The Outer Banks of North Carolina

28/3/17. On Monday morning, in much improved weather,we set off on the last 100 or so miles to the North Carolina coast and a chain of barrier islands known as the Outer Banks or OBX. The first, Roanoke Island, is not actually one of the barrier islands as it is sheltered from the Atlantic by another, Hatteras. We stopped at the small town of Manteo, named after a former native american chief who was friendly to Sir Walter Raleigh, and had a very pleasant time wandering around the quaint old streets and buildings. The town was founded by Raleigh, or at least some colonists who he brought from the UK. There was a replica of his ship (we wouldn’t fancy crossing the ocean in anything so tiny – give us a huge cruise liner with massive stabilisers any day of the week!) and a street named after him.

Then it was onto the barrier islands proper which are a National Seashore, in the care of the National Park Service. To be perfectly frank it was a little disappointing as neither the ocean nor the sound on the other side were visible for much of the way. The sand dunes were nice enough but were enhanced by the occasional view of the water, and the houses in the small towns all looked rather nice, many having small “towers” which were reminiscent of the lighthouses fot which this part of the coast is well known.

The Labrador Current meets the Gulf Stream just offshore and this makes for rough seas, apparently, which have led to many shipwrecks over the years. It was also a favourite place for U Boats to hunt in WW2.

We visited the Hatteras lighthouse which is the second tallest brick built lighthouse in North America (or was it the world?) Because the Atlantic is eroding the east coast of the islands and depositing the sand on the western side, they are creeping towards the mainland. By the 1990s the lighthouse, which had been built a safe distance from the sea, was in danger of being engulfed by the waves, so they moved it! It was separated from its foundations, lifted up and placed on rollers which ran along 7 rails, and in three days it was about half a mile inland!

The campgrounds that are part of the National Seashore/Park do not open until April so we camped in a private one – at an extortionate cost. The book rate was $32 + tax (which rises to $50 from late May to September) for a tent site without water or electricity on the site itself. Thankfully we had been given a voucher when we visited a tourist information office which entitled us to a 15% discount but it was still over $28 when the taxes were added in! The site was beautiful, being right on the shore and we even had a beaver washing itself to entertain us in the evening. Shame the restrooms were filthy!

On Tuesday we made our way south via two ferries. The first of these ran every hour and was free, on a “first come, first served basis”. We missed the 9 o’clock sailing and so we were second in line for the next one with a ¾ hour wait. We were astonished to find that the trip took an hour but when we set off it became clear why. The ferries use the sound side of the islands (understandably because it is like a millpond compared to the ocean side) but this is very shallow and the route is a roundabout one following the dredged channel. At one pount we slowed to a stop to allow a ferry coming the other way to pass through a particularly narrow stretch (ithe channel is marked by buoys so even landlubbers like us can work out where we should be going).

The second ferry required (or at least recommended – we heard both) reservations and only ran 3 times a day – early morning, lunchtime and late afternoon so we wanted to be sure of making our online reservation on the 1 pm sailing with check in ½ hour before. We made it comfortably and set about trying to top up Stephen’s caffeine levels. This was not as straightforward as it sounds as most places were still on low season trading hours – which appeared to mean midday opening or not at all!

Eventually we found an ice cream shop that also served coffee and Christine fed her hot chocolate “habit” having decided that $6 was too steep a price to pay for the milkshake that she actually fancied.

“In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia…

26/3/17. …On the trail of the lonesome pine.”

Our time in Kentucky was limited to 4 or 5 hours as our next main goal was the coast of North Carolina and we had made a bit of a detour to the north in order to scratch an itch by visiting the Bluegrass State. We did see a lot of bluegrass as we nipped across the southeastern corner of the state although it looked to us to be more purple than blue (it is actually flowers in amongst the grass rather than the grass itself) and it looked rather pretty.

Turning south, we crossed into Virginia and drove along yer actual Trail of the Lonesome Pine (at least, or a road that has now been given that name) for quite some distance. We saw an awful lot of pine trees, none of which looked particularly lonely!

The countryside had been one of steep hills and valleys since the northern part of Tennessee but the height of them increased as we entered the Appalachian Mountains. We spent the night in a hotel in Abingdon as, being further north, most of the state parks’ campgrounds have not yet opened for the summer season.

The next day being Sunday we went our separate ways for a couple of hours with Christine enjoying the service in one of the more friendly churches she has visited in the States, while Stephen added another tick to the “cycled in” list by riding along part of the Virgina Creeper Trail, a disused railway through a pretty river valley.

