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Never go with strangers. That's what we all learn when we're young. But as we get older (and supposedly wiser with our increased ability to judge and measure people) we create our own exceptions to that rule. After all the travel I had done over the past 10 years, I had never experienced a serious incident. This was about to change... As I traveled from Honduras to Nicaragua and spent a somewhat uninspiring day at the capital Managua, I made my way to the old colonial town of Leon, which has some interesting old buildings and a huge cathedral. The next day, I was traveling on to Granada. On my way on a minibus to Managua, where I had to switch to another bus to Granada, a local guy started chatting with me. He was young, ... read more

(above panorama: view from my hotel in Tegucigalpa) After the picturesque village of Copan with its ancient temples, I took a bus to El Salvador. I wasn't planning on staying there very long, about a week, to check out the capital San Salvador and maybe one or two other towns. El Salvador is a pretty small country but its capital San Salvador is a huge city, though unfortunately quite criminal. I was planning to spend just one day in the capital and then move on. However, plans changed, because I got "stuck" in hurricane Agatha. The first day, when I planned to explore the city, it was pouring down non stop the entire day, so I stayed in my hotel and chilled out a bit. The next day was better and I took a taxi around ... read more
San Salvador Catedral
San Salvador Catedral
San Salvador - Plaza Barrios

(Above Panorama: one of the courts at the Copan ruins) From Punta Gorda in Belize, I took a morning boat to Puerto Barrios in Guatemala. From there, I took a taxi to the border with Honduras, went through immigration and at the border I was able to catch a direct bus to San Pedro de Sula, and from there another bus to La Ceiba, a harbour town in the North of Honduras and the jump off point to the Bay of Islands. It was a long day of traveling and I stayed at a hostel in La Ceiba in order to catch the first boat in the morning to Utila, a laid back backpackers island, mainly geared towards diving. Two friends that I met traveling in Malaysia last year and 5 years ago in Laos, recommended ... read more
Utila sunset
Utila sunset
Utila sunset

From Havana, I flew back to Mexico, (Cancun) and traveled onwards to Playa del Carmen, a town I had been before when I was traveling with my friend Jan in 2002. It's a very touristy place, but offers good accommodation, restaurants, nightlife and organized activities like diving, something I intended to do here. After 5 days of walking around Havana, a few days of chilling out were also welcome. In this part of Mexico (the Yucatan peninsula), there are a lot of "cenotes", or wells, big holes in the ground, filled with water. And you can dive them! Interesting, and something I had not yet experienced, so I booked a morning trip to dive two cenotes. It's strange at first, because you jump into the water, surrounded by rocks and trees, whereas normally you just jump ... read more
Entrance to the cenote
The cenote
Clear waters in the cenote

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana May 21st 2010

Above panorama: view from the top of the Capitol stairs (if you haven't read part 1 yet, click here) So where did all this controversy on Cuba come from? What I have understood is this (I'll try to keep it short): Americans were investing in the country in the early 1900s and at a certain point in time they owned 2/3rd of farmland in Cuba. Sugar industry was booming and mob gangsters like Al Capone started to set up a tourist sector based on drinking, gambling and prostitution. Governments in the 1st half of the 20th century were weak and in 1952, Fulgencio Batista staged his second military coup successfully. His style of government was dictatorial, inciting a revolutionary group around the charismatic lawyer, Fidel Castro. Castro chose to free the country of dictatorship by usin ... read more
Back in time... in front of the Capitol
Classic car
Inside the Capitol

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana May 14th 2010

Above panorama: View on Plaza Vieja and centro Habana from the camera obscura building. What can one expect of Cuba and Havana in particular? Amazing centuries old colonial architecture? A vibrant city with traditional music, dance and street life? Cigars, rum and mojito's? Revamped classic American cars from the 1950s? A society still in "revolution" and the evidence of Fidel, Che, Camilo and Raul "liberating" Cuba from dictatorship? Well, those were all the expectations I had. They all came true and I wasn't disappointed! Havana "delivers" and is an amazing place to experience, unlike anywhere else in the world. It is all around you. It's not all beauty and fun, though. There's poverty, although you don't see it on the street that much; it's definitely not in your face. Cuba's economy is not exactly in bloom, ... read more
Street ball game
Street ball game
Plaza de la Catedral

Above panorama: view from the pyramid of the moon About 50km from Mexico City lies the ancient city of Teotihuacan. It is still debated who built it, but it were the Aztecs who gave the city the name we now know it by, after they rediscovered the city centuries after it had been abandoned. The cities oldest structures date from 200 BC and the largest pyramid was completed by 100 AD. I took a bus and arrived early to avoid the tourbuses and to enjoy the site more quiet and at a more bearable temperature! A Japanese guy was on the same bus as I was, so we explored the site together. Most of the site is still unexcavated, but the pyramids that dominate the landscape here, are restored in full glory. The biggest pyramid, the ... read more
Pyramid of the sun
People climbing the Pyramid of the sun
Me on top of the Pyramid of the sun

North America » Mexico » Mexico City May 11th 2010

Above panorama: Palacio de Bellas Artes After traveling the English speaking countries of Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, The Cook Islands and the US, coming to Mexico meant no more English but Spanish. My Spanish is almost non existent, but I recognize a lot of words and as you go, you pick up a lot of words quickly. Landing in the huge Metropolis of Mexico City, you don't realize the city is at an altitude of over 2200m because it lies on a high plateau and not on a mountain. Actually, it lies in a valley! I remember about this high altitude since I was a young kid and was watching Carl Lewis trying to break the world record long jump at the Olympics. He couldn’t, because Bob Beamon once jumped an amazing length at the 1968 ... read more
Palacio Nacional
Palacio Nacional
La Catedral

North America » United States » Nevada » Las Vegas May 3rd 2010

Above panorama: Las Vegas Strip as seen from The Mirage's parking deck From Los Angeles, it's a 4,5 hour drive to Las Vegas, just across the state border in Nevada. I went there for just 2 days to experience the bright lights, 24 hour action and play poker in one of the casinos myself. On the way to Las Vegas, about half way and in the middle of the desert, there's the ghost town of Calico, what used to be a silver mining town and is now deserted. It would make a fine decor for any Western movie with a few original buildings left and some artifacts from the wild west days. I arrived in Vegas at the Mirage hotel, where I had booked a room for 2 days. The Mirage, like almost all hotels, lies ... read more
On my way to Vegas
Calico - a ghost town halfway between LA and Las Vegas

Above panorama: Malibu beach houses of the rich and famous The day after my birthday, Lauren took me around Beverly Hills. We had a cup of tea in the lavish Peninsula hotel before heading out to Rodeo Drive, THE shopping street to be seen shopping and where all the big brands have their shops. Rolls Royce's, Ferrari's, it's all about showing off here. It's a pretty area to wander around and awe at all the richness. After that, we took the car out to see all the big mansions around Beverly Hills where we spotted Ozzy Osbourne's and Sylvester Stallone's house. We also went to the Doheny Mansion, a big mansion on a huge land area built by the Doheny family. It has a strange history though, because only four months after the Doheny's moved in, ... read more
Rolls Royce on Rodeo Drive
Rodeo Drive
Rodeo Drive

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