A Travellerspoint blog

Yucatán Peninsular: Cancún, Mexico - February 2011

Cancún & Isla Mujeres, Mexico

sunny 27 °C
View Cancun 2011 on tweetaz's travel map.

One place I never thought I’d visit any time soon was Cancún, Mexico.
Mexico, yes! But not necessarily Cancún. Why? Well, it was never high on my “List of Places” to go, I didn’t really know much about the place except it was a top ‘Spring Break’ location and I suppose living on an island, I was lucky enough to have access to the beach, just a drive away.
But when one of my best friends from school in Florida invited me to join her and some of her friends on a trip, I jumped to the opportunity. After all, what better way to add another place to my “Been to List”, than spend it with some awesome friends!

NORTH AMERICA: United States (FL**, CA, DC, GA, IL, MA, MN, NC, NJ, NY, SC, VA, WI), Canada (Toronto, Montreal), Mexico (Cancún, Isla Mujeres)
* * Lived there for University

My friends were arriving for a long weekend, so I decided to take the opportunity to visit some more of the area, by arriving a couple days before and leaving a couple days after their scheduled trip. I started reading up “things to do” for the visit, but as I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what I wanted to do for my ‘extra’ days, decided to see what was available or see what the recommendations from the hotel were, and choose when I was there.

I arrived early evening via Miami to the International Airport in Cancún and got a Shared Shuttle to the Best Western Hotel Plaza Kokai in downtown Cancún.
[I am proud to say I didn’t get swindled into any schemes or time-shares or tours, as I got warned about these salespersons ‘waiting’ as you come out of the customs area. They all were wearing Blue shirts, but working for different companies and I suppose all working on commission.]

As the hotel was in the downtown, the shuttle driver dropped of visitors along the Cancún Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone) at various hotels, before dropping me off at my hotel. I was scheduled to be staying in the downtown for the first two nights of my trip, before meeting my friends where we had decided on staying along the Cancún Hotel Zone. Driving along the Hotel Zone, I got to see the ‘famous’ or infamous sites, like Señor Frog's as well as admire the beauty of the place and the excitement all around.

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View from Hotel Room

After checking in and freshening up, I decided to take a ‘night stroll to explore the city’, as I was excited about being in a new country.
With a local city map as my guide, I walked through the city, sometimes empty streets, sometimes along the highway, sometimes taking a ‘wrong turn’, where I found the ‘Walmart’, a Burger King, a lot of ‘book-your-tours-here’ booths. I also found a supermarket/grocery store, where I was able to pick up some water and cookies, as a vital supply. The hotel would provide two bottles of water, but as a ‘just-in-case’, I was now prepared. Yes, that was a warning I was given – don’t drink the water. The city felt very safe, and the people very friendly. No one’s really bothering you, yet saying hello as you pass by. You however really do get the feel that even in the downtown, it is catering for the tourists.

Evening Stroll

The next day I excitedly awoke, for what was in store. Along my evening stroll, in the spur of the moment, I braved one of the “book-your-tours-here” booths and booked a day tour with the “Islander” tour company, to ‘Isla Mujeres’. Otherwise known as the Island of Women, this is a little island off the coast of Cancún, was sacred to the Mayan goddess Ixchel, the goddess of childbirth and medicine. The Spanish named it based on the many images of goddesses that were visible around, when they arrived on the island. I had read a little about the island, so was very excited to be getting the opportunity to visit.

The weather was perfect. Lovely sun and breezes to ensure the experiences would be great. We took a boat (named “Caribbean Princess”) across to the island and I must say, pictures really don’t do justice as to how perfect the different shades of blue of the sea, blend together.

Beautiful Shades of Blue

First view of Isla Mujeres

The tour I decided on was a semi-inclusive one, where lunch and non-alcoholic drinks were included. Included in the tour was a delicious buffet lunch, with such varieties and different flavours. An optional city ‘walking tour’ was also available to be able to explore and enjoy some of the history of the island. For additional prices, there were options of other activities, like renting a golf cart, snorkelling, swimming with dolphins and visiting the turtle farm. There was also the option of just the day trip, with no food/drinks included and another option of an all-inclusive one, with all food and all kinds of drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic).

