Monthly Archives: March 2008

Zentraveler goes Coco Loco in Costa Rica!

It was the end of snow season in Colorado and the date was April 28, when we planned our sun escape to Costa Rica. Pulling out of Aspen was a thing of beauty since it snowed a freakish amount of 36 inches over night. We were the only ones on the highway as we made our way to to the Denver airport.

In preparation for the trip I told my friend Bruce to be aware of snakes and make sure he had some good climbing boots as we would be visiting some volcanoes and mountainous terrain. To my greatest amazement when we were going through customs in San Jose, Costa Rica the inspector pulled out a leather pistol holster and raised his eyebrows. I immediately opened my three drawer tackle box and shoved the contents of some my best lures to the inspector.
He patted Bruce’s bag and put a check mark on it meaning OK.

After a good nights sleep at one of the local hotels we proceeded to the government run travel agency and was handed a brochure for the new fishing camp located near Tambor. The brochure indicated primitive fishing, tents, and dinning facilities. The map showed less than a mile from the small town of Tambor.

Oe more day in San Jose while we gathered supplies, tested out the local fruit carts, drank fresh sugar cane juice and ended up at the Costa Rican hotel for afternoon coffee. At this point Bruce was dressed like Dr. Livingston— complete with three foot high, leather snake boots, kaki trousers, safari shirt, and a white pith helmet. This outfit together with his Notre Dame fullback stature and measuring 6 foot five inches made quite a spectacle to the local ticos as well as anyone else who kept staring at Bruce as if he was an endangered specimen.

The following morning we bused to the town of Puntarenas. On the way the local bus-driver kept picking up extra passengers, who were standing in the isles until he spotted a cop at the bottom of a steep hill who had already clocked him past one hundred miles an hour. The bus-driver instructed the stand-up passengers to lay flat on the floor. This is one time my prayers worked. I prayed for a slowdown and the bus driver not only slowed down, but picked up a triple ticket for speeding, reckless driving, and carrying too many passengers. He drove like a sensible pussycat for the remainder of the trip.

I could also see why he was driving like the wind when he pulled over at the local restaurant rest-stop and he kicked back into leisure time. You drive fast so you can have more rest at the local restaurant and tease with the waitresses and what-not.

Spending the night in Puntarenas we elected to fly to Tambor in the Nicoya Peninsula the following morning. For breakfast we had “Huevos Rancheros” hot style and I wasn’t feeling that great when the porky pilot pulled the airplane with a rope out of a tobacco shed. We each had 70 lbs. of gear plus our body weight, plus the pilots body-weight, plus the airplane was jammed full of supplies.

As we taxied down the runway and our pilot continued with the Jesus crossing himself maneuvers, I finally told him to stop I had an emergency bathroom call. He pulled to the edge of the jungle while we had a short break. Back in the plane we were taxying down the runway when beads of sweat were pouring from the pilots forehead. He pounded the dashboard with both fists, let out a few cuss words, and we were airborne. Just barely flying over a body of water we could see hundreds of sharks right underneath the shadow of the plane.

Bruce indicated he might not mind going out in style, but surely didn’t want to be eaten by the sharks if we crashed in the water. Bruce took his glasses off and said:” well we had a good life brother this might be the end.” The plane headed toward a jungle patch going straight down. He landed hard on the sand and taxied up the beach and threw a huge mail bag out. “Amigos we are on the mail run.” Not coming to a complete stop he revved the vintage plane up— just enough to clear the next set of coconut tress and we did this three more times before he spun around in front of the only building which was a cantina/store right on the beach. “This is it amigos— this is downtown Tambor! ”

We stumbled out of the plane and bellied up to the cantina where we each ordered a cold cerveza. The store clerk said no-one flies on the mail run– it is too peligroso (dangerous). There were at least 7 or 8 killed just this summer. The planes are too old and don’t have enough power to get in and out of these tight spots.

Still shaking and giving a few Dios Mios we enquired about Coco Loco. She said: “you can’t go there this time of year because the mud road is washed out.” We showed her our map which showed the fish camp less than a mile from the town of Tambor. We told her we would walk along the beach and she just shook her head and indicated: “if we went the other direction— just about one fourth of a mile we could see the American Statesman and he would probably know all about it.”

The thermometer at the store read 112 degrees Fahrenheit. Walking along the beach even one forth of a mile with 70 lb backpacks, plus our fishing gear made us sweat like pigs. Upon arriving at a small beach hut with an American and Costa Rican flags mounted on a palm tree ——we knew we had arrived.

Grey, silver, bleached hair, and wearing nothing but a speedo swimsuit he said: “About time you engineers showed up. You can start building the revolving hotel tomorrow morning.”

There is crazy, then there is crazy, crazy, but this guy had the full monte and was definitely crazy, crazy, crazy. He went on to say that his daughter was taking typing lessons on the piano and sang better than Joan Baez. His new Tico wife and several children seemed to fit right in. The beach was concave and was as beautiful a beach as I have ever seen.