By the time Stephen returned to the hotel the threatened rain had arrived – the edge of a weather system bringing severe thunderstorms, hail and even possible tornadoes for northern Texas, Oklahoma and western Arkansas where we were only a few days ago. This rain restricted the views as we passed through the mountains, especially when we were driving through the clouds, which was disappointing – but at least we were not out on our bikes in it. Cycling up mountains in the rain is low down on Christine’s list of pleasurable activities – only the cold was missing it being passably warm (in the low teens centigrade).

Crossing into North Carolina, the rain eased as we descended from the mountains and we made for the main roads so we could put in some distance to get to the coast. The countryside flattened out and it was a not particularly inspiring drive. At about 7 o’clock we flopped into a motel having covered nearly 400 miles.

After the enjoyable church/cycling start, it had been one of the least enjoyable days in the States. The weather didn’t help but, if we are going to have rain, at least it came when we were not sightseeing.

Three Days in Tennessee

24/3/17. Stephen was up early on Wednesday morning to go cycling – so that he could tick off another state as “cycled in”! (Sad I know, but it keeps him amused.) He had plotted a route to follow that was mainly on the main cycle route in the city alongside the Arkansas River.

The first bit (getting to the river) was somewhat complicated but after that it was straightforward. However, because he had omitted to download a map of Arkansas for his Garmin and then left his phone (which had a map) in the hotel room along with his room key, he was unable to find his way to the river. (Christine was asleep in the room and he knew better than to wake her!)

As a result he thrashed around in an area of very nice houses (perhaps where the Clintons lived as up and coming lawyers/politicians before governors’ mansions and White Houses were the order of the day) before giving up and returning to the hotel. Still it was a pleasant enough ride and, being quite hilly, got the blood flowing.

When he returned Christine was up, so breakfast and packing were completed and then we set off eastwards. The countryside on that side of Little Rock was a complete contrast to the western side. It was dead flat – the Arkansas delta – and, apart from a stretch of swamp that reminded us of Louisiana, rich farmland.

Eventually we reached the Mississippi, which forms the border between Arkansas and Tennessee, and Memphis. Not being big music fans, Memphis didn’t have any particular attraction for either of us although the thought of seeing Graceland had a certain appeal – until we read in the guide book that it cost $40 each – not that much appeal!

We pressed on through the seemingly endless eastern suburbs of the city until we were back in open country and eventually reached Big Hill Pond SP where we were the only campers.

The weather had been much cooler all day (high teens rather than around 30 only the previous day) and by the time darkness came it was decidedly nippy. We both climbed into our sleeping bags for the first time for many nights – we have been using sheets only and pulling the sleeping bags over us as a sort of duvet in the coolest part of the night.

A few days earlier Stephen had mentioned that he fancied seeing a Civil War battlefield if we passed near one. Well, we were within 20 miles of Shiloh or Pittsburg Landing which was the scene of a major battle in 1862 and is now a National Park, so we hightailed it there.

The visitor center shows a 45 minute movie reenactment every hour which was very well done and informative. Then we followed a 13 mile driving trail seeing the various places mentioned in the film where the battle ebbed and flowed. It was excellent! And, even better, it was free! Apart from a few preserved farmers’ fields, the whole battlefield is and was covered in trees and shallow but steep ravines. Fighting must have been very difficult. There were more than 3,500 men killed and 16,000 wounded in two days of fighting.

We spent about 3 hours there so it was well into the afternoon before we were on our way again. The country was getting wilder and prettier again as we headed for another state park (David Crockett this time!)

Friday was a day of driving through pretty landscapes heading north east as we had a yen to visit Kentucky.  There was no good reason – just a desire to say we had been there! We stopped just before the state line in yet another state park (Standing Stone) and, for once, early enough for Stephen to go for a short bike ride before dinner. That’s Tennessee ticked off as well now!

We Now Know All About Feral Hogs!

21/3/17. (That’s pronounced “hawgs” by the way.)

We knew nothing about Arkansas other than that Bill Clinton was born there and was governor before he became president. However, it was off to a good start and the Lonely Planet Guide waxes lyrical about many parts of the Natural State.

In the morning we started descending from Rich Mountain and Queen Wilhelmina SP, passing through heavily wooded countryside with just a few small towns and villages. It was all rather lovely, if not quite as breathtaking as the previous afternoon.

