The Magnificence of Mayan Structures

The Magnificence of Mayan Structures

Rising out of jungle across the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico are the ruins of dozens of Mayan cities. Most of these ruins are at least 1,200 years old, dating back to the glory days of the Maya around 700 AD.

Discovered though largely ignored by Spanish conquistadors during their Aztec conquest in the 16th century, it was 300 years later, in the 19th century, when European explorers ‘discovered’,  and subsequently took the time to investigate and learn the ways to unlock the wonders of this fascinating pre Hispanic civilization.

Mayan structure

A great Mayan structure

Today the sites of Chichenitza, Tulum, Palenque and Uxmal are internationally famous but scores of other sites remain little known and visited.

One  such site, Coba, about two hours drive south of Cancun, and one hour west of Tulum, is home to the largest Mayan pyramid in Mexico, which visitors can still climb.

Coba was an important Mayan city, evidenced by the many raised stone roads linking its buildings which stretch out across a 120 square kilometre site. Here you can see two Mayan ball courts where the Mayans played their ingenious ball game, pelota. Then  bicycle or walk along enchanting paths encased by the jungle canopy to visit the imposing Nohoch Mul, at 138 feet the highest Mayan structure in the Yucatan.

Sak Ch’een, lord of Motul de San José c.8th century,[27] dressed as a ball player with a large yoke, painted deerskin hip guards, and elaborate headdress. He is dropping onto his knee to strike the ball, which is probably exaggerated to huge proportions. Photograph by Madman2001

Sak Ch’een, lord of Motul de San José c.8th century,[27] dressed as a ball player with a large yoke, painted deerskin hip guards, and elaborate headdress. He is dropping onto his knee to strike the ball, which is probably exaggerated to huge proportions. Photograph by Madman2001

For how long tourists will be allowed to clamber up the steps of this awesome structure remains to be seen as the Mexican authorities step up their efforts to preserve the wonders of this magnificent pre Hispanic civilization.

Learn more Mayan culture in our epsiode, La Ruta Maya

A World-First In Uruguay…

A World-First In Uruguay...
December 5, 2014

A world-first in Uruguay… although a controversial world-first. Tabare Vazquez’s victory in the country’s presidential election means the governing coalition’s plan to create the world’s first state-run marijuana marketplace will now move forward. Unique Uruguay … an interesting move indeed; one that will position the region as the most liberal in the worldin terms of accessible marijuana.

Whether you agree with it or not, Uruguay itself is a fascinating destination – find out more here.

Carnival Season Around the World

Carnival Season Around the World
Carnival season is upon us and whether you are in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, or South America, there is no shortage of celebrations happening all around the world. The most well known festivals are celebrated in New Orleans, Louisiana, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, Sydney, Australia, Venice, Italy and Trinidad and Tobago.

Mardi Gras is centered mainly around the French Quarter of New Orleans for approximately two weeks and commences on Fat Tuesday, which falls on February 12th this year. However, the multiple parades take place Uptown and in mid-city, due to the narrow streets in the French Quarter. From the elaborately decorated floats, wild costumes, lively music, famous King Cakes, to the lengths people will go to in order to obtain a plethora of colorful, signatory beads, there is never a dull moment or a shortage of purple, green and gold.

Pilot’s Justine Shapiro took part in the Mardi Gras festivities when she was invited to join one of the 27 floats of the Krewe of Orpheus. In true Mardi Gras fashion, Justine wore a jester costume and adorned herself with multiple beads.

Globe Trekker New Orleans

Rio De Janeiro, fittingly known as the carnival capital of the world, is no stranger to celebrations. Rio’s Carnival dates coincide with Mardi Gras, beginning on Saturday February 9th and ending on February 12th this year. During Carnival, the various samba schools, each representing their specific neighborhood, are the main draw. Samba dancers often rehearse months before Carnival and are decked out in extravagant handmade costumes with lavish headpieces. Host, Ian Wright dives head first into samba, learning from the school, Caprichosos de Pilares and ultimately taking part in the parade.

Rio - 3

Rio - 2

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, takes places from February 8th through March 3rd this year and is Sydney, Australia’s biggest event of the year. Justine Shapiro takes viewers on a firsthand experience of this liberating celebration of expression and equal rights. Anything goes in this parade, from the Scantily clad costumes to dancing in the streets, drawing a crowd of over a million people to be free to be themselves. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Sydney Mardi Gras and is themed quite appropriately as, “The Generations of Love.”

Sydney - 10

Sydney - 12

The two most celebrated days of Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago fall on February 11th and 12th this year, right before Ash Wednesday and has been called, “The Greatest Show on Earth.” Justine Shapiro lets viewers inside the Caribbean’s biggest carnival as she joins in the celebration.

Music is a highlight for this carnival, with various competitions, including the International Soca Monarch competition and the National Panorama competition that innovatively incorporates the use of steel pans, garbage can lids, pots and pans to create sounds, rhythms and melodies. Bikinis with headpieces adorned in feathers are often seen during Carnival among a multitude of various character costumes, from Minstrels, Jab Jab’s, Midnight Robber’s to Dragons and Bats.

Globe Trekker Eastern Caribbean

Globe Trekker Eastern Caribbean

Justine travels to The Venice Carnival, which takes place in St. Mark’s Square and is centered around various types of eclectic looking masks, allowing people to maintain a bit of anonymity and play a different character. Like the other carnivals, Venice also commences on February 12th this year, marking the start of Lent. The mask contests and the water show on the Venice canals are two highlights of the Carnival and what better excuse to travel to this gorgeous city than to attend one of the biggest celebrations of the year?

Globe Trekker: Great Festivals 3

This is undoubtedly an exhilarating time of year to dress up, celebrate cultural milestones and bask in the traditions that were established decades ago. Carnivals are plentiful around the world and although the five mentioned here are some of the most popular ones, they are definitely not the only ones.

Hanging out in the Gorgeous Bella Vista District in Santiago, Chile

Hanging out in the Gorgeous Bella Vista District in Santiago, Chile

BELLA VISTA DISTRICT SANTIAGO

Barrio Bella Vista is a popular spot close to the city center in Santiago and probably has highest density of bars in Chile. Bella Vista has a wide range of choices from popular local hangouts to upscale Jazz joints. There’s something for everyone – with all kinds of music, from contemporary eletro-pop to salsa and merengue. This is probably the only barrio where you can find bars and clubs closing their doors in the early hours of the morning.

Finding Fans in Santiago, Chile

Finding Fans in Santiago, Chile

It’s awesome when we meet up with people along our travels who are as big a fans of our shows as we are!

Outside the House of Chile’s Most Famous Poet: The Great Pablo Neruda

Outside the House of Chile's Most Famous Poet: The Great Pablo Neruda

PABLO-NERUDA-CHILEAN-POET-HOUSE

The Chilean Nobel Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda owned three homes in Chile–two outside Santiago and one in Barrio Bellavista in Santiago. La Chascona in Santiago, La Sebastiana in Valparaiso and Isla Negra in Isla Negra. His home in Bellavista is named after his third wife Mathilde: “La Chascona” which pays tribute to her unruly red hair.

An Excerpt of We Are Many,

While I am writing, I am far away;
and when I come back, I have already left.
I should like to see if the same thing happens
to other people as it does to me,
to see if as many people are as I am,
and if they seem the same way to themselves.
When this problem has been thoroughly explored,
I am going to school myself so well in things
that, when I try to explain my problems,
I shall speak, not of self, but of geography.