The question is who’s crazy like a fox— our very own American Statesman. He was an American from the states not a diplomat as the store owner indicated. He has someone to wait on him— hand and foot, cook his meals and the entire afternoon they spend swimming and hunting for driftwood, which he makes works of art out of. Still swearing up and down that we were the hotel engineers and could start in the morning, he mumbled on and on about the Russians. He indicated we had to build fast before the Russians arrived and marched us around at gunpoint. He continued to demonstrate with a broomstick as he marched briskly with sharp turns aroud his beach house.

Wondering If I should enquire about Coco Loco? “Coco Loco now that’s a different story– I think that it is only a fantasy and doesn’t really exist.” I showed him the brochure and map and he laughed out loud like a a hyena. ” Maybe on paper— it doesn’t exist in the real world.” We bid our adieus and said adios. He countered with: “they all say that but eventually someone will build my revolving hotel. See you tomorrow morning at 7 o’clock sharp.”

Hiking back to our starting point it seemed to be getting hotter and Bruce and I were beginning to believe Coco Loco didn’t exist. But since it’s only approximately one mile up beach from where we landed we might as well find out for ourselves. Nothing ventured nothing gained we said to ourselves under our breaths— wiping the sweat from our brows.

We had already walked several miles when a wiry Costa Rican came up on a skinny horse and asked us where we were headed. We told him Coco Loco! He laughed out loud. “Are you sure you want to go there? They only have the bare essentials. This isn’t some high class fishing fraternity you read about in the magazines.” He instructed us to take our back packs off and rest for a while.

About twenty minutes later our new best friend came with two more horses trailing the one he was riding. Bruce, all 6-foot five and his backpack mounted his dog-like horse with his feet touching the ground. I mounted mine and off we went along the beach. After several hours of riding a group of bandidos descended upon us with revolvers drawn. The leader had his pistola stuck in his front pants with the revolver handle in plain sight. They circled us and told us we were trespassing and that this was private land and that we would be shot for cattle rustling if we didn’t turn around immediately.

The leader asked us where we from and where we were headed. We told him Denver, Colorado and we were headed to Coco Loco for a weeks fishing expedition. He smiled and immediately warmed up and said: “he was going to the Denver Cattle Show next week and that we were more than welcome to cross his property. He yelled out: “Buena Surete (Good Luck) You will be on your own once you reach Coco Loco. Their horses whipped around and sped off in a different direction.

Three hours later I said:”let’s take a rest these horses need a break and so do we.” I showed our guide the map and he told me: “it was drawn wrong and we had at least two more hours by horseback.”

As dusk neared we arrived at Coco Loco. It looked more like an outfitters camp from Africa than a fishing camp. It had six white wall tents mounted on plywood foundations, complete with a gas operated refrigerator, filled with cold beer and mosquito netting completely surrounding the tent. To our South there was three overhead tents set up for the camp kitchen and portable bathroom facilities set up to the rear of the camp. You couldn’t see a house or a neighbor for miles and we were just beginning to wonder what we were getting ourselves into when our guide threw a machete at Bruce, which stuck in the tree about a foot above his head.

He then wheeled his horse around and indicated with a hand slash across the neck. “Este Noche mi amigos” and spun off through the darkness of the night. I blamed the whole thing on Bruce for dressing like an African Outfitter. “No wonder they sent us out here in the jungle they just wanted to make you feel at home.”

Dead tired I was ready to turn in when Bruce got the brilliant idea that they would sneak in on us in the middle of the night and slash our heads off. He said: “we needed to take four hour patrol duty around the tent.” He then proceeded to take out his new 38 revolver which was put into his ditty bag for camouflage and placed it in his holster.

We flipped coins as to who would have the first watch. I won so soon it will be lights out for me. Because of the extreme heat, Bruce stripped down to his green military underwear and leather snake-boots and proceeded to load his revolver. Off he went into the night making square military turns as he guarded our tent.

Drifting off to sleep I was sure I was having the worst nightmare of my life when I heard murderous howling coming from the jungle trees from the ridge just behind our encampment. Bruce came running into the tent white as a sheet. “What in the hell do you suppose that is?.” I said: “whatever it is— it surely doesn’t sound good!” It turned out to be Howler Monkeys. But if you have never heard them before or wonder how they got their name. You need to wonder no-more. They make a tremendous roar which will scare the be-Jesus out of you.

Moments later I drifted back to sleep and didn’t even care if they came and killed me or not. I was exhausted and just wanted to sleep. A few hours later Bruce came in and shook me to take my turn as security guard. I told Bruce I was exhausted and just wanted to sleep. He indicated I had to pull myself together or I might just die here on the spot. According to Bruce our guide cooked for us for two days and finally wrote in the sand with a stick that Coco Loco was not officially opened yet and may do so some time in the future. He told Bruce our charge was FREE and if he wanted to tip him for his services that would help him and his family.. Bruce told me he gave him an equivalent of a months pay in Costa Rican money.

