Belize City, Belize
We had a nice day of inner tubing down a river through a giant cave system, and ended our time there by shopping in the streets near the port in Belize City; smack dab in the middle of tourist central; the type of place I usually avoid like the plague. However, the people were so great to talk to and joke around with. We were having such a great time! I tasted some terrible homemade booze that some of the street merchants were drinking (and lied about how good I thought it was), and bought a couple of things to bring home.
During all of this time, a man in tribal garb quietly followed us around at a distance. Every time I looked at him he stood so proud. He looked absolutely regal to me. He reminded me of how you feel when you’re dressed to the nines and looking especially good.
When I asked if I could take some pictures of him, he said “certainly sir… and if you would make a small donation to my village I would appreciate it.” So, I did a mini-photo session with him, and he even talked Susan into getting into the frame with him.
I don’t know what it was about him, but he left an impression on me. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the merchants clamoring for our attention, he commanded respect and had a powerful presence. Obviously he was there to be photographed with the tourists to make some money, but as strange as it seems, I felt honored to meet him.
… and I absolutely love both of these photos so that’s where for this day there are two!
With the gorgeous scenery of Cozumel at our aft, we cruised to Guatemala. There aren’t very many things to do there, in comparison to other popular cruise ship destinations, but the experience we had on our tour up the Rio Dulce river was the best of the trip. For one thing, it was the only excursion where the family all went together.
Guatemala is pristine and largely unspoiled by tourism. Our trip up the river was like a trip back into time. People live in small villages along the river and move about in handmade dugout canoes that all seem to be one solid piece of wood. There aren’t many motors; mostly rowing which is impressive considering the size of the river. I can’t say with any certainty, but it appeared that they totally live off the land and the river. We saw lots of people fishing and wash being done on the river banks.
There has obviously been enough tourist traffic for the children to know when to be ready. At a calm spot on the river, the boat slowed to meet an approaching armada of dugout canoes loaded with children and trinkets to sell. Everything was either from the river, the sea, or was hand-made. There were as aggressive as they were cute. I felt a bit like a national geographic photographer on location, and it was an experience I won’t forget.
Once on Cozumel, we rented a car and explored the island. We ended up spending the majority of the day at Punta Sur, which is an ecological preserve at the southern point end of the island with amazing beaches, a lighthouse and a lagoon with Saltwater Crocodiles. I took this picture from the top of the lighthouse, using only a circular polarizer to make the colors pop. In other words, this really is how it looks.
The ship’s casino had a Roulette game I had never seen before; with the wheel in the middle and automated betting stations with video touch screens all around it. Since the real roulette wheel wasn’t active at the time, I took a seat and played for a while. It didn’t go that well, but I thought the spinning wheel made for an interesting shot.
The adventure begins. We are headed to Orlando and ultimately Port Canaveral to board the Norwegian Sun for a week-long vacation with Susan’s family to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of her parents. From the picture below, you can tell it didn’t start out too well. With fog this thick, not much happens.
Our flight was delayed nearly 5 hours, which also screwed up our connecting flight. We were very lucky though, and were still able to reach our destination just before midnight the same day. That was 17 hours…. to get to Orlando.
While shopping at the Carlsbad Outlets, I noticed these starry things hanging in the center of the mall, suspended on cables and electric wire. They are nice looking decorations in the daylight, but I waited until just after sunset when they turned the lights on. I thought how much nicer these decorations would look without all the wires. So, in Photoshop, I did just that – erased all the wires running from the buildings and between the decorations. The actual photo looks more like a spider web of wires, connected to all these decorations.
In hindsight, I wish I would have gotten more of the buildings in the shot for perspective, but I guess you could say I was “star struck”.
The business end of an M4A1 Assault Rifle – of the airsoft variety.
In other words, it won’t kill anything but some cans and small targets. Airsoft is like paintball; it’s a team game where you are shooting at opponents and of course wearing the necessary safety gear. The benefit over paintball is that you don’t have to deal with the mess of getting covered in wet paint. Without visual proof of being hit, there is a bit of an honor system involved in the game. You have to duck out of the match when you are hit, but there’s little doubt of when that happens. The sting of the impact from just one of the 6mm plastic bb’s gets your attention. This gun will fire about 760 per minute when set to full auto. FUN!
I find all sorts of things of visual interest when walking my dog. The canyon across the street from us is protected habitat and I imagine that the presence of the Manzanita tree has something to do with it. It’s a protected species in California and it’s illegal to cut or burn it.
Aside from the rich red color of the bark (which is enhanced a little), I think it’s interesting how the lichen-laden bark seems almost independent from the rest of its wood. These trees really stand out in the woods. You couldn’t mistake them for anything else.