After a while we reached Hot Springs which claimed to be the hometown of Bill Clinton. It is also a spa town which was infamous for the gangsters who visited in its heyday in the 1920’s, including Al Capone. Only one of the row of bathhouses still performs its original function but they are all well maintained and an obvious draw for the tourists. We had a very pleasant couple of hours wandering around and lunching in a pancake shop.

Then we headed off towards the state capital of Little Rock where we checked into a motel (no campsites in the area that we could find). After a FaceTime conversation with The Two Doctors (our oldest and his girlfriend) we hit downtown Little Rock.

Our first stop was the Capitol which, we were to be told, was modeled on the Washington Capitol and has been used in several movies. We entered passing through a body scanner similar to those at airports and saw people milling about deep in conversation. It was immediately apparent that this was a “working building” so we asked one of the policeman standing by the entrance if the public were allowed to enter. “Sure thing” he said so in we went.

It was a very imposing building but, even more impressive was how we could wander anywhere in the corridors and landings. Obviously the offices were “out of bounds” but the doors to the governor’s office were wide open and, as we gawped in, a man came up to us to engage in conversation.

“Hi. I’m Larry. Where’re y’all from?”

“England.”

“Is that England, Arkansas? Or England, England?”  (Next day we saw signs to the town of England!)

We then headed towards the Senate and, when we dithered outside the doors, one of the security men told us to go in. It was not in session but they were obviously on a tea break or similar as there were laptops, etc on many of the desks.

Next up was the House of Representatives. This was in session so we could not enter but one of the twenty or so people hanging around outside (lobbyists? journalists?) suggested we went up to the visitors’ gallery.

It was presumably a day of humdrum business because we watched two bills being passed with almost no debate. However, then came a one line bill relating to the killing of trapped feral “hawgs” (hence the title of this post) which was a little more contentious.

It was fascinating! It included the immortal question “What is the difference between a domestic hog and a feral hog?” and the inevitable answer “One is a domestic hog and the other is a feral hog”!! Everyone fell about laughing.

We tore ourselves away in the end but by this time the main attractions in the city had closed for the evening so we found an old style diner playing 60’s music for a good old American burger and fries.

The Long and Winding Road

20/3/17. On Saturday morning Sheila and Robin kindly drove us back to the airport so we could pick up the hire car. It was strange to be driving again for the first time since October – and the Americans don’t help by putting the steering wheel on the wrong side either!

Avoiding the interstate in favour of what we hoped were more scenic roads, we headed north. We had initially hoped to get to the last state park before the Oklahoma state line that night but soon realised this was overly ambitious. After all, we are in no tearing hurry – we have the car for 2 weeks – and we had to get through Dallas which looked to be a rather daunting spaghetti of major roads. So we instead aimed for Fairfield Lake State Park to the south of the city, and even then we arrived after the office closed (4.30 does strike us as rather early for a leisure/tourist facility to close on a Saturday afternoon). There were also signs saying reservations were necessary and our hearts sank.

However, the manager was standing around and told us that he thought a couple of people had left early so we should just find an empty site and pay in the morning. Hurrah!

With the tent set up Stephen went for a walk along one of the marked trails, which confirmed our very favourable opinion of state parks.

Setting off next morning, we headed towards JR Ewing Town. As we approached the centre it was all going swimmingly. We switched from a north-south freeway to one heading east-west for a short while and then, in a section of roadworks, saw the signs for the road to the north west out of town. We were looking good!

And then all of a sudden, we were in the wrong lane and siphoned off towards Downtown!

We can deal with this. There are the signs for the road we should be on. Just follow them onto this slip road.

What! The slip road was coned off!

We were headed into Downtown.

And guess what.

It was the day of the Dallas half marathon!

We crawled around for half an hour until we saw yet more signs to the road we wanted and suddenly we were off with (relatively) clear roads in front of us.It was a long way out of the city with freeways and interstates and highways and turnpikes all intermingling in spectacular intersections with bridges and slip roads heading in all directions sometimes stacked 4 or 5 high. It is really not our sort of place but it was fascinating to see.

Eventually we found our way out and onto a quiet road heading past ranches and small towns. Much better.

We crossed into Oklahoma and made our way towards Sulphur (some hot springs apparently although we saw no sign if them) and the Chickasaw National Recreation Area where the campsite was located. In southern Texas the trees were starting to come into leaf and the spring flowers were out but here it was a long way further back – pretty much the only green to be seen was on conifer trees – making it look like winter rather than spring.

