Alan and Jean sharing our cruising news with friends, family.

20 July 2015 | Rabi Island Fiji
29 June 2015 | Suva Fiji
18 December 2013 | Auckland
05 December 2013 | Auckland
27 October 2013 | Vavau Tonga
12 September 2013 | Samoa
24 July 2013 | Moorea, Tahiti
19 July 2013 | Papeete
19 June 2013 | Nuka Hiva
02 June 2013 | Pacific Ocean
29 May 2013 | Pacific Ocean
24 May 2013 | Eastern Pacific Ocean
19 May 2013 | Western Pacific Ocean
16 May 2013 | Western Pacific Ocean
13 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
06 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
08 April 2013 | Shelter Bay marina, Colon.
28 March 2013 | Belize
27 March 2013 | Belize
03 March 2013 | Panamarina, Panama

Mayan Mexico and more

08 April 2013 | Shelter Bay marina, Colon.
Muggy and cloudy
Mexico and back to Tuatara.
April 2013
Among our souvenirs from Cuba was an unhealthy dose of streaming colds for us both. Alan felt the worst, don't men always, so we piled out of the airport bus in Cancun spotted a good hotel across the road and were soon back in the western world, internet, TV, takeaways and a well stocked pharmacy down the road. The heavily armed police inside and outside the Cancun airport had also been a reality check, we didn't know whether to feel safe or worried. It is a little scary how soon armed guards and police everywhere, even at the supermarket becomes the norm and they become invisible. We never felt unsafe or threatened the people of the Yucatan seemed a friendly helpful bunch of amigos.

We flew from Havana across to Cancun on the Yucatan peninsula. Cancun is nothing to write home about but it is the gateway airport for the hundreds of beach resorts along the Caribbean coast at Playa del Carmen and Isla Mujeres. We weren't in Mexico for the beaches we wanted to visit Mayan Mexico. The buses in Mexico are a comfortable, air conditioned, cost effective pleasure to ride in. Our first long distance trip was the 4 hours from Cancun to Merida. The long flat highway through uninspiring scrubby landscape was a little boring, I was a little worried the driver would fall asleep with boredom, no corners, very little traffic and not even a loo stop.

Merida however was far from boring, although very hot, the temperature in the 30s everyday. Merida reminded me a lot of Trinidad in Cuba, Spanish colonial buildings, pretty plazas and music. We arrived on Sunday in time to spend the afternoon wandering the market in the Plaza Grande, we sat in the cool of the Cathedral to rest our colds, had a heart stopping moment when our bank card took a bit too long to slide out of a money machine and generally filled in time until a traditional dancing display started in front of the lovely pink Municipal building. Every night of the year in Merida there are free musical events. On Monday night we returned to the Plaza for more traditional dancing and on Tueday night we went to Plaza de Santiago for dinner and listened to the dance band and watched couples twirl around the plaza to their favourite 50s dance music.

We spent 3 nights in Merida a night longer than we had planned. We don't usually stay in the pool type hotel but the Yucatan Vista Inn was in our price range, our colds had slowed us down and Merida was a lovely place to be. The pool was a cool haven from the afternoon heat. The region is winding up for the hotter wet season, a trip earlier in the year would have been better but our timetable was not geared that way. Wandering around in the cool evening admiring the lit up colonial buildings and plazas, Merida was busier with locals and tourists than in the day time. We weren't the only ones hiding from the daytime heat.

We visited the Mayan ruins at Dzibilchaltun just outside Merida and were a little disappointed they weren't as impressive as the write up said. Maybe if we had been there a few days later on the 21st of March when the sun shone through then arch way on the temple we would have been more impressed. On the solstice we were at Palenque and were impressed and amazed. Mayan pyramids and ancient history amongst rainforest just as I imagined.

Palenque is an 8 hour bus ride south of Merida. Another lovely ADO bus, two movies this time and loo stops for which my bladder was eternally grateful. We didn't need the movies really as the scenery improved the dry scrubby plains turned into rolling green pastures full of cattle, real life cowboys rounding up cattle on horseback, a few acres of palm oil here and there, glimpses of rainforest, rivers and little towns.. We had moved from the Yucatan to the Chiapas region, still a Mayan stronghold even today the population is 60 % Mayan.

Palenque is the Spanish name, according to my Lonely Planet the Mayan name was more likely Lakamba and was first occupied in 100BC and flourished until about 740AD and finally abandoned around 900 AD. The site is about 15sq km but only a small amount, relatively speaking has been excavated. The area has many temples the tallest one being the Templo des Inscripciones. We climbed the steep steps of this temple and others getting some great views and lots of exercise. These Mayan pyramids had us wondering which is more grand and awe inspiring the pyramids of the Egyptians or the Mayans. Difficult to say but that fact that the modern Mayans hadn't succumbed completely to tourism and put a paved road at the base of their Pyramids won my vote. Although there are still souvenir stalls dotted throughout the site, the noisy howler monkeys in the tall trees are more intriguing then the smelly desert camels of Cairo.