I decided on lounging along the seashore, swimming in the ocean and playing volleyball with some of the other passengers, for the morning portion of the trip. In the afternoon, I joined the walking tour of the island, where we heard the history of the island and little stories about the different areas as well as admired the colour houses, hotels and restaurants throughout the walk. The center of the island/town is a small market place; really nice, very colourful stuff and full of friendly people, but taken over by other visiting tourists.

Looking up of the trees

Weather station on beach

Vibrant colourful buildings

The Pier - Isla Mujeres

Mermaid statue on The Pier - Isla Mujeres

I’m very happy I took the ‘risk’ with this tour. I enjoyed myself thoroughly. The tour attendants were very pleasant and willing to help, and even had planned entertainment (games, etc.) on the boat ride back to shore.

The next day I checked out of the downtown Cancún hotel, met up with my friends, checked into the Krystal Cancún Beach Resort. This resort had both the option of all-inclusive and not all-inclusive. When I booked the hotel, I decided that I would book the first two days as all-inclusive and decide on the rest of days. I guess because I don’t drink, I’ve never thought an all-inclusive package (or even party an all-inclusive) would benefit me. Plus, I don’t like the idea of going to a new country, and not eating/tasting the local meals available. I want to experience the experience :)

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Krystal Cancun Beach Resort

The grounds were gorgeous. The view from my room was amazing, facing the Caribbean Sea (twelfth floor)! We met up in the evening and decided to go out to a local ‘Mexican’ outdoor restaurant named “Mextreme”. The evening was cool and clear as we walked to the restaurant. It was lovely being with old friends and making new ones; catching up on everything.

Loved the name of this store we passed!!

Throughout our time together, one of the things we did was organised to spend the day on a Yacht and do some snorkelling. The waters were rough however, so the snorkelling was cancelled, but the day trip and the company was still great.

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Views from the Yacht

My friends left to head back home and I decided that I'd travel downwards to enjoy some more beauty and history of this interesting Peninsular. Next Stop: Tulum, Mexico

Posted by tweetaz 06:17 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

A Three Day Weekend - Suriname 2010

A Short Visit, with History and Adventure!

rain 27 °C
View Suriname May 2010 on tweetaz's travel map.

In May 2010, I was invited to attend a good friend’s wedding in Suriname, and took it as an excuse to also visit and explore a new country, therefore updating my visited countries/cities:

SOUTH AMERICA: Guyana, Suriname

The flight left Trinidad at 10:30pm on Friday with an expected arrival time of 1am Saturday. However, due to fog around the city and the airport at Paramaribo, and a very low percentage of visibility, we circled over the airport for about 2 hrs! The plane then landed in Guyana international airport (one country up) to re-fuel, as we waited for the fog to clear and the visibility to improve. We finally landed and cleared customs in Paramaribo, at about 6am.

Our ride was waiting patiently in the airport for us, (actually camping out there!) as we went back to the groom’s residence to set our things down. We met another friend who took us into the capital city of Paramaribo, while the bridal party was making final arrangements.

Suriname was mainly under Dutch rule before it gained independence, and the historic capital city of Paramaribo can still be seen with the influences of the Dutch. The inner city is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Parts of the city have an 1800’s feel with what we call wooden ‘gingerbread’ houses still lining the main roads. These houses have intricate designs in the woodwork, dating back to the Dutch era.

"Capital City of Paramaribo"

One of the more interesting and pleasing things for me in this capital city was the location of the Mosque Keizerstraat and Neve Shalom Synagogue. They are located adjacent to each other, sharing a wall, also showing an acceptance and understanding for each other.

"The Mosque Keizerstraat and Neve Shalom Synagogue"

We decided to travel to ColaKreek; a creek patronised by visitors and locals alike. The weather however was rainy and overcast and road-works of the red-bauxite road were underway so the conditions were not ideal, but the trip was worth the bumpy ride there.
The Creek gets its name from its orange/brown/red colour, the colour of Coca Cola! The water is very clean, as the colouring is due to the vegetation decay that nurtures the water. It’s a beautiful recreational area, with slightly strong currents (in some areas)!

