Old Bird Diaries

SNORKELLING TO DIE FOR…

Or “What the F*** was that over there?!” A sea cow having a kip not a rock!

Furious I didn’t bring my underwater camera (shurely not Rebecca what were you thinking?) I’ve depended on the kindness of a stranger (Eric Parker) and my pal Andreas for the vids risking his phone in a dodgy water resistant case so I’ve added last years turtle vid too which I shot in Indonesia which is super clear!

Nurse shark arriving.

On the Boat for; Tarpons, Manatees, Sharks and a Huge Coral Reef.

Mad rush for grub. Some people are not keen on this but it does make for a fabulous experience to be thwacked around by sharks.
Off I go, diving down to look at something and graceful in my natural habitat.
Sea cucumber in it’s natural habitat.

Fresh sea air goggles and snorkel in hand we were off. At last the sea, my love the sea. Up til now it’s been elusive. Most of my time spent in the mountains and only Trujillo to sniff the ozone and eat fresh fish, but not to swim, far too cold even for me. so this finally was my great love and excitement, snorkelling reefs.

Tarpons.

Teeming tarpons grab sardines
Tarpon at moment of grab!

Never seen these beasts before but feeding them sardines was an eye opener. My hand up to my wrist was engulfed by this huge baby’s mouth, I know this as it’s rasping teeth left a mark on my wrist. Apparently they’re a fisherman’s favourite as they put up a huge fight. There happily they were not allowed to be hunted. They have huge scales and are pink around the gills with a slate green colour on the rest of the body.

Manatees or Sea Cows.

These gentle giants that graze on the vegetation on the sea bed hence their names, were found on our first stop, we were told to give them space but a punch up between snorklers ensued. All wanted a brilliant photo or video, bashed and flippered I began to fight back in this skirmish for the manatee. It was a dirty fight, pushing banging and elbows in faces no holds barred. I had forgotten my underwater camera in London so for a change was free to really look at this lovely fat mermaid.

I thought she was a big rock at first!
It’s a sea cow not me, don’t be so rude!

Coral fish and Nurse Sharks.

Next stop the coral reef hooray. Second largest after the Great Barrier Reef it luckily is now protected. The “ship wreck” we swam over seemed rather staged but was rather romantic and tragic with its galley hatches and barnacles all over. fan coral wafted mysteriously in the current and many varieties of fish had made it their home. My friend who had risked his phone in a “waterproof” wallet was taking all the pics and videos so cheers Andreas, I was not ready to risk my phone after all.

Mr Turtle will not be ignored.

Last year in Indonesia

The next site was on the actual reef and as I jumped in the water I was surrounded by really big jacks. There were loads and they had no fear indeed swam right into your face nosily. The water was teaming with them

From when I had my underwater camera last year!

OVER AND OUT FROM REBECCA THE FISH X

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CENTRAL AMERICA GUATEMALA AND BELIZE.

Or I loved it but it’s harsh….. oh, and Belize the same.

THE PERFECTION THAT IS SEMUC CHAMPEY.

ALERT: I’M SHOWING YOU THE PRETTY PICTURES SO I DON’T PUT YOU OFF COMING HERE WITH WHAT I SAY! A LOT OF GUATEMALA HASN’T BEEN POSTED YET AND THIS IS ONLY GETTING DONE AS I’VE BUGGERED MY FOOT HERE IN MEXICO SO AM HAVING TIME OUT AND REST AT THE POSH MARRIOT IN VILLAHERMOSA.

ANTHROPOLOGY MUSEUM G.C.

The change in atmosphere of Central America was to me startling. I know it’s reputation but I’d been in places in South America that had been sketchy so I thought it would be fine to my seasoned travelling know how.

GUATEMALA CITY’S POPUL HO
BOY ON BOAT WITH THE VERY TYPICAL AND BEAUTIFUL MAYAN PROFILE SEEN ON ALL THE ANCIENT ART

Alone and scared in Guatemala City

It was not. It felt scared.

I had booked in to zone 10 that is supposed to be the safest and most opulent but still it felt uneasy. I cabbed it to the hotel and immediately saw that basically we were caged in to protect us. It wasn’t until the following day I really got it. I went to the Popul Vuh museum that was fantastic but on leaving had a problem about how to get a safe taxi in this area. Finally after many thwarted attempts I asked at the museum and they booked for me. This seemed crazy I had to get a chip for safety this place was clearly menacing. Even going to the nearby mall was a challenge and armed guards were on every corner. I bought a chip for my phone from a Claro kiosk so I would have a number and data and uploaded my old friend the Uber app so I wouldn’t get stuck at more remote venues . Having done this I felt much better. I would not leave myself defenceless here. Not cool 😎

GC’S MODERN ART MUSEUM

I had travelled all over South America and not once felt so vulnerable and threatened, indeed that night I heard a guest from the hotel had been robbed right outside at 9 at night.

SERENE BEAUTY BUT HIDDEN DANGER? ATITLAN LAKE AND VOLCANOES

Although I had a fabulous time there and there are magnificent things of great beauty, this essentially is a third world country that is violent and difficult for a solo traveller let alone a female one. Think long and hard my old birds about travelling here. I met up with a snorkelling pal from the Philippines last year but still did a lot alone because we had only the snorkelling in common as to what we wanted to do. Both of us found sections very threatening and only super touristy venues are safe ish!