As I have said we were at Palenque on solstice, also Alans birthday, and as we wandered around we came across a Mayan solstice ceremony at the base of the Templo del Sol. The small group of white clad worshippers danced in a circle to the beat of a drum, turning to face the four points of the compass. We couldn't understand it completely but we could tell this was not a tourist demo and the few of us watching, sat quietly in the shade until it all got a bit repetitive and our attention wandered to our lunch deprived stomachs.

The next day we started early on the next leg of our Mayan journey. In Palenque we booked a two day trip that got us to two more Mayan sites in Mexico, a night in a Mayan Cabana, a trip down the river to Guatemala where we met a bus to take us to Flores the closest town to the towering pyramids of ancient Tikal. The van picked us up at 6am and we found we were about 30 years older than everyone else in the van, the youngsters slept the hour or so to the breakfast stop we enjoyed the scenery more farms cattle rainforest and little towns. I can understand the lure of the US for some Mexicans after seeing the one room shacks and poverty in some of those places.

At Frontera Corozal we got on a small river boat and went for 22 kms up the Rio Usumacinta to Yaxchilan. We climbed the steep steps to the Acropolis and here we could imagine Indiana Jones bursting out of some secret tunnel or come crashing out of the jungle searching for lost treasure.

After our return trip down the river the van bumped past road workers to Bonampak. The men were fixing potholes with concrete mixed on the side of the road. The empty cement bags along with tree branches were then used as road makers to warn motorists of the wet concrete.

Bonampak is a small Mayan site, the draw card is the beautiful frescos inside
the Templo de las Pinturas. The day had been long, hot and interesting we were pleased to be staying near Frontera Corozol instead of taking the long trip back to Palenque as most of the others were. Our Mayan Cabana was beside a pretty little stream and waterfall. We did worry about the mosquitos getting through the narrow gaps in the wall boards. Thanks to running the fan all night we had a comfortable mosquito free night.

Next morning we had a very civilized 8am start, we were picked up by that days van from Palenque and deposited by the Rio Usumacinta again. The river boat took us up stream this time to Bethal where we entered Guatemala. Reminded us of when we entered Laos from Thailand, river and boats nearly identical. The bus from there to Flores was a very distant cousin to the Mexico buses. No AC and narrow seats but we survived.

Flores is situated on the banks of Lago de Peten Itza, in fact where we stayed was on a little island connected to the mainland by a small causeway. Flores was even hotter than Mexico.

"hot! This is only 35deg wait until next month it gets to 45deg!"

We didn't intend to wait. The next morning we caught the 4.30am bus to Tikal for a cool morning walk along some of the 10k of rainforest shaded paths. We arrived at Tikal at 6am just as the mist was clearing, a coati (looks a bit like a raccoon) snuffled through the damp grass and peacock coloured turkeys picked up bugs all oblivious to our camera clicks.

The bus/guide combination ticket was an excellent idea, we got to Tikal in the cool and before the crowds and our guide Donald Gonzales, " my name is easy to remember, just think of Donald Duck and Speedy Gonzales", gave us all the information we had missed on our guideless wandering at Palenque. The towering steep sided pyramids, the tallest about 61 metres are surrounded by tall rainforest.

Only one can be climbed to get a view across the tree tops at the other pyramids. Our guide left us there and we found our way back to our start point and the bus stop. Tikal had lived up to all the hype we were not disappointed. Donald had told us a theory as to why Tikal had been abandoned, the Mayans had cut down all the trees to make way for agriculture and for cooking etc, there is no natural source of water, so no trees, no rain, no water to keep the huge reservoirs filled. Seems like a familiar story.

We had been at Tikal nearly 5 hours, the day was getting very hot, we were surprised at the number of people just entering the park in the heat of the day. We were ready for a sleep.

Forget Egypt go to visit the Mayans in Mexico and Guatemala a much more pleasant and dare I say it more awe inspiring visit. Pyramids and rainforest a great mix, thanks to Lasse and Lizbeth of S/V Hilda for giving us the inspiration for this trip.

Easter was approaching and our minds were wandering back to Tuatara and the Panama canal transit, Guatemala was hot and the cooler coast of Belize was tantalizingly close by. We looked at our options for getting to Caye Caulker an island in the Barrier reef system of Belize. Another early start 5am bus to Belize city and a ferry to Caye Caulker we could be there by lunch time the next day. By this time early starts were becoming the norm so off we went the next day to Belize.