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The day after the wedding, we took the opportunity to explore the city. Driving is similar to home, so navigating was not a problem. Downtown is commercialised with fast food restaurants like McDonalds, and shops like sporting goods and jewellery/gold stores around.

We then got the opportunity, with the friends we were visiting, to drive to Brokopondo, which is located south of Paramaribo, towards the interior of the country. Here, surrounded by a small village, the Suriname River and its tributaries, starts to feed into the Amazon River!! The river was very wide, and the currents were strong, but we were able to swim along the banks and enjoy this experience.

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"Suriname River feeding into the Amazon River"

We then drove towards the Brokopondo Reservoir, one of I believe five water dams and hydroelectric facilities and the largest in the country. Although only authorised persons are allowed inside the facility, the views from outside the gates are breathtaking.

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"Views from Brokopondo Reservoir"

Our last stop for the trip was dropping the honeymooners to their hotel – The Bergendal: Eco and Cultural River Resort, where we got to enjoy the final views of the sunset over to Suriname River. From the little we were able to see, this Resort is NICE!! And am thinking about visiting on my next trip ;)

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"Views from The Bergenda Resort"

We headed back to the city to prepare for the 6am flight back home.
This trip was too short, with so much left to do and see.
I’m looking forward for my next opportunity to visit this undiscovered ecological beauty.

Posted by tweetaz 22:36 Archived in Suriname Comments (0)

Smoking Volcanoes, Arts & Crafts and Great Coffee!

A trip filled with History, Volcanoes, Arts & Crafts and People of a beautiful Nation still trying to find themselves.

sunny 28 °C
View Nicaragua 2009 on tweetaz's travel map.

So I can add a Central America section to my list of places I’ve been!!
Since I started this blog, the only new country I visited so far has been Nicaragua in January 2009. [See the updated list below]. Yes, travel has occurred otherwise, but nowhere new to account for.

NOW, I've been to:
CARIBBEAN: Trinidad and Tobago*, Barbados, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Dominican Republic and Commonwealth of Dominica
NORTH AMERICA: United States (FL^, GA, SC, NC, VA, DC, MA, NY, WI, NJ, MN, IL, TX), Canada (Toronto, Montreal)
EUROPE: England, Scotland, France, Switzerland, The Netherlands
* Born, raised and live there now
^ Lived there for University

I will still admit that compared to some of the adventurers out there, I haven’t really been anywhere, but I’m still working on that! – slowly but surely... And yes, I haven’t been regular with this blog at all, but I warned about that from the start. Even so, I would still like to try and record my adventures.

The main reason for my visit to Nicaragua last year was for a conference which was to take place on a weekend in January. I, of course, having this chance to visit a new country, jumped at the opportunity to “extend-my-trip” so as to be able to get a true taste of the place. I travelled with my mom and dad and despite them gaining years every year, I can say with full honesty, that it is from them and their families (mainly their parents) that I get my taste for adventure and my “itch” to travel.

We organised our trip to go from Wednesday to Wednesday, catering for the conference on the weekend. We travelled from Trinidad, passing through Miami – only because of the travel miles. The other option was to go through Panama, which although it would have been exciting, I think I would have longed to extend my flight additionally, so as to include another “new country/adventure” for me. But, because of my restrictions at work, only one (1) week of time off was possible this time around.

After travelling all day, being stuck in the airport because of “airport situations”, we arrived in Managua (the Capital city of Nicaragua) at night. A friend from there (a local) who lived for three (3) years in Trinidad, greeted us. On preparing for the trip, I had picked up a copy of the Lonely Planet’s Nicaragua/El Salvador. One of the first things that they warned us about was the poverty in the country. That age of the person didn’t matter – infact it was the children mostly, that would hustle, beg and plead, just to get by. We witnessed this throughout the trip but even so, with the poverty of the country around the main areas, the people were beautiful, kind, pleasant and the country is vast with wonders and excitement.

