Tag Archives: swimming

Somewhere in Mexico: Beautiful Bacalar

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Bacalar Lagoon, MexicoWe weren’t supposed to stay there, in fact we considered driving right on by and not even stopping.  However, we hate to feel like we might have missed something (like a talking cross that doesn’t talk, or incidentally – sing!).  So, into the town of Bacalar we went.  The town is small, and still relatively untouched by the tourism hordes.  In fact, it reminded me of the quiet, bohemian feel of Playa Del Carmen long before the overflow from Cancun turned it into a perpetual spring break.

Maybe we were lucky, maybe it was kismet or maybe we simply paid enough travel dues (like flying all the way to Ecuador next to “Forrest Gump” , getting his views on the countries’ high altitude, “lawdy, lawdy it’s high up in there”) – whatever the reason,  we found ourselves outside this gate…

Bacalar, MexicoLike a Mexican gated community.

Our tentative knocks on the gate were greeted by a young women’s head squeezing out of the smallest crack in the gate opening.  We explained to her head that we were looking for a room for the night. We must have looked normal and harmless enough, with one teen’s face stuck to the screen of his phone, and the other scarfing Mexican Doritos and thus we were allowed into the secret chamber.  As soon as we walked in, the reason for the secretive nature became clear…

Bacalar, MexicoWho wouldn’t want to guard this?

The hotel had 5 cabana type rooms, right on the lagoon, nestled in palm trees.  Lucky for us, one of the reservations had decided not to show up and we were more than happy to take their place!

Bacalar, MexicoA room with a view.

We didn’t waste any time jumping into the that beautiful jewel green water…

Bacalar Lagoon, Mexico

Or making use of the hammocks…

Bacalar Lagoon, Mexico

Or digging our toes into that soft (albeit a little creepy in that soft squishy, ‘what exactly is that stuff’  kind of way) spa like mud/sand lagoon bottom.

Bacalar lagoon, Mexico

Or lounging and enjoying meals in the open air lobby…

Bacalar, Mexico Casa Caracol

Or hanging out on the jungle encased swing set…

Bacalar, Mexico

But, eventually we had to say goodbye and move on down the road…

Bacalar Lagoon, Mexico

At least now, we know where the road leads

Bacalar, Mexico

and how to gain access into the inner sanctum…

Bacalar Lagoon, Mexico

Until we meet again…

Bacalar, MexicoFor more travel in Mexico:

Somewhere in Mexico: Roberto Barrios Falls

Somewhere in Mexico: The Talking Cross

Thanks for the Memories, Mexico

For more SWEET SPOT Travel: GO HERE

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Somewhere in Mexico: Roberto Barrios Falls

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Roberto Barrios Falls, MexicoWe briefly wondered if we had made a mistake as we watched the large tour bus, bound for Agua Azul, pull out of our hotel parking lot in Palenque, Mexico.  We, my husband, two teenage sons and I,  had decided instead to go on a quest in search of a different set of waterfalls that day – Roberto Barrios Falls in the small town of (you guessed it) Roberto Barrios.  We were excited about the prospect even though the town of Roberto Barrios was not on any map we could find,  the Cascades de Roberto Barrios were not listed in any guide books or brochures, and other than some random blog posts and a few references on Trip Advisor, the falls seemed to be a bit of a hidden secret (which meant we absolutely had to find them!).

Here is what we did know:

  1.  If we drove 7 km on the road towards Agua Azul there would be a right turn onto a “paved road” and 14 km later we should arrive  in the town of Roberto Barrios.

2.  Once in the town, we needed to find the “central park”.  The central park turned out to be more of a large grassy area with a neat old church.

Photo Aug 04, 6 05 58 PM

3.  We would know we were in the right spot when local children approached us to be our guide to the waterfalls for 20 pesos (about $1.25) per person.

With that limited amount of information, we actually made it to our destination!

Since there was no actual indication of where the falls were, we decided to take up the offer of a guide. Our guide was a teenage boy named Rafael.  He spoke only Spanish.  As we walked down the dirt path into the jungle he explained that the people of the town owned and operated the falls together.  Tourists had only started coming there in the last 4 years but (unfortunately in a way) interest seemed to be growing.

After a relatively short walk down a jungle path,

Roberto Barrios Falls, Mexico

we came upon the first of the several waterfalls and it took our breath away!

Roberto Barrios Falls, Mexico

At Rafael’s suggestion, we continued on the path to the lowest of multiple falls and began our exploration there.

Roberto Barrios Falls, Mexico

We moved up the falls both by walking the path or (in the teens case) climbing up through the rocks and falls to get to the next level up – Going behind waterfalls into small caves to see bats and swimming in the bigger pools.

Roberto Barrios Falls, Mexico

At  one of the upper level pools, there were some natural diving boards to jump off of.