However, the temperature put the lie to that as it was around 30°C with the sun beaming down out of a near cloudless sky. We felt slightly disorientated by the contrasting evidence of what we saw and what we felt.

Having “done” Oklahoma by spending the night there, we headed east the next morning, still avoiding the interstates and sticking to what appeared to be the old highway that was roughly parallel. We passed through very pleasant farming land and woods until, in early afternoon, we passed into the sign for Talimena State Park.

In front of us we could see some high hills, or even small mountains. There was a sign saying 13% gradients ahead and indicating that the road could be closed in bad weather. Thankfully it was glorious so we headed upwards.

What a fabulous road. It was signposted as an American Scenic Byway and it was most certainly scenic. It reminded us very much of the Hog’s Back as the road followed the ridge with the land falling away steeply with spectacular vistas on either side.

But, this being America, it had to be bigger and better! It was longer, higher, quieter, more spectacular than its counterpart in dear old Surrey. There were many lay-bys to pull into and we kept stopping to enjoy the view. The wind was blowing strongly from the south and, at one of the stops, we read that this was very common. It restricts the growth of the white oaks (the main species of tree here) to 10-20 feet – dwarfs compared to the 100+ feet achieved in less windswept and lower areas.

We crossed into Arkansas still on this lovely road and entered the Queen Wilhelmina State Park which has a campsite on the last major peak in the range (Rich Mountain) where we spent the night. There was a rather nice hotel right by the campsite and we were mighty tempted but decided that, having already blown our budget because of the car hire, we should restrict ourselves to the $16 camp fee rather than $100 + taxes for a room. In fact, the view from our tent was at least as good and we were closer to nature. Which might not actually be a good thing as there were signs that we were in “Bear Country”! As it turned out we did not see one (phew!) but we made sure to store all the food in the car.

Back in the USA

18/3/17. (With apologies to The Beatles!) The flight from Chetumal to Houston was uneventful apart from our confusion over changing time zones.  Mexico City, where we had a 2.5 hour “layover”, is an hour behind both Chetumal and Houston (which has just put the clocks forward).

Immigration clearance took more than an hour (an unpleasant reminder of experiences at Heathrow!) but we were grateful that Trump’s latest travel ban, which was supposed to start on the day we travelled, had been deferred by a judge in Hawaii.

Sheila, one half of our WarmShowers hosts who had been looking after our bikes and other belongings while we were in Central America, had very kindly offered to pick us up and amazingly managed to judge our immigration clearance time and her negotiation of the traffic jam in the airport almost to perfection so that we waited no more than 5 minutes before we saw her waving as the car pulled into the pickup area.

We were very grateful to her and Robin for their hospitality and the opportunity to spend the next day (Friday) getting our heads straight for the last three weeks in the States before getting on the cruise back home.

In thinking about how to get back to Florida, we had considered and dismissed flying (a bit of a hassle and always a bit of a risk with bikes),Greyhound bus (we couldn’t see whether they would take bikes or not) and the train (bizarrely we would need to go via Chicago and New York and pack the bikes in boxes).

In the end we decided on a “road trip” in a hired car and, rather than go back over the coastal route we cycled, we are going to head inland a bit so we see a little of Oklahoma and Arkansas (states we are unlikely to have the opportunity to visit again).

We Have “Done” Mexico

16/3/17. Well sort of. We have spent two nights there, at least.

And we had our expectations shot out of the water. Again. Just as we have had across Central America right from the beginning.

We had been expecting a dusty, scruffy border town with not much going for it. Instead, Chetumal is spacious, clean and smart! We passed through far worse towns in the US and it puts parts of New Orleans to shame! (Not the French Quarter – obviously – but we did see a couple of decidedly dodgy ‘hoods.) The traffic was not oppressive and (to confound another of our prejudices) almost 100% observant of pedestrian crossing laws.

The walk along the Malecon (waterfront) was very pleasant and we didn’t feel even slightly uncomfortable or unsafe even when we headed away from it back to the town centre and the very impressive museum of Mayan culture.

All of this was in contrast to the marginally unnerving greeting as the boat from Belize docked in Chetumal. We had been hoping for a journey with good views of the mangrove swamps and beaches but were disappointed to find that the enclosed cabin only had small windows up high so the sights were limited. In addition the boat was speedy (60+ kph) so bounced from one small wave to the next (it was beautifully calm, thankfully) which made for deafening crashes even if the motion was not bad enough to induce seasickness in a “pilled-up” Christine.