The bus arrived at the ferry terminal just enough time to buy a snack and get on the ferry. Caye Caulker is a flat sandy island surrounded by blue sea. The roads are all sand only golf carts for transport not that you need it, everything is in walking distance. Alan was going to do some diving but the weather was a little rough so trips out to the Blue Hole where he wanted to go were cancelled. He decided to do some snorkeling instead. A morning trip out to the reef had him swimming with and handling stingrays.

We ended up having 4 nights on Caye Caulker a few days of holiday, something we haven't done for a long time. Usually our land trips are for seeing things and going places, we enjoyed the change of pace.

We flew out of Belize City on Good Friday, the ferry back to the city skimmed across the shallow water. We could see the bottom nearly all the way, no wonder we only saw catamarans anchored by the island.

Our flight took us to San Salvador where we changed planes for Panama. Being Good Friday not many people were flying. There was just 6 of us plus flight crew on the 94 seater plane to Panama city. Even though there was no one in first class they wouldn't let us shift not that we were crowded where we were!

The next afternoon we were back on Tuatara at Panamarina. Tuatara was safe and sound ready for moving to Colon and Shelter Bay Marina where we are now waiting for our canal transit on the 16th April.
www.pancanal.com you may see us going through.

Vessel Name: Tuatara
Vessel Make/Model: Alan Wright 51
Hailing Port: Opua NZ
Crew: Alan and Jean Ward
Tuatara's Photos - Talitha (Main)
Our land trip to Cuba March 2013
38 Photos
Created 18 March 2013
24 Photos
Created 26 January 2013
19 Photos
Created 24 January 2013
Mix of Photos while in Trinidad working on Tuatara at the Power boats yard at chaguaramas
40 Photos
Created 4 December 2012
ECO Tourism in Dominica
20 Photos
Created 1 April 2012
79 Photos
Created 1 April 2012
41 Photos
Created 31 March 2012
29 Photos
Created 31 March 2012
Barbados 2011/2012
23 Photos
Created 5 January 2012
Atlantic crossing Dec 2011
15 Photos
Created 5 January 2012
53 Photos
Created 29 November 2011
Tuatara and Crew in Rabat and surrounds October 2011
110 Photos
Created 24 October 2011
40 Photos
Created 17 September 2011
42 Photos
Created 6 August 2011
31 Photos
Created 6 August 2011
July 20011
8 Photos
Created 18 July 2011
Sicily July 2011
32 Photos
Created 18 July 2011
48 Photos
Created 5 July 2011
20 Photos
Created 3 July 2011
68 Photos
Created 27 May 2011
Turkey April 2011
42 Photos
Created 17 April 2011
Syria trip April 2011
82 Photos
Created 13 April 2011
82 Photos
Created 30 March 2011
51 Photos
Created 25 March 2011
32 Photos
Created 6 January 2011
62 Photos
Created 24 December 2010
36 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 12 December 2010
67 Photos
Created 29 November 2010
27th October 2010
113 Photos
Created 17 November 2010
22 Photos
Created 21 June 2010
62 Photos
Created 19 May 2010
39 Photos
Created 13 April 2010
48 Photos
Created 13 April 2010
70 Photos
Created 8 March 2010
89 Photos
Created 25 January 2010
Borneo East coast photos September 2009
25 Photos
Created 8 October 2009
Mainly Tawau yacht club and sailing kids
17 Photos
Created 8 October 2009
Includes Fleet review at Manado with the Indonesian navy and USS George Washington an aircraft carrier.
28 Photos
Created 4 September 2009
35 Photos
Created 4 September 2009
Saumlaki to Wotap cruising the Taminbar Islands
54 Photos
Created 4 September 2009
28 Photos
Created 13 June 2009
10 Photos
Created 8 December 2008
23 Photos
Created 8 December 2008
Folder with sub folders of different areas of Vietnam May/June 2008
1 Photo | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 26 July 2008
Cambodia trip May 2008
34 Photos
Created 20 July 2008
Bits and pieces around Phuket, Thailand Feb to April 2008
19 Photos
Created 7 April 2008
NZ to Indonesia 2007
930 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 6 April 2008
Photos of Bangkok to Laos trip Feb 2008
60 Photos
Created 13 March 2008
Langkawi to Phuket, including PhiPhi islands and Phang Nga Bay
47 Photos
Created 28 January 2008
44 Photos
Created 8 December 2007
23 Photos
Created 2 December 2007
25 Photos
Created 25 October 2007
58 Photos
Created 24 October 2007

Sailing in the Pacific

Who: Alan and Jean Ward
Port: Opua NZ