“Happy July 4th!”

A reminder to my fellow Americans:

This female eagle was seen in Yellowstone Park.

This female eagle was seen in Yellowstone Park.

 

 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” ~ from the Declaration of Independence

 

 

 

The teeny, tiny white dot in the background is the eagle. We had a wonderful time!

The teeny, tiny white dot in the background is the eagle. We had a wonderful time!

 

Last week, we visited Yellowstone Park. Matt from Buffalo Bus tours did a great job showing us bison, elk, a bear and deer in the park. More in a later post.

A “Happy July 4th!” shout-out to Em, Miss B., J., K., E., R., M. and all the lovely people we met on the shuttle!

 

This year is the 200th anniversary of our national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner:

“God Bless America!”

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February 12, 2014 Meet Cricket!

You will love my lovely hometown!

You will love my lovely hometown!

 

 

 

Hola! My name is Cricket. I was born in the central plaza of La Antigua, Guatemala. I am made of twisted wires and two pretty turquoise bead eyes.

Are you my cousin?

Are you my cousin?

 

 

 

 

 

I have looked for other family members, but it seems that they are not nearby. It is good that I am curious and make friends easily.

 

 

 

Let me show you some of the lovely things in my picturesque hometown.Cricket 2

Rooftops are perfect for exercising and reading!

Rooftops are perfect for exercising and reading!

Exotic ice cream creations to tickle your taste buds!

Exotic ice cream creations to tickle your taste buds!

Cricket 9

"Painting" sawdust carpets for Semana Santa

“Painting” sawdust carpets for Semana Santa

Though not considered lovely, the painted public wash tubs have seen decades of dirty clothes.

Though not considered lovely, the painted public wash tubs have seen decades of dirty clothes.

Senor Crepe makes Cricket a complimentary dessert

Senor Crepe makes Cricket a complimentary dessert

 

There are many pretty flowers here.

There are many pretty flowers here.

 

February 5, 2014

Wednesday

The colorful squares you see are in the cemetary

The colorful squares you see are in the cemetary

IMG_5469

 

We tour Santa Maria de la Concepcion, a small town near Panajachel. Duncan, a local tour guide, says he’s the only one giving tours to Concepcion. In his opinion, the town is a little-known gem.

 

 

 

 

Concepcion 1IMG_5475

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a tranquil little hamlet with a 400 year old church. The bell continues to peal.

 

 

 

There are very few visitors to the sleepy little town.

 

 

Another centuries old building being put to good use

Another centuries old building being put to good use

 

 

On the way back, we stop in Solala and visit the museo. It was dedicated maybe a year or two ago by the queen of Spain!

 

 

 

 

 

The building was originally shorter

The building was originally shorter

 

 

 

In another life, it was a government building.

 

 

 

Back on the streets of Panajachel, we talk to Frank. He’s lived here 20 years. Some of his tips if you are staying in Pana:

*Don’t use the local BAC bank. If there’s an issue at their ATM and it keeps your money, the bank will NOT give you your money back.

*Primavera is the best hotel in town.

*El Bistro has the best steaks.

 

Please refresh the link occasionally when viewing my blog. I have been known to add more information in the form of videos, or possibly more photos, to previous posts!

 

 

February 3, 2014 Lago de Atitlan

What a view of the lago!

What a view of the lago!

 

 

Our second night in Casa del Mundo is in room #17. After room #10’s coziness, this room feels so open. The private terrace is also bigger.

 

 

The casa has picturesque balconies and trailing greenery

The casa has picturesque balconies and trailing greenery

 

Views from all levels of the property are breathtaking!

In the hotel’s drive to reach self-sustainability, a high tech solar-heater system harnesses Lago de Atitlan’s sunshine to provide all the hot water for the property.

 

 

We go hiking. I’m fussed at because I stop to capture so many moments! In the Ben Stiller movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a photographer pauses in shooting the rare sighting of a big feline. I’m sorry, if I can get the shot, I will. Sharing is a good thing. And … my memories will fade, so it’s always nice to have a reminder!

Casa 5Casa 3

Casa 2Casa 2

Casa 6

February 1, 2014 Reserva Natural Atitlan

Saturday

Tuk-tuks around Panajachel are Q5 a person. I’m sure the locals pay much less. We could have taken a long walk to the Reserva Natural Atitlan, but decide to pay Q10 a person for the ride out of town and up to the 400 acre site. Yes, tuk-tuks sound and look like lawnmowers under three-seat golf carts, but they are fun rides! Quick turns make it easy to play “corners”, the game where you purposely sqeeze the person against the door as the vehicle races around street corners and curves, squealing with laughter! I feel the breeze and grin with joy as lake views rush by. So truly blessed to be here at this moment in my life!