The next thing I remember was being bounced along the trail sideways on my horse like they tied up the banditos from the western movies. It was high noon and hotter than blazes. I felt like this was the end of the line. Bruce told me he couldn’t wake me even the next day and I probably had a touch of sleeping sickness. Our guide said: “we won’t need to fly back we can take the ferry.”

Still sicker than three dogs, I met a traveling doctor on the ferry, who gave me three kinds of medicines to take and I dozed off immediately because I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Bruce let out a white feathered lure from his fishing rod and reel and got into a school of Sierra Mackerel which fed everyone on the ferry. I continued to sleep and somehow made it back to the states. Since this article isn’t carbon-dated you may discover a few changes in the Nicoya Peninsula since my first visit in the early seventies. And whatever you do always look for Coco Loco days ——the alternative is downright boring.

QUOTE: “For twenty seven years I’ve always sought the Way. Well, this morning we passed Like strangers on the road.”

– Kokuin (10th century) ——

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: How does the Pelican use it’s pouch? The pelican has a long beak and an enormous elastic pouch connected to its underside. The pelican uses its pouch to feed itself and its young. Living by the shore, this bird’s diet consists mainly of fish. The pouch is a very efficient fish net.

If the pelican passes a shoal of fish, it puts its lower beak in the water and swims forward, using its pouch like a net. When the pouch is full of both fish and water, the pelican closes its mouth and the water drains out. If there are a lot of fish in the water, the pelican may keep scooping them up until its pouch is bulging.

The mother pelican also uses her pouch to feed her young. She partly digests her own food, then passes it back from her stomach into the pouch. The young pelicans dip in, eating from this convenient “bowl.” They eat until the pouch is empty, and sometimes fall into it too.

The pouch of the pelican can stretch so much that it can carry 12 quarts of water or 30 pounds of fish!——

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: Why save endangered species? Plants and animals hold medicinal, agricultural, ecological, commercial and aesthetic/recreational value. Endangered species must be protected and saved so that future generations can experience their presence and value. —–

ZENTRAVELER SAYS: Nuts can mean many things! Squirrels hoard them. See how many sentences you can come up with using nuts as the theme. Now that’s nutz!

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Zentraveler on The Holy Man and the Animals!

Throughout history man has related to animals and has passed down many words of wisdom using animals as symbols to tell their story. Many times we are so busy with our own world we don’t have the time or the energy to simply help make a better world. The following Zen story demonstrates a classic act of decency which has rewards for all involved.


Far off in the Himalayan Mountains there lived a holy man who wanted desperately to have a deeper understanding of life and its meaning. One summer it got so hot that all the nearby streams dried up and the holy man was forced to dig his own well.

During the course of his difficult labor, the holy man noticed that many animals were also suffering from lack of water and slowly, many of them were beginning to die. Feeling sincere compassion and empathy for these creatures he decided to build them their own trough.

The holy man spent hours and hours in the sweltering heat working on this trough for the animals. First he had to cut down a large tree and then scrape out the wood to make a basin. As soon as this was finished he began bringing buckets of water from his well to fill the trough. This effort took all of his time.

Slowly, the animals in the area became aware of the water and word spread quickly through the region. Birds, rabbits, mice, deer and even a tiger all came to share from the same trough made by this very generous man. As the animals spent more and more time at the through, they noticed that the holy man was losing weight and beginning to look ill. They also noticed he was weakening and that in his generosity towards them had greatly neglected his own needs and had not properly stocked food for the fast approaching winter.

The animals spoke among themselves and decided to repay his kindness by foraging for him and collecting all kinds of things for him to eat. All together the animals presented their gift to the holy man, who was so touched by the animals’ compassion towards him that he continued to fill their trough until the drought finally came to an end.

Although the drought did come to an end and the streams did refill, the holy man and the animals continued to remain friends. Source—–

QUOTE: Every day priests minutely examine the Dharma and endlessly chant complicated sutras. They should learn how to read the love letters sent by the wind and rain, the snow and moon.

– Ikkyu (1394-1491) —–

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW:Is the Rhinoceros Really Ill Tempered? It is not its temper that makes a rhinoceros charge an intruder, but its poor eyesight. If it cannot recognize something, it will take no chances, but rush at it like a living tank, fast and furiously, ready to bite.

The “horn” at the end of the rhino’s long nose, which can vary from 1 to 3.5 feet long, is not a horn at all. It is actually solid, matted hair that keeps growing during the rhino’s lifetime. It is so strong that the rhino can uproot and overturn bushes and small trees with it, as well as defend itself with it. If the horn is broken or lost, another will grow.

