This blog is posted mostly everyday when we take a break from our usual retired Life as former full-time RVer's and travel overseas.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Crossing borders and more ruins–Monday 30 April 2018

BAD BOB It was a good start to the day, first Richard informed me I had misspelled the name of the volcano we hiked which should have been Pacaya. Don’t why I did that because every time you have to smile for a photo in Antigua you say Pacaya. My Bad.

The other error can be seen below.


You may have noticed I posted the blog for the 29th on the morning of the 30th (today). Since I am still a bit under the weather I wanted to get caught up so I can post on the same day if possible. That made it a short post which made it a very big problem for me. I hadn’t even closed the door to the room when she rules like a Mayan female god creature or something on that order (she is picking up pointers every time we learn more Mayan history) wanted (I use the term loosely) to know if I had included the bird head photo she took. Conceding I had not and groveling at her royal feet did little good. So: I am so very sorry for not posting your fantastic photo of the bird head dear. Please forgive my grievous error and allow we to once again serve you in my most humble way. Submissive, subservient, servile Bob. (Talk about digging yourself into a hole.)


I have no idea if there is a double meaning in this crocodile photo I found on her camera , but you cab bet your last dollar I am going to post it. Smart Bob.


Then when we stopped for fuel before crossing the border from Guatemala to Belize, fuel is almost twice as expensive in Belize as it is in Guatemala. She met up with these two armed security guards.


I have no idea who they thought she was, they did this only with Linda, but I could she saying something about taking care of the guy with the pony tail. And not necessarily in a good way. Jeez dear, how many times do I have say I am very, very sorry and I will never again not post one of your prize winning photos. Beggarly Bob.

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Richard, passports in hand heading off to get our Guatemalan exit stamp.

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To enter Belize from Guatemala you have to hand carry your luggage. That meant it had to come the roof of the bus. Belize and Guatemala do not get along at all. Something to do with a disputed border and each’s army stationed there.


We had none of the above, having dumped the remaining small amount of tequila and margarita mix this morning. I bow to Linda here. She says she doesn’t want either of us to have to tell a fib, and besides what might happen if you were caught with one of these items. Everyone in the group breezed through Belize customs.


Sorry for the tree marring the photo. Well, maybe not sorry, as it is Linda’s photo, but I shall say no more. Humble Bob.

We were happy to known that unlike in Guatemala where Walmart has bought up all the major chains save one, in Belize Walmart has no presence. Maybe the fact there are only a little over 300,000 people in the entire country has something to do with, but for what ever reason, it is a good thing.

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Traffic stop. Nothing bad, just to make sure the driver had all the required paperwork and current insurance. One nice thing about Belize, it is a former British colony, so everyone speaks English.


Ferry photo by Linda. Just trying to anticipate any potential repercussions.

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Bus photo. I don’t know if there are chicken buses in Belize. I did feel bad about not posting a chicken buss photo yesterday, but readers were probably  about chicken bused out as it was.


A small, but very interesting archeological site. It is amazing how each site is different. Besides being small in area, this one had been very well reconstructed, and to top it off, there were hardly any other people there. That is a win all around, especially after yesterdays near death march in the heat and humidity around as well as up and down the monstrous Tikal site. They should find someone in the O.A.T. office that is in their mid to late sixties and have  them spend month visiting Tikal from 6 AM to 2 PM everyday for that month. That was the length of time we were there. Best make the person a female and make them a high ranking one at that. My guess is things would change quickly as far as the itinerary is concerned. Three full days in Antigua and a one day Tikal death march. come on O.A.T.,  you can do better than that.


Reconstructed area.


Non reconstructed area.


Her Ladyship sitting on one of the royal beds.


Fruit. Very sticky. Got on hands. Not good.


Really great dark beer. Linda says the same thing. Good Bob for ordering it. Clarification. Linda learned of it from Richard. Linda told Bob about. Hats off to Linda for suggesting Bob should have one as she was going to order it herself. Dodged one there. Lucky Bob.


Linda’s ice cream cone, butter pecan. I had crobbo. Why come to Belize and order what you can get at home? I don’t know and sure as heck am not going to ask her. The craboo is a small yellow fruit that doesn’t taste like anything I’m familiar with.