We were based in Managua, the capital city, staying at the Hotel Camino Real, the site of the conference. Most of the places we visited were on the West of the country. Maybe next time, we’ll focus on the East :).

Because of our limited time there, we wanted to be able to see as much as possible. I personally like the idea of going somewhere and exploring on your own, but because of the limited time, and the language barrier (yes, I still have to work on the Espanol!) we collectively decided to organise a “day-trip” to select cities of the country.
We organised a tour group through the hotel for the first day – Explore Nicaragua Tours, which was basically a personalized day tour, with a tour guide (Javier), a driver (Oscar) and a Hilux! What was exciting about the tour was the history and geographical tid-bites that Javier shared with us, answering our questions, sharing stories and making it an exciting learning experience.

We decided on visiting Masaya and Granada, and places inbetween. Our first stop was the City of Masaya, where the Volcán Masaya National Park is located. This site consisted of three (3) main craters - San Fernando, Santiago and San Pedro, of which Santiago is the only remaining active volcano. The park consists of a small information centre, with demonstrations focused mainly for the school field trips, an amazing view of the Masaya Lagoon and a trip up to the 3 main craters. We travelled up to the craters, passing the mounds of volcanic rock, from the 1772 eruption which ended up in the Masaya Lagoon at the base of the National Park.

DSC04045.jpgMasaya Lagoon

Masaya Lagoon

The Santiago crater was smoking actively, and such a magnificent site. We waited patiently as the smoke cleared to be able to look straight into the crater to see the sulphuric pit of lava.

Looking down inside the Santiago crater

Looking down inside the Santiago crater

Pathway up and lookout over San Pedro crater

Pathway up and lookout over San Pedro crater

Across from where we stood, was a walking path up to an overlook of the San Pedro crater. Personally I think our view of the active volcano was more interesting.

We visited the City of Masaya, viewing the Hammock–making process, one of the main trades in the city. It’s a family business, from the weaving of the straw, the creation and design, the decorations and the sale.


We visited “Pueblos Blancos”, known for its beautiful crafts and flowers. Here in San Juan de Oriente we had the opportunity to see this family at work, making clay pottery.

Pottery.jpg Pottery samples

Pottery samples

Our next stop was Laguna de Apoyo (Apoyo Lagoon) which is an extinct crater lake, on the outskirts of the city of Granada. We had lunch at a restaurant by the crater, but other sporting and leisure activities are organised and occur throughout the year.

Overlooking Laguna de Apoyo

Overlooking Laguna de Apoyo

Laguna de Apoyo

Laguna de Apoyo

The next stop was the historical city of Granada where we met up with a local tour guide from that city (Gioconda) in her beautiful national costume attire, and beautiful singing voice. We took a boat ride on Lago de Nicaragua, which is the 2nd largest fresh water lake in the Latin America and the 10th largest in the world. The lake contains 365 islets (small islands) formed from volcanic rock, where some these islets are inhabited by locals or foreigners, or are the locations of restaurants, hotels and other sporting activities. This Lake is known for its wide variety of wildlife and vegetation. It used to be inhabited by the now almost extinct freshwater sharks (the Bullshark [or Nicaragua shark] and Sawfish).

View of Colonial City of Granada from the lake

View of Colonial City of Granada from the lake

One of the highlights of our boat ride was being visited by the inhabitant monkeys [Spider Monkeys]. A veterinarian put them on one of the islet with the hopes of preserving them. They are used to visitors coming through the Lake and excitedly swing from branch to branch until the boat is close enough for them to jump abroad.


When we got back to the mainland, the sun had already gone down and evening activities were in full swing.

The colonial city of Granada, oldest still standing Spanish-built city was once a beauty and pride of Nicaragua. This was until the foreigner William Walker who had taken over the city, upon being “run” from the country, organised the burning of the city. Some of the buildings that still stand today from the 16th Century, still demonstrating marks of their history.