A rhino eats grass and shrubs. It can strip leaves from trees. After drinking from a river, it likes to settle down in the mud and water. This is called wallowing. The mud dries on the rhino’s skin and protects it from the sun. This cooling system is necessary because the rhino has no sweat glands.

The largest of all rhinoceroses, the almost-extinct white rhinoceros, weighs 3.5 tons and has a horn over 5 feet long! ——

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: Aquatic species, which are often overlooked, are facing serious trouble. One third of the United States’ fish species, two-thirds of its crayfish species, and almost three-quarters of its mussel species are in trouble.——

ZENTRAVELER SAYS:We are all connected to the big earth. When are we going to take care of it? After it is destroyed! You can help by getting involved—not yesterday, but now!

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Zentraveler loads up on cherry juice!

It goes something like this. “Yea doc my shoulder hurts and my big toes are red and feel like they are being pricked with an ice pick. You know I probably have some of that arth-i-ritis.”

Wait a minute before you start shopping around for some pain doctor’s and such— this is the time to apply Canada’s Red and Green comedy show formula. Now we need some splaining. (trying for some humor points—- Red and Green didn’t actually comment on cherry juice, but who knows maybe they will in the future). I will assure you that arthritis or gout is no laughing matter.

The body gets too much uric acid and then deposits crystals of sharp calcium which imbed in crazy places around the joints and cause inflammation. If the body has too much uric acid, which can come from the Kings Platter and drinking lots of booze, this uric acid sets up a pain clinic on your body. Everyone will tell you to lay off the red meats, lobster, crayfish, shrimp, pigs-feet, and booze in order for your body to return to an alkaline state. That will help, but that is not enough.

What you need to do is to dissolve the sharp crystals that cause the pain. Begin by eating fresh cherries and cherry juice for three weeks. Then take a break and start moving. Just like the dreaded mucus you can drive out most of the arthritis by becoming active and neutralize your body so that your uric acid and alkalinity are on an even keel. Change your diet to the Mediterranean Diet, which includes lots of fish, olive oil, and green salads and continue with the cherry juice until your body is back in balance. Then just like a well oiled car make cherry juice a part of your health regimen.

The secret to the benefits of cherry juice is a compound called anthocyanins, which are the pigments that give cherries their bright red color and are also believed to be the key to helping the body relieve inflammation. As an added bonus, these same anthocyanins may significantly reduce your risk for cancer, may help lower heart attack and stroke risk.

As a plus factor for changing your diet and keeping your body in an alkaline state (disease can only live in an acid state) you become disease free. So line up the cherry juice drinks, start exercising by walking, get on a rowing machine, start swimming, or do arm curls and leg pulls from your easy chair. You need to pump a lot of oxygen through your veins and bloodstream which will drive disease out the door.

Pure cherry juice is excellent for anyone who has gout, arthritis, bursitis, and inflammation of the joints and will also help in dissolving kidney stones.

Who said life was not a bowl of cherries. Maybe what they meant was if you don’t eat your cherries and neutralize your body life won’t be a bowl of cherries. The cherry juice will actually dissolve the sharp crystals which causes most of the pain. Make sure you get pure cherry juice from a health food store and not some kind of cherry drink with sugars. The purer the cherry juice the more effective it will be. All types of cherries are effective since they all have the same chemical composition.

Who knows maybe the cherry ingredient is why Warren Buffet (the richest man in the world for the year 2007) is so successful. His favorite drink is Cherry-Cola (not recommended) and by the way— he holds a large stock position in Coke-a-Cola.

Cherryo ole boy!

QUOTE: “Ch’uan-tzu searched for the fierce Fire of Enlightenment in water; The Old One understood him especially well. Because Chao-chou bequeathed to us the perplexing problem of affirming or denying existence. He himself believed only in the Absolute which is beyond existence, It has become harder to avoid the Question of good and evil in humanity.

– Takuan —–

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: How Do Ashes and Grease Get You Dirty and Clean? Pick up ashes from a fire after it has cooled down and what do you get? Dirty hands! Touch some grease from left over cooked meat and what do you get? Dirty hands!

But take some water and mix it with those same ashes and that same grease. Then rub it on your dirty hands. What do you get? Clean hands! The reason? What you have combined are the basic ingredients people have been using for over 2,000 years to make soap.—–

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: Mitchell’s Satyr Butterfly! The Mitchell’s satyr is an endangered species. Endangered species are animals and plants that are in danger of becoming extinct. Threatened species are animals and plants that are likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future. Identifying, protecting, and restoring endangered and threatened species is the primary objective of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s endangered species program.

What is the Mitchell’s Satyr Butterfly? Scientific Name – Neonympha mitchellii.
Appearance – This butterfly is medium sized (1 3/4inch wingspan) butterfly with an overall rich brown color. A distinctive series of orange-ringed black circular eyespots with silvery centers are located on the lower surfaces of both pairs of wings.