As we slowed to pull alongside the pier in Chetumal, the bow dropped and we could see 4 or 5 sub-machinegun armed soldiers standing watching the boat. We disembarked, were told to put all our hand luggage in a row and stood to watch two dogs being walked up and down sniffings the bags, all under the stern gaze of the soldiers.

Then it was off to passport control to pay the $30 entry tax in return for a stamp in the passport (this followed the $20 exit tax to get out of Belize) before watching the same dogs sniffing the line of checked in luggage.

But don’t let this put you off! The slightly unnerving first hour was soon forgotten.

You’d Better Belize It

13/3/17. We returned to Flores for the night as the bus to Belize left at 8 o’clock next morning with “check in” (a very informal process) an hour earlier. The bus was a grand affair compared with the rather tatty minibuses we had been in for the two long hauls across Guatemala – a full sized coach with toilet. And, of course, instead of every seat being taken there were only 9 of us so we had ample space.

Four of the other seven passengers had been on the ride from Pana to Lanquin (including Mark our interesting and inspiring dinner companion) and we saw several other faces we recognised when wandering around Tikal – sort of reassuring that others were on a similar programme to us – but also “not” when we have our contrary/unconventional heads on!

The border crossing from Guatemala to Belize had been flagged as an hour and a half affair. Thankfully, it only took about a third of that time – and involved no fees/taxes at all! Result!

Immediately on crossing the border there was a different feel. It was much more “Caribbean” rather than “ Hispanic” (helped by English signs everywhere and HM’s picture on the money!) but also it seemed more affluent – there were far more private cars (albeit somewhat beaten up) and the houses looked better. The predominant skin colour was also much darker.

The bus dropped us in Belize City (not the capital since 1970 despite being the largest place with a population of 50-60,000. Belmopan with 16,000 people has that honour.) from where we caught a (very) fast (almost 60 mph!! according to the GPS app on Stephen’s phone) water taxi to the island of Caye Caulker (pronounced “key corker”).

Mark had given us the heads up that life here was “relaxed” with a capital “R”  – and he was not wrong! What a great place for “chillaxing” (we’re down with the kids!)  this is. Everything is “No problem”  – in a Caribbean accent!

The only vehicles (including taxis) are golf buggies – or bikes but everything is within walking distance anyway (although the “roads” are hard packed sand for the most part). It is definitely geared up for the tourist trade but that, of course, made life easier (but more expensive) for us.

A hurricane a few years ago cut the island in half, creating “The Split” – a channel 100 feet wide – so the uninhabited north part is pretty much inaccessible.  As a result it could be a bit claustrophobic after more than a week – but a short stay is wonderfully relaxing.

We both hired bikes for an hour which was enough to explore all of the accessible part of the southern half of the island (parts are private land or “airport”) so we could tick off another country as “cycled in”! (Sad, isn’t it?)

However, Stephen’s highlight was a half day snorkeling trip out to the reef (the second largest in the world – after a bit of coral plonked somewhere off the coast of an island called OzSomethingOrOther”!!). The fish and the coral were beautiful and then there was “Shark & Ray Alley” where we swam with (thankfully) harmless nurse sharks and sting-rays by the hundreds. That was before we saw the giant turtle with a huge chunk of his shell missing (shark suspected! Eek!!)

Christine very much enjoyed the church service on Sunday – it made a nice change to understand the majority of what was being said!

Despite our reservations about a long (say 2 week) stay , we were not really ready to leave after 3 nights/2.5 days when it was time to catch the water taxi to Chetumal in Mexico, from where we will be flying back to Houston – especially as it was another early morning check in.

Mayan Adventure

10/3/17. (Sorry for the delayed posts over the last week – wifi has been very hit or miss! And, if truth be known, also the blogging motivation has taken a back seat!)

It was another long and not particularly comfortable bus trip from Lanquin is Flores. We woke to heavy rain but it gradually relented as we got under way. The first 11 km were back up  the steep gravel track that we had descended 2 days earlier and then it was back to the main town in the area, Coban, where we waited at Mcdonald’s for a 25 minute coffee break that turned into more than an hour because the bus went off somewhere for some undefined running repairs.

