The Northeast Kingdom

Pictures from a recent trip to Vermont:

El Chocoyero

I took a trip to El Chocoyero Nature Reserve on one of my first weekends in Nicaragua. Easily accessible from Ticuantepe, the reserve has a number of scenic trails. Highlights included seeing plenty of the namesake Chocoyo birds, which were much quieter than their little cousins that chirped incessantly in their cage outside my room; watching Miguel, the Dr. Doolittle-like caretaker of the guesthouse at which I was staying and who came along as our guide, converse with various birds and monkeys; and passing through huge pineapple plantations on the mototaxi trip in and out.

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Finca Ixobel

To break up the long journey from northeastern Guatemala to Guatemala City (and to comply with my self-imposed rule of avoiding nighttime arrivals in new cities), I stayed at Hotel Ecologico Finca Ixobel outside of Poptún. The fresh air, delicious all-you-can-eat dinner buffets, hiking, and lake for swimming were all great ways to brace myself for the hustle and bustle of Guatemala City. Investigating the use of horses in rural transportation systems was obviously in order as well.

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Tikal

On my way from Belize to Guatemala City, I stopped at Tikal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to some of the world’s most magnificent Maya ruins. In addition to the stunning architecture and layout of Tikal, the plant and animal life that has taken over the ancient city was amazing. I ended up spending the night in the park; being able to climb the Temples at sunrise and have the Great Plaza all to myself was incredible.

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Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

Traveling along the Southern Highway, I decided to spend a night at the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. Operated by the Belize Audubon Society, many people refer to it simply as the jaguar reserve, since it was the world’s first. While I had planned to hike the five miles from the bus stop into the wildlife sanctuary headquarters, I didn’t have to walk the whole way. A man who was working on some of the orange groves near the entrance insisted on giving me a ride on his backhoe.

The unexpected lift meant I had enough time in the afternoon to enjoy some river tubing. While I didn’t see any jaguars during my stay, I thoroughly enjoyed the hummingbirds, waterfalls, butterflies, mountain views at sunrise, and tranquility – other than the park rangers, I was the only one staying in the dorms the night I was there.

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