags: adventure, Aguada, beach, beauty, camera, Caribbean, Caribbean Sea, Caribbean travel, clouds, coast, color, colorful, Damian James, Earth, explore, gringo, gringo travel, Gringo With A Green Bag, GWAGB, horizon, Inspiration, island, Island Life, island travel, Latin America, nature photography, Nikon, ocean, Pacific, palm trees, palms, paradise, peace, peaceful, photography, puerto rico, Puerto Rico Travel, Rincon, See Puerto Rico, Sky, Sun, sunset, Travel, travel blog, travel blogger, travel photographer, travel photography, Travel Puerto Rico, travel writer, tropical, vacation, Vieques
As promised, I must honor my word and bring you the best of the best from last month’s Puerto Rico adventure! I found so much beauty and diversity all throughout the island, I don’t really know where to start. So I’ll just spin the jog wheel on the mouse and see where the cursor lands. (Spinning…done) This secluded waterfall (near the town of San Sebastián) was found as a result of Doing Your Homework Before You Travel. It’s a bit of an effort to get here, but that’s the whole idea, verdad? I mean, yeah…you can take the easier roads to some of the more accessible falls right off the highway (à la Maui’s Road to Hana, where you don’t even have to leave your vehicle…but good luck getting a decent photo without navigating your lens through the human traffic jam)…or you can get your numb-from-the-car-ride buttocks off the path, trek through a Jurassic Park-like environment, get some mud on the shoes, donate to the local mosquito blood drive and reward yourself with a spectacular slice of nature that can be quietly enjoyed in the company of a very few other lucky travelers, or even alone, if you time it right. The falls were pristine and the dip in the natural pool was a (testicle-shrinkingly) perfect way to spend the afternoon. Did I mention the water was cold?
Tags: adventure, adventure travel, beauty, Caribbean, explore, forest, gringo travel, Gringo With A Green Bag, GWAGB, hiking, jungle, Latin America, Mountains, nature, nature photography, Nikon, photography, puerto rico, Puerto Rico adventure, Puerto Rico Travel, San Sebastian, Travel, travel blog, travel blogger, travel photographer, travel photography, waterfall, waterfalls