Roberto Barrios Falls, Mexico

At every turn there was another beautiful vista.

Roberto Barrios Falls, Mexico

All of water was a clear sea green, warmed by the sun.

Roberto Barrios Falls, Mexico

We were loath to leave, but as we made the walk back we purchased from local merchants some sliced mango (the most amazing ever,  according to Teen).

Roberto Barrios Falls, Mexico

… fresh off the tree coconut water.

Roberto Barrios Falls, Mexico

 

And homemade fried plantains.

Side note: Afraid to eat homemade food in Mexico? GOOD – that means more for me.  The best food I have  had in Mexico has been at the hands of locals, cooking right on the street or out of their own kitchens and no “Montezuma’s revenge.”

Teen says, in actuality,  bad WiFi in Mexico is Montezuma’s true revenge.

As we were leaving, the local boys were reclaiming their watering hole.  I hope it stays that way.

Roberto Barrios Falls, MexicoFor more Sweet Spot Travels: GO HERE

For more on Mexico:

Somewhere in Mexico: The Talking Cross

Somewhere in Mexico: Beautiful Bacalar

Thanks for the Memories, Mexicog

Leaving My Heart (and “the Cheeseman”) in Hamburg, Germany

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In the middle of a whirlwind tour of the UK, we flew to Hamburg, Germany (boy are our arms tired, ha) to visit friends. For the duration of our stay in Hamburg, we didn’t stay in hotels, tour many historic sites, or contribute to the tourist traps.  Instead, we squeezed into our German friends’ lives – ate homemade meals with them, played on the Elbe River together, shopped, talked, laughed and learned more about each other.  The best kind of travel – Travel with the heart.

On my final night in Hamburg, it became glaringly apparent, I must return to Hamburg – to be with my friends again, to  partake of the wonderful Northern German gastro delights of fresh fish, cheeses, meats and breads, and to play in the Elbe River once more.  But there is also an infinitely more dire reason I must make a reappearance in Hamburg. I must return to see “the cheeseman”.  You see, upon the eve of my departure I learned that “the cheeseman”  is Brad Pitt – David Beckham – Channing Tatum – Ryan Lochte all rolled into one glorious package selling, what else but cheese, at the local market.  Unfortunately, I did not learn this little nugget of hunk-alert (yes, I have a husband, but who doesn’t enjoy a good view every now and again) information until our farewell dinner where, upon learning that I had in fact been to the local market that very day, it was quickly discovered I had failed to purchase any cheese or even approach the cheese stand. The women in attendance began to exclaim…

“Ah, you have been to the market, did you see “the cheeseman”?

“What? I can’t believe you did not see “the cheeseman!”

“Oh, “the cheeseman”.

“He is so beautiful; “the cheeseman” should give up his life of cheese and be in movies”

“I order my cheese very slowly just so I can stay longer staring at “the cheeseman”.

“ ‘The cheeseman’s’ Dad isn’t so hard to look at either!”

So you see, clearly, my Hamburg experience is not yet complete! I will have to return, very soon, before “the cheeseman” runs off to Hollywood.

Some favorite pictures:

Playing Viking Chess on the banks of the Elbe River…to an audience.

Seeing off the Queen Mary 2 as it leaves the Hamburg Harbor.

100 year old underground tunnel, crossing underneath the Elbe River.

Playing and swimming on the Elbe River as massive ships cruise by on their way out to sea.

Making discoveries.

Time to sail on, for now.

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!

Sweet Spot: Marlette Lake – Lake Tahoe, California

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Truly breathtaking spot.  Want to go there?  Well, no cars are allowed, not even any roads, just trails. So here is what you need to do:

1.  Rent or bring a bike with lots and lots of suspension (unless you want your ya-ya parts to be screaming in agony the next day).

2.  Get up at the crack of dawn…(ok, or a few hours past the crack if you are like me and choose not to function any earlier than that!).

3.  Wear sunscreen (sun, high altitude and all).

4.  Wear bug spray ( I swear the mosquitos are as big as bald eagles up there!).

5.  Bike about 4 miles up hill (yes, really all uphill), to arrive at Marlette Lake.

6.  Leave your vertigo at home because the most exhilarating way down the mountain is to bike the 9 mile Flume Trail – an ant-trail sized path, apx 7800 elevation, along the side of Sierra Mountains with breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe (uhh, don’t miss the trail, it s a long way down the hard way!).

7. And, when you finally make those arduous 3 to 4 miles up hill (for a special treat, the steepest part is saved for the last mile)  and before the long scenic cruise down hill (hopefully on the path and not down the side of the mountain)…don’t forget to take a swim.

For this sweet spot, the entire journey is more than worth it!

Oh, and on the chance you happen across the rope swing at Marlette Lake, better view this:  Boy Meets Tree

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!