FOOTBALL PAST AND PRESENT?

ALERT: Let’s be clear I’m not exaggerating. In lake Atitlán my friend wanted to climb the San Pedro Volcano and could have, if he wanted to risk being mugged and or attacked. Countless reports on Trip Advisor and other social media reported being attacked and robbed by men wielding machetes. Most also took shoes and jackets as well as the obvious valuables. No back street should be deemed safe. No going out after dark. No touristy bling. No having alcohol unless you’re at your hotel or have organised a cab. People have been robbed on less popular sites and ruins. Things left in rooms,especially in Belize where most people travel to for snorkelling while in Guatemala, have been cleaned out while people are on the boat tours they came for. No opening wallets in public. No using your phone on the street unless you stop in a doorway of a reputable shop to do so viewing all around as potential thieves. As much as you don’t want to go down empty streets you don’t want to be in crowds either. Sorry about this but I need to get this into your heads before you go so you are safe. Once you’re aware of all this then you can enjoy what is a majestic and historically rich country with an abundance of things to do.

SAFETY ON MY TERRACE FOR A COUPLE OF RUM AND COKES MAN!

I was in Guatemala City til my mate arrived then we went straight onto Cobán by bus. We arrived at night and although together, we were scared shitless.

COBANS NOT SO FRIENDLY ALIGATOR SUNBATHING ON THE STEPS!!!!

Stayed there two days until arduous journey (the horrible desperate for a wee bus journey) to the legend that is Semuc Champey.

SEMUC CHAMPEY. I CLIMBED TO THAT BLOODY VIEWING PLATFORM FOR YOU LOT!!

(you need to go to San Augustin Languin first) then it’s a 4×4 bone rattling ride to the place. (I had booked the hotel closest to the entrance which was a very wise move)

FISH PEDICURE IN THE ROCKPOOLS.

After two nights there we had to return to Coban to get a bus to Flores (many encounters with some vile young Israeli travellers) which was a nightmare.

Onto Tikal and Yaxja

Two nights there (I had serious food poisoning and had to stay in bed) then on to Tikal (I stayed two nights there and also visited another site Yaxja where I fell over in the mud running from the howler monkeys)

ARE THESE THE TOADSTOOLS THAT THE SHAMENS USED FOR THEIR PIPES?
Being heavily rained on at Tikal!
TEMPLE AT TIKAL WITH THE OLDEST KNOWN CODICES ON THE BACK.
IN MY 4X4 ON THE WAY FROM TIKAL TO YAXJA
YAXJA
Yaxja.
Tikal.
Codices of the Mayans.

Then onto Belize and Caye Caulker for snorkelling (fabulous nearly as good as Bunaken Indonesia).

Belize Caye Caulker for Snorkelling.

BEING VERY DAFT AS RESERVE MANAGERS LOOK ON
JUST ARRIVED EXHAUSTED.
MISTY MANATEE NOT MEEEE!

Then another crushing bus ride (literally, the man in front of me had a faulty seat and kept pushing it back and crushing my legs) to Guatemala City and onto Antigua then lake Atitlán for three nights (oldest church in Central America),

Antigua

….. then Antigua one (placed my hand on McDonalds private parts),

One last night in Guatemala City.

…..Guatemala City and last one at airport hotel (extremely nice and cheap and two minutes from airport). As you can see it was hectic but for the most part soooo worth it.

G.C. Modern Art Gallery

The entire trip was either terror, wonder or long bus journeys so be prepared it’s harsh mistress but a worthy one.

OVER AND OUT FROM ANDREAS TOO! SEE YOU NEXT YEAR?

OVER AND OUT FROM HARD CORE REBECCA XXX

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DAY OF THE DEAD IN MEXICO!

Or, I’ll add to this later!

NOT OVER AND OUT MORE TO COME!

Alberto my angel!

Thankyou so much for all your help! You’ve made me feel so welcome and have helped me for the next part of my trip so much! BRAVO!

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Life when travelling solo, new viewpoints?

Or a deeper look into the solo travellers perspective

I always wondered why I prefer travelling solo. I know the normal stuff, no argument about where you’re going and what time to get up and get off. No pressure on bad days, no squabbling about restaurants. No icy silences after a tiff, no problem about changing plans at the last minute. These are all foul things but the real reason is that I can see the world through my own eyes without interruption. This sounds selfish but it’s vital for me. I don’t need anyone’s opinion until I have processed the magic. It’s like I never take a tour guide, I just can’t stand the blah blah

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GUATEMALA KEEPS GIVING.

OR HOW LAKE ATITLAN IS SAVING MY LIFE.

ALERT I’m jumping timewise here but will leave Guatemala tomorrow for Mexico so am a bit topsy turvy. Have many more posts for the earlier days of my voyage here.

First view of the lake.
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BELIZE CAYE CAULKER.

OR ALL THE FISH YOU WANT AND A SEA COW.

ALERT: This blog just shows a fat cow am waiting on some photos for next one to show you the sea cow!

I am writing this on the way back to Flores from Caye Caulker. I am brown and sweaty sitting on the bus nearly at the Guatemala border and have a long journey ahead to reach my final destination of Lake Atitlan and it’s volcanoes.

Conch shells all over displaying hand made jewellery