Page 3 of wandke Travel Blog Posts

For the few years I have lived on the peninsula, I have been very proud to be an active fundraiser for the all volunteer Placencia Peninsula Fire Department. These two dozen men and women are called to put fires out in the most unforgiving circumstances. Our village is predominantly old wooden structures packed closely together, separated only by sand and palm trees. Since we only have one road, the primary “fire truck” has been a 6x4 ATV with a 75 foot hose to pump sea water to the fire site. This ATV can easily maneuver in the sand and dodge all the trees, dogs, and coconuts, but if your fire is further than that from water, these men and the rest of the village put together a mean bucket brigade! Last Christmas we received a generous ... read more
Working the door
Our resident rocker
The end of the line, longest in the village!

I originally came to Belize to volunteer and dive, and since day one I have been seeking an opportunity to do both simultaneously! I was finally introduced to the right person about a year ago, and an opening to help Lisa with her coral reef restoration project finally arose this month. Lisa is an independent scientist working by means of international grants who is studying and devising methods to repair the extensive damage to the coral reefs of Belize. The luminous colors and diversity of coral abound in the shallows of our seas, usually on continental shelves, islands, and atolls. Coral reefs are an impressive structure made up of living coral organisms stacked atop calcium carbonate deposits from previous coral inhabitants. I was surprised to learn this year that coral are not a type of plant, ... read more
the crew getting ready for departure!
My student Oscar talking big again!
Today's classroom!

Hi family! I’m happy to report that I am back on the blogging scene with numerous adventurous tales to share! I have a lot to catch up on, so I’m going to try to double blog - share what’s going on now while also publishing pictures and stories from diving and cave snorkeling in Mexico, holidays in Belize with my family, and learning how to fire dance in Guatemala! We’ve a lot to catch up on!! Although I had a fantastic visit with all of you this summer, I am ecstatic to be back home! My first few days were a whirlwind of visitors and social engagements….and of course the debut of my pink Mohawk. It was an instant hit in the village, and many strangers call out “Hey gal, I like your style” or “Hey, ... read more
Angel slides another morning
My favorite sight.
Getting ready for my first dive in 7 months!

North America » Mexico » Chiapas » Palenque January 26th 2010

After one night in the Hilton, we were ready to get dirty again, and we hit the highway to a most amazing Mayan ruin in southern Mexico, Palenque. From the advice of other travelers, we knew we wanted to stay in a hippie-run village just outside the ruins called Panachen. This is a small community in the jungle with about 4 different hostel/hotels and a central restaurant/bar that features fire dancers every night! (Well, every night except Tuesday, which is the first night we were there!) The food at the restaurant was reasonable and delicious, and the people we met were fascinating. Our first dinner we ended up at a table next to a group of 15 pilots that were on a 3 week flying tour of Central America! They got together every year and took ... read more
Entrance to another great Mayan city
My first Mayan crypt
Hiding in the jungles.

North America » Mexico » Campeche » Campeche January 22nd 2010

We pulled into the large clean Campeche bus stop just after sunset, and right outside the front doors we found two friendly and helpful cab drivers. They decided between themselves where the best hostel in town was, and asked us to hop in the back, they knew the way! Our cab driver navigated the busy and narrow streets like a pro and zigzagged back and forth until I was wondering which way was up! We then pulled into a magical lighted square in front of a postcard pastel cathedral, and he pointed at a welcoming staircase. Our hostel had incredible views of the lighted cathedral and park square, had free internet, and cost only 100 pesos ($8USD) a night! Angela and I immediately hit the streets to find food and beer. After a quick study of ... read more
the premier bus service
Sunset over the Gulf, en route
The park square

North America » Mexico » Campeche » Xpujil January 20th 2010

Oh how to find the small villages of Mexico. We didn’t have a map. We didn’t have a guidebook. We didn’t want to go to any of the places listed on the hostel bulletin boards or tongues of other travelers. So we consulted the giant cartoon bus map at the ADO station! It had the usual tourists map symbols for restaurants, airports, ruins, and activities, and next to the lonely city of Xpujil, there were none. It must be the small village we are searching for, especially since it’s in the general direction we want to travel! Angela asked the bus ticket guy if there were hotels in Xpujil, if there is anything to see, and was it cheap there? Since this was a small village in another state about 5 hours away, that’s like asking ... read more
The 30 peso salon
Why not?  It's such a good deal!
Xpujil ruins were of a design I hadn't seen before!

North America » Mexico » Quintana Roo » Tulum January 18th 2010

Our day started with a 0645 Hokey Pokey to the mainland, and Noa and Angela and I settled back into the bus routine quite easily. Sharing snacks, limited water, and smiles over the sonic boom of our headphones, we rolled into Tulum after dark. We managed to find a cute cabana hostel for $250pesos/night ($18USD) and quickly dropped bags, changed drawers, and found the nearest taco stand! Yes! Mexican tacos! I had been looking forward to this all day, and Noa remembered a remarkable stand near our place from her visit to Tulum last February. I could not repeat the establishment’s name, but it’s a red concrete façade with a tantalizing donor kebab spit spinning a juicy, crisped pork leg on the street side. Over the next four days of meals I tried that pastor on ... read more
Mexico 103
The beach stretched for miles!
Noa found a wetsuit that FITS!

FIRE DANCING! I’d seen it at a Hawaiian luau and on the beaches of Thailand, and really only dreamed that I’d be given an opportunity to learn one day. But here it was! Angela had found a farm/hostel off the beaten paths of Guatemala where they had amazing people from all over the world, home-cooked meals, and a friendly fire dancing troupe that was eager to share! Noa, Angela, and I all met up at Finca Ixabel for New Year’s 2010 and some fire dancing lessons!! Fire dancing, or spinning, is an ancient tradition from the indigenous Maori tribe of New Zealand. It was used in defense and war tactics to intimidate the opposition. The basic poi are a handled 26” chain with a ball of fire proof Kevlar attached to the end…the Kevlar balls are ... read more
Noa and Ang bring Mr. Pinata home
Careful crossing Mr. Pinata!
Birthday girl with her prize!

North America » Mexico » Quintana Roo » Cozumel October 15th 2009

I came to Cozumel to DIVE. There is a ferry that runs every hour from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel, and its an air-conditioned, smooth, 45 minute ride to this island that marks the start of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. The dive shops are numerous, as are the dive sites, so I know I am in the right place! I walked a bit out of the main tourist zone and found the Dive Paradise shop, located next to a flaming orange building called the Hotel Barracuda. They have a multitude of diving packages, and the 9 dives/3 nights at the Barracuda was the one for me! Those nine dives added more to my dive log than I could have ever expected! Each dive brought a litany of new creatures to the front of my mask. The ... read more
Sunset from my hotel
the turkish restaurant and pool!
From my room...

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