Range – The Mitchell’s satyr butterfly is one of the most geographically restricted eastern butterflies. Historically, the Mitchell’s satyr was found in New Jersey, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and possibly Maryland. Today, the butterfly can be found in only 13 locations in Michigan and 2 locations in Indiana.

Habitat – The Mitchell’s satyr is restricted to rare wetlands called fens which are low nutrient systems that receive carbonate-rich ground water from seeps and springs. ——

ZENTRAVELER SAYS: Plant blue flowers around your home to attract butterflies!

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Zentraveler digs Tikal, Guatemala!

On the road again I have just landed at the Guatemala City airport. Joining a few other backpackers we hire a taxi for Guatemala City. The city looks like ants have broken out and are going to run you down. Is it an illusion or are the cars, buses, motorcycles and people in warp speed? You better keep moving my new friend informed me or you will be history.

Using the same budget game plan that I try to employ every time I travel. We settle in on a small hotel about three blocks from the main hotel. The fee is $9.00 for the night with no hot-water, but what the hey, like my father used to say: “you aren’t going to buy the place.” Tomorrow I will get up bright and early, go to the expensive hotel for breakfast, and find a bus that is heading in the direction of Tikal. That’s the trick— finding the right bus station that will take you in the direction you want to go. Don’t try to use logic. Either use the internet and get your info, rely on the Lonely Planet Guidebook or ask lots of questions to fellow travelers. Each Central American city seems to have their bus stations in secretive spots— which often don’t reflect the direction or anything else for that matter.

Cruising out of town on a directo bus we have sped by most of the pollution and crazy driving traffic. This bus is equipped with pull down movies, has a restroom and cold drinks on the front seat. Most of the locals no longer look out of the windows. They put their seats in relax mode, and either watch the flick or close their eyes and hope for the best. Not me! I have to look at every cow standing in the field, every horse trotting along a side road and watch for anything I can see— including kamikaze bus drivers. When buses pass on a long stretch, the horns begin to blow, some yelling takes place, and we are off to the races. It’s something you cannot explain. It must be a macho thing.

This is the time to reflect— take a few deep breaths, give some of your best prayers and even resort to thought patterns like this: ” Surely the bus driver isn’t going to kill us all by driving faster than the wind.” I remember seeing pictures of his entire family when I boarded the bus. He throws it into third gear and broad slides the bus around a dangerous curve. By now I am closer to heaven or hell then I ever want to be . Still alive you say thank God, Hail Mary and marvel how calm the bus driver proceeds down the next hill. Near the bottom he comes to an abrupt halt, stops and lets three families out near a tiny village— set along a small stream against the jungle. You spot a nearly naked dark child with blonde hair playing along side a native hut. Women are carrying corn on their heads along the roadside. You look up on the side of a mountain and see people harvesting corn on the steepest slope imaginable. One farmer has a machete and has his arms around a small tree to keep from falling.

Pedal to the metal we roar up the next hill and proceed to our next destination, which is the town of Flores. “Flores is a small slow-paced village with Caribbean sensibility, pastel-colored buildings and friendly people. Flores is situated on an island in Lake Petén Itzá, 45 minutes by road from Parque National Tikal and 2 hours from Cayo District in Belize.”

Flores is a great stopping spot where you can eco-adventure on the lake or enjoy exploring the cobble-stone streets flanked by handicraft stores and charming houses, many of which are small hotels, guesthouses and restaurants. Spending the night there we made arrangements for a local bus to Tikal. We pass thru some beautiful scenery and get to see living examples of rural Guatemalans. A typical family may have a small hut with open doors.You can see their brightly colored hammocks hanging in the main room for sleeping and a variety of chickens, turkeys, and small garden plots. Just a quick question? They have been living this way for thousands of years—- maybe they know something we don’t.

Tikal is nothing short of majestic. If you had to spend time in only one Mayan Ruin you have hit the mother-lode in Tikal. If you have an interest in archeology or just want to see for yourself how they built a magnificent city in the middle of the jungle—this is it! You have arrived. Make sure you have some good footwear, because you won’t beleive how large this Mayan Ruin site actually is in size and stature. One of the locals told me what we can see is only a fraction of their past civilization.

The ruins are expansive with evidence of Mayan temples, paths thru the jungle, where you will see and hear a variety of birds darting through the jungle with their colorful plumage. If you are extremely lucky you may even get a glimpse of the highly prized and revered Quetzal bird.(the Quetzal is the national bird of Guatemala and symbolizes freedom.) Howler monkey families are moving along the canopy— feeding and sounding off as they scamper along. If you want to photograph them you better be quick. Em boys can move.