It even comes with a washer and dryer, maybe. It just might give new meaning to the term. fixer upper.


One Belize dollar is worth fifty cents US currency, so a 750 ml bottle of gin is $15.38 American, which is more than Linda pays for 1.5 liters.

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What was happening outside our hotel room window. Tomorrow is the last full day of the tour, then we travel to Nicaragua for the post trip. More adventure awaits. And with that another day in Central America comes to a close.

A very Long Day Birds and Ruins–Sunday 29 April 2018

Short night, up at 4:45 to go on our first ever birding outing. Our guide is one of the top rated birders in Guatemala. To jump ahead, his passion for birds made the time fabulous. And lest I forget, he was familiar quite with our Retama neighbor, Bert Frenz’s book on Birds of Belize.
One additional note, Linda and are not photographers. Most of what we saw was through the spotting scope. The photos below are to give an idea of what we saw starting at dawns first light.

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Big black bird with yellow crest not often seen.

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Bird on tree branch.

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Toucan with something on beak through spotting scope.

Big colorful turkey like bird.

Guide and beautiful birder.

Water bird.
We took many more bird photos but these were the ones I was able to positively identify. Non-birder Bob.

Typical scene when Mayan temple first comes into view.


Testing out a Mayan bed. My preference is for a very firm mattress. This takes the term “extra firm mattress” to an entirely new level.

An artistic photo using the HDR setting in my camera.

South end of a coati heading north.

Linda wanted me to pose. You’ll have to ask her what the thing beside me is

Our jungle cabin. Time to say goodbye.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Ceramics, archaeology and travel–Saturday 28 April 2018

Caught a little bug, nothing bad, just coughing, but the other side is my energy level is down. That means shorter posts. The family medical practitioner has brought along enough medications to stock a small pharmacy, so healing is occurring as I type. Luckily. Linda is as fit a ?. My mind short circuits at the thought. and my fingers tire, so on to that short post I promised. Verbose Bob.


Best breakfast buffet of the trip. For some reason Linda does not partake of the salsa with the jalapeno on top.


There has been hot chocolate available every morning and we hadn’t noticed it before. Two cups for Linda and three for me. I was flying higher than a kite on caffeine overload. Maybe that was were I caught the cough bug.


Artist at work. He made this hummingbird out of clay while looking at us most of the time and not what he was doing. Someone asked him how he could do that and he replied, “Experience.”


After I is fired he inserts an orange tree thorn to make the bill This a toothpick that burns away during the firing. Also took the  photo before he added the eyes.


How he fires, no kiln needed. He uses coffee tree wood, places it above the clay pieces and they turn out perfect. Again to answer the question asked, he replied , “Experience.” And not to worry, his sons are following in his footsteps just as he did with his father. Though his father did pots, vases and bowls. He got into birds when an American lady paid him an enormous to make and paint a bird. His work is now known around the world. We bought a Motmot. To see it invite yourself over to our place for an evening happy hour after we get back to Retama.


We’ve had many wonderful tour bus drivers over the years, but Vennis (sp?), it’s pronounced that way, was head and shoulders above all the others. No wonder Richard is such a fantastic  tour guide, it’s so Vennis doesn’t take over his job.


Linda and Pat. I don’t have a clue, so it’s you readers turn to caption this one.


Seen outside a wine bar on the main tourist street in Antigua, Guatemala.

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Not a good day for Chicken Bus photos.

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Not a Chicken Bus bus photo. I told you I wasn’t feeling good and these photos show it. The bus is a Guatemala city bus, they were on the do not ride list. Unsafe and crime were two of the reasons given. Just goes to prove that while Guatemala the country may be great, there are a few things that aren’t perfect.

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Richard and his son Samuel.



Linda’s two favorite pieces Mayan pottery. I hope the second one doesn’t resemble how she would like to look at me on occasion.


Linda is not big on waiting in lines at the airport. This was really long day, didn’t get to the hotel until after 9 and we have to get up at 4:15 tomorrow morning. No wonder I am tired and run down.