R N Atitlan

Guatemala has exciting volcanoes and forest lands. The Reserva Natural Atitlan, located in the San Buenaventura Valley outside Pananjachel, may not be as large as other preserves, but it has many areas to explore!

 

 

We visit the butterfly sanctuary, walk down to the lake, cross hanging bridges by waterfalls, marvel at a spider monkey vigorously swinging by its tail, and soak in the peaceful forest!

   R N Atitlan

 

Oh, look who we run into again! Nicholas and Johanna, the backpackers we met in Tikal who gave us Equi, the grasshopper. It is so nice to see them again!

Equi the grasshopper made of reeds, reunites with his first "family." Can you see him? He is perched on the rail post.

Equi the grasshopper made of reeds, reunites with his first “family.” Can you see him? He is perched on the rail post.

We end the day with dinner at Circus Bar & Restaurant. Tonight, Carlos, a local flamenco guitarist, invites two brothers to join him on stage.

Three Blog Tips

I just read a comment from one of my posts. The blogger mentioned that she is an “aspiring blog writer” and asked for suggestions. I thought about it and decided to share some basic steps for newbies.

1.   Bloggers are learning all the time. Check out sites like Dear Blogger, greg@dearblogger.org. I follow Greg as he’s generous with his advice. Anyone can ask him anything, whether they are a beginning blogger or well established. He started a YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/narayguy/videos, with tutorials on how to start a blog, different costs of hosted sites, how to make your site more attractive, etc. I started with WordPress.com before following him, but he uses WordPress.org to be able to do some beautiful enhancements to sites using plugins, etc.

If you’re hoping to profit from your blog, there are several big guys out there, but I like Nate Smith, nate@nathanialsmith.com. He is encouraging with good tips and spiritual inspiration. You can search around and follow many others, but look for sites that fit your needs as a blogger.

2.   This is very, very important! Please remember to pull from your passion. Post articles that you are truly interested in, not those that are just current topics that you hope people will link to. Cover subjects you know or that you researched and have a working knowledge of, that might be of value to others.

3.   Mix it up! Some entries I will post describe just what happened and photos. Others, I will add some background about the area we visited, photos and a video or two. Sometimes an opportunity arises that I can’t let go by, like when I learned about The Internet of Things, https://soosoosees.com/2013/10/14/day-30-new-york/. It’s fascinating to me how everything is moving at warp speed!

Experiment with tones and textures. I posted a video of a Savannah, Georgia Trolley Tour in sepia. “Johnny Mercer” came aboard and gave a spiel of his life in music. It begged for that treatment, https://soosoosees.com/2013/10/02/day-16-savannah/.

And, here’s a photo I took of actors in a Tombstone, Arizona re-enactment of the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral. (p.s.: The gunfight wasn’t really in the corral!) Thought it would look more striking with texture and a feel of the Old West. Edited it on my iPhone in Snapseed, blurring present day shoppers and vehicles in the background with TouchReTouch. Both are free apps. It could have been nice in black and white, but I do like tints!

Doc Holliday and the Earp Brothers are ready

Doc Holliday and the Earp Brothers are ready

There are plenty more tips I could give, but off the top of my head, these three simple steps will help you on your way!

January 29, 2014 Casa Santo Domingo

Wednesday

Bronze in the lobby

Bronze in the lobby

 

Casa Santo Domingo is a grand hotel with beautiful gardens, pocket museos, workshops and quiet corners of beauty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Casa Santo Domingo garden

 

 

The hotel is 25 years old. The ruins that it has absorbed into its structures was built in 1538 as a convent, or monastery, depending on how you interpret the two words.

Crypts

Crypts

 

 

 

It’s surprising to me that so much of the convent survived as the quake started in July and aftershocks continued until December!     Casa Santo Domingo altar

 

 

The convent came crashing down during the 1773 Santa Marta earthquake. The quake was so named as it started on the day designated to honor Saint Martha.   Santo Domingo

 

 

We stroll the grounds, admiring so many amazing views of the ruins.

 

 

 

The candle workshop offers candlemaking classes!

Casa Santo Domingo 3

A potter decorates a mug at the back of the candle shop

A potter decorates a mug at the back of the candle shop

A worker climbs down from the supply area in the back of the candle shop. I believe that is part of the ruins jutting out!

A worker climbs down from the supply area in the back of the candle shop. I believe that is part of the ruins jutting out!