The driver was a bit of a lunatic with some ritzy overtaking manoeuvres on blind bends and summits. At one point we were held up for half an hour while the debris from an earlier accident was cleared. All the time that we were waiting we could sense the driver itching to be moving and he slowly wormed his way to the front of the queue and then past the accident site despite the police presence.

The countryside gradually became less mountainous and more cultivated. The road surface improved a little but there was still the occasional pothole which gave the driver the opportunity to try the left hand side of the road for a change! At one point we crossed a river via a chain ferry which looked to be simply a large sheet of metal on top of a small boat with a simple chain the only safeguard between the vehicles and the water.

Nearly 10 hours after we left Lanquin we crossed the causeway to Flores – a lovely town set on a small island in a lake. It has a real Mediterranean feel and look to it. On arrival we were plagued by men trying to sell tickets for transport to the Mayan city of Tikal but we were tired and wanted none of it so they got short shrift although it took a while for the message to penetrate.

We were dog tired and settled down to sleep – at which point someone decided to park his car right under our bedroom window and play disco music at top volume while he chatted with his friends. After about a quarter of an hour Stephen went out onto the balcony and mimed turning down the volume saying “Por favor” in his best Spanish. If looks could kill! But the level was reduced by about 10 decibels so that was a success.

In the morning we had a leisurely breakfast and were then ready to sort out our tickets to Tikal. The sharks were nowhere to be seen so we went into a small office a couple of doors along from the hotel and sorted things in a much quieter and more pleasant manner.

[Warning: next section in italics is a rant irrelevant to the main thrust of the story! Skip over if you wish!]

On the bus the hard sell started again for those of us who were spending the night in the park (most people on the bus were on a tour and returning to Flores that evening). Entrance to the ruins costs Q150 (about £16) per day but if you enter the park after 3.30 the ticket is valid for the day after as well.

We were getting there at about 2 o’clock so were expecting to have to pay for 2 days. The guide claimed that, for Q50, he could arrange a ticket that would be valid the next day as well. We, and the other 3 people staying the night, were not comfortable with his proposal.

At the ticket office at the entrance to the national park (17 km from the ruins and the hotels) we tried to buy tickets for the two days but were told that we could buy them for that day only. We would have to return to the gate from the hotel in the morning to buy another ticket and there was nowhere to buy them at the ruins or the hotels. (We discovered later that this latter piece of information was #FAKENEWS!)

We let the bus go and settled down to wait for an hour or so and then take a local bus into the park. Collectively we agreed to hire a local guide with whom one of the others, a Canadian lady called Chloe, had been in contact (a recommendation of a friend) for the sunset tour.

He certainly knew his stuff and yet was understated. He took us on a route which showed us interesting places, but also, on 2 or 3 occasions, made our jaws drop when we turned our heads.

It was a real Indiana Jones moment the first time it happened! There was this enormous building appearing out of the trees with birds squawking as we disturbed them as they settled down to roost. The sound of the howler monkeys added to the eeriness of it.

It has to be said that we were slightly unsure about the ethics of clambering all over buildings of historic significance made of (soft) limestone. We just hope our visit did not spoil the experience for future generations.

As sunset approached we tried to find the best place to sit. Where we could see the sun going down? Or where we could see the sun reflected wonderful colours  on the limestone? We settled on the latter.

Returning to the hotel, we had a most enjoyable evening chatting with Mark, a guy from Berlin who we had seen but not spoken with on both buses from Pana to Lanquin and from Lanquin to Flores.  (This was symptomatic of our journey across Guatemala to Belize – we seemed to be on a similar travel plan to a number of other people as we bumped into them at various points.)  Mark only served to confirm our desire to go to South America – his tales of Argentina and Buenos Aires were irresistible!

Our ticket for the next day was valid from 6.00 am.  However, it was gone 7 o’clock when we were compos mentis so we were locked into the previous evening’s decision of an “early” breakfast followed by a morning walk – not a problem! We may have been missed the dawn light on the buildings but we still “hit” the cooler and quieter part of the day which confirmed the decision to stay in a comparatively expensive hotel on site rather than take a day tour.

We Feel Very Lucky

7/3/17. Sat here sipping cold drinks on a warm evening listening to the cicadas chirping after a day looking at the wonderful Semuc Champey, we feel very, very lucky! It sure beats 10 or 12 hours slaving over a hot computer in an office!

(We don’t mean to gloat. We really do appreciate how privileged we are.)