Iglesis de Guadalupe

Iglesis de Guadalupe


We visited the famous Hotel Granada, known for its history and made famous by many a movie.

In places like Granada, and other cities in Nicaragua, they are known for their distinct architecture of the doors, entranceways and windows, illustrating the vast history of the city. They are also known for their beautiful and vast churches and cathedrals, for example the Cathedral de Granada, in the city centre.

Cathedral de Granada

Cathedral de Granada

We ended our long, but enjoyable day with local snacks from the city centre, and returned to the hotel with anticipation for the to-come adventures of our trip.

We decided to stay close to the hotel, as the conference participants were already arriving, and drive through the capital city of Managua. Nicaragua, besides its volcanoes, arts & crafts, coffee, beef and politics, is also known for its earthquakes. Before the early 1970s, the city of Managua was like any other city, with its high-rise buildings and business places throughout the capital city. However, in 1972, there was a massive, devastating earthquake that destroyed almost 90% of the city, leaving a handful of buildings standing that were over 3 floors high. Up until just recently, it was very rare to find a new building or house that was 2/3 or more storeys high.

Antigua Catedral de Managua

Antigua Catedral de Managua

The Old Cathedral (Antigua Catedral de Managua) in the city of Managua, was severely damaged in the 1972 earthquake, but in recent times we were told that restoration has begun on this building.

We visited the Parque de la Paz (the Peace Park) where as the history goes, President Violeta Barrios Torres de Chamorro (who in 1990, became the President of Nicaragua, the first women elected President in all the Latin American countries, unseating the very shocked Daniel Ortega), collected the guns, rifles and even a tank and encased them in concrete. The country had been going through a series of civil wars and this was her way of attempting to bring peace to the country and symbolizes the wish of Nicaraguans that "never again" will their country be plagued by such violence.
AK-47s in concrete - Parque de la Paz

AK-47s in concrete - Parque de la Paz

Tanker in concrete - Parque de la Paz

Tanker in concrete - Parque de la Paz

National Palace of Culture or (Palacio Nacional de la Cultural)

National Palace of Culture or (Palacio Nacional de la Cultural)

We passed by the National Palace of Culture or (Palacio Nacional de la Cultural) which was built in 1935 during the SOMOZA dictarorship time period, but now houses some of the country’s most historic artefacts. It is also one of the few buildings that survived the devastating 1972 earthquake

We ended our day, visiting with friends and meeting the participants of the conference.

We decided to organise with our friends and visit City of León - Nicaragua's first capital city, located on the West Coast of the country. The drive to there was beautiful, stopping and tasting the local cuisine, and viewing from afar, the very famous Volcán Momotombo, and the sister volcano Momotombito (i.e. Little Momotombo). Although still active, it is one of Nicaragua’s least recorded erupted volcanoes and is famous for its perfectly conical shape.

Momotombo and Momotombito

Momotombo and Momotombito

We decided to visit a local beach, that even the road leading there was very long and under construction, therefore very bad, was probably one of the main highlights of my trip... why? Because I got to touch the Pacific Ocean for the first time!!
Yes, I know it’s the same Ocean all around, but to me it was a big thing – like stating I was on the other side of the world.
Pacific Ocean

Pacific Ocean


This beach was still recovering from a devastating Tsunami that occurred a couple years back. With miles of blistering hot sands and beautiful waters, multitudes of different shaped shells scattered along the sands, with huts along the beach where locals made a living serving cold drinks and snacks, where the young tourists were trying to catch a good wave, it really was simple, yet brought great joy to me.

We entered the City of León with its courtyards and Cathedral, the most famous being the La Basílica Catedral de la Asunción (Catedral de León) built in 1747. It is believed to be the largest cathedral in Central America and houses the resting place of the famous Nicaraguan poet, Rubén Darío.

La Basílica Catedral de la Asunción (Catedral de León)

La Basílica Catedral de la Asunción (Catedral de León)


Inside the Cathedral were beautiful statues, high arches and gold trimmed furnishings. We walked the streets, interacting with the locals, and admiring the historical architecture of the streets, the churches and the buildings around us.