You could spend weeks at The Tikal Ruins and and still would not see it all. Some have compared the construction skills to those of the Egyptian pyramids .Many of the remnants of Tikal reveal the culture of this ancient city in Guatemala. The great temples are just the beginning. The Mayans excelled in many different fields, and testaments of their achievements are found throughout Central America. Their calendar developed from the stars and solar math is even more accurate than our modern day 365 day calendar. The momuments paid tribute to the rulers of the past, and were meant to please the deities. In addition to their obvious achievements in construction, the Maya also excelled in the arts, astronomy, and glyphic writing. Though little is understood, what is known is fascinating.

As you walk through mazes of jungle trails you try to comprehend how advanced these Mayan people were and what happened to them. That ‘s one thing you probably can’t blame on George Bush. You leave Tikal with a feeling of awe and wonder. You tip your hat to the advanced civilization they had built—- without modern tools and before the wheel was invented. The good news is: Archeologists have years of searching for answers and you the tourist will be able to enjoy this national treasure for a very long time. You should definitely include Tikal on your list as you travel through wild and beautiful Guatemala. Zentraveler says: Do yourself a big favor and book a trip to Guatemala— you will love all of the diversity, bright colors, dramatic scenery, friendly hard-working people, history and more.

Trying to get a bus to the Belize border from Tikal— the bus driver tells me and a blonde swiss back-packer that the bus is jam-packed full, but if we want to go we can ride on top of the bus with the luggage. “Sure why not”— she says as she throws her backpack on top with one arm. Off we go, hanging on for dear life, as we proceed through miles and miles of mud. The bus swerves out of a rut and I am thinking it’s about to turn over. In a hunched position I am getting ready to jump as the bus suddenly rocks back in forth and eventually levels into the next set of ruts. Hanging on to the tiny side rail I think to myself you have really done it this time— you will never make this trip alive. I can see the headlines now: A group of backpackers and locals slid down the ravine and were all killed. Local authorities blamed the accident on poor road conditions and pointed out travel was not recommended this time of the year during the tropical rainy season.

The bus got stuck in the next batch of deep muddy ruts. We all got out of the bus and waited. A large cattle truck came along, hitched a chain around the front bumper and had everyone from the bus push from the backside. The mud sucked one of my shoes into some kind of a quagmire which was lost forever. We finally arrived on the Guatemala /Belize border crossing. This looked like a town out of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid movie. Just a good ole dusty cowboy town with a few bars and a couple of places for lodging. The next morning we headed out of town toward Belize City in a torrential downpour and thanked our lucky stars we had seats for the long trip.


Inwardly strive to develop the capacity of mindfulness; outwardly spread the virtue of uncontentiousness. Shed the world of dust to seek emancipation.

– Kuei-Shan (771-854) —–

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: Why did people put gargoyles on buildings? Gargoyles are weird stone figures which are half human and half animal or half bird. They sit on edges of roofs of many old cathedrals, palaces, and other buildings. But these frightening figures are not there to frighten away passers-by; they serve a very useful purpose.

Gargoyles are actually waterspouts to catch the rain as it flows off the roof. This water is piped into the mouths of the gargoyles and is emptied into the street, instead of dripping down the sides of the building and damaging it.——

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: Endangered Species! Endangered Means There is Still Time, but the clock is ticking faster then you can say nanosecond.

ZENTRAVELER SAYS: Travel inwardly and outwardly to discover the real You!

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Zentraveler on the The Zen Happy Cat!

I am not sure how many times we get to evolve into the animal spirit world. I would like to put my request in now to be a cat. They are some cool cats! Sleek, fast, majestic, wonderful creatures of nature, who are mysterious symbols of past and present history. Cats have always maintained their balance and are aloft to many of the worldly things. They like to play, day dream, and are very good at lounging around.

They just sit and watch the world go by and dish up a meal when necessary. Cats are extremely efficient machines with very little waste of motion and energy. Who knows maybe they are practicing Zazen (just sit) for their next evolvement. The question is who is really the master? There are many different forms of Buddha! I’ll put my vote in for the Fat Cat. Sometimes it pays to think outside of the barrel.

A Happy Cat

There is a story told about a cat who discovered that happiness was in his tail.

He kept trying over and over to get it, but all he could do was run around in circles.

Exhausted and frustrated, with this endless pursuit, he eventually stopped.

And then, he discovered that if he’d just go on about his life then it would follow him wherever he went. ——

QUOTE: “There are two means of refuge from the misery of life – music and cats.” Albert Schweitzer

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: According to an old Indian legend, the Wampus Cat was created. It was said a young Indian woman did not trust her husband. It was custom for the men of the Indian tribe to hunt while the women did things around the encampments. The women were forbidden to hunt. One night, she placed the hide of a mountain cat on her body. She snuck out to spy on her husband to see what he did on his hunting trips. As the hunters gathered around their camp fires, the woman watched them. She became fascinated with the stories and the magic that was presented to the men of the Indian tribe. The poor woman was caught and for her crime, she was transformed into what is known as the Wampus Cat. The woman was doomed to be forever half woman and half mountain cat. The ghost of the Wampus Cat is still said to walk the hills of Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. On full moons, you can see the Wampus Cat howling. Is she howling because of her grave mistake and wishes to be transformed back to her humanly body? ——

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: Cats! They are way cool.

