Big Birthday in Belize

For my 40th birthday, I was toying around with the idea of a long weekend with friends somewhere like Nashville, Asheville, or New Orleans. But when tickets came up to Belize for $350 round trip, well, plans changed. Melissa (who turns 40 just six weeks after me) and I snapped up that deal and started planning caving expeditions, hikes, beach time, and snorkeling. It was a magnificent trip! Everyone should go. Belize is beautiful, safe, exciting, uncrowded, and filled with some of the most genuine and friendly people in the world. Here are seven highlights from my seven days. Continue reading →

Pools of Mud in San Jacinto, Nicaragua (May, 2008)

San Jacinto 1San Jacinto 2

While You Are There: Hang out in León for a few days, see the ruins, go to the beach, go sandboarding, and drink some rum. There’s no shortage of activities in this part of the country. León is easily my favorite place in Nicaragua (although Ometepe is pretty great too!) and this quote from Lonely Planet captures my feelings well:

Intensely political, buzzing with energy and, at times, drop-dead gorgeous (in a crumbling, colonial kind of way), León is what Managua should be – a city of awe-inspiring churches, fabulous art collections, stunning streetscapes, cosmopolitan eateries, fiery intellectualism, and all-week, walk-everywhere, happening nightlife. Many people fall in love with Granada, but most of them leave their heart in León.

Why It’s On My List: Because you feel like you are defying death when you go. You don’t know if the ground beneath your feet is suddenly going to collapse and send you plummeting into a scalding, muddy death. There aren’t exactly closed off, safe walkways like you find in such a place in the States. It’s also on my list simply because I had a great experience staying in León. I made some wonderful friends and the San Jacinto mud pools was one small day trip we took together in the car I had rented. Then we went to a little restaurant nearby and sipped cervezas in the Nicaragua heat. It was a good day.

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.