Streets of León

Streets of León


We had coffee at a cafe El Sesteo, located in the Hotel San Juan de León and then started the journey home.

Managua cont’d
On our last day, once again we decided to stay ‘close to home’ and continue seeing the city of Managua as none of our packing was done – we really weren’t ready to go home. We visited the Managua Mercado, the local market, viewing the arts and crafts, and enjoying the beautiful spirits of the local people.


Our friends decided that we had only seen a one-sided view of Managua, the downtown, the poverty stricken city, and decided to also take us to a local mall, in all its glory. You could see the influence of the Americans here, not only on the types of stores and the prices, but also the restaurants associated with the mall.

We ended our evening, and our trip with dinner at a local restaurant, under a thatched roof, with the local music playing all around us.

Although short, it was a fun-filled week with the excitement of the conference [which btw was great :)], the meeting and interacting with friends, and the visiting of the main cities [and the Pacific Ocean!] along the West coast... Now back to reality and the reminiscing of the many photos taken... and the beginnings of planning my next trip.

Posted by tweetaz 20:03 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (0)

the beginning

Task #1: to start

overcast 25 °C

So, I've just completed reading up/updating myself on all of the blog entries for the blog from the swivellin' chair (181 blog-entries presently). Why? Because he (dr. pepper) and the other blog-enterers, are the moderators of travellerspoint, and who else would/could know the ins and outs better than them, right? ;) [plus, it was a distraction from studying, and I really couldn't avoid it any longer]

I've always wondered how people could start, continue and keep a blog, with the regular responsibility of updating it and actually keeping up-to-date with their lives... I've attempted to do this on so many sites: live journal, MSN Live Spaces, Hi5 etc but something always happens, or infact, LIFE HAPPENS!
So the questions now stands, will I be able to continue this time? Let's hope so, as I'm now pumped to attempt to participate AGAIN in this phenomena called 'blogging' that has taken over... everywhere!

So who am I?
I'm a young lady born in Trinidad (in the Caribbean) to a Persian dad and an English Mother. I grew up here in Trinidad, with the love for travelling instilled in us at an early age. Because I live on an island with international parents whose families are still scattered around the world, travelling was a must if we were to see our grandparents and other relatives or to get to know the history and roots from where we came from!
I attended undergrad university in Florida, USA and came back home to work and do my Masters degree.

I'm a simple girl with a dream - to travel the world and make a difference!

My first trip as I've been told, was when I was 6month old visiting the family in England. Over the years, countries like the following have been visited and explored with the hopes that more and more travel opportunities would arise:

  • I've been to:

CARIBBEAN: Trinidad and Tobago*, Barbados, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Dominican Republic and Commonwealth of Dominica
NORTH AMERICA: United States (FL**, GA, SC, NC, VA, DC, MA, NY, WI, NJ, MN, IL), Canada (Toronto, Montreal)
EUROPE: England, Scotland, France, Switzerland, The Netherlands

* Born, raised and live there now

  • * Lived there for University

{There are of course places that I've connected or passed through, but I DON'T consider that as being to, or visiting the state or country. Afterall, how much can you really tell of a country by the airport? hmmmm?}

I do LOVE travelling!!! I dream of it and itch for it!! It doesn't matter what mode of transport - be it by Plane, Train, Car, Boat, Bus, Bicycle or even by foot!! AND I've been lucky enough to have to opportunity to do some travel in my lifetime!
Of course, I'm still young ;) so there's definitely more to come whenever the time and the funds are there!!

Cuba, Cyprus, Turkey, Madagascar, Monaco, South Africa and Iran.
[And one day I'll hopefully have the opportunity to see all of them, and much more!]

My favourite destination to date that I would have to say would be Israel! I love it there; it's my Paradise, and I would love the opportunity to visit there again, and again, and again! :)

  • sigh*

Well, the books are calling again, so maybe I should head back to them :P

The above entry is a short summary of me... intime more shall be revealed ;)

Posted by tweetaz 20:43 Comments (0)

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