ZENTRAVELER SAYS: Meow! Cat’s actually only meow for humans. What’s new pussycat?

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Zentraveler zeroes in on Enzymes!

Without the growth of your cells you are dead! Enzymes are simply live food versus dead food. Anything cooked above 112 degrees loses it’s ability to be of much benefit and actually causes a drain on your digestive system— making it work so hard to break it down. As this sludge accumulates you eventually become sick and may need to be hospitalized. They found a person believed to be 150 years old who had a perfectly clean colon and you can bet he was getting plenty of enzymes.

You can get your enzymes naturally by eating raw, steamed, and poached foods— which not only aids in digestion but also assists in making new cells. The other alternative is to add enzymes from the health food store to help assist in your digestion and cell building process.

You can take some enzymes with meals and others on a regular basis i.e. in the morning or at night before you go to bed. Ask you health food store which digestive enzymes they recommend. It’s never to late to start a new program and why not start today to help jump-start your system to get back on track.

All diseases can be cured by it’s own bodily system— if it just has the proper balance and enhancement. When things are bogged down you need to eat raw foods and use enzyme supplements. If you could only afford or use one item in the entire health food store, I would recommend using the enzyme supplement to help keep your system free from disease. Look at it like adding a new oil change. You certainly wouldn’t run your automobile one million miles without getting an oil change. You would end up with sludge and finally the engine would slow down and eventually conk out.

My neighbor wanted to lose 10 pounds to attend her friends wedding. I told her to eat spinach salads, lettuce salads, and anything that was fresh and would break down easily in your body. At night while watching TV she chewed on carrots and celery instead of saturated fats. Within three weeks she reported to me she lost exactly 10 pounds, had lots of energy and felt like a new person. The proof is not always in the pudding. So if I were you, I would lay off the haggis, meat puddings, shepherds pies, and convert immediately to eating heaps of raw foods with lots of enzymes.

QUOTE: “For thirty years I searched for the sword. Often I watched leaves fall and branches send forth shoots. But from the moment I saw peaches bloom, No further doubts.”

– Ling –yun (d. 729)——

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: How important Enzymes are to your overall health.

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: Doctor’s and Hospital bills from eating crud!

ZENTRAVELER SAYS: Eat raw foods and rev up your live Enzymes for a healthy life.

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Zentraveler discovers Mexican Costa Maya town of Xcalak!

After busing to Chetumal from Cancun you change buses and are ready for the ride of of your life. The undeveloped Costa Maya region doesn’t even start until you get 100 miles south of Tulum, which is already 80 miles south of Cancún. The road changes from a four-lane highway to a narrow two-lane one barely holding its own against the forever-growing jungle.

As the bus driver swerves and shift gears he heads up Highway 295 and turns south at the Majahual turnoff. If you wanted to find the longest dirt road that traveled along side the turquoise sea— this is it. Eighty miles of pristine coast, sand, coconut trees, and bright blue caribbean sea. As you drive through The U.S.-funded Mexican-army drug checkpoint the bus comes to a halt. A stern looking army officer boards the bus and examines your passport and opens up a sampling of backpacks and luggage. With a nonchalant salute he steps off the bus and heads for a well deserved siesta— as this is as busy as it gets. Rambling along miles of road and vacant land— once in a while you see a homemade sign: land for sale and maybe the start of a house, lots of wildlife and birds flying through the jungle and in the air as if scripted to the yet to be written opera ” A Bird-Watchers Dream.” This is my favorite form of travel. You have your backpack, your imagination, and time— which is the secret ingredient to exploring. Who knows whats around the next bend?

When you have finally arrived at the tip of the Costa Maya you are at the end of the line in a small town called Xcalak. You say to yourself maybe this is it! It’s small, you can walk, fish, dive, excellent weather and be totally relaxed. A tourist is swinging in his hammock smoking a large cuban cigar. I will always have that image. You can’t get much more laid back then that– unless they lay you out for your final resting grounds. I will say it now and anyone who reads this is my witness. I want to be buried in Xcalak. Nothing like putting a little pressure on your family and friends. I can see it now as they take the long trek. It will at least give them a paradigm shift as they gain a new perspective on what it is like to have the incurable wanderlust. I already have the prescription antidote. Keep Traveling!!!!

The entire Costa Maya region has a history of Mayan temples, legend, and yet to be discovered secrets and burial grounds. Following the footsteps of Belize, Cozumel and other eco-friendly growth areas— they are trying to keep this area at a slower growth than Cancun and other tourist areas. Time will tell. Maybe the last area of planned development on the Mexican Costa Maya, but you better hurry— because the gringo’s are already setting up land sales and the Mexican government in conjunction with tourism will add thousands of rooms in the near future.

