Thursday, January 26, 2006

Anniversary Post

There are several other sources of enjoyment in a long voyage...The map of the world ceases to be a blank; it becomes a picture full of the most varied and animated figures...In a moral point of view, the effect [on the traveler] ought to be, to teach him good-humored patience, freedom from selfishness, the habit of acting for himself, and of making the best of every occurrence.

-Charles Darwin, Voyage of the Beagle

This post marks several milestones: the one-year anniversary of my arrival in Argentina (or, actually, it would have had I written it before midnight), my last post with pictures from my travels, and...drumroll 100th post! Hard to believe but true! It's been fun and I plan to keep it up during my new wanderings through the job market and interview process and whatever adventures come my way.

So yes, I am hereby wrapping up the long tale of My Year Of Travels. I look at my photos daily--they are my screen saver--and still read the blogs of several travel friends, and it makes me so nostalgic that I can hardly sit still. I had so many amazing experiences that in a lifetime of blogging I could never tell all my stories (and I'm not too deluded to realize that I would lose my readership pretty quickly). To wrap up, I don't actually have much to say about my last stop in Central America--Roatan, on the Bay Islands in Honduras. The islands are a world-reknowned location for cheap scuba diving--one dive costs around $20 there, which is just ridiculously cheap. So that's mainly what I did. I took my Advanced Diving course, checked out a couple of the beaches, and had some good food. Oh, and I got my belly button pierced on my way out, the night before my flight.

So to sum up, I'll leave you with the above quote from Darwin, which rings true with me in every respect, and a few underwater photos:


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Shifting Gears

This week started out strong: I solved the wireless internet problem, put the finishing touches on my resume, posted it on Monster, checked out some career websites, took a CPR class (why not?) and shoveled some snow. But then, it all fizzled. I was moving forward in second gear or so (let's be reasonable, after all) and now I'm practically in reverse. What happened? Well, I made a few discoveries. Compounding my recent Sudoku addiction, I discovered Spider Solitaire on my computer, and On Demand Cable on my TV (we upgraded from basic cable to very near the whole shabang last week). I've been watching all the HBO series: Sex and the City, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and today, nearly an entire season of Entourage. This is bad. (Not Entourage...despite going against all my liberal-arts-college-feminist sensibilities, I find it not bad at all. I mean, anything that stars two peripheral cast members of Old School can't be bad). Anyway, I hope to get back on track soon. Maybe tomorrow, just in time for the weekend.

An Afternoon on Tobacco Caye

Anyway, I have posted a few more photos, this time from Belize. At the outset of my trip to Central America, I hadn't planned on going to Belize but I'm so glad I did. I spent a totally relaxing week there, with lots of sun, snorkeling, good food, and some of the friendliest and most welcoming locals I met I met on my trip. My highlight was the three days I spent on Tobacco Caye, a tiny island (5 acres) with only hotels, a dive shop, a bar and a couple of houses. I met really nice people at my hotel and we spent plenty of time in hammocks, snorkeling around the gorgeous reef, playing cards and just hanging out. One chilly afternoon we found creative ways to pass the time: we cracked open coconuts, and played bocce using conch shells, rocks and coconus. (This is the point when my brother told me he started thinking I was making this all up). After Tobacco Caye, I moved south to Placencia, where I enjoyed the first sandy beach I'd seen in nearly two months. And now I can cross "go skinny dipping in the Caribbean at the full moon" off my life to-do list.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Countries I've Visited

This is cool. I found this site where you can make a map of the countries you've visited. It's pretty detailed--you can see the white dots for Liechtenstein, Andorra, San Marino, and the Channel Islands, as well as El Salvador, nestled in amongst the red. And if you look closely, you can see the little red dot for Puerto Rico! (Which apparently counts as a country, like at the Olympics).

I thought 34 was a lot of countries, but look at all that white space! Looks like I've got some more traveling to do.

At the same site, you can also create a map of the states you've visited. I counted only the ones I've spent the night in; driving through or changing planes doesn't count--or else I could've added six states to my current total of 29. Is it just me, or does seeing California and Massachusetts colored red seem really unnatural?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Getting on with it...

Me at Tikal
EDIT: Here is a photo link to all my pictures. Pop Quiz: what TV show recently featured these ruins? And what movie featured a five-second scene shot here? For answers, view my photoset!

After two busy holiday weeks, and a quick ski trip up to Vermont, I'm back in CT and getting ready to seriously think about preparing to work on starting to look for a job. I'm starting out with some baby steps, and just like a baby, some of those first tentative steps wind up with me falling on my butt. For instance, my attempt to set up a wireless router in the house here resulted in four hours of frustrated phone calls to various Tech Support numbers and an eventual trip to the post office to return the (apparently faulty) router to Amazon. The new one should arrive today and the process will begin again, hopefully with more success now that I am a seasoned wireless-router-installater.

I've uploaded some more photos from my trip, this time from the Mayan ruins at Tikal in Guatemala. These were different from other ruins I saw in that these are still pretty much buried in the forest. We'd climb all the stairs (huff, puff) to the top of the temples and look out across the thick forest (home to countless loud howler monkeys) to see the tops of the other temples. The forest has grown in since the height of the Mayan civilization (around 250-900 AD); when the city was inhabited, the spaces between the structures was all open. It's hard to imagine a bustling community moving about their daily business where today there is only stillness, wildlife and tourists.

This time, I finally hired a guide and it was totally worth it. Juan showed us around for about six or seven hours, explaining the history of the ruins, the Maya culture and some of the fascinating and bewildering astronomical observations they made. They tracked the sun and the planets, and build their structures based on the position of the sun at the equinoxes. They had a yearly calendar of 18 20-day months plus five "unlucky" days at the end of the year. The number 260 was also important and was the basis of an early calendar; it was tied to the human 9-month gestation period and the cycle of Venus around the sun--I had never realized they are roughly the same. The 360-day and 260-day periods apparently cycle around and overlap every 52 years, an important period of time for building temples, having ceremonies, etc. The Maya were very into human sacrifice, which took place at all kinds of ceremonies, and also self-mutilation done by priests: drawing blood from the tongue or, er, the genitals, as an offering to the gods. It seems like a difficult place to live, when you think about the ceremonies and sacrifices. But we also saw some residential areas of the city (once home to about 120,000 people), and the Ball Court, home to a ball game whose rules are still a mystery to us, but which was, after all, a game. It's fascinating to try to imagine families and kids living, laughing and playing, in some ways totally different and yet at heart the same as you or me.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Happy New Year 2006!

Happy New Year everyone...I hope you all partied like rock stars.

I have put together a little slideshow of photos from my travels this past year. Click here to see them.

Wishing everyone health and happiness in 2006!