Volcanos and Chocolate–Friday 27 April 2018

There was an optional tour this morning to climb Pacaya Volcano. It was cancelled because only four people on the tour wanted to go and the minimum was six, so Richard arranged a private climb for those that wanted to go. You can see how excited we four, Pat, Linda, myself and Tom were before we set out on the upward climb.

With our guide, Marvin, in the lead, off we went. As we climbed I observed that older groups had an older guide and younger groups had younger guides. Marvin set a good pace at first, but eventually he was seriously sweating and we seemed to have more frequent rest stops. We never did decide if he felt sorry for the mountain goatless that is my spouse, or he was doing it for himself as well.

Ten minutes unto the 3.4 KM climb and the strain is already showing on this athletic young woman’s face. I hadn’t heard a “Are almost to the there yet?”, but let’s just say that the rest stops were becoming more frequent. We had begun the climb at 6,000 feet and would climb to the 8,000 foot level.

Not our volcano, there are two of them in the photo, one to the far left is belching. It’s the one I have posted photos of in the past few days.

This leaf has a soft absorbent underside. It is good as toilet paper and for wiping the sweat off your face. To the best of my knowledge Linda did not use it for the former prior to using for the latter. Bad Bob.


Doesn’t matter what age you are, when you feel and act young you can do it. This was as high as climbers were allowed to go today, but it afforded a good view of the cone above and the lava field below.


Why were not allow to climb any further today, the volcano was erupting. There was also a constant low rumble, so we were treated to both the sights and sounds of the eruption. We do have videos, but as with our other videos, I won't post them until we return to states. There are only so many hours in the day.

The climb up took an hour and 40 minutes. Coming back down took 57 minutes and 53 seconds.

It’s could have taken even longer to descend, but Linda was diligent in keeping her equipment in top condition. And she absolutely loves her carbon fiber walking stick. Walking sticks are something that saving money isn’t always the best route to go.

Our happy group back where we started the climb. After that experience we are all smiles. Once again Richard earns extra points for going above and beyond and giving us the opportunity to do something special.

Today’s chicken bus photo.

In the evening the group was treated to a trip to a family chocolate making operation. Dog photo: Boxer staring at a cacao fruit that is just out of reach.

To make chocolate, cacao beans are removed from the fruit, dried and bagged. The bags weigh one hundred pounds and that is what the family buys to make their chocolate. The first step in the process is to roast the beans on a sheet of metal over a wooden fire. After cooling the shells are removed. Above photo shows foreign tourists shelling beans, or at least attempting to shell beans.

The next step in the operation is to grind the roasted, shelled beans into a paste. Here we see a a young woman being taught the proper technique to mill the beans under the watchful eye of the master chocolatier. Personally, I thought she did an awesome job, though some may accuse me of being prejudiced in my judgement. Sweet Bob.

No sooner do I wax poetic about my beloved’s chocolate  making prowess than what you see occurs. The master chocolatier gave us a pre weighed block of chocolate and showed us how, with just the motion on one hand to turn it to the form and consistency like the center piece. Linda’s disastrous attempt is on the left. The center piece is actually mine, and was judged to be nearly perfect. In the end Linda didn’t care how good she was at making chocolate as long as she got to have some. This was the type of chocolate they use to make hot chocolate, a mug of which we all got to enjoy.


Besides hot chocolate, there as “small” meal of local Guatemalan appetizer typeof foods. It doesn’t look like it when I took this photo, buy this female volcano climber had worked up a full plate appetite.

My plate, hers was very similar. When I started back for another tortilla with guacamole and salsa, the volcano climberette told me to also make one for her. That woman loves guacamole.

This not a Linda flower photo, it is Bob flower photo, and about time. What ever this is, it was growing in a number of colors. Non-botanist Bob.

Torrential rain storm. And I do mean torrential.

Richard said to wait a while and it will stop. Then he said it will stop in ten minutes. He wasn’t a minute off in his prediction. Just another reason why he is the best of the best, or another lucky guess on his part. GOK.

I had left out our shopping trip to the neighborhood artisanal market. It was off the tourist path and the price reflected that. Bargains can be had even in the city if you ask the tour guide the right question. We got a good deal, the young woman in the stall made a fair profit and no one was happier than me. Just call me Chicken Bus Bob.