Just when you thought you had found Nirvana— the beer truck rolled in for a three day Mexican fiesta. The speakers were so large mounted on flatbed trucks— music permeated through my skin three blocks away at the only local hotel.

The Belize softball team was playing their Sunday afternoon game with Xcalak. I made arrangements to go by boat with the softball team over to Belize— which is only 7 miles away across the open sea. I went to the immigration office only to be told it was closed until after the fiesta. On Monday I went to the immigration office to get my passport stamped— only to learn the immigration officer was in Mexico City and might return by mid- week. If you are traveling by bus you better forget about your tight schedule like the typical 4 day American vacation with its fly in fly out program. Manana is the word!

Fiesta over— I got to talk to the locals, look at property, and discover most of the men had tiny little shops, which were open from two until four. The rest of the time they drank beer, relaxed, fished, danced, and swapped stories. Of course their is some bad news for the Starbucks set– they don’t have blackberries, porn, video games, BMW’s, traffic jams, etc. As my friend used to say: “everything is a tradeoff off anyway.”

Their electrical is provided free of charge to all of its citizens, which comes from a huge windmill driven turbine, that the town invested in for it’s electrical service. Talk about being ahead of the curve and also including it’s citizens— it sounds too good to be true.

“Xcalak is the most southern town in the state of Quintana Roo, just 7 miles by water from the Central American country of Belize. Xcalak has the look and feel of Mexico and Belize all rolled into one; so close to Belize that English is spoken fluently by many, but Spanish is still the predominant language. This is a great place for those who are seeking the remote, less refined areas of the Caribbean Coast, with all its natural beauty above and below the waterline.

Xcalak is one of the top saltwater fly fishing~ flats fishing and bonefishing areas in the world, and a less traveled but much revered scuba diving destination as well. Scuba divers and snorkelers can enjoy diving on part of the world’s second longest barrier reef, and when conditions are good, even take a boat ride to the Chinchorro Bank (a large coral atoll that lies offshore with a virtual graveyard of shipwrecks that have sunk over the centuries). The mangrove waterways of Bacalar Chico, just south of Xcalak between Mexico and Belize, are home to many varieties of birds and fish. Bird Island is a popular destination for bird watchers visiting this area, and anglers will seldom see any competion from others for coveted fish like permit, tarpon and bonefish.——

” A tiny fishing hamlet surrounded by marshes and located on the southern end of the Mayan Coast, known in Spanish as Costa Maya. The town of Xcalak is older than the Quintana Roo state capital of Chetumal, Mexico. It is approximately 120 miles by road, but only about 30 miles east by boat across the Bay of Chetumal from the capital.

Located at latitude 18 degrees, 10 minutes north, Xcalak is approximately 1,090 miles north of the equator. As with the fishing village of Mahahual, 30 miles to the north, the fishing, diving, and the Chinchorro Reef is spectacular.

A channel separates the village of Xcalak from Belize’s Ambergris Cay. Once a Mayan fishing community, because of the decline in coconut production, Xcalak is now only one tenth of its population 50 years ago. From this southern most point on the Mexican Caribbean, one can hop a short boat ride south to Ambergris Cay in Belize.

The government of the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, has constructed a new pier on the north end of town. The coral reef approximately 500 yards from shore, provides Xcalak with a natural harbor for yachtsmen traveling north or south on the Caribbean. Visitors will find stores to purchase canned goods, a few tropical bars, and seafood restaurants. There is a tiny Catholic Church, schools, and a small medical clinic for routine health needs.——

So there you have it. If you truly like to get off the beaten path, like clear, pure caribbean turquoise waters, like to hang out and consummate your dreams– why not head to Xcalax and become a part of history. One thing that is for sure is change, but this clock moves slower than some. Unless you are Mayan and can time travel— how many lifetimes do you have anyway? Will Rogers said about real estate: “Buy on the water, buy on the hill —throw the book away. Go there before anyone knows about it. Wait until the people come, sell and move on.”

QUOTE:”Everything is a trade-off! —–a friend

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW:”How Do We Know So Much About Extinct Mammoths? The wooly mammoth, which is an ancestor of our modern elephant, lived on earth for 3,000,000 years, and became extinct only 10,000 years ago. However, we know a great deal about these creatures, more probably than about any other creature that lived at the same time.

Some of these mammoths made their home in the far northern sections of Siberia, around the Arctic Circle. Because of the constant icy conditions there, several complete carcasses have been uncovered in this region buried in the ice. The mammoth’s meat was found to be still fresh enough to eat, and even the contents of its stomach, herbs and tall grasses, were fresh enough for scientists to identify what these animals fed on.

These mammoths also found their way to the North American continent by crossing over a prehistoric land bridge that once existed over what is now the Bering Straits, between Russia and Alaska.”——–


ZENTRAVELER SAYS: Travel often, travel light, and open your eyes. You might